By 7 a.m. each day, the kitchen staff at Coal Creek Meals on Wheels is already hard at work preparing the day's meals. Along with the typical daily meal based on protein, vegetables, and starch, plus bread, fruit, and a freshly baked dessert, the crew also makes several dozen specialized meals each day to accommodate special dietary needs and restrictions. Volunteers chip in around 9 a.m. to bag and package the food, and when the volunteer drivers arrive at 11 a.m., the food is ready for delivery. But the volunteer drivers do more than just deliver hot meals to the organization's homebound elderly, disabled, or ill clients?they also serve as friendly visitors, providing wellness check-ins in addition to hot, nutritious meals. Coal Creek Meals on Wheels has seen a 16% increase in clients since 2010, and its volunteers delivered more than 16,000 meals in 2012.
CrossFit Julia’s husband-and-wife team takes a personal approach to fitness. Rather than set their clients loose in a jungle of workout machinery, they structure their daily CrossFit workouts around functional strength and cardio exercises in a supportive group setting. The classes themselves constantly vary; one day’s deadlifts and pushups are another day’s sprints and burpees. Success is determined not by any uniform standard, but by each student’s ability to meet or exceed his or her own fitness expectations. Just as CrossFit differs from normal workouts, CrossFit Julia’s facility differs from a normal gym. Ropes hang from the ceiling, and the rows of cardio machines found in typical gyms have been replaced with heavy tires lifted from cars illegally parked outside.
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.
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.
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.
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.