Health Heroes at Work


Breakfast at the Studio Loft at the Ellie was an early morning start to recognize Colorado’s best health charities and also to acknowledge Colorado’s generous companies that support those charities.

The Sixth Annual Health Heroes at Work Breakfast was hosted by Community Health Charities and their generous sponsors. Cheryl Preheim from 9News emceed the event and helped Ed Pierce announce the 2016 Campaign Excellence Awards that were given to Great West Financial, Isle of Capri/Lady Luck Casinos, Johns Manville, Kaiser Permanente, King Soopers/City Market, Pinnacol Assurance and TIAA. Each awardee received a 2016,Super Hero award.

The prestigious Colorado Health Hero of the Year recipient was Dr. Marjorie Laird, co-founder of Second Wind Fund organization. Her mission for her organization, Second Wind was to ensure that children and teens at-risk of suicide always have access to professional mental health counseling. After fourteen years, the organization has served more than 4,000 children and teens.

Keynote speaker was Dr. Larry Wolk, the Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. He spoke on children’s health and Colorado’s environmental health while emphasizing his mission, which is to simplify the health system for the citizens of our state.

The Recognition breakfast was an almost perfect event where breakfast was served promptly. The program began promptly and all guests were ready to leave by 9:00 A.M. The food catered by Kevin Taylor was delicious, healthy, and highlighted exquisite French pastries which gave guests all the calories needed for one day. The theme and message of the morning illustrated how dozens of organizations representing thousands of Coloradoans are making a difference in the lives of our neighbors who may be struggling with a chronic disease or disability.

To learn how you or your business can be a part of this organization contact Elizabeth Rosenblum, MPA Director. 303-758-0069. Community Health Charities, 1660 S. Albion Street, Suite 1004, Denver, CO 80222.


Jeannie Ritter Speaks out for Mental Health


Community Health Charities hosted their 5th Annual Health Heroes at Work Recognition Breakfast, May 6, 2015 at The Studio Loft.

Cheryl Preheim from 9News introduced the organization and spoke of Denver’s Community Health Charities saying, “Their mission is to connect caring donors in the workplace with our nation’s most trusted health charities.” Workplaces like King Soopers, Kaiser Permanente, TIAA-CREF and many more such as Ameristar Casinos, Great-West Financial, Hunter Douglas, Hyatt Regency, Johns Manville, LenderLive Network, NREL, and Wells Fargo who show support for 52 local charities through partnerships and payroll contribution gifts.

On this Mile High rainy, spring morning, Community Health Charities proudly presented Campaign Excellence Awards 2015to King Soopers/City Market, Kaiser Permanente and TIAA-CREF.    The 2015 Campaign Success Awards were presented to Ameristar Casino Resort Spa, Great-West Financial, Hunter Douglas, Hyatt Regency Denver, Johns Manville, LenderLive Network Network, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Wells Fargo.  All awardees were recognized for the way their giving campaign improves Colorado for all of us.

Former First Lady Jeannie Ritter, Mental Health Ambassador from Mental Health Center of Denver, gave an enthusiastic, upbeat presentation focused on children. She has been a champion of emotionally disturbed children in Denver Public Schools since serving as First Lady. With her heartfelt interest for those in need of mental health education and services, she shared two powerful videos that left the guests teary eyed yet acutely aware of the need and impact of mental health on children and families.

Becky Haddad was awarded the 2015 Community Health Hero of the Year Award. She has been a dedicated volunteer for Susan G. Komen Colorado for more than 20 years and has served on the board for more than 10 years. She was recognized as the Health Hero of the Year for her tireless volunteer efforts and for serving as a role model for fellow cancer survivors. Unfortunately, Haddad was attending an Anti-cancer Workshop at Duke University for Susan G. Komen Colorado, and couldn’t be there to accept the award. Her children, Tim and Mindi, dabbing tears away, proudly accepted this honor on behalf of their mother, Becky Haddad.

