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February 24, 2005 - Urban Peak Reaches the Summit

What: Urban Peak's 8th Annual Climb the Peak Event

Where: 1770 Sherman Street Events Center

When: February 24, 2005

Time: 6:00

Ticket Prices: $75.00

Beneficiary: Urban Peak, Denver

Honoree(s): Timothy D'Onofrio, Nykeshia Gilliam, Val Glushenkov, Michael Goodman, Phenom Thomas, Elbra Wedgeworth

Presenting Sponsor(s): First Data and Jared Polis Foundation

Executive Director: Jerene Petersen

President(s): Regina Huerter

Introductions: Pamela Davis, Fox 31 News

Welcome: Charles Knight, Chairman of the Urban Peak Denver Board of Directors

Speaker: David Walstrom, President, Colfax Business Improvement District

Catering: Michael's of Denver

Sponsors: Mentor Sponsors: The Colorado Trust, Kamlet Shepherd, George K. Baum & Co., Adco General Corp., Charles and Suzanne Knight; Guide Sponsors: Affordable Residential Communities, Buchanan, Yonushewski Group/Kenney Group, Cherry Creek North, Children's Hospital, Colorado Convention Center, Comedy Works, Faulkner USA, GayColorado.com, Inter Mountain Corporate Affairs, JP Morgan, Kaiser Permanente, Oakwood Homes, Vectra Bank, Wagner Equipment Co/Joe and Judi Wagner, Council President Elbra Wedgeworth

Quote of the evening: "That WAS my story. I have a new life now and that story does not define who I am."

Attendance: 600

Attire: Business Casual

Special Thanks: In-Kind Sponsors: CommonWealth Partners and Pepsi

Information: www.urbanpeak.org

Donors: Dozens of supporters donated silent auction items. Thank You!

Planning Committee: Suzanne Knight, Jennifer Banks, Karen Thomas

Board of Directors: Rob Alvarado, Craig Archibald, David Banks, Terry Brown, Todd Fredrickson, David Goldberg, Ned Harvey, Leah Lamblin, Eric Jenkins, Mark Kling, Charles Knight, Paige Lancaster, Chris Nyquist, MD, Trinidad Rodriguez, Dick Thomas, Thomas R. Schilling, Tammeron Trujillo, Jerene Petersen, Regine Huerter

Blacktie Photos by: Stacy Ohlsson


 Four of the five
Four of the five "Climb the Peak" honorees: Michael Goodman, Phenom Thomas, Timothy D'Onofrio, Nykeshia Gilliam. Not pictured is Val Glushenkov, who had to rush off to work following the event.

Stacy Ohlsson

There are 100 more homeless youth on the streets this winter, compared with last. That translates to over 400 young adults on any given night.

Cold, hungry, tired and hopeless. Without the innovative and successful programs at Denver’s Urban Peak, most of these kids would never exit street life.

Urban Peak Denver’s mission to serve homeless and runaway youth was celebrated on Thursday, February 24, 2005 at the filled-to-capacity 1770 Sherman Street Events Center, as five youth were honored for their efforts of leaving the streets and becoming productive members of society.

Even when youth have supportive families, they can end up on the streets, as Timothy D’Onofrio discovered. Through hard work, determination and Urban Peak’s guidance, however; Tim has learned to take care of his health, remain sober and hold a job (and car and apartment!), while mending the bonds with his family. Tim’s father thanked Urban Peak staff, as they were “instrumental in us finding our way.”

Other youth become homeless due to circumstances beyond their control. Death of a parent, another parent incarcerated, other family members giving up.

Phenom Thomas ended up at Urban Peak and hasn’t looked back. Ambitious and compassionate, she has enrolled in the Employment and Education program at Urban Peak, completed requirements to be a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN), received approval for financial aid and started at CCD full time. And she holds a job. Her goal is to become a social worker to give back to hard-to-reach youth with whom she shares so many experiences. She also plans to put that CNA to work, taking care of her grandmother.

Imagine moving to a new country as a teen, not speaking the language, and ending up on the streets. Without Urban Peak’s resources, Val Glushenkov may have turned out to be just another statistic. He has learned to speak English well enough to give a speech to over 600, a daunting task for anyone. Val earned his forklift operator license while at Urban Peak and now lives in the Rocky Mountain Youth Housing Program and carries a full time job. Salut!

It’s difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel when your life experience consists of nothing better than homeless shelters and abusive family members, but Nykeshia Gilliam gained strength from her plight and was determined not to follow in her mother’s footsteps. The mother of a two-month old girl, Nykeshia has earned her GED at Urban Peak and has applied to a program for Early Childhood Education. She is a leader in her Bridgeway community of young mothers, and has impressed all who’ve come into contact with her. Nykeshia’s grace and resilience is admirable.

The staff at Urban Peak doesn’t like to terminate contracts with their youth, but when the kid just won’t cooperate, it must be done. Not wanting to face the intensity of drug treatment programs, nor having the desire to be drug free, Michael Goodman tested the system. Never giving up, Urban Peak had the faith in him that once he made the right decision, he’d be successful. Described as tenacious and courageous, Michael is a “star” in the STAR (Starting Transitions and Recovery) community, the only program of its kind that works with homeless youth with addictions. In his speech, he said, “My standing here is a miracle.”

Another new summit for UP is the introduction of the Tom Knorr Community Leadership Award, honoring one citizen in the community who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in supporting the mission of the agency in assisting homeless and runaway youth to permanently exit the streets.

Attendance at this years’ Climb the Peak event more than doubled, bringing formerly silent supporters as well as new supporters to the table, in recognition of Denver Council President Elbra Wedgeworth. A Denver native, Councilwoman Wedgeworth has dedicated her professional life to public service and has made a lasting impact in our community.

Through the commitment of the case managers, outreach workers, volunteers, donors, and the youth, Urban Peak has made a better life for countless youth on the streets. Add to that the support of so many community leaders and collaborating agencies, and the dream of having no more homeless youth will become a reality.

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