As we approach the holiday season, there is no better time to reflect on your life over the last year and reassess what is important, and how you can improve your personal situation and those around you. Many people take this opportunity to consider how they can help others and for some, volunteering in their community is the answer.
Time after time, research shows that people who volunteer not only reap emotional benefits but their efforts also lead to an expanded social circle, job opportunities, and new skill development. What’s not to love about those outcomes!
Colorado Gives Day is coming up on December 7th. Since 2010, $307 million has been raised for some 3,000 nonprofit organizations in the state. It features a $1 million+incentive fund which enables every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day to receive a portion of the fund, increasing impact and the value of every dollar donated. Colorado Gives Day is the state’s largest one-day online giving event.
Here at Usaj Realty, we firmly believe giving back to the community should be high on anyone’s to-do list. Below you’ll find some of the organizations and charities that our brokers and staff hold close to their hearts. Make an impact in your community and check out these nonprofits and charitable organizations that make a difference in the greater Denver area.
Kristin Boritzke | Children’s Hospital
Kristin volunteers at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She is currently the Chair for the Young Professionals Chapter which is a coalition of volunteers dedicated to raising funds and providing resources to support Children’s Colorado. Most recently funds were donated to the Seacrest Studios at the Hospital.
“We host multiple fundraising events throughout the year including the Superhero Scuttle (a 5K fun run or 1 mile walk around the campus) and Glamp Camp (a camping-themed Gala),” she said. “I also volunteer at Children’s Colorado’s KidStreet. This program is uniquely designed to provide daily rehabilitation services for infants and children with complex medical needs. KidStreet is a multidisciplinary early intervention program designed to maximize the health and development of young children who are dependent on medical technology by promoting independence and fostering peer interactions.
“I have had the pleasure of going weekly to cuddle these sweet kids which really puts your own life into perspective. Too often we take for granted the small things in life, like being able to walk and talk on your own. There is such a sense of fulfillment when you volunteer which is why I started and why I continue!”
Andrea Henderson | Denver Rescue Mission
Denver Rescue Mission has been serving the most vulnerable in our community for more than 128 years. Their history is rooted in a love of Christ and a commitment to share that love with others. At multiple locations throughout the Mile High community, Denver Rescue Mission helps restore the lives of people experiencing homelessness and addiction through emergency services, rehabilitation, transitional programs, and community outreach.
“I’ve been able to understand homelessness in a different capacity and I’ve never been surrounded with more grateful human beings than when I serve meals to this community,” said Andrea. “They are happy, grateful, and so pleasant to be around! I leave my volunteer shifts feeling so energized and like I made an impact!”
Denver Rescue Mission will be providing Thanksgiving dinner at their facilities and will partner with 100+ agencies including churches, schools and non-profit organizations to bring Thanksgiving into the homes of people who would otherwise not have a holiday meal. Check out their website to find out what donations they need and where to drop off your items.
Megan Ivy | Project Worthmore
Founded in 2011, this organization was founded in response to the acute need for assistance of the refugee families in the Denver area. From its meager beginnings, offering makeshift English classes in living rooms, Project Worthmore now offers six comprehensive programs to thousands of refugee clients. Around half of the staff are from the refugee community, helping us to better listen, empower and support those who have come here to rebuild their lives. Strategically located off of east Colfax, Project Worthmore is in the heart of the refugee community and easily accessed by clients.
An estimated 60,000 people who have fled their home countries now call Colorado home. They came to this country as refugees, and from the day they arrive, they are challenged to forge a new life, pay rent within the first few months of arrival, adapt to a new culture, learn English, and navigate complex networks of public services and administration. The very first thing a refugee owns upon entering the USA is debt: They all must reimburse the cost of their plane tickets, which is a substantial financial burden, especially for large families.
Specifically, Megan enjoys working at DeLaney Community Farm. This is a joint venture between Project Worthmore and Denver Urban Gardens, and its centerpiece is a 5-acre farm that supports refugees through sustainable agriculture and community building.