Other 2015 Community Health Hero Nominees were Laura Crowley, Angel Eyes; Mike Mills, Arthritis Foundation; Anna Aranda, Craig Hospital; Michael Lederer, Developmental Pathways; Dr. Joseph Dankey, KIND; Peggy Fetchenhier, Home Health Care; Kerrie Olsen, Down Syndrome Association.

Everyone left a little less sleepy and warmly satisfied that the mission they support is working successfully in our health communities.

For more information on Community Health Charities call 303-758-0069. 1660 South Albion Street, Ste. 1004, Denver 80222.






Stone Soup Breakfast - Celebrating 50 Years of Head Start Programs


Early morning, March 11, 2015, teachers, educators and government officials gathered to celebrate 50 years of Head Start at Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers’ Stone Soup—Gathering Community, Nourishing Children.

The Curtis hotel downtown was a perfect location for bringing in the many dedicated individuals who have built careers around educating and caring for children. Included in the line up of speakers was Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers’ President and CEO, Pamela Harris who also emceed the event.  The featured speaker was Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, who flew from Washington, D.C., in her role as President of the National Alliance for Hispanic Families. As the former federal Office of Head Start Director, Fuentes gave a moving talk about the need for programs such as Head Start and, praised President Lyndon Johnson for his foresight and determination to end poverty in America. Especially for the children who are most vulnerable. It was a special day.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock proclaimed: March 11, 2015, to be known as “Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers Head Start Day.”

Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers inspired by the Head Start program began 45 years ago, and to date has served 45,000 low income children and their families.

It is hard to believe that 50 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson and Sargent Shriver brought this amazing program to our underprivileged children living at the poverty level.

Mile High Montessori promotes positive social, emotional, physical and cognitive development for low income children, and provides comprehensive critical health, family and social services by using the Head Start and Montessori inspired programs.

Today,  Mile High Montessori offers a premier Head Start/Montessori inspired early learning program to over 500 children daily at five centers. The sixth center operates as a learning site for parents and family, friends and neighbor caregivers.

It was a special day, especially for the children. LaPhonso Salas stood up to tell his story. He was an early beneficiary of Mile High Montessori’s program. His testimony gave emotion and meaning to the building of children into adults – smart, responsible, caring adults.

From Mayor Hancock, to Don Mares to Happy Haynes and her inspiring mother, Anna Jo Haynes, it was a day to say congratulations to Denver, to America, and to the many elected officials and leaders who are behind our children and programs such as Head Start and Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers.

To see for yourself how these programs work, stop by Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers, A Mile High United Way Community Partner, located at 1780 Marion Street, Denver, 80218



11th Annual Breakfast for Humanity


Area coffee shops surely felt a slowdown in business on Wednesday, May 7, as nearly 700 supporters got their java jolt at the 11th annual Breakfast for Humanity, hosted by Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver. The event, held at Infinity Park Event Center, was a celebration to thank sponsors, vendors and volunteers for their time, donations and hard work. It was also a chance to introduce the Habitat “building a foundation for success” credo to newcomers.

CEO Heather Lafferty, the Angel Meza family and Cheryl Preheim

CEO Heather Lafferty, the Angel Meza family and Cheryl Preheim

The organization’s largest fundraiser of the year featured a packed one-hour program of speakers and video presentations that surrounded a complimentary sit-down breakfast served by Footers Catering. Vivacious 9News anchor Cheryl Preheim emceed the program with energy and sincerity—not only an event host, but an active Habitat hammer-wielder. She promised guests they would be so inspired by event speakers, “…you will be skipping to work.” Rev. Dr. James E. Fouther, Jr., of United Church of Montbello not only offered a pre-meal blessing, but a short inspirational talk surrounding the “theology of the hammer” concept, quoting from Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller’s book.

Heather Lafferty, Habitat Metro Denver’s CEO and project participant, spoke about the positive impact of Habitat projects on families and the community along with the definition of home—and the difference that Habitat owners felt after being part of the build-and-buy process. Angel Meza, along with her children Christian, Danielle, Rebekah and Paris, each spoke about their Habitat home experience, and guests were also treated to videos celebrating the organization’s 35th year. Board vice president Steve Shaffer ended the program with a call for donations—and most of the guests grabbed a pen to fill in various dollar amounts on their pledge cards.

