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November 29, 2003 - Festival of Trees

What: 25th Silver Anniversary

Where: Wildlife Experience Museum, Parker

When: November 29, 2003

Beneficiary: ArtReach, Inc.

Honoree(s): Susie Buckley of Alzheimer's Association was honored with the Ginger Merelli Special Event Volunteer Award

Presenting Sponsor(s): Re/Max

Gala Chairperson(s): Diane Metz

Honorary Chairperson(s): Dave and Gail Liniger

Co-Chair(s): Patrick Williams and Shelley Froelich

Committee Members: Jamie Angelich, Kelly Berger, Ruth Beriault, Amy Brimah, Lorenzo Chavez, Dr. Brent and Mindy Cohen, Elizabeth Frawley, Barb Gallagher, Amy Gibbs, Ellen Gysin CCM, Katharine Honnen, Heather and Scott Jordan, Lee Keatinge, Holly and Rich Kylberg, Anne Looby Beermann, Don Maher, Mary Meade, Lance Morton, Marc Rosenberg, Molly Ross, Valere Shane, Aimee Sporer and Dan Caplis, David Stacey, Nancy Stamper, Gail Starr, Leslie Tweed King, Elena VanDecar, Denise Warzel, Karye Wilhelm

Entertainment: Dancing to the sounds of Heart Beat

Sponsors: CBS 4, KOSI 101FM, The Denver Post, The Wildlife Experience

Attire: Festive Holiday, backtie optional

Information: ArtReach @ 303.433.2882 or

 Susie Buckley of Alzheimer's Association was honored with the Ginger Merelli Special Event Volunteer Award
Susie Buckley of Alzheimer's Association was honored with the Ginger Merelli Special Event Volunteer Award

Carrie Kindred

Icy roads and heavy snow caused the Festival of Trees Holiday Gala to be postponed from its November 22nd date to November 29th. Regardless, the event at the Wildlife Experience Museum was a wonderful night.

Established in 1974, ArtReach is a Colorado nonprofit arts and human services organization, changing lives through the arts. Working with 180 nonprofits agencies, ArtReach programs impact the lives of over 80,000 at-risk and under-served children, adults and elderly in the Denver Metro area.

The main event of the evening was honoring Susie Buckley as the first year recipient of the Ginger Merelli Special Event Volunteer Award. Nominations for this award were made by nonprofit organizations in the seven county Denver metro area, and the award honors a special event volunteer who has positively impacted the fund raising capacity of their organization. The award was created by a group of dedicated special event volunteers to commemorate the volunteer work of Ginger Merelli, who died early last year.

Ginger Merelli was the kind of volunteer that organizations dream about. For 15 years, Ginger volunteered with ArtReach on special events, served on the board, and assisted in the office. Ginger worked on committees for the Festival of Trees, chairing the event twice. She helped to create the Ultimate Dinner Party, a signature event of ArtReach that for 14 years has brought significant income to ArtReach. She also served on the board of directors, including serving as an ex-officio and honorary board member. Ginger was the kind of volunteer that, when needed, would roll up her sleeves and do the nitty gritty work that needed to be done. Ginger was also an extraordinary leader and was able to communicate her enthusiasm about ArtReach to others and motivate them to excel in their volunteer positions. Many of the volunteers that she personally got involved with ArtReach still volunteer today.

The very special recipient of this award, Susie Buckley, has been volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association since 1996. During that time she has doubled and even tripled the size of the two primary events for which she volunteers, the Annual Dinner and the Memories in the Making art event. She also volunteers her time to the Helpline for 200 hours each year. Three things make Susie Buckley an exemplary volunteer are longevity, attitude and flexibility. Her enthusiasm and humor are both contagious and inspiring. She is willing to do whatever is needed to create a successful event and is flexible enough to roll with whatever comes her way. She is also a great mentor and gives others the opportunity to shine in leadership roles, supporting them all the way. The award committee was thrilled to choose Susie Buckley for this year's award.

Susie was awarded $1,000 for the nonprofit of her choice. And thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Merelli Family, ArtReach has established an endowment fund through the Denver Foundation that will enable them to provide the $1,000 award for the next 25 years. Consistent with Ginger’s ability to provide a platform for ongoing value to the organization, this gift not only honors Ginger and other special event volunteers, but has enabled ArtReach to establish its first endowment fund and campaign. This is just another example of how Ginger’s impact on ArtReach will last for generations.

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