Carmelita recalls a favorite childhood story. “On my fifth birthday, my parents threw me a big backyard party. I had a lot of relatives who worked for Mattel. There was no shortage of gifts and toys, especially “ Whamo,” which was the hot item. Old Mr. Garrison lived a few doors down and showed up at my party with a beautiful bouquet of roses from his garden, which he had wrapped in tin foil. It was the most special gift I had ever received. The look on my mother’s face as Mr. Garrison handed me the flowers is a memory I will never forget. Somehow, she taught me with her gentle, sparkling eyes, that this was the wonderful kind of heartfelt gift in life that I should cherish.”
Tell me about your career. I was a stay at home mom for 18 years. I held about 25 different part-time jobs during that time, everything from teacher’s aid to candle art design. At 40, I decided to explore the next phase of my life, activism and volunteering.
What’s important in your life? My relationship with my husband and my two incredible kids.
What’s in your future? All good things
What are your volunteer activities? I was a founding member of The Bell Campaign, Denver Coordinator for the Million Mom March Mother’s Day events in 2000 and 2001, member of the Castle Rock Development Beautification Committee and Regional Manager for Patient Pride.
Tell me about Patient Pride. Patient Pride is a national non-profit organization that offers a program for patients in the hospital. We train volunteers to visit patients in the hospital and administer the caring and nurturing touches that make a patient feel better, like massages on the hands and face and applying a bit of make-up on women to make them feel good. We partner with nurses who have their hands full, by giving that little bit of additional attention and nurturing that can put a smile on a patient’s face.
How did you get involved with Patient Pride? I was a patient in the hospital and a Patient Pride volunteer came to visit. I was so moved. I had no family around and we had just moved to Arizona so I hadn’t had time to make friends and here was this person, a stranger, offering a nurturing touch and a friendly voice, helping me to get through my recovery. I was so impressed. I became a volunteer when we moved to Cleveland, but when we moved to Colorado I found there were no hospitals offering Patient Pride. It became my mission to bring Patient Pride to the patients in Colorado Hospitals. St. Joseph was the first hospital to open its’ doors to this concept. We celebrated our first anniversary in March, and in 14 months, we served 3,140 patients. Recently, we began serving Lutheran Hospital. It is my goal to bring Patient Pride into every hospital in Denver and the surrounding areas. I’m meeting with other hospitals explaining the benefits of the service and hopefully they will decide to offer it to their patients. I’m also increasing our volunteer base to accommodate the hospitals we serve.
Which social event is your favorite? Denver Rotary’s Annual Branch Rickey Award Dinner benefiting Denver Kids
Favorite Restaurant? Any place with good deserts
Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Bill Clinton. I was invited to go to the White House as a delegate for the Million Mom March and met President Clinton in the Roosevelt Room where we all chatted for about a half hour. It was a wonderful experience.
If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Stockard Channing
Do you have any pets? Scootchie, my sweet little Shitzu.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you? This was a warm and soft place to land
What word describes you best? Creative
How would you like others to describe you? Genuine and caring
What was your first job? At 15, I was leading a children’s choir and teaching guitar lessons
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Don’t have one
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty
What is your greatest indulgence? Ice cream and bubble baths
What is the best gift you have ever given? My time
What is the best gift you’ve ever received? Loving support
What or who is the greatest love in your life? The what is music and the who is my husband Karl and my kids, Kris and Kisa
What is your current state of mind? Open and willing
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising two wonderful children into adulthood
What is your most treasured possession? My mother’s hope chest
What is the quality you most like in a man? Ability to laugh easily and share ideas
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Ability to laugh easily and share ideas
Favorite books and writers? A Woman’s Worth, by Marianne Williamson, A Mythic Life by Jean Houston, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pincola Estes and the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
What is the best advice you have ever received? A wise and wonderful woman once told me, “ Never stop asking yourself what do I want?” She said it was a true and powerful tool to uncover your authentic self.
Do you have a motto? I don’t know if it’s as much a motto as a saying that just makes me smile. It goes, “The fates lead those that will, those that won’t, they drag.” I’ve had a few cosmic draggings in my life.
What is the funniest thing that’s happened to you? After 37 years of friendship, beginning at age 10, my two best friends and I discovered we had a multi-generational connection to Pancho Villa. Some of our ancestors were on the good side, some on the bad... there was a judge, a wealthy landowner, a physician, a revolutionary and an engineer all involved in someway with Pancho Villa.
If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be? And why? I’d like to come back in a time when space travel is easy. The idea of exploring the Universe and outer space fascinates me.
What are your hobbies? Other interests? I enjoy decorating, refinishing furniture and playing the guitar. I love music and reading
Who is your mentor? Her name is Joyce and she is a true teacher of warrior women
What would you like to be remembered for? Wanting to make a difference and leading by example
If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? I would love to follow the pilgrimage that Jean Bolen took through Europe as chronicled in her book, Crossing to Avalon. It was a journey in search of the “sacred feminine” using stories of the Holy Grail as a guide.
What do you like about the town you live in? It has a small town feel to it