Big City Mountaineers helps underserved urban youth develop critical life skills through weeklong wilderness expeditions led by adult mentors. More than 1,000 youth per year have participated in the backpacking or canoeing expeditions since founder Jim Kern organized the first hiking trip in Montana more than two decades ago. On the trip, teenagers can develop a trusting, one-on-one relationship with their mentors and learn how to act with integrity, self-confidence, and responsibility. Big City Mountaineers also partners with volunteer climbers from Summit for Someone, who scale challenging North American peaks to raise money for youth in the program.
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.
The city lights of Denver twinkle in the distance from Mount Vernon Country Club, a 90-year-old private club that is not only proud of its picturesque views from atop Lookout Mountain—which also include the Genesee Mountain and the snowcapped Rocky Mountains—but of the activities it affords both members and guests. Making membership even more affordable due to their lack of a golf course on the grounds, Mount Vernon Country Club is not just your average country club. Members are welcome to enjoy the main dining room and Fireside Lounge’s menus of savory steaks and seasoned seafood dishes, or to dig into the weekly king-crab buffet and weekend brunch. On Friday and Saturday nights, the Fireside Lounge keeps diners entertained with live music, which has included past jazz performances by Kenny Barron, Billy Higgins, and the Fort Apache Band.
Along with a bounty of savory cuisine, Mount Vernon Country Club also offers a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Members can splash around the club’s 25-yard outdoor pool—complete with tube slide and poolside restaurant—or swing rackets day or night at three clay and three hard-court tennis courts. Though the club's original golf course was converted into a water resource and lost-ball orphanage decades ago, members can still swing and putt amid the manicured greens at Evergreen and Raccoon Creek golf courses for a discounted rate.
To keep Mount Vernon Country Club in tip-top shape, the club has undergone remodeling and updating through the years, which has included the addition of banquet halls and an exercise facility. The curvy bar and contemporary chandeliers give the almost-century-old establishment a modern feel, while the grand wood- and stonework still exude the club’s authentic, rustic-cabin charm.
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.
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.
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.
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.