It's hard to make room for nearly 8,000 wagging tails, 16,000 wandering eyes, and 32,000 batting paws, but Foothills Animal Shelter always finds a way. Due to its open-admissions policy—which means that no animal is turned away—the shelter welcomes roughly 8,000 homeless animals per year, treating them to housing and the attention of its professionals and volunteers. Once inside, the animals are given sanctuary, shots, and the chance to steal the hearts of potential adopters with their puppy-dog eyes.
But the caretakers at Foothills Animal Shelter don't just wait for needy pets to find them. They also perform such preventive measures as neutering, spaying, licensing, and vaccinations in order to ensure that pets with homes remain healthy and out of harm's way. This motive also drives the shelter's microchip services, which provide electronic identification should pets become lost, and training that teaches animals to follow commands and avoid white outfits after Labor Day.
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 first Habitat for Humanity affiliate in Colorado sprouted up in 1979 with the purpose of building simple, affordable homes for low-income families and spreading a sense of community. Since then, 28 more affiliates have strapped on their tool belts and joined in. In 2008, Habitat for Humanity of Colorado built its 1,000th home, sparking a campaign to build 1,000 more in the next three years.
When Habitat for Humanity builds a home, it enlists the help of the family who will be living there. They dedicate their time and sweat to completing the project alongside volunteers, neighbors, donors, churches, and other supporters, engendering a spirit of renewal and togetherness. Once they move in, families pay a no-interest mortgage with monthly payments based on 25% of their income. These payments go into a revolving fund that promotes the construction of more homes.
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.
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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Forward Steps support teens transitioning out of foster care with housing, support services, and life-skills classes in financial literacy, resumé building, and nutrition. The organization also focuses on community, providing its young clients with a place to live in a communal environment and connecting them with successful program alumni who share experiences similar to their own. While Forward Steps' clients are working toward self-sufficiency, it supplements their limited incomes with a monthly stipend and assistance in applying for financial aid and scholarships.