JFS Celebrates 38 Years With Iconic Yana, Raises $1.1 Million

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You have to be extra-special to be known by one name—and to earn an exclamation point…well, that’s reserved for only a revered few. Over the span of a five-hour period during her farewell gala, retiring Jewish Family Service President and CEO Yana Vishnitsky heard Gov. John Hickenlooper declare Dec. 10, 2016 as Yana Vishnitsky Day in Colorado, and received the proclamation and the flag that flew over the State Capitol. She also was presented with an exquisite, custom award from JFS, received a standing ovation from 600 supporters and was told that the local headquarters will now be called the Yana Vishnitsky Administration Center. The celebration began in earnest after she was hoisted onto the chair prior to dancing the Hora with celebrating guests.

This scene was repeated throughout the reception as guests flocked to greet honoree Yana Vishnitsky.

This scene was repeated throughout the reception as guests flocked to greet honoree Yana Vishnitsky.

A must-attend event that took the place of the organization’s annual Real Hope holiday fundraiser, Yana! A Farewell Celebration was held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. The gala, full of warmth, sincerity and fun, not only celebrated Yana’s 38 years of service to JFS, but also became the organization’s first million-dollar fundraiser, with a $1.1 million tally.

Yana’s retirement tribute began with a cocktail reception and red-carpet entrance, plus lively strings sounds by Spinphony. Guests had the opportunity for their own red-carpet photo experience before the Cossack Men dancers led everyone into the Centennial Ballroom for a casually elegant dinner setting served family style. Those who spoke onstage included: board chair Jane E. Rosenbaum, Rabbi Steven Foster, new JFS president and CEO Shepard Nevel, event co-chairs Geri and Meyer Saltzman, co-chair Andy Miller who took the mic to describe Gov. Hickenlooper’s “Yana Day” proclamation, and a short talk by Yana’s cousin Robyn Tsesarksy.

The Cossack Men performance had everyone grabbing their phone for photos.

The Cossack Men performance had everyone grabbing their phone for photos.

Yana urged the crowd to donate freely, especially with a matching-funds gift to $100,000 donated by Elaine and Max Appel. After Yana accepted the JFS award and spoke to the crowd, she was hoisted onto the chair before a spirited Hora dance. The evening ended with dancing and desserts, and guests were each given a bottle of Russian vodka to take home as a memento.

Jewish Family Service of Colorado believes in strengthening the community by providing vital services to people in need. Every day, JFS helps people overcome life’s challenges to live fuller, more meaningful lives. Founded in 1872, JFS is a nonsectarian, nonprofit human services agency serving metro Denver and Boulder. The organization helps seniors live independently at home, provides quality mental health counseling, offers training and job placement to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other people with barriers to employment, and provides food and financial aid to people in crisis. Every year, the agency benefits nearly 25,000 people of all ages, faiths and incomes. Its mission: To enhance well-being to those in need throughout the greater Denver community by delivering services based on Jewish values.

Yana Vishnitsky and granddaughter Zoe

Yana Vishnitsky and granddaughter Zoe

Jewish Family Service is recognized as a premier human services agency serving metro Denver and Boulder by providing innovative and professionally delivered services that empower participants to overcome difficult challenges and live fuller, more meaningful lives. JFS exists to fulfill one of the most important Jewish values: that of Tikkun Olam, the obligation to make the world a better place. For more information, please visit: www.jewishfamilyservice.org.

Yana was interviewed by KOA Radio about her incredible story immigrating from the former Soviet Union to Denver via JFS. For the link to that broadcast, please visit JFS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jfscolorado.

Archway Housing and Services Celebrates 20 Years

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Celebrating an emerald anniversary in the midst of a gems-and-minerals exhibit, you might say this year’s Archway Housing and Services annual gala was a jewel, a sparkling success. On Friday, Sept. 18, supporters gathered at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science for a festive evening of food, friends and fundraising to help the organization build healthier, more sustainable communities, while simultaneously increasing the self-sufficiency and upward mobility of struggling families who live in those homes.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Archway's executive director Joyce Alms Ransford and former Bronco and event emcee Reggie Rivers

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, Archway’s executive director Joyce Alms Ransford and former Bronco and event emcee Reggie Rivers

The evening began with music by Bob’s Atrium Band during the cocktail hour and silent auction. Guests then adjourned to a sit-down dinner and program emceed by former Denver Bronco and media personality Reggie Rivers. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was on hand to give the keynote speech and introduce award honorees David Nestor and Robinson Lapp, Archway co-founders. Also recognized on stage for service: Yvonne Monson, director of administration, and Yvette Craddock, board vice president and president of the Archway Investment Corporation board of directors.

During the program, Somer Lundborg, manager of family services, talked about the numerous, comprehensive programs for residents: from community gardens to career development for adults, and life skills classes, homework assistance and field trips for youngsters. Youth leaders took the stage to talk about their experiences, while executive director Joyce Alms Ransford and board president Mary Anderies also spoke during the program. Following a live auction run by lively auctioneer Rivers, guests had the opportunity to see the museum’s current Gems & Minerals Exhibition.

Another high bid at the live auction

Another high bid at the live auction

Archway Housing and Services is a faith-based Colorado nonprofit with roots in the Rocky Mountain Conference of the United Church of Christ. Its mission: to change lives by providing housing and supportive services that engender a safe environment. The organization is dedicated to building healthier communities and providing teaching skills for families with very low to moderate incomes. Those additional family services, sometimes uncompensated, are currently available to 360 families, and there are plans underway for 60 additional apartments set aside for formerly homeless veterans. Archway Investment Corp., Inc., is the newest addition to the corporate structure, initiated in late 2014 to act as the developer of all future housing developments. For more information, please visit: http://www.archwayhousingandservices.org.

