The Hope Center 5th Annual Community Carnival

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On a bright Saturday morning kids and families ignored the scorching 95-degree heat and enjoyed several hours of pony rides, assorted toss games, and several huge bouncy castles featured at the 5th Annual HOPE Center Community Carnival in Clayton/Cole Neighborhood. This year’s event, held Saturday, July 16, brought neighbors together to chat, relax and enjoy snow cones, cotton candy and other refreshments.

Established in the 1960s, HOPE Center is a community-based non-profit agency focusing on Early Childhood Education and Care and Vocational Training for adults with developmental disabilities.  The Center also provides education for at-risk and gifted children, and kids with developmental disabilities for Denver families. This year the organization celebrates 54 years of service and serves some 200 students, of which 65 percent are African- American and 20 percent Hispanic.

The event attracts local families and businesses and hosts a dozen tents with representatives from local health and family non-profit groups and city government agencies. Fortunately, some tree shade was plentiful for Denver Zoo volunteer Patti Wells who showed off one of her larger lizards while around the corner Solome Morales patiently spinned some cotton candy.

Among the informational booths were the Denver County Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), The Center for African American Health, Lupus of Colorado, Mental Health Center of Denver, Connect for Health Colorado, Kids Choice Dental, Clothes to Kids of Denver, and Denver Health, to name a few.

President/CEO Gerie Grimes has led the organization for nearly 10 years, but has been with HOPE Center since 1982 rising through the ranks first as a bookkeeper and later Deputy Director before becoming Director in 2007. A Denver native, Grimes earned degrees in non-profit administration and non-profit management from Metro State College of Denver and Regis University, respectfully and currently working on her PhD

President/CEO Gerie Grimes with Ashia Grimes

President/CEO Gerie Grimes with Ashia Grimes

. Her grandchildren and several nieces and nephews are HOPE Center alumni and they can often be found serving as volunteers as well.

Besides the summer carnival event, the HOPE Center also hosts a highly successful Vintage Vegas Casino Night every spring. To volunteer, donate or learn more visit their web site at www.HopeCenterInc.org

 

 

Archway Housing Breaks Ground for $15 Million Affordable-Housing Project in Lakewood

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So maybe the ground being broken had turned to mud from rain and snow. Maybe it was still raining and snowing. But what a metaphor for Archway Housing & Services’ 40 West Residences groundbreaking. The gloomy weather only represented obstacles overcome and the sunny weather ahead a symbol for the bright future of the comprehensive affordable-housing project in Lakewood. And for shovel-wielding participants? The wet conditions only made it easier to dig into that temporarily soft ground.

Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul (left); keynote speaker and HUD regional director, Rick Garcia; and Archway executive director Joyce Alms-Ransford

Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul (left); keynote speaker and HUD regional director, Rick Garcia; and Archway executive director Joyce Alms-Ransford

On Friday, April 29, partners and supporters of Archway’s newest housing project gathered at the future site of 40 West Residences to mark the beginning of construction and the completion of closing–literally the day before. Archway’s executive director, Joyce Alms-Ransford, presided over a program packed with speakers that included Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul and keynote speaker Rick Garcia, HUD regional director. Key thoughts of the day centered on gratitude, appreciation, perseverance and the extensive collaboration among a myriad of diverse groups and individuals.

This innovative, affordable housing project is located near the “Gateway to Lakewood” on Colfax Avenue, the busiest transit corridor in Colorado. With a broad base of support, 40 West Residences will serve individuals and couples with a range of incomes, including low and very low-income veterans, a critically underserved population in the Denver metro area. In 2012, Archway Housing & Services Inc. purchased the parcel of land at 5830 W. Colfax Ave. with plans to construct a new affordable housing development. For more than four years, Archway has diligently pursued the development of 40 West Residences, and the organization has obtained the funding necessary to begin construction.

