Heaven must be missing an angel – and she’s down here on earth using the name of Mary McNicholas! People have different reasons for giving to charitable causes, and none so pure as Mary McNicholas. Mary is also known in this arena as the “go to gal” for putting together successful charitable auctions – at no charge to the non-profit. Mary takes great pride in organizing silent and live auctions for numerous charities including Mt. St. Vincent, Catholic Charities, and the National & Rocky Mountain MS Society.
Catholic Charities, an organization the McNicholas’ have supported for decades, honored Mary and Kevin at their “2009 Evening for Caring” event with the “J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Justice and Charity Award.” The McNicholas’ have donated food from their company, K-M Concessions (which they have owned since 1972 and operate throughout America) to numerous school and parish fundraisers, money for scholarships, and merchandise for their raffles or auctions.
Mary tells a very touching, heartfelt story about the “Birthday Celebrations for Foster Care Children” program she started when she was President of the Catholic Charities Guild: “With the help of the guild, every month, we put together birthday bags filled with cake mixes, frosting and toys for birthday parties we host for the kids at various locations. At one of the birthday celebrations, a young boy wanted to know if he could please take home a piece of cake. Kevin offered to send home a whole cake, but the boy explained he just wanted one piece —“to keep forever”—as a reminder of his first ever birthday party. No one ever recognized his birthday with cake and a party before.”
In addition to being an exemplary volunteer, Mary loves sports; and with her degree in physical education, she’s credited for starting several sports leagues, including East Denver Soccer. Mary teaches tennis to children and adults at her beautiful home. And quite the abode it is, Mary & Kevin often host teas and dinners known as “gift gathering parties” where donors stop by to bring auction items for upcoming charitable events.
Mary and Kevin are known humanitarians and love helping people in need such as the poor and homeless. They have been recognized with numerous awards and are serving or have served on many community boards. As we near the Fourth of July Independence Day holiday, it's fair to mention that the McNicholas' are highly patriotic and committed to our country's values and belief in equal rights for all. There’s no question in Mary’s mind as to what she was meant to be doing on this earth. The happy, energetic and loving Mary McNicholas is as decent a person as you will find - and absolutely heaven-sent!
There are so many great charitable events in Denver. Is there one - or two - you and Kevin really look forward to attending?
Mt. St. Vincent Silver Bell Ball & the Rocky Mountain MS Gala.
Where do the two of you like to go for a special evening out?
We travel and find new special restaurants to go to while we are out of town. While in town we have too many commitments or sporting events to attend.
What are looking forward to accomplishing during the next 5 years?
1. We enjoy entertaining and feeding people at our house and since people love our food, we want to expand our catering business - Continental “Divine” Catering.
2. I love teaching sports; and right now I am teaching tennis. In the next 5 years I want to continue instructing those children and ladies that would never get a chance to get better if I didn’t give them words of advice on what to do on the tennis court.
Who is the wisest person you know?
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput asks people questions about their businesses and their lives. He truly wants to know about different things and he is truly interested in the individual he is talking to. My oldest son, Sean, does that as well, and those two have good conversations.
Tell us something that no one might know about you?
I am an open book so I can’t hide anything. I am sensitive and people learn that real fast.
What can always make you laugh?
My dogs and kids.
What do you do to find balance in your life?
I enjoy walks with friends so we can chat and get exercise at the same time. Have to multi task. I get pleasure from spending time with my children and husband whether it is going to sporting events, going out to dinner, traveling together or having them here at the house. We can work together and do charity together and always cover for each other.
Do you travel a lot?
We have concession businesses in 23 states that Kevin travels to constantly and I go when I can. I love going to states close by as my time is limited.
Is there a book you have read that is a favorite?
I read a lot at night and all books are my favorite. Also movies. My kids say I have never seen a movie I didn’t like for one reason or another I love them all. “The Holiday” movie is my favorite because all 4 are so dysfunctional and yet trying to make it in life.
K-M Concessions has been a mainstay in Denver for a long time, how do you maintain the demands of the business?
K-M is our life. We work 7 days a week at it and include our children and relatives. Last Saturday while catering, I worked with my daughter, nephew, niece, and 3 great- nephews. What can be better than that!!
Kevin is always at the helm, and he gives so many employees opportunities they would never have, and he is hands on, so they all respect him.
I have always supported Kevin when he is away or just working late. He loves his work, and I am understanding of the demands it puts on him and the rest of the family.
How did you get involved with doing charitable auctions?
Marie Windlinger asked Kevin and me to help her with the very first Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis “Deer and the Antelope” event at the Denver Zoo. Our company catered it, and I did the auction and helped Marie pull this off.
What is your formula for making a silent auction successful?
Being able to think on my feet and fix all the mistakes as quickly as I can.
How did you become so passionate about the non-profits you support?
I like to help people. I really concentrate on the smaller ones or ones just starting up as those are the ones that really need me.
I started “Gift Gathering Parties” for auctions back in 1989. We had a big St. Pats party for Regis and so that everyone would not bring us gifts, I put on the invitation, “Please bring your auction gift for the Regis Jesuit High School gala” which would be held the next month. Over 200 gifts came in that night with their donor forms!!
Do you and your husband have a favorite vacation spot?
We like good hotels ( we are in the food service and people service business) like the Baligio in Vegas and Peninsulas in Chicago and New York. Kevin loves gourmet food, so if the city has a unique restaurant with fantastic food we are there.
Do you have a quote or saying that has helped guide you through life?
“My Work is Never Done.” I will always be mothering and teaching and loving.
What else besides your charity work are you focusing on these days?
Teaching - and I come from a very large family, so I try to plan events to bring us all together like a 4th of July bbq and fireworks.
Does (or did) anything ever test your patience?
My Husband - He needs my attention too, but always at the wrong time…
As busy and active as you are, what do you do to keep your energy level up?
Eat Chocolate and talk to people!
Mary, you are a hero! Truly an angel among us... I am in awe of the good work you and Kevin have done over the years... so much of it done behind the scenes...
You lead by example and never ask for more than you are willing to do yourself. Thank you!
Mary, you are the best of the best. We love you.
What a great privilege to know this truly fabulous woman! She has been God's gift to nonprofits in Colorado and her charity seems to know no bounds. May God grant her long life, good health, and the prosperity to continue her great works of mercy here on Earth! Thanks for all that you do, Mary!