Joy of Giving Benefiting Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic

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The annual Joy of Giving party sponsored by the Bachus & Schanker Cares Foundation this year benefited Justice & Mercy Legal Aid Clinic (JAMLAC). The holiday event was held Friday, December 5 at the Law Offices of Bachus & Schanker winner of the 2014 Small Business Award presented by Colorado’s National Philanthropy Day last month.

More than $18,000 was raised with proceeds directly benefiting the clients served at the Justice and Mercy Legal Aid Clinic (JAMLAC), a Denver-based non-profit law firm that provides safe and confidential resource for victims of daily hardship and cruelty.

Kyle Bachus and Darin Schanker were on hand to host the event attended by some 125 guests. The event featured a cocktail reception, holiday music led by trombonist Aidan King, a live and silent auction, and comments from host Darin Schanker and JAMLAC Executive Director Steve Thompson, who thanked donors and supporters.

Keeping the festivities in order were Communications pro Andrea Brito-Amador and JAMLAC Development Director Nikki Koster.

Also in attendance were: Scott Lumpkin, Vice Chancellor, University Advancement, University of Denver; Robert Kelso and Misty Ewegen of Forensic Pursuit; JP and Carrie Prins of Agren Blando Court Reporting; Hannah Dudley of Judi’s House. Among JAMLAC staff on hand were: Immigration Director Tina Diaz, Sulma Mendoza, JAMLAC Coordinator; Greg Fuchs, Director of Denver Urban Semester; Kelsey Winters, Director of Development, Joshua Station; and other staffers.

Founded in 2006, JAMLAC is a faith-based, non-profit law firm that provides safe and confidential resource for victims of daily hardship and cruelty. Full-time attorneys, paralegals, interns and volunteers manage approximately 50 active cases each week. Last year, JAMLAC provided civil legal services to over 800 low-income clients, 97% of whom were victims of domestic abuse.

For more information on JAMLAC visit www.milehighmin.org/jamlac

 

 

 

 

RMHS Honors Military Heroes During Veterans Day Weekend Gala

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One man is training to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, another is a Medal of Honor recipient who demonstrated exceptional bravery during battle. A third has spent the past 35 years working tirelessly for fellow veterans’ rights and honor. Hearing their stories is a moving experience, but the opportunity to meet these military heroes is quite another. The 3rd annual Rocky Mountain Human Services Gala provided that and more, held during Veterans Day weekend to honor and thank those who have served.

Among the military veterans at the VIP reception (l to r): Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker SSG Clint Romesha; Fredia Johnson, RMHS veteran employment program manager; and SPC Justin Cooper

Among the military veterans at the VIP reception (l to r): Medal of Honor recipient and keynote speaker SSG Clint Romesha; Fredia Johnson, RMHS veteran employment program manager; and SPC Justin Cooper

On Saturday, Nov. 8, more than 500 people from all walks of life got together to show their support for RMHS, both emotionally and monetarily. Funds raised were earmarked for expanding the organization’s military and veterans programs—RMHS is the largest Colorado nonprofit serving veterans with wrap-around care.

The evening began with a sunset VIP reception on the penthouse level of the Hyatt Regency DTC. A short program featured awards for Judge David Shakes and Dr. James Schraa for their individual work with RMHS military and veterans programs. Speakers included Annie Davies, director of communications and development; CEO Stephen Block; Dr Erin Wilkinson, director of military and veterans programs; and event co-chair Peter Burg. Other gala co-chairs were Sandy Burg, and Steve and Sharon Binder.

Marlene Siegel checks out a crocheted patriotic throw at the silent auction.

Marlene Siegel checks out a crocheted patriotic throw at the silent auction.

A reception in the atrium was augmented with a spectrum of items up for bid in the silent auction—a live auction with experiential packages was held later in the evening. The dinner program was highlighted by Lt. Col. Dick Merritt (Ret.) receiving the Loyalty Beyond Service Award and John Vaught accepting the Community Partners Award on behalf of the Colorado Bar Association. Dob Bennett, who co-founded Operation TBI Freedom with wife Debbie, spoke about his organization’s successes. After dinner, keynote speaker and Medal of Honor recipient SSG Clinton Romesha had the crowd riveted during his talk.

Rocky Mountain Human Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that serves nearly 10,000 individuals, including more than 2,000 professionals and 7,500 Colorado and Wyoming residents through seven distinct programs. In 2012, the organization celebrated its 20th anniversary, changing its name from Denver Options to Rocky Mountain Human Services to reflect the expansion of services throughout Colorado. The organization’s goal is to serve vulnerable populations throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

Currently, RMHS serves:
•Children with developmental delays and disabilities
•Adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities
•Adults who live with the effects of a traumatic brain injury (TBI)
•Military personnel and veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan with a TBI
•Veterans in need of employment assistance or who are homeless or in jeopardy of losing their homes
•Families who are striving to break the cycle of poverty
•Professionals who seek to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual challenges
•Professionals who seek to provide the highest quality services for individuals with developmental disabilities

Block writes: “RMHS’s expansion in the military and veteran programs during the last seven years is a natural extension of our work with vulnerable populations, allowing us to create a world of compassion and hope for those whose lives personify our mission of service to others.” For more information about RMHS, go online at: www.RMHumanServices.org, and to learn more about veterans programs, please visit: www.RMHumanServices.org/MVP.