Lots of love for JHL Constructors

Lots of love for JHL Constructors

With a total development cost of $15 million, 40 West Residences was designed by VTBS Architects and will be built by JHL Constructors. It is anticipated that construction will be completed in June, 2017. The complex will be a four-story, 46,663-square-foot building comprised of 54 one-bedroom and 6 two-bedroom units–25 of those units are set aside for homeless U.S. military veterans. The remaining units will be reserved for individuals or couples who meet income requirements.

In July 2015, the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority awarded tax credits to 40 West Residences. Additionally, investors in the project are National Equity Fund (NEF), which focuses on veteran housing projects. Also partnering to provide mortgage financing are BBVA Compass and FirstBank of Colorado. Mile High Community Loan Fund provided critical funding for the land purchase and predevelopment activities. Metro West Housing Solutions will be a Special Limited Partner, providing property tax exemption. Other funders include: Lakewood/Jeffco Home Consortium, Colorado Division, the Federal Home Loan Bank – Topeka, The Home Depot Foundation, and Northrop Grumman/Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The Council for Health & Human Services Ministries, UCC (CHHSM), as well as Urban Lights will provide donated or discounted goods and services. Other supporters include the Rocky Mountain Conference United Church of Christ, West Colfax Community Association, Two Creeks Neighborhood Association, 40 West Arts District, and the Lakewood–West Colfax Business Improvement District.

Joyce Alms-Ransford (second from left), with project supporters

Joyce Alms-Ransford (second from left), with project supporters

In partnership with the Veterans Administration, the Colorado Division of Housing, and HUD, Archway was awarded 25 project-based VASH Vouchers to serve veterans who are homeless. Archway also has partnered with Jefferson Center for Mental Health, VA-Eastern and Rocky Mountain Human Services to provide critical services for veterans. These partnerships and the construction of 40 West Residences will reduce the delays in housing placements and increase housing choices for homeless veterans, especially at a time when affordable housing options are limited. Other households can access services if they are in need; however, the residents of 40 West Residents, comprised from the general public, may have no other needs than a decent, safe and affordable place to live.

Archway Housing & Services and Archway Investment Corporation’s missions are to change lives by providing housing and related supportive services that engender a safe environment and teach community skills for families with low-to-moderate incomes. For more information, please visit: http://www.archwayhousingandservices.org/.

HOPE Center Community Carnival is a Neighborhood Celebration

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It’s a simple recipe for fun on a summer Saturday: carnival games and prizes for the kids, and good food and conversation for everyone. For the fourth year, HOPE Center hosted a neighborhood celebration with all the camaraderie of a traditional block party, plus added enticements that included pony rides, facepainting, good-natured “gladiator jousting” and the ever-popular bouncy house.

The little "jouster" says: "I got this."

The little “jouster” says: “I got this.”

On the afternoon of July 18, supporters new and old gathered at 3400 Elizabeth St. in Denver to celebrate and raise funds for the educational and developmental programs and services of HOPE Center. There was no official speakers’ program or agenda at this event—just fun-focused, nonstop games and activities, with festive food that ranged from grilled burgers and ’dogs to cotton candy and snow cones. Kids tried their hand at games and contests, winning points that resulted in prizes. A handful of organizations and vendors were onsite as well, with information on useful goods and services.

Presley thoroughly enjoyed her pony ride.

Presley thoroughly enjoyed her pony ride.

HOPE Center was founded in 1962 with an enrollment of six children and a staff of two teachers in a building at East Montview Boulevard and Syracuse Street. Growth was rapid and the Center subsequently occupied quarters at other locations in Denver, and became a non-profit corporation in 1965. HOPE Center has achieved a distinguished record of helping special-needs children and adults advance intellectually, vocationally, emotionally and socially to become contributing members in their families and productive members of their community. With a current average daily enrollment of over 200 children and 35 adults, and an average staff of 30, HOPE Center is one of the largest community-based organizations in the Denver area. For more information, please visit: www.HopeCenterInc.org.

