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.
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.
Mercy Housing—one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations of its kind—operates according to the conviction that affordable housing can revitalize neighborhoods, boost residents’ economic status, and stabilize lives. The organization serves a variety of populations, from refugee families to seniors and people with special needs. In its work across 43 states, Mercy Housing strives to redefine affordable housing by creating stable foundations for residents through supportive services such as after-school programs, employment initiatives, and financial education. On any given day, Mercy Housing serves more than 144,000 people.
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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.
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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While running a veterinary practice in 1988, Dr. Bill Suro and his wife, Nanci, became aware of a problem: What happens to homeless animals in need of medical care? Because there was no publicly funded hospital to care for these animals, they were often sent to animal control to be euthanized. The Suros knew there had to be a better solution. Then one day, they got their answer. Dr. Suro was contacted about a homeless dog that had been hit by a car and had multiple injuries. The dog needed expensive orthopedic surgery but was facing euthanasia because of the cost. Dr. Suro's hospital claimed the dog, which his staff named Max, and raised more than enough money to cover his medical care. With leftover funds at their disposal, the Suros began helping other homeless animals in need, and MaxFund was born.
Since then, MaxFund Animal Adoption Center has saved the lives of more than 25,000 stray and injured cats and dogs. The no-kill shelter also spays or neuters homeless animals to prevent overpopulation and helps them find loving, permanent homes.