Standing as the community's curators since 1974, The Greenway Foundation unites seasoned sprinters and pavement-pounding families beneath the same charitable banner during the annual Live-Life-Smiling Mile High Mile race. Funds raised by the race will go to support the Greenway Foundation's SPREE program, which connects thousands of students to the reclamation of the South Platte River through hands-on school trips, weekend events, and summer camps. During the event, participants of all ages launch full throttle into the single-mile scamper, which loops around Sports Authority Field, dashes through the players' tunnel, and finishes with a charge onto the stadium's 50-yard line. After huffing, puffing, and receiving high-fives from impressed tackling dummies, runners bask in postrace accomplishment as prizes acknowledge the morning's swiftest times.
Agates, amethysts, and luminous glass beads come alive in the settings that The Colorado Bead Company’s jewelry instructors help students design— elegant yet whimsical loops of wire, antique-looking chains, earring hoops that recall delicate dreamcatchers. Classes bring out the jewelry artist in kids, adults, and even first-time crafters who get to experience the thrill of walking out clad in the necklaces they've just designed. The shop glistens with strands and packets of such exotic baubles as freshwater pearls, hypoallergenic beads, and Swarovski crystal beads, ready to be incorporated into a new project or used to make a pair of maracas sound classier. Shoppers browse in a bright, open space lined with huge windows, hardwood floors, and airy flower prints.
Steve and Kim Weiner take pride in their ability to mesh medical-grade wellness treatments with a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere. The co-owners began their careers as an aesthetic equipment salesman and a paramedical aesthetician respectively, giving them extensive professional insight into the role that technology can play in rejuvenating clients’ appearances. Their spa embraces some of these technologically based treatments, including infrared body wraps, teeth whitening and hair removal with cosmetic laser systems, and lipotron skin-tightening sessions, which use radio frequencies to firm skin tone and broadcast warning messages to crow’s-feet. The center also offers basic spa treatments, such as massages and deep-cleansing facials.
Club W's team of vino experts reject the stiff, stuffy, and pretentious vibe that some people associate with wine tastings. In doing so, they help make newcomers feel more welcome as they explore different labels and varietals at one of Club W's festivals. They also facilitate wine-based learning via a home-delivery service, which sends out three bottles a month that members choose from a list of 12 carefully selected bottles that changes monthly. Club W's online palate profile helps users narrow down their choices to the vino most suited to their tastebuds.
As part of Groundwork Denver’s Porch Bulb Project, volunteers travel door-to-door, offering to exchange incandescent front-porch light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. The initiative saves participants money and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also serving as a simple outreach gesture to help elderly and low-income residents in the community. Groundwork Denver volunteers use the opportunity to talk to community members about other energy-saving steps they can take, including free weatherization, recycling, and other measures.
On the field trips, kids in the Denver Public School District get a chance to interact with nature firsthand rather than merely hearing about it, as in traditional, indoor environmental education programs. SPREE lets students observe the river’s ecosystem and connect to a natural space in the city, an experience that can ideally spark an interest in exploring nature in their free time. With funding aid to cover the costs of park usage, staff, and supplies, SPREE can provide these excursions for youth from low-income families for free.
Reach Out and Read Colorado’s medical partners meet with parents and children at their regular doctors’ visits, starting at the 6-month checkup and continuing through age 5. The organization distributes developmentally appropriate books to more than 82,000 children each year, and its partners discuss with parents the importance of reading aloud to children at an early age. By encouraging reading in young children, Reach Out and Read Colorado aims to increase their vocabularies and strengthen their language skills to prepare them to begin kindergarten.
America SCORES Denver focuses its afterschool efforts on 10 urban-area schools, where more than 30% of students entering the fourth grade are unable to read and write at their grade level. Young participants get 10 times the average amount of exercise for those in their age group as they sprint and kick their way through organized soccer games and practices, which alternate with more than 60 hours of afterschool poetry workshops. Student-led service projects hatch into fruition each spring. Children most in need of the SCORES program's services often come from low-income families, and nearly half of the children in the program are unable to afford its registration fee, which helps compensate the teachers and coaches leading the organization's workshops and teams.
The internationally acclaimed Big Air event makes its inaugural American appearance in Denver with two evenings of competition that pair a roster of global champs with a tremendous 300-foot-long jump. Tuesday, January 25 opens with the Nature Valley Big Air Challenge, pitting famed male freestyle skiers against one another to perform their best air-defying tricks while simultaneously slicing potatoes into miniature busts of Shaun White. Afterward, ski fans can cheer on the winners at the awards ceremony (8:15 p.m.), before being treated to a concert by Grammy-nominated rockers Switchfoot.