Pikes Peak United Way 2015 Community Celebration Luncheon

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The Pikes Peak United Way in Colorado Springs held its Community Celebration Luncheon June 4 at the Broadmoor Hotel International Center to honor its supporters. More than 650 attended the event to listen to keynote speaker Rich Harwood, president and founder of the Maryland-based Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, and to officially recognize key volunteers, individual and corporate donors from throughout the Colorado Springs metro region.

KKTV/Channel 11 anchors Dianne Derby and Don Ward emceed the event with presentations made by Pikes Peak Board Chair Kent Fortune followed by organizational program updates by PPUW President/CEO Jason Wood who thanked presenting sponsors Federal Express and U.S. Bank. As part of its mission in Colorado Springs, the Pikes Peak United Way serves more than 35 partner agencies. This year the PPUW annual community campaign raised $5.7 million.

Keynote speaker Richard Harwood enthusiastically advocated for a more entrepreneurial attitude in dealing with community challenges. He urged leaders, politicos and guests to focus on three things including engaging people around shared aspirations, learning to build things together, and “paying close attention to stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our communities.”

This year’s award winners are:

• Volunteers of the Year: Dr. Lance Bolton, Jerry Forte, Tom Neppl, Jan Weiland
• Spirit of Caring Award- Small Company: Nor’wood
• Spirit of Caring Award- Medium Company: Peoples Bank
• Spirit of Caring Award- Large Company: USAA
• Leaders in Collaboration Award: Sarah Tracy, Bob Hughes

Award-winning actress and community advocate Sally Hybl received the S. Jerrard Smith Award which honors individuals whose work changes the lives of many and improves the quality of life in the community. Last year’s recipient of the Smith Award–Pam Shockley, Chancellor at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs–introduced Hybl who thanked her colleagues, guests and family for their support. Hybl is a lifelong Colorado Springs resident and President of the Cheyenne Mountain School District’s Tradition of Excellence Foundation.

Founded in 1922, Pikes Peak United Way is dedicated to addressing the underlying causes of problems and creating lasting change throughout El Paso and Teller counties. Through its Successful Kids, Strong Families, Tools for Living and Community Wellness programs PPUW targets the most immediate and critical problems to provide support in lasting and meaningful ways that benefit the Colorado Springs community.

For more information visit: ppunitedway.org

 

 

Talking about Hope, Soaring and Spying

SR-71 “Blackbird” pilot Brian Shul and navigator Walter Watson took guests of the 4th annual Wings of Hope benefit on a riveting ride. The duo detailed their covert spy plane missions and shared about the unbelievable individual journey each one took to soar in the world’s fastest flying jet. Brain Shul also signed copies of his award-winning books “Sled Driver” and “The Untouchables.”

Prior to the headline presentation, City of Castle Pines Founding Mayor and Wings of Hope for Pancreatic Cancer Research Founder Maureen Shul gracefully and poetically shared her story of launching the organization. In 2012, she lost both her brother and mother to pancreatic cancer. She channeled her grief into providing hope. In its first year, Wings of Hope raised $45,000, which doubled the following year to $90,000. In 2013, Wings of Hope entered into a formal partnership with the University of Colorado Cancer Center. As a result, Wings of Hope efforts became focused on raising awareness and funding for the pancreatic cancer research ongoing at the CU Cancer Center. In 2015, Wings of Hope established the first endowment for pancreatic cancer research at the CU Cancer Center and is on track to raise $250,000 for CU’s pancreatic cancer research.

“What starts as a single cell gone awry takes monumental effort to fight,” shared Maureen. That effort needs increase as pancreatic cancer, currently the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths, is on track to move to number two within the next five years.

She was followed by Dr. Lisa Goodman, who relayed how her medical training helped her advocate for her father to get tested further for his back pain, an act which ultimately revealed he had pancreatic cancer. She channeled her grief into organizing a golf tournament in her father’s honor and brightly shared that it raised $20,000. The funds are going to help Wings of Hope in its mission to fund ongoing pancreatic cancer research.

“I’m excited to partner with Wings of Hope,” said a smiling Dr. Goodman. “It’s an honor to work with Maureen.”