Lauren Naylor | Alzheimer’s Association, Colorado Chapter
This organization is near and dear to Lauren as her mother was diagnosed in January with the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado is the premier source of information and support for Coloradans living with dementia and their families and caregivers. Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia. There are many ways to get involved in your local community, from special events to manning helplines to data entry. The largest fundraiser, held in more than 600 communities nationwide, is the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®. It supports research and provides care and support to people impacted by the disease.
Corey O’Flanagan | Outpaws
This non-profit animal rescue group believes animals rescue people as much as we rescue them. OutPaws prides itself on championing the “underdogs,” and knows that with a little patience and love, mixed with proper care and training, these animals can make wonderful, loving companions.” They consider themselves “matchmakers” when it comes to placing pets in foster or forever homes, a role they don’t take lightly. The organization strives to create bonds that will last a lifetime. OutPaws also serves as a trusted resource for pet owners, shelters, veterinarians and other organizations focused on lessening animal homelessness.
Jake Upwell | Denver Zoo
Jake volunteers regularly at the information cart at the Denver Zoo and assists visitors in finding what they need during their visit. According to Jake, “My favorite moments happen when I get to tell people about an animal they’re super excited to see and I can tell them a fun fact or two about the animals’ names or how they wound up at the zoo. I love connecting with people at one of the places I treasured as a kid and helping people create memories that hopefully evolve into a passion for protecting our natural world.”
Patty Rodi | Children’s Hospital
Nobody looks forward to a hospital stay. For children, facing life-threatening diseases, time spent away from family and friends can be particularly difficult. Children’s Hospital Colorado is ranked #1 in care for children in the state as well as the entire Rocky Mountain Region. It takes all kinds of people to make the hospital experience special for kids who are often facing scary situations. Children’s Hospital volunteers make a difference throughout key points in each child’s stay, from check-in through treatment, recovery, and heading home. Volunteers help the hospital run more smoothly, so the staff can make an even greater impact. There are numerous volunteer opportunities available at Children’s Hospital and the volunteer team will work with you to find the best match based on our current needs, and your personal skills, interests, and schedule.
“I volunteer in the activity room at Children’s Hospital once a week,” explained Rodi. “I visit sick kids in their rooms and bring them toys or games to help pass the time and elevate their moods. This is my way of staying connected to children and helping out my community.
Jenny Usaj | Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver not only builds quality housing for families who would otherwise not be able to afford to purchase their own home but they also create sustainable, safe, and admirable communities. Future homeowners work alongside volunteers building energy-efficient single-family, duplex, and townhouses. The homes are not only affordable to purchase (with mortgages capped at approximately 25 percent of the buyer’s income), but are also affordable to maintain. It is truly an amazing program to help people achieve the American dream in a creative way.
Jenny and her team at Usaj Realty have been supporting this program since 2011. They believe that everyone should have a place to call home. Usaj Realty’s goal in partnering with Habitat is to help spread awareness about Habitat’s programs and homeownership opportunities. The team at Usaj firmly believes homeownership is a solution to ending poverty. Providing stable home environments for those who do not qualify for traditional lending is the key to creating and maintaining a thriving economy and diverse community.
The Habitat homeowners’ partnership agreement includes the new homeowners contributing “sweat equity” by building their homes alongside volunteers and taking homeownership classes to increase their commitment to the home. Habitat for Humanity establishes a fair and affordable mortgage for the homeowners to increase the likelihood of a successful living arrangement.
“We’re so proud to be a volunteer support for Habitat for Humanity and their mission towards affordable housing since 2011,” said Jenny. “We love being associated with such a positive force in the Denver community.”
Jenny is also heavily involved in Habitat’s Women’s Build Committee. Additionally, she serves on the Glass House HOA board, LoDo Downtown Neighborhood Assn. (LoDoNa), Downtown Denver Partnership, LoDo District on Urban Design Committee and her church board.
“Being part of the volunteer and community is fulfilling, fun and makes my life rich with challenge and growth,” she said.