In 1986, Toni Schmid and Kathy Carfrae were interning at homeless shelters in the area as part of their studies at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. They observed homeless women leaving the safety of the shelters each morning with nowhere to go but back to the streets. Believing that these women should have a safe place to spend their days, Toni and Kathy used a $6,000 donation to form The Gathering Place in a one-room facility on Santa Fe Drive. It quickly became a regular daytime drop-in center for women, their children, and transgender individuals who were experiencing episodic or chronic homelessness. At its inception, The Gathering Place served 25–35 women each day; today, it serves approximately 275 women and children daily in its state-of-the-art, 28,000-square-foot facility.
The Gathering Place's programs contribute to personal growth with GED training, a computer lab that hosts skills classes, and a writers' group that facilitates creative expression. It also works to meet basic needs ranging from providing nutritious food to making showers and laundry services available. The housing stabilization program helps women achieve and maintain self-sufficiency with rent and utilities support, transportation assistance, and job training.
Adults, teens, and kids learn how to get the most nutrition out of a tight budget through Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters Colorado, a nutrition education program that aims to help families help themselves. Professional chefs and nutritionists volunteer to lead hands-on courses that include nutrition and cooking lessons, during which participants learn to make healthy meals that cost as little as $1.63 per serving and can be prepared with basic cooking equipment. Volunteers also lead Shopping Matters grocery-store tours, which teach students how to purchase nutritious ingredients on a budget. Along with learning proper cooking techniques and safe preparation, participants return home with grocery bags stocked with the necessary ingredients to prepare the class recipe and share it with their families. In 2012, Cooking Matters Colorado coordinated 345 courses and helped connect more families to food-assistance resources.
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Rocky Mountain Wild works to protect the more than 180 species of plants and animals that are endemic to the Southern Rocky Mountains. The organization conserves forest, alpine, and desert habitats that contain these diverse species and aims to restore the ancient migration corridors that link their habitats. Its team of biologists, geographers, and policy experts also advocates for ecologically responsible skiing and strives to amplify the environmental conversation occurring nationwide and develop solutions that help wildlife thrive despite warming habitats.
Current projects focus on protecting a variety of Rocky Mountain species including the northern leopard frog, the burrowing owl, the narrowleaf evening primrose, and the gray wolf, which is currently listed as extinct in the Southern Rockies. The team gathers knowledge about these species’ statuses with motion-detection cameras and conservation mapping, and then lobbies for policies that protect ancient wilderness areas and reform climate-change and energy policies.
Though most people spend Halloween running from ghosts and monsters, this year a select group of folks will be running with the specters and ghouls—right up until they get to the finish line. At the Scream Scram 5K Run/Walk, participants of all ages get together to raise money for essential after-school programs for thousands of kids who rely on Boys & Girls Clubs, all while showing off their quirky costumes. The macabre trot takes place at Washington Park, where people can run competitively or just stroll for a good cause. The race itself will be bookended by a handful of festive events. Before the starting gun, people can walk the orange carpet to display their ensemble for the costume contest. After the race, everyone gathers at Trick or Treat Street to enjoy refreshments and watch as awards are given to both the top three male and female race finishers and the best costumes in a variety of categories.
Art from Ashes (AfA) promotes artistic expression among youth in the care of human services and homeless shelters as well as those dealing with abuse and poverty. Working with local organizations, AfA sponsors poetry and theater workshops for youth aged 8–24, prompting them to tap into their imaginations and create art that reflects their inner strength and the issues they have overcome. The organization’s Phoenix Rising poetry-and-spoken-word program uses words to encourage inner development and help young people connect with their communities, and its Casting Shadows theater-and-play program helps youth express their feelings in a healthy way through dramatic performance. These programs are designed to provide ongoing tools for artistic expression and engage youth in the social sphere, encouraging them to facilitate change in their communities.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education, and advocacy. Despite being one of the most common chromosomal disorders in the country—occurring in 1 out of every 691 births—Down syndrome receives exceptionally low funding compared to other genetic conditions. The foundation helps to make up for the shortfall by hosting fundraisers and conferences, advocating for public policy that benefits those with Down syndrome, and providing programming that allows individuals living with the condition to develop their talents and abilities.
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