Elias Gebru, originally from Africa, spoke beautifully about his journey of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and despite not having his own family here, had family through Wings of Hope. People, such as Dr. Purcell, helped him navigate his treatment and balance his living situation.

Dr. Jill Pechacek came to the podium with five guiding words. The first was Dream. Since she was 4, she dreamed of being a physician. At 26, months away from realizing that dream, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She went through treatment while finishing medical school. She elected not to have surgery so she had a shot at her next dream: Motherhood. With palpable pride, she shared she is the mother of three and pointed out her children sitting in the second row. She gave Faith as her third word. She now has a new challenge and needs faith and strength to say each day “Not ‘Why me,’ but instead ‘Chose me, Use me so I may do some good and help others today.’” She’s strong in her faith as, at age 46, she was diagnosed with stage-4 pancreatic cancer.

“I tell every doctor ‘I need 10.’ They don’t understand and I say ‘I need 10 years so I can see my children graduate from high school,’ ” shared Dr. Pechacek.

She added Grateful and Give to her list, relaying that she is grateful for every moment, especially those with her children and encouraged the audience to give supporting words, volunteer time and contribute their resources.

“If you can give someone the words ‘I believe in You’ you will be giving powerfully. Those words fuel my faith and fill my spirit.”

A silent slide show closed the opening segment of the program. With the same grace in which all the messaging was delivered, the last slide read “Heartfully. Hopefully. Honestly. Thank You.” These simple words of truth conveyed the deep appreciation Wings of Hope has for its supporters. Yet, the one who wrote them, Maureen Shul, is the one most deserving of them.

 

 

 

 

Slice of Pi 2015

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An open house like no other, this year’s Slice of Pi showcased an incredible array of student work, from advanced robotics and water-purification demos to a lively poetry slam and dramatic theatre scenes to the sweet sounds of a choir and the beat of an African drum. Wow, these are middle-school students and high-schoolers? On Friday, May 1, parents, teachers and supporters gathered at Stapleton High School to spotlight students from three DSST campuses: Stapleton, Cole and Green Valley Ranch. At the 11th annual event, guests had the opportunity to stroll from room to room catching demos and performances at their leisure. Footers Catering stations made the evening even tastier with three grab-and-go stations, followed by dessert.

Cole High School poetry slam team

Cole High School poetry slam team

 

Operating  10 schools on six campuses of economic and cultural diversity, Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) has an impressive record of focusing on young technology students and entrepreneurs to prepare them for college, as well as life. College acceptance rates for DSST seniors have been 100 percent for the past eight consecutive years.

This year’s honorees, Steve and Susan Halstedt, were on hand to say hello before being recognized on stage during a brief program. CEO Bill Kurtz emceed the program with featured student speakers from a graduating eighth-grader to college-bound seniors, all telling their story with sincerity and gratitude. Marciela Reyes’ inspiring story had the crowd on its feet. This year’s event raised $945,000.

Maricela Reyes is saluted by the crowd after her inspiring story was told onstage.

Maricela Reyes is saluted by the crowd after her inspiring story was told onstage.

DSST Public Schools transforms urban public education by eliminating educational inequity and preparing all students for success in college and the 21st century. Its vision statement:

  • To become a premiere network of schools in Colorado where 100% of our students meet state standards in math, science and English in our Prep Academy.
  • To create an innovative school where students acquire a rigorous academic foundation that they can apply to the community and world around them in meaningful ways.
  • To create a rigorous and supportive academic program which will prepare 100% of our students to earn acceptance into the college of their choice and where they gain the necessary skills to successfully earn a college degree.
  • To graduate students with character and a sense of civic responsibility of whom a significant percentage will assume leadership positions in an increasingly scientific and technology based society.
  • To be an innovative and model school that helps to redefine the American high school experience.

For more information, please visit http://dsstpublicschools.org/.

Anything Goes in Littleton

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Archway Housing & Services Annual Fundraising event at Littleton Town Hall Arts Center presents Anything Goes

There’s few main streets anywhere in the country as inviting as Littleton’s. The trees are a glow with twinkling lights and the manicured Main Street is picture perfect, especially as the holidays approach.

