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October 15, 2002 - Urban Peak Paves The Way

What: 6th Annual Climb the Peak Awards Dinner

Where: Temple Events Center

When: October 15, 2002

Beneficiary: Urban Peak

Executive Director: Roxane White

Introductions: Dr. Chris Nyquist, Chair, Urban Peak Board

Catering: Dougal's Catering Services

Of note: "Paving the Way" Award Ceremony also gave special thanks a generous group who literally "Paved the Way" by creating a sidewalk in front of the Center

Sponsors: Benefactor Sponsor: Kaiser Permanente and The Children's Hospital. Table Sponsors: ADCO General, Ameri-vest Corp., Focus Corp., Debra Froeb, Intermountain Corporate Affairs, Charles & Suzanne Knight, Jennie Kurtz, Abby Modesitt, Dr. Chris Nyquist, Jean Scandlyn, Bill Thiebaut, James Wallen

Quote of the evening: “Urban Peak offers a safe haven from the vicious underbelly of society, providing time, patience, flexibility, commitment and love,” Brandon, a 2001 Honoree

Menu: Salads, fried chicken, egg rolls, fried rice, lasagna, Mexican casserole, desserts

Attendance: 175

Special Thanks: In-Kind donors: Dougal's Catering, Hall & Hall Parking, Temple Events Center

Donors: Angie's Restaurant, Backstreet Catering, Emmanuel Methodist Church-Dean Nenni, Susan Evans, Pat Crage-Head, King Soopers, MV!Impact - Brian & Patti Denni, Steve Ohlmquist, Panda Express, Pasquini's Bakery, Kathy Pfalzgraff, Sloan's Lake Community Church

Event Coordinator: Jennie Kurtz

Board of Directors: Chris Nyquist, M.D., Trinidad Rodriguez, Charles Knight, Ned Harvey, Father Sean J. McGrath, Craig Archibald, Jennie Kurtz, Eric Jenkins,(Youth Representative), James R. Wallen, Terry Brown, Thomas R. Schilling, Dick Thomas, Tammeron Trujillo, Kevin King, Todd Fredrickson, Roxane White

Blacktie Photos by: Stacy Ohlsson

 “I will never look at a homeless person the same way,” says honoree Shannon, who is making a better life for himself with the help of Urban Peak
“I will never look at a homeless person the same way,” says honoree Shannon, who is making a better life for himself with the help of Urban Peak

Blacktie Staff

Stacy Ohlsson

On any given night in the Denver Metro area, there are as many as 400 homeless youth living on the streets. The circumstances by which they became homeless are varied, but all of them are heartbreaking. To meet these youth who have overcome so many obstacles is an inspiration.

Urban Peak’s “Paving the Way Award” is presented annually to five outstanding youth in celebration of their hope, courage and achievement.

One of last year’s honorees, LaShandra, who was involved with Urban Peak for three years, spoke to the crowd about the gains she’s made even in the last 12 months. She is successfully raising her son on her own and holding down two part-time jobs. One of those jobs is at Urban Peak, as an outreach worker. LaShandra feels that it’s very important for her to give back to those who have helped her as well as to help those who used to be where she used to be.

After his family moved to Texas, Honoree Shannon found a job and an apartment, but things fell apart and he ended up homeless. During his time on the streets, he heard a myriad of “fascinating and unique” stories, and eventually made his way to Urban Peak in September of 2001. Urban Peak changed his life. He summed it up by saying, “It’s a kid’s dream to find what they missed in their life.” Continuing to work on his goal of independence, Shannon is studying for his GED and continues to work on his music. (He already has a CD!)

At 19 years old, Honoree Seasha came to Urban Peak after four years of being on the streets. Demonstrating the maturity and foresightedness of a woman beyond her years, Seasha made the difficult decision to put her two children into foster care until she could get back on her feet. The support that Urban Peak provided during the most difficult times proved to be monumental for Seasha and her children. Currently, an employed, Seasha provides for her children in her home without the help of Social Services.

Although the next honoree, Leon, didn’t delve into the particulars of his homeless years, he did read an original writing that provided some insight. The emotion-wrought poem captured the essence of what youth experience and feel when on the streets. Currently, Leon is employed full- time and in the process of securing an apartment through Section 8 Housing. The Urban Peak Resource Center has helped Leon connect with extended family as well as achieve his goal of self-sufficiency.

From a fifteen-year-old “boy” throwing temper-tantrums to a proud young man in suit and tie, Honoree Tomas probably made the most visible long-term gains. He has renewed his relationship with his parents, graduated from the GED program, obtained a full-time job (where he wears a suit!), and acquired his own apartment. Well on his way to his goal of independence, Tomas may not have been this successful without the extended and heartfelt support from Urban Peak.

Preston accepted tonight’s honor with his mom standing by his side. In many cases, it is the parent involvement that pushes the youth to reach even higher peaks. After Preston fell hard into the drug culture, his mom gave him a choice: drugs or the safety of home. When he chose drugs, she tried “tough love” and refused to help him feed his habit; she didn’t to allow him to come home after he was “picked up." However, she did take him from jail to Urban Peak, where he found the resources to acknowledge and accept his addiction, and realized that it couldn’t be solved with short-term treatment. He initiated involvement in a long-term drug rehab program from which he graduated and is now living at home with his Mom. Preston is currently employed full-time and is studying for his GED. Mom said emphatically to a tear-filled crowd, “This program has been my lifeline. Neither one of us would be here without the support of Urban Peak.”

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.

Or, in the words of Brandon, one of last years’ honorees, “Urban Peak offers a safe haven from the vicious underbelly of society, providing time, patience, flexibility, commitment and love.”

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