Volunteer honorees Joe and Judi Wagner are elegant in the art of humility. The two, an absolutely unassuming pair, are, in fact, a force. With vision and incredible organizational skills, the two have lifted failing organizations, guided a powerful research institution and shown countless people the true meaning of giving yourself over to a cause. Because of them, the world – not just Denver, but beyond – is a better place. Metro Volunteers aptly honored the duo with its 2010 Heart of Volunteerism Award. The Wagners come with a large fan-base, developed from years of helping others. Not surprisingly, Metro Volunteers reported this year’s turnout as the highest ever for its annual event.
From the second tier of the Cable Center at DU Executive Director of Colorado UpLift Mike Painter addressed the audience below. He unrolled the story of Joe Wagner and his enormous contribution to the non-profit focused on igniting the spirit of at-risk youth in our community.
“We started as a jobs program and Joe saw we were reaching young people too late. Joe was vital in helping the organization expand its vision to reach students at a younger age to build up the qualities necessary to become successful in life.” Joe’s efforts for the organization are tangible: In 2010, 16 of the 22 Mayor's Youth Award winners in Denver came from Colorado UpLift.
Next Judy Regensteiner, executive director for the Colorado Women's Health Research project at UCHSC spoke about the enormous commitment Judi Wagner brought to the program, especially in its earliest years.
“Judi got it done. She brought so many details together. Her tenacity was exactly what we needed.”
After a list of contributions taller than the tower of televisions in the Cable Center, Ambassador Gail Schoettler took to the podium to talk about personally about the couple.
“They inspire us, show us how to be great volunteers and how to get results,” said Schoettler who has known the couple for 35 years. “Here’s a team who has made such a difference for me personally, for all of us in this room and for our community.”
And in true character, Joe and Judi each deflected the attention from themselves to the people who have touched their lives. Never ones to pass up an opportunity to reach out to the community, the two worked with Metro Volunteers to give each guest a copy of the book “What’s Up with Altitude: Mr. Moffat’s Class Investigates How Altitude Affects Our Bodies” by Colorado author Lisa Gardiner. The gift came with an encouragement to play it forward and leave the book where children might benefit from its content.
“It’s not a trinket to be left in a drawer. It’s part of the Wagner’s commitment to literacy and education. Please leave your copy somewhere for the children in your community: with an after-school program, at a pediatrician’s office, with a day care center,” explained Metro Volunteers Executive Director Kristy Judd.
The evening was filling. Hearts were infused with inspiration, while mouths took in delicious fare. Along with mouthwatering passed hors d’ oeuvres, participants slammed an array of unique “shooters” such as ginger bay scallop ceviche, green gazpacho and shrimp shots and chilled fruit gazpacho.
As the expert in volunteerism in the metro-Denver area, Metro Volunteers mobilizes and cultivates volunteers as a vital force in our community. In less than two decades, the non-profit has helped hundreds of thousands of people and countless organizations become agents of change. Metro Volunteers transforms volunteer interests into meaningful experiences and that generates powerful community impact. To learn more visit www.metrovolunteers.org