Archive for December, 2013

A long ride from the little red wagon to the banquet table

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Kalen Acquisto

I was bouncing up and down in the Radio Flyer wagon as it clanked along the uneven city sidewalks. People were chanting words of appreciation as the parade marched along celebrating the anniversary of The Young Americans Bank and Center for Financial Education. Bill Daniels, also known as the “Father of Cable Television” and one of the greatest Colorado philanthropists, founded this nonprofit center and bank in 1987. It all started with a vision; this bank was established in response to a group of young students who were denied a small bank loan for their school project. It is a real bank, but designed exclusively for people aged 21 and under. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the start of my lifelong affair with philanthropy.













Stories of Impact: Gunnison Food Pantry

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

To many, Gunnison Colorado is a stunningly beautiful mountain town that offers world class outdoor activities and great views.  It can also be cold, isolating, and bleak if you are experiencing times of hardship or financial instability.  While life in rural Colorado can be idyllic, the remoteness can also lead to a lack of resources and support systems for residents.

The Gunnison County Food Pantry is a small nonprofit operated by a few key staff and many volunteers who serve their community through countless hours of work and generous donations.  The pantry seeks to serve those in need by providing food assistance in a kind, confidential and supportive environment.  The pantry recognizes the difficulty in asking for temporary help, especially in a small town where individuals in need may be neighbors or friends.  Carl and Ruthie Long started the food pantry out of their love for the people of the Gunnison Valley. As the new Executive Director Jeanette Klepinger said, “Carl and Ruthie Long gave six years of their lives to insuring that the food bank stayed open every week, all year long,” and Klepinger stated that she too wants to live her life in service to others. All citizens can access the food bank, and the organization never turns anyone away. “We assist everyone at their point of need because you can still have a business, a home, property and go through an unfortunate circumstance, such as illness, unemployment, divorce, disability and have no food,” says Klepinger.

The food bank, while small, is the difference between a child going to bed hungry and putting food on the table. One client commented, “I am waiting for food stamps, which may take a month to activate and the food pantry is helping me feed my family.”

In 2012, the food bank in Gunnison County served 1,937 people. Many businesses partner with the food bank to keep Gunnison County citizens from experiencing the pangs of hunger. Two local grocery stores, a natural food store, churches and endless individual donors provide food for the organization.  In rural Colorado, it truly does take a village.

This blog seeks to share stories of impact from across Colorado through our grantees. Email us at and tell us how people in your community have been impacted by the work you do.

The Greatest Good

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Matt Weigel

Pegging a memory to a specific date can be exceedingly difficult. I’m fortunate in the fact that when I began writing this, I knew that the date I was looking for could be found with a brief Google search. When considering my first political memory, it is important to note that I was four years old, probably couldn’t spell politics, and certainly could not offer any sort of character analysis regarding Richard M. Nixon. (more…)

Stories of Impact: ChildSafe

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

For a child who has suffered abuse, the future can feel bleak, even impossible. It can be difficult to trust adults again and often times, children turn to substances or other destructive behaviors to cope with the trauma they experience. (more…)


Monday, December 16th, 2013

Ben Haughton

When was the last time you were jazzed?

I have used the term jazzed for years, in ways that most people do not use it, to describe excitement, or a certain level of enthusiasm that is rarely achieved. Moments ago, I looked up the meaning of ‘jazz,’ and was disappointed with what Google had to say. “Enthusiastic or lively talk, especially when considered exaggerated or insincere”. My definition of the term jazz, which I have only now developed, is as follows: content beyond expectation. (more…)

Red Gatorade Bottle

Friday, December 13th, 2013


Ashley Cornelius

Have you ever been so struck by the kindness of a stranger that it stayed with you long after the interaction? For the past two weeks I had been driving with a low tire, soon to be flat, and was putting off doing anything about it. Finally, while at work, one of my coworkers noticed that my front tire was dangerously low.  I could deny the truth no longer, I had to put air in my tires and I had no idea how to do it.  I am not the most mechanically inclined person,  never the less I decided to embark on my flat tire journey. (more…)

Standing Behind the City for Champions

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Beau Kelly

I love sports, and I love to win. So it is natural for me to desire a home in the City for Champions. I am a third generation resident of Colorado Springs, and I love this city.  I love the beautiful scenery, the active culture, and the people. I think our city has a bright future, and it can only improve for generations to come with the four projects outlined in the City for Champions proposal.

The City for Champions proposal symbolizes a grand vision for our community. This vision will attract young professionals and retain the ones who already live here. This vision will put Colorado Springs on the national map for the Olympic Movement and amateur athletic events. This proposal promises to give our community direction; it is a rallying cry for the citizens, and it is poised to set a new foundation for the future of a community with an enormous amount of potential.

I had the opportunity to hear fellow community members speak about the City for Champions proposal in front of the Colorado Economic Development Commission last Wednesday. I left feeling inspired about the direction of our city and the people organizing the City for Champions movement.  Almost everyone who spoke at the forum wanted the proposal to pass for the improvement of this community. The supporters spoke of big dreams and big plans for Colorado Springs, and these dreams and plans start with the passage of this proposal.

The leaders in Colorado Springs want this city to thrive, and I am standing right behind them.


Stories of Impact: Partners Mentoring Youth

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Erika was the 14 year-old child of a single mother. She struggled in school due to a learning disability and poor language skills in both English and Spanish, and she was at a high risk of dropping out and teen pregnancy. In the face of these challenges, Partners Mentoring Youth helped Erika imagine a brighter future for herself.

Partners Mentoring Youth supports teens facing personal, social, and academic challenges by pairing them with positive adult role models. The program allows the youth to engage in one-to-one mentoring relationships. Role models work with teens to help them develop important character traits for school achievement by fostering improvements in self-esteem, confidence, and future thinking. The mentorship program builds strong relationships and stronger communities.


When Erika entered the program and began meeting with her mentor, Nanci, she was exposed to new opportunities for finding success. Erika began volunteering at Beads for Life where she organized a food drive for the humane society in addition to planning fun social activities for her peers.  Through her volunteering experience, Erika found a new purpose and a new path. After she started in the mentoring program, Erika’s teachers noticed significant improvement in her grades and her overall performance.


Thanks to Partners Mentoring Youth, Erika is once again on a trajectory for success, and she is not alone. In 2012, Partners Mentoring Youth changed the lives of 29 other youth in Fort Collins, Greeley, and Estes Park. If you would like more information on Partners Mentoring youth, please visit


This blog seeks to share stories of impact from across Colorado through our grantees. Email us at and tell us how people in your community have been impacted by the work you do.


Ghana’s Gift to Me

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Cecelia Crossen

Though I am passionate about serving the needs of communities in Colorado, one of the most important lessons I learned about leadership took place at the Police Hospital in Accra, Ghana during my semester abroad Fall 2011. October 24 was a day that pushed me to my limits and taught me the value of compassion, which is a lesson I’ve used countless times since in my various leadership roles. This is also the day that community service became cemented in my future agenda, wherever I land. (more…)

Friendly Foes

Thursday, December 5th, 2013


Zoe Goodman

Tuckman’s stages of group development (forming, storming, norming, performing) always seemed a little cliché to me. Maybe it’s because all the stages rhyme. When I look back on the first five months of my friendship with Matt Weigel, Tuckman’s stages are right on. Matt and I met on day one of the Fellowship. Matt was wearing a pink CU Buffaloes tie, a bold move, but being from Boulder I liked it. During our orientation hike, Matt and I talked about politics the entire 2-hour trek and realized we both love politics, but don’t vote the same way.

Bring on the storming. (more…)