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May 01, 2007 - VOA Provides A Chance to Believe

What: Volunteers of America Guild Luncheon

Where: Grand Hyatt Hotel

When: Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Time: 10:30 a.m to 2:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices: Corporate Tables: $25,000, $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500

Beneficiary: Volunteers of America Brandon Center & Theodora House, shelters for battered and homeless women and their children

Host(s): The Guild

Master of Ceremonies: Ed Greene of CBS4 News and KYGO Radio

EMCEE: Ed Greene, CBS4 News and KYGO Radio

Gala Chairperson(s): Susan Barnhill, Kathryn Kaiser, Kathy Klugman

Founders: Irene Zarlengo

Co-Chair(s): The Guild Founder: Irene Zarlengo; President, Myrna Mourning; Addressing Chair: Ann DeGroat; Decor: Valerie Rye; Event Correspondence: Betty Blecker; Hostess Committee: Debora Massa; Registration: Dianne Zarlengo; Reservations: Kristine Duncan; Transportation: Amy Erickson; Treasurer: Herminia Vigil; Set-up chair: Susan Mostow; Historian: Jody Yannacity; Wishing Well Chair: Tangy Buchanan

Committee Members: Miriam Abreau, Anne Aguirre, Rebecca Anderson, Lisa Bartlett, Betty Blecker, Mary Bock-Zarlengo, Judy Bowman, Lotte Bowman, Deanne Brown, Toni Butler, Charlotte Coates, Dorothy Deadwiler, Jennifer Dechtman, Jo Dutton, Sharon Whiton Gelt, Barbara Greene, Carol Haycock, Gigi Haycock, Sandi Hewins, Barbara Hollingsworth, Carol James, Michael James, Tanya Mahnke, Christine Martinovich, Deborah Massa, Lydia McKee, Bobbi Lou Miller, Diana Murdy, Teresa Murdy, Gloria Oliver, Stephanie Osif, Jennifer O'Neill, Louise Richardson, Jewell Roberts, Deb Smith, Denise Kenny Snyder, Alberte Spencer, Gwen Stevens, Emily Tarleton, Gloria Tate, Loujana Terry, Uta Trabandt, Casandra Wilson, Amelia Wilkins, Maryann Yuthas

President(s): Myrna Mourning

Speaker: Mr. Blair Underwood - Actor, Producer, Director

Catering: The Grand Hyatt Denver Downtown, Deanna Brown, Director of Catering & Convention Services, Executive Chef John Treusein and Banquet Sous Chef, Chris Airington.

Music: Benediction by Jill Lorentz and Jerry Stigall

Of note: Celebrity keynote speaker: actor/producer/director Blair Underwood

Sponsors: Safe Haven Sponsors: Grand Hyatt Downtown Denver, Integer; Hope Sponsors: Susan and Carl Barnhill, Coors Brewing Company, Barbara Grogan, Newmont Mining Corporation; Freedom Sponsors: Anschutz Family Foundation, Betty Damon Blecker, CoBiz Financial, Phyllis Coors Foundation, Cortlandt Dietler, Forrest Oil Corporation, Carol and Brad James, Jones International University, Chris and John Kelley, Kathy Klugman; Patron Table Sponsors: Agrium Corporation, Bock Evans Financial Counsel, Ltd., Kathryn Kaiser and Friends, Dianna Kunz, Susan Mostow and Friends, Myrna Mourning, Irene Zarlengo and Friends; Friend Table Sponsors: Tangy Buchanan, Chicks with a Purpose, IMA of Colorado, Mary Rossick Kern, Lydia McKee, Valerie and David Rye, Denise Kenny Snyder, Emily Tarleton and Friends, Time Warner Cable National Div.

Menu: Salad course: yellow tomato daisu with mozzarella pollen, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper and basil ; entree course: expresso crusted beef medallions with Kahlua sauce, herb roasted red peppers, frilled vegetable fan, rolls and butter ; dessert: chocolate truffle

Attendance: 700

Attire: Business Attire

Special Thanks: Wishing Well Drawing donations by: Neiman Marcus; Tiffany & Co.; ResortQuest; Arbonne', Lotte Bowman; Closet Factory, Polly Lestikow; Curves, Nicole Watson; Custom Painting & Remodeling - (CPR), Jim Van Newhouse; Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House; Element - Urban Home Furnishings , Robert Zimmerman; Frontier Airlines; Grand Hyatt Denver; Mariel's, Denise Kenny Snyder; Lone Tree Facial, Jennie Powell; Mexican Potted Patio Plants, Lotte Bowman; Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation; Mary Kay Independent Consultant, Wilma Dunias; Newberry Brothers Greenhouse and Florist, Paula Newberry; Opera Colorado; Regal Entertainment; Salon Trovarsi, Kori Schell; Strings Restaurant, Noel Cunningham; Tamayo's Restaurant; 240 Union Restaurant, Michael Coughlin; Wellshire Inn, Leo Goto; The Maids, Sylvia Reiss; The Tattered Cover