Archway Housing & Services treat their colleagues, clients and employees each year to a fundraising party that includes a night at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center theatrical production. This year’s musical was the frolicking play, “Anything Goes.”

The many friends of Archway gathered in the theater’s lobby Wednesday night, to enjoy festive finger foods created by Relish Catering accompanied by an array of beautiful desserts and cocktails.

Archway Housing and Services, Inc. has changed lives for over twenty years, working to provide family housing and related supportive services that engender a safe environment and teach community skills to families with very low-to-moderate incomes.

Your donations help those who need a little help with school supplies, youth leader courses, summer jobs, holiday celebrations expenses, Family Services and Family Services vehicles.

For information on the Archway organization please visit their website www.archwayhousing.org.

 

 

Mile High United Way launches new headquarters

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Nearly 1,000 guests arrived Tuesday, September 16 to help launch the new headquarters for Mile High United Way which moved from 2505 18th Street to Park Avenue West in downtown’s Curtis Park neighborhood.

The new Mile High United Way Morgridge Center for Community Change was financed with funds proceeds from the sale of that building ($10 million), along with a capital campaign ($9 million) and new markets tax credits ($4.5 million), for a total budget of $23.5 million.

“Mile High United Way’s new headquarters will yield a tangible return on investment,” said City Councilman Albus Brooks of District 8.” All funds needed to complete the project were raised separately from their community campaign, which directly supports Mile High United Way’s work in the Metro Denver area.

John and Carrie Morgridge, founders of the Morgridge Family Foundation, helped finance the new building with a $4 million lead gift. The Morgridge family was on hand for the official ribbon cutting along with Mayor Mike Hancock, Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, City Councilman Albus Brooks, several other government officials, community and business leaders, United Way board members, staff and supporters representing nonprofits, small businesses, government agencies and corporate and industry leaders.

Besides offices for Mile High United Way, the 65,000-square-foot building built by Davis Architects and PCL Construction will house half a dozen other non-profit organizations serving education, women’s workforce, homeless, literacy, health issues and family and children’s assistance programs. Among the facilities are:

• CenturyLink’s Mile High United Way Center housing a free and confidential community referral service that connects callers with resources which provide food, shelter, rent assistance, clothing, child care options, legal assistance and other services to meet basic needs.

• Bridging the Gap, Mile High United Way’s program helping young adults formerly in foster care address their needs related to education, employment, financial literacy, health and leadership development.

• CoBank Leadership Center, 6,300 square feet of conference space for community collaboration, available for free for nonprofit use.

• ComcastDigital Literacy Community Center, giving local citizens and nonprofit organizations access to state-of-the-art technology and free training opportunities.

• Café United, a full service café operated by Work Options for Women.

• Offices for Goodwill Industries and the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative

Among others attending were: First Lady Jennie Ritter; Brad Busse, President of Busse Ventures; Tami Door, CEO of Colorado Concern; George Sparks, CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; Bennie Milliner, Director of Denver’s Road Home; Bob Deible of OfficeSpaces; Richard Lewis of RTL Networks; Renny Fagan, CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association; Kelly Rodriguez and Lori Davis of Grant Thornton; Norah Lovato and StephaniePacheco-McRaeof CWEE Center for Work Education and Employment; Happy Haynes of CRL Associates; Laura Villanueva and Destiny Hardney of Goodwill; Perla Ita Gheiler of Metro State University of Denver; Work Options for Women (WOW) Executive Director; Catherine Henry and WOW staffers Kassi Newman, and Andrea Elliott; Gary Dominguez and Debbie Herrera of CHFA; Signy Mikita of the City of Aurora Neighborhood Services; Patrick Coyle, State of Colorado Dept of Local Affairs; Gregory Anton of Anton Collins Mitchell accounting firm; and Mile High United Way board members and staff.