Habitat for Humanity was established in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller to address poverty housing on a global scale through “partnership housing.” The Fullers’ concept centers on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses. Habitat’s no-profit and no-interest financing is affordable. And the “Fund for Humanity” (homeowner mortgage payments, no-interest loans and fundraising dollars) provides the capital needed to build. Today Habitat for Humanity has completed more than 600,000 homes around the world, completing the construction or repair of a home at the rate of one every 5.5 minutes.

Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver was established in 1979 by a group of passionate volunteers who worked tirelessly to raise funds, acquire land, select families and manage all of the logistics to build the first Habitat homes in Denver. Since then, Habitat Metro Denver has become one of the largest affiliates in the U.S., celebrating the construction of a 500th home in 2012. In 2014, the organization announced a goal to serve 500 more families in five years. For more information, please visit:

Mi Casa: Leading Others on the Path to Prosperity

She is dealing with the most vulnerable in our community who can do nothing for her. This is where greatness in our country starts.

— Denver Mayor Michael Hancock referring to Mi Casa’s CEO/Executive Director Christine Marquez-Hudson

Starting your day by attending the 5th annual Mi Casa Path to Prosperity Breakfast is like a drinking a Venti cup of inspiration. The morning was about life-changing achievements by the agency’s participants, new and innovative projects in response to economic challenges, and good work in carving out a clear direction by its board. Yet, one thread ran through all the news of the day.  Mi Casa is being led by a woman who is as grounded as she is visionary.  Earlier this year, 9News named Mi Casa’s CEO/Executive Director Christine Marquez-Hudson the 2013 Leader of the Year. Rightfully so, as under her guidance, Mi Casa nearly tripled its outreach moving from 800 served in 2008 to 2,300 served in 2012.

When Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock spoke he educated the audience on what it is like to be at the helm of a non-profit. He humbly and light-heartedly reflected on his time in leading the Urban League. He shared what his mentor taught him: success rests on building a reputation as being someone people know is going to do what they say they will do. And, along with that, the person is someone they like. Then his message turned to present day. With glowing and authentic words, he emphasized that Christine Marquez-Hudson is that person.

“You have a superstar in Christine Marquez-Hudson and I hope you recognize that,” said Mayor Hancock.

When Mi Casa’s leader took the stage she more than personified the mayor’s words. She is as compassionate as she is focused in what people need to succeed.

“At Mi Casa we go beyond the tech skills. It’s about helping people believe in themselves again. And my staff tells me that’s what they need most.”

And Mi Casa is delivering on both fronts. Part of the excitement of the event was the announcement of the opening of the Mi Casa Innovation Lab in Northeast Park Hill. The Lab offers a menu of services from career planning to entrepreneurial counseling to courses on financial literacy and technology.

She also introduced another Mi Casa project: TalentSource, a full-service Denver staffing agency providing diverse talent. With an endearing combination of giddiness and pride, she beamed as TalentSource’s freshly launched website was illuminated on the big screen. It’s a project to be proud of. TalentSource will connect Denver area employers with a skilled, bilingual and diverse workforce and as a division of Mi Casa, TalentSource is the only full-service staffing agency in Colorado whose profits support a social mission.

Christine Marquez-Hudson also praised her board, and the many board members before them. She shared how the current group came together to outline the organization’s direction for the next five years. The plan includes a focus on integrating services, moving the agency toward financial freedom by initiating revenue generating projects, and providing impeccable community leadership. All efforts support Mi Casa’s mission to advance the economic success of Latino and working families.

Perhaps, though, the most moving words came from a young man named Alan. He’s known as a “super participant” at Mi Casa’s neighborhood center since he has logged more than three-digits in days attending the center. He summed up the meaning of all Mi Casa is doing when he said, “I think the world would be a better place with more Mi Casas.”