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November 14, 2008 - Best and Brightest Shine on Philanthropy Day

What: Awards for Outstanding Philanthropists and Volunteers

Where: Denver Renaissance Hotel

When: Friday, November 14, 2008

Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Host(s): John Ferrugia, 7 News

Honoree(s): Colorado Springs Utilities, Vesta Dipping Grill, Daniels Fund, Dave and Gail Liniger, Donna Hultin, Rotary Club of Denver, Jim Garcia, Bob Charles, Isaac Solano, North High School Ethics Club

Committee Members: Selection Committee: Shirley Amore, Jack Alexander, Barry Barak, Terry Benjamin, Christine Benero, Michael Blimes, Charlotte Brantley, Shirley Bradsby, Deborah Brackney, Sheila Bugdanowitz, Lon Carpenter, Matt Carpenter, Anne Cosby, Tom Currigan, Luella Chavez D'Angelo, Deb Dowling Canino, Bruce Fitch, Jack Fox, Danielle Graham, Rick Griggs, Sue Hansen, Melinda Higgs, Arlene Hirschfeld, Dorothy Horrell, Irene Ibarra, Gwin Johnston, Grant Jones, Jean Jones, Tom Kaesemeyer, Roger Kinney, Mark Kling, Alyssa Kopf, Katie Kramer, Tom Kundinger, Sue LaGiglia-Corsentino, Danni Lederman, Bob Litchard, Maureen McDonald, Tim McTavish, Paul Major, Michelle Martin, Bette Matkowski, David Miller, Karen Nakandakare, Jackie Norris, Patty Ortiz, Cahty Phelps, Dean Prina M.D., Jeff Pryor, Jackie Reynolds, Sally Rippey, Ruth Rohs, Ellen Sandberg, Diane Schieman-Christman, Darlene Scott, Mary Sissel, Kristin Stork, Bob Sweeney, Tony Uva, Bob Voltz, Faye Washington, Roxane White, Carol Wright

Sponsors: SILVER SPONSORS: Adolph Coors Foundation, Anschutz Family Foundation, The Colorado Trust, Johnston Wells, Kundinger, Corder & Engle, P.C., Rose Community Foundation, Western Union Foundation, Wells Fargo; PLATINUM SPONSORS: insureme; IN-KIND SPONSORS: 212 Cafe, Denver Business Journal, Colorado Data Mail, The Denver Public Library, Denver's News7 (KMGH), Post-News Community

Quote of the evening: How's everybody doing...good's that chicken??--Honoree Matt Selby, chef of the Vesta Dipping Grill, with a tongue in cheek comment from an experienced chef

Attendance: 800

Attire: Business

Steering Committee: De Ann Acosta, Pedro Bernal, Erin Binford, Jeanne Bistranin, Eileen Danahy, Paul Henry, Kristy Judd, Cindy Kennedy, Sharon Knight, Karen Kruse, Kenton Kuhn, Gail Lehrmann, Alesia McCloud-Chan (chair), Toya Nelson, Marianne Piech, Gary Renville, Illene Roggensack, Tracy Shutt, Charley Shimanski, Mark Skinner, Gayle Walker, Patti Wright

Blacktie Photos by: Pamela Cress/videos by Kenton Kuhn

 Alesia McCloud-Chan, left, gives the award for Outstanding Foundation to Linda Childears and Dan Ritchie of the Daniels Fund
Alesia McCloud-Chan, left, gives the award for Outstanding Foundation to Linda Childears and Dan Ritchie of the Daniels Fund

The best and the brightest in the world of Colorado Philanthropy were honored Friday at the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon at the Denver Renaissance Hotel. The accolades were given to an elite group, who just by the company they were in Friday as well as in the community all year long, is nothing short of stellar and exemplary.

More than 800 philanthropists, foundation officers, volunteers and community supporters converged with one thing in common: they all have the wish to help others and the spirit of giving as their first priority. The luncheon is always eagerly anticipated as it is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

Those organizations and individuals who were honored this year are certainly of an elite group comprised of special talents, charisma, drive, energy and utmost professionalism. It was extremely heartening to see North High School student Isaac Solano steal the show near the end of the ceremony, humbly but proudly declaring that his Grandmother instilled in him a sense of pride and self confidence, coupled with a need to help others. "I am going to be a teacher and the Mayor of Denver," he said matter-of-factly, and there was no doubt from anyone in attendance that would one day be true, unless he becomes President of the United States first.

Isaac received the award for Outstanding Youth, plus joined his peers in receiving the award for Outstanding Youth Group, the North High School Ethics Club, which he was instrumental in starting. Isaac closed his acceptance with this quote from George Bernard Shaw, which seemed to epitomize the philanthropic spirit of everyone in attendance: "Life is not a brief candle, it is a splendid torch that I want to make burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.''

The honorees for 2008 are:

Outstanding Large Corporation: Colorado Springs Utilities. CSU provides safe, reliable competitively priced energy and water services, plus numerous community outreach programs, including the "Community Focus Fund" which provides financial support, used computer equipment and employee volunteer hours to local educational and non-profit organizations. Employees contribute by partnering with Pikes Peak United Way campaigns and the Salavation Army and Fort Carson, just to name a few.

