Denver Botanic Gardens houses vibrant flowers, lush vegetation, and educational activities for visitors of all ages. Native and adapted plants flourish in the York Street campus, which also houses Mordecai Children’s Garden—a 3-acre lot with alpine gardens, mountain ranges, and cool bugs. The two-story waterfall at Marnie's Pavilion bursts with blooming orchids year-round, and a Japanese garden features Ponderosa pines sculpted to look like bonsai. Visitors stroll through water gardens inspired by Monet's estate at Giverny.
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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Laura Monahan comes from an artistic family, and spent her youth practicing sculpture, oil painting, pottery, and what turned out to be her ultimate passion: photography. Her ability to preserve candid moments has left an indelible impression—she has a published portfolio on three continents and product lines appearing at national retailers such as Hallmark and JCPenney. Laura’s photo shoots always take place outdoors, capturing newborns, older kids, families, and makeshift popsicle-stick families in soft, natural lighting and poses that never appear unnatural. Her settings span the country from San Diego’s foamy beaches to Denver’s red-rock sunsets and into the Midwest’s autumn leaves.
Smokin Joes BBQ heaps plates of beef brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, pulled pork and other menu items slathered in sauce that’s at once sweet, tangy, tart, and spicy. Other sauces include the spicy barbecue, sweet and tangy mustard sauce, and the Carolina sauce, which blends vinegar, brown sugar, and a hint of cayenne pepper ideal for whole-hog cooking. Signature milkshakes cool off the tongue with inventively sweet flavors, such as the birthday cake shake with Funfetti cake mix, milk, and vanilla ice cream. Smokin Joes can also cater for events such as company picnics, class reunions, and weddings, especially weddings where they toast with barbecue sauce instead of champagne.
Lyle Phetteplace fell in love with the outdoors and his home state of Colorado at an early age. Today, he runs Renaissance Adventure Guides so he can pursue his passion and allow others to experience adventure, too. The excursions he curates include hiking, kayaking, climbing, backpacking, and even sea kayaking, a skill beginners hone on the lakes of Colorado before moving on to distant ocean destinations, such as Costa Rica. Lyle and his team also design guided travel tours of the country, which presents excellent terrain for hiking, backpacking, and other activities.
The staff at Renaissance Adventure Guides believe outdoor adventures can bring people closer to their fellow participants and to the environment, so they treat each experience differently. They customize adventures to suit the abilities and goals of their customers, while also keeping groups at a manageable size so everyone receives personal attention and a unique, secret high-five. Because safety is always at the forefront of any expedition, they also offer avalanche training with instructors qualified by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. Additionally, they pass along their love of exploring to children through kids camps filled with days paddling the river.