Denver is home of the very first United Way in the U.S founded in 1887 as a ‘community chest’ of community-oriented individuals during the early pioneer days. Today, Mile High United Way focuses efforts in the counties of Denver, Douglas, Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson. Last year 278,293 people were served by Mile High United Way and their Impact Partners who are working to create sustainable community change in the three interconnected areas of School Readiness, Youth Success and Adult Self-Sufficiency.

For more information please visit www.unitedwaydenver.org

 

Nearly 1,000 guests arrived Tuesday, September 16 to help launch the new headquarters for Mile High United Way which moved from 2505 18th Street to Park Avenue West in downtown’s Curtis Park neighborhood.

The new Mile High United Way Morgridge Center for Community Change was financed with funds proceeds from the sale of that building ($10 million), along with a capital campaign ($9 million) and new markets tax credits ($4.5 million), for a total budget of $23.5 million.

“Mile High United Way’s new headquarters will yield a tangible return on investment,” said City Councilman Albus Brooks of District 8.” All funds needed to complete the project were raised separately from their community campaign, which directly supports Mile High United Way’s work in the Metro Denver area.

John and Carrie Morgridge, founders of the Morgridge Family Foundation, helped finance the new building with a $4 million lead gift. The Morgridge family was on hand for the official ribbon cutting along with Mayor Mike Hancock, Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, City Councilman Albus Brooks, several other government officials, community and business leaders, United Way board members, staff and supporters representing nonprofits, small businesses, government agencies and corporate and industry leaders.

 

Besides offices for Mile High United Way, the 65,000-square-foot building built by Davis Architects and PCL Construction will house half a dozen other non-profit organizations serving education, women’s workforce, homeless, literacy, health issues and family and children’s assistance programs. Among the facilities are:

• CenturyLink’s Mile High United Way Center housing a free and confidential community referral service that connects callers with resources which provide food, shelter, rent assistance, clothing, child care options, legal assistance and other services to meet basic needs.

• Bridging the Gap, Mile High United Way’s program helping young adults formerly in foster care address their needs related to education, employment, financial literacy, health and leadership development.

• CoBank Leadership Center, 6,300 square feet of conference space for community collaboration, available for free for nonprofit use.

• ComcastDigital Literacy Community Center, giving local citizens and nonprofit organizations access to state-of-the-art technology and free training opportunities.

• Café United, a full service café operated by Work Options for Women.

• Offices for Goodwill Industries and the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative

Among others attending were: First Lady Jennie Ritter; Brad Busse, President of Busse Ventures; Tami Door, CEO of Colorado Concern; George Sparks, CEO of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; Bennie Milliner, Director of Denver’s Road Home; Bob Deible of OfficeSpaces; Richard Lewis of RTL Networks; Renny Fagan, CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association; Kelly Rodriguez and Lori Davis of Grant Thornton; Norah Lovato and StephaniePacheco-McRaeof CWEE Center for Work Education and Employment; Happy Haynes of CRL Associates; Laura Villanueva and Destiny Hardney of Goodwill; Perla Ita Gheiler of Metro State University of Denver; Work Options for Women (WOW) Executive Director; Catherine Henry and WOW staffers Kassi Newman, and Andrea Elliott; Gary Dominguez and Debbie Herrera of CHFA; Signy Mikita of the City of Aurora Neighborhood Services; Patrick Coyle, State of Colorado Dept of Local Affairs; Gregory Anton of Anton Collins Mitchell accounting firm; and Mile High United Way board members and staff.

Denver is home of the very first United Way in the U.S founded in 1887 as a ‘community chest’ of community-oriented individuals during the early pioneer days. Today, Mile High United Way focuses efforts in the counties of Denver, Douglas, Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson. Last year 278,293 people were served by Mile High United Way and their Impact Partners who are working to create sustainable community change in the three interconnected areas of School Readiness, Youth Success and Adult Self-Sufficiency. For more information please visit www.unitedwaydenver.org

3rd Annual HOPE Center Community Carnival

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Pony rides or the Denver Fire Department fire truck? It’s tough to say which was more popular with the kids at this year’s HOPE Center Community Carnival. No surprise, the biggest congregation of adult females was seen around the firefighters. There definitely was something for everyone at the third annual event held on Saturday, July 19, at the HOPE Center venue in Denver.