Florist: Newberry Brothers Greenhouse and Florist


Donors: Julie Afflerbaugh, Brandon Center Children, Brandon Center and Volunteers of America Staff, Celestial Seasonings, Denver Investment Advisor, Grand Hyatt Denver, Barbara Greene, Ed Greene, The Integer Group, Jim Lorentz and Jerry Stigall, Mary Kay Independent Consultant Wilma Dunias, Neiman Marcus, Newberry Brothers Greenhouse and Florist, Qualimage, Stephany's Candies, Tiffany & Co., Visual Aids Electronics

Blacktie Photos by: Howie Grapek

 Blair Underwood with Diana Murdy, Irene Zarlengo (The Guild founder) and Teresa Murdy
Blair Underwood with Diana Murdy, Irene Zarlengo (The Guild founder) and Teresa Murdy

By Howie Grapek

The Volunteers of America Guild's popular fundraising event, "A Chance to Believe 2007" was held on Tuesday, May 1st at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Downtown Denver. The goal of this event is to educate the community on domestic violence and the scope of homelessness that affects women and their children.

The majority of the proceeds raised during this event is to support the Volunteers of America's Brandon Center and Theodora House. These shelters provide safety for women and children who are victims of violence and homelessness. The Guild of Volunteers of America was formed in 1995 on the 100th anniversary of Volunteers of America. In the 11 years since the Guild began, $1,250,000 has been raised to support these efforts.

The event, emceed by Ed Greene of CBS4 and KYGO radio, started with a reception and Wishing Well Drawing, which was new for this year's event. It allowed attendees to buy tickets for a special drawing of luxury prizes, from closet makeovers to shopping sprees and exquisite jewelry from Tiffany & Co. Tiffany's will also host an exclusive post-event thank you party for VIP sponsors and donors.

Following the drawing, a touching film was shown during the luncheon entitled "A Chance to Believe Moment -- every woman needs a chance to believe in a better tomorrow." In it was a woman who was given the opportunity to stay at the Brandon Center. Lisa Daunora, the subject of the film, was present and spoke about her experiences at the center and how that experience positively changed her life forever. A beautiful benediction was performed by Jill Lorentz and Jerry Stigall.

The keynote speaker was Mr. Blair Underwood, a well-known actor, producer and director. Blair has distinguished himself as an award-winning actor who is currently showcasing his multitude of talents in film, television and theater. In addition, he dedicates his time and energy to numerous charitable causes and is the author of "Before I Got Here," a collection of stories and anecdotes from parents that speak to the existence of a child's soul prior to birth. During his talk, he recounted several stories of friends who fell victim to violence. Mr. Underwood was asked why, with such a busy schedule, he chose to attend this event. His answer really told a lot about him as a concerned individual. He said that he is "first and foremost, a father and a husband, and I played several roles where I was the abuser," and that in addition, "the numbers are growing with respect to the number of women and families being affected," and that it is a "serious problem that I want to help with in any way I can." He praised the Guild and the Volunteers of America and was available after the luncheon to sign copies of his book and chat with the guests. During the event, some hard facts were presented about the many kinds of domestic abuse inflicted upon women of all ages and from every socio-economic background.

  • More than three million women and adolescent girls are assaulted by their husbands or intimate partners each year in this country.
  • Each year, there are approximately 4,000 women murdered by their abusers.
  • 50% of homeless women on the street are there having fled a domestic violence situation.
  • Domestic violence is the number one health problem for American women. More women are victims of domestic violence than burglary, mugging, and all other physical crimes combined.
  • A woman will attempt to leave the battering relationship an average of seven times before succeeding. 

The women who seek shelter at Brandon Center and Theodora House have many reasons for coming to Volunteers of America for assistance. It is estimated that over 50% of the women who come to Brandon Center for help are there due to domestic violence. Brandon Center, the largest women's shelter in Colorado, is a 90-bed facility. Brandon is considered a short-term shelter where women can stay for up to three months as counselors help the women with next steps and strategies as they try to get their lives back together. Brandon Center and Theodora House are filled to capacity 365 days a year. The Guild assists Volunteers of America with fundraising for their operating costs to provide counselors, food and other necessities needed by the women and their children during their stay at Brandon. If you would like to learn more about the Guild, Brandon Center and Theodora House and how you can help, please visit the Volunteers of America website at

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