March 09, 2008 - The Big Give Visits Denver Children's Home
What: Celebration of Oprah's Big Give at DCH
Where: Comcast Media Center
When: Sunday, March 9, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Ticket Prices: Free
Beneficiary: Denver Children's Home
Executive Director: Jerry Yager; Associate Executive Director: Rebecca Hea, Psy.D.
Catering: Occasions by Sandy
Menu: Caprese, Nicioise and spinach salads, meat and vegetarian chili bar, chicken Schawarma bar, assortment of pies
Board of Directors: Board of Directors: Leslie Strate, President; Bob Ostertag, Vice President; Keirstin Beck-Spilde, Recording Secretary; Gary Traver, Corresponding Secretary; Norman Benedict, Treasurer
Board Members: Ann Smith Coggeshall, Lynn Coit, Todd Fredrickson, Doug Hock, Gerard Leone, Carl Polhemus, Rosemary Rossi, Keith Schlaht, Rev. John Thompson, Wayne Tucker, James Wall, Elliot "Skip" Wohlner, MD
Board of Trustees: Norm Benedict, President; Les Wells, Vice President; Kim Mosko, Secretary/Treasurer
Trustees: Pam Bansbach, Wayne Tucker
Blacktie Photos by: Stacy Ohlsson
A unique celebration took place at Comcast Media Center on Sunday, March 9. Oprah’s Big Give: Denver was on the big screen, with nearly 150 supporters of Denver Children’s Home watching as they ate a sumptuous dinner catered by Occasions by Sandy. There were cheers and tears as the story played out.
Trying to change the lives of those in need, the ten contestants on Oprah’s Big Give came to Denver for 48 hours in May with a blank slate. The team of Cameron, 22, Eric, 37, and Stephen, 43, had a desire to improve the lives of children and discovered Denver Children’s Home, the oldest nonprofit in Denver.
The cameras followed the team on a tour through Denver Children’s Home, which opened as an orphanage in the 1880s. “Our mission is to provide a safe place for emotionally distressed, traumatized and abused children. We help really hurt children get better,” explained Assistant Executive Director, Rebecca Hea.
When asked about their financial status, Dr. Hea said, “We have to fundraise a million dollars a year. That’s just to keep the doors open.”
DCH is still in the original building and up until recently, when they decided to do a capital campaign, the renovations have been sporadic.
Soliciting donations by phone in a city they are unfamiliar with was a daunting task, but Cameron, Eric and Stephen worked with the staff to make sure that whatever they did would have a lasting impact as well as make dreams come true.
Contractors donated time, labor and materials for much needed renovations; playground equipment, a climbing wall, irrigation equipment, lighting, and office furniture were donated as well.
Halfway through the show, Oprah text-messaged the teams with a “Big Twist Alert,” saying that each contestant could give away the Ford Edge that the show had provided. “Find someone deserving and choose wisely.”
Eric, Cameron and Stephen had two cars to donate, and they gave them to DCH, who then traded them in for a van to transport students, a pickup truck, and a compact car. In a move to "pay it forward, Executive Director Jerry Yager reported that the car will ultimately be donated to a needy family. Eric, said, “The best part is that these cars will keep giving to the kids of Denver Children’s Home.”
Nearing the end of the show, Cameron, Stephen and Eric were amazed at the generosity of the community. “Exactly 43 hours ago we were dropped into Denver. We were asked to find some place that could use somebody to come alongside of them and help them in a great mission they’ve already been on. This is the place. Over 130 years old. Helping kids.”
Rebecca Hea thanked Eric, Cameron and Steve for their efforts. “It’s really important to give the kids things that allow them to heal and to be kids. What Steve, Eric and Cameron did was come in and they said, ‘We can make that happen.’ And they did. They didn’t just dream it. They executed it.”
“I believe that if you help heal children you change the world,” is what Dr. Hea has been saying all along.