Hot dog and a snow cone...life is good!

Hot dog and a snow cone…life is good!

Guests munched on popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones and grilled hot dogs, while water and soft drinks helped folks cool off on a hot, summer day. The grounds were full of activity, with carnival games, ponies, bouncy houses and the Denver fire engine on display. Organizers also invited nonprofit organizations to talk with guests about their community services.

Kids flocked to see Denver firefighters and tour their fire truck.

Kids flocked to see Denver firefighters and tour their fire truck.

When asked if this was a fundraiser, CEO Gerie Grimes simply said, “It’s a friend-raiser.” She explained that while guests paid very modest fees for games and food ($2 could get you a hot dog and beverage), overall the event was a thank-you to HOPE Center’s volunteers, participants and supporters. And with no admission charge, it was also a chance for neighbors to check out the organization while enjoying the carnival games and atmosphere.

HOPE Center is a community-based agency dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, developmental delays and persons in need of specialized educational or vocational services, from ages 2-1/2 years to adulthood. These services are provided in order to develop, maintain and enhance the functioning of each enrollee. The philosophy of service is to admit individuals to programs within the agency which meet their needs and requirements as specifically as possible. For more information, please visit: www.HopeCenterInc.org.

May the 4th Be With You

May 4 is officially Intergalactic Star Wars Day. In Denver, the place to be for the celebration is Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Count on it like wisdom from Yoda, each year the site will host Star Wars Day at the Hangar. This year 2,500 people came out — many in costume — to honor the saga, take a few cuts with the event’s own version of a light saber, blast a few shots at a storm trooper, and take their place behind the controls of an authentic X-Wing Fighter.

“The first year we hosted a thank you event for 30 people. It’s now grown to thousands coming through the door today,” confirmed Mathew Burchette, curator for the museum.

He then gave all the credit for the success of the day to three groups: Rocky Mountain FanForce, The Rebel Legion and 501st Legion. The first is a social group for Star Wars fans to collectively share their affinity for the series. The other two are official Lucasfilm approved costuming groups. The Rebel Legion is recognized as the world’s premier “Good Guy” Star Wars costuming organization. The second, well, as you can guess, represent the “the dark side.”

One dedicated parent braved the 80-degree day to come as Chewbacca, the gaint hairy Wookie from the movie. This was his second time attending with his son. “It’s a super father-son thing to do. We did it last year and this year we decided to dress up. It’s a lot of fun,” smiled the man as he hugged his miniature Hans Solo partner.

One mother, son duo took in all the sights and beep-beep sounds. “He’s a huge Star Wars fan. He has posters in his room from when he was very, very young.” Her now full-grown son even took a lesson from an X-Wing pilot on how to stun the character.

The whole Wasinger family came out decked for the day. “We look forward to this each year,” replied the costumed-clad mom.

Rocky Mountain FanForce, the guiding organizers of the event, generously gave out “play” light sabers to fans only after they successfully answered a trivia question.

“I’ve watched Star Wars since the day I was born,” expressed 10-year-old Kyala, in between casting questions to those wanting to earn the saber. “My dad still collects Star Wars action figures.”

Maureen Kiefer explained her two girls, Lucy and Kate, were set for all photos with pre-defined movie scene poses. “They are obsessed with Star Wars. One day we watched and they’ve been hooked ever since.”

“How many people can say they worked on a real X-Wing?” said Jeff Rodriguez referencing the rare and rewarding opportunity of maintaining the craft. He, along with 10-15 other volunteers, donate hours to keep the craft in top shape. His group works to preserve the space vehicle along with keeping it up-to-date with electronics.

As Yoda would say, “Patience you MUST HAVE my young padawan.” The event will come back around next year and when it does, entertain your inner Storm Trooper with a trip to Wings Over the Rockies.

May the 4th Be With You.