Outstanding Small Business: Vesta Dipping Grill. The restaurant whose motto is "leave your stress at the door" has raised thousands of dollars for non-profit organizations. Over the past seven years, Vesta owners Josh and Jen Wolkon and Executive Chef Matt Selby have contributed more than $80,000 to Urban Peak to help homeless young people. They also support homeless animals, cancer cure and wellness initiatives, March of Dimes, Rainbow Alley, and many other organizations.

Outstanding Foundation: The Daniels Fund. The late Bill Daniels' legacy and philosophy is superbly being perpetuated by the current leadership, spearheaded by CEO and President Linda Childears. Projects like "The Crossing," in which support from the Daniels Fund helped the Denver Rescue Mission convert a former hotel into transitional housing for the homeless and the Daniels Scholarship Fund help those less fortunate and give a chance to those who might not have received it otherwise.

Outstanding Philanthropists: Gail and Dave Liniger. The founders of RE/MAX International created the concept of Premier Community Citizenship, which has become part of the RE/MAX corporate culture. Support of the Children's Miracle Network has allowed RE/MAX to donate over $85 million to assist hospitals in providing care to children, regardless of their ability to pay. The revered Sanctuary Golf Course, specially designed for the Linigers, has become legendary for being almost entirely dedicated to charity golf tournaments and events, raising more than $40 million thusfar.

Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy: Donna Hultin. Ever since she was a young girl, Donna volunteered to help kids. She will retire this fall after 28 years of excellence and leadership at Denver Kids, Inc. Donna took it upon herself to raise additional dollars besides the core support provided through Denver Public Schools, Rotary Club, Junior League and Zonta Club of Denver to help what used to be Denver Boys Inc. and Denver Girls Inc., which eventually merged to become Denver Kids Inc. Under Donna's leadership, Denver Kids Inc. has quadrupled its service numbers and now manages 300 volunteer mentors, 26 employees and a near-$1 million annual budget, plus Donna has been instrumental in establishing a $1 million endowment fund.

Outstanding Service Organization: Rotary Club of Denver. Founded in 1911, Rotary Club of Denver is the 37th largest Rotary Club in the world, with about 400 members who are all dedicated to the motto "Service Above Self." The largest project of the Rotary Club of Denver is Denver Kids Inc., providing counseling and mentoring services to "at risk" kids and helping the graduation rate reach 85-90%, with 75% of the students graduating in 2008 going on to a two- or four-year college. Rotary Club of Denver also participates in several other youth-serving projects, and has granted over $4 million for scholarships and kids' programs.

Outstanding Volunteer: Jim Garcia. 15 years ago, Jim Garcia recognized a need for affordable healthcare. He gathered 200 community members and began a movement which became Clinica Tepeyac, providing affordable health services for uninsured and Latino populations. In 2006, Clinica Tepeyac relocated to a new facility four times bigger, and clientele increased 200%. Jim also was instrumental in forming the Guadalupe Parish Council that initiated a dual language K-5 elementary school, Escuela de Guadalupe. Jim also joined the organizing board of Arrupe Jesuit High School, in which 86% of the seniors will be the first in their families to attend college and 30% will be the first to graduate high school.

Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: Bob Charles. Bob's efforts to make the community a better place started more than 30 years ago with a drive to open a Ronald McDonald House. Bob now owns and operates 13 McDonald's restaurants. He has also been part of the initial team forming the Boulder Memorial Hospital Foundation, Boulder Economic Council and the Imagine Foundation, benefiting 2,300 people with cognitive disabilities in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. Bob and his wife Judy often provide projects with a lead gift and Bob often provides the unheard of commitment of both financial and time support. He is well known as an innovative, visionary leader.

Outstanding Youth: Isaac Solano. Isaac is a senior at Denver North High School and makes no secret of the fact that his goal is to be the Mayor of Denver. In 2005, Isaac founded the North High School Ethics Club, which spearheads projects like a can drive for Samaritan House, a holiday card program for the elderly at the Gardens at St. Elizabeth and other projects. Isaac personally took a struggling freshman under his wing when Isaac was a sophomore, who is now successful and part of the school's swim team, which Isaac also got reinstated after a long hiatus. Isaac is an active member of the Denver Public Schools Student Board of Education and has won numerous awards. Despite his own challenging circumstances, Isaac has used them to become a leader and a young visionary whose highest commitment is to others.

Outstanding Youth Group: North High School Ethics Club. Founded in 2005, this club is desribed as "a grassroots effort of students who wanted to highlight the positive actions of high school students while learning about ethics and its meaning and place in the broader context of the world." Their annual canned food drive collects over 3,000 items for those in need. They make holiday cards for seniors. They offer a $500 scholarship to one North High student each year, raising funds for it by doing yard work. The students have worked with Project Angel Heart and came through when they needed last minute help during the holidays. They have received a number of awards, including the Goodwill Mentor-Student Team Award, the Metropolitan Mayor's Youth Leadership Award and the Colorado Youth Leadership Award.

Congratulations to all of the 2008 honorees.




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