Northwest Denver’s Gifts from the Heart

NORTH DENVER ­ — There are many rewards to living in a close-knit community, barbecues in the summer and holiday parties in the winter.  Babies who had play dates together grow up to be schoolmates.  The privileges of community also come with duties, as we care for one another in times of need.  If a community is particularly strong, that reach of care can extend past its own zip code. 

Cooper the Brave wins community hearts

On December 4, nearly 300 friends and neighbors gathered at Local 46 to support the Hudson-Deming fundraiser, to benefit the family of Cooper Deming.  Cooper, a 7th grader at Skinner Middle School, has bravely completed 30 radiation treatments for a brain tumor, which is thankfully shrinking.  $ 13,000 was raised to help defray the costs of medical bills, lost income, physical, occupational and other therapy, and other expenses.  Local 46, event sponsor, generously donated 30% of sales for the day to the family.  Dozens and dozens of local businesses donated items for the silent auction, including A New Spirit, Biju’s Little Curry Shop, and Ruby Fox. Even Cooper’s classmates stepped up for their friend donating snow shoveling, leaf raking, and babysitting.

Lisa Fentress, one of the event organizers, said “The grand finale prize, was a night at Hotel Monaco and a $ 150 gift certificate to Panzano’s.  As the raffle began, one of the neighborhood dads predicted that he’d win the big prize and if he did, he’d give it to [Cooper’s parents] Scott and Amy.  Well, his number was drawn, and he handed the envelope over to them, saying that they needed it more than he did.  What a wonderful community we live in.”

Solar Trailers for Standing Rock

As neighbors gathered at Local 46, Rob Ford and Nancy Olsen were driving back to Denver after a successful trip to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.  Northwest Denver came together to raise nearly $ 10,000 to fund four solar power stations for the water protectors standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Rob and Nancy towed the

Rob Ford and Nancy Olsen deliver the first of four solar power stations to the camp school at Standing Rock.

first of four mobile solar power stations, capable of charging as many as 40 cell phones at one time, 9.5 hours to the Standing Rock Reservation.  The trailers were built to keep people connected and able to tell their story to the rest of the world. The first trailer was promised and delivered to the camp school.  The next trailers will be used by medical volunteers and will be made available for anyone who needs power to sustain the ongoing efforts. 

For Rob and Nancy, delivering the gift of solar power from the Northwest Denver community was a life changing experience.  They were invited to partake in a round dance and Nancy shared, “With very little sleep we danced hand in hand, round and round, in a packed dome for hours, four lines deep dancing around the drummers and singers. It was so beautiful sharing the feeling of resilience, love, almost celebration, camaraderie, and support. It would only be the next day after we left camp that we would hear of the permit denial to drill under the water from the army corps of engineers. The struggle isn’t over, but it was a sweet victory.”   

Stand up for Standing Rock Concert

The next storm of activity for Standing Rock happened later in the week during a benefit concert at the Oriental Theater on December 8.  At least $ 3,000 was raised during the Stand Up for Standing Rock concert featuring amazing Colorado artists.

Matene Strikes First Jerome performs his original song “Water is Life” at the Oriental Theater.

Matene Strikes First Jerome performed his original song “Water is Life” and the Oyukpe Lakota drum group sang traditional songs.  Matene’s mother, Stephanie Jerome, said, “This is why I love Colorado. Because when a call to action is made we aren’t afraid to pick up and come together and do what we can to make a positive impact. I don’t call myself an environmentalist, I don’t call myself a protester, I call myself a mother who loves her children and who believes that all people have the right to clean water. I know all my musician friends who joined me tonight feel the same way. Together we are making a difference through our talents and gifts that we’ve been given. I hope we can continue to use those gifts for good.”


Nostalgic Homes Brings Cheer to Children

Free carriage rides and thoughtful donations brought the spirit of the season to the Highlands.

On December 11, Nostalgic Homes presented their annual Holiday in the Highlands celebration complete with petting ponies, carriage rides and photos with Santa. Aside from neighborhood good cheer, Jenny Apel continually puts her whole heart into the community. She collected unwrapped gifts and donations for the Tennyson Center for Children. The center helps children who have been abused in their primary families. The children often have to leave their homes with nothing in hand.  Apel reflected, “These kids are always in need of clothing. They continue to go to their neighborhood schools from the Tennyson Center, but imagine being a kid with little in hand and the stress of their situations. The Tennyson Center meets their standard needs, but it is always special for kids that are ages 10-18 to receive something age appropriate that helps them to simply be a kid…”

If you missed the event you may also make an online donation to

Haiti Hurricane Emergency Relief

Tamburello embodies the spirit of giving from the heart.

Paul Tamburello and Loren Martinez of Little Man Ice Cream traveled to Jeremie, Haiti from November 28 to December 2. Rene Doubleday and Andrew Campo, colleagues and friends also joined in the journey. They teamed up with the organization “Living Water for Haiti” on an emergency relief trip with a mission of repairing housing structures devastated by Hurricane Matthew. In addition, they helped provide food and medical aid, and powering a water well pump for rural communities in need.

Doubleday reflected on the devastation that surrounded them, “My biggest takeaway is a reminder of the tenacity of the human spirit. In conditions that are nearly impossible to accurately describe, you see people carrying on with their daily lives. Working, caring for families, rebuilding their homes all in the most ingenious ways.”

As part of the Little Man Ice Cream Scoop for Scoop program, $ 6000 was spent on rice, beans, fish, and cooking oil feeding over 200 families and two orphanages. Due to the damage inflicted from the hurricane, most of the local fisherman community lost their equipment and boats– everything they had. The Little Man team was able to purchase a new fishing boat for one of the local fishermen. The fisherman has agreed to not only use the boat to repower his own business but to deliver fresh fish at least twice a week to local orphanages and families in need.  This agreement will be managed by the Living Water for Haiti team that is constantly at work in this community.

Martinez said, “Being part of a Scoop for Scoop immersion trip is overwhelmingly impactful. Thanks to the Denver community, these funds were able to help people in need in a sustainable way. This experience made me proud of the company that I work for– and proud of all the hard work that so many people put in at our little ice cream shop. Their work truly makes a difference, both locally and globally.”

Gingerbread Houses for Habitat for Humanity

It was all gumdrops, lollipops and a cherry on top of the sweetest season.

On December 10 FirstBank partnered with Little Man to host the first annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party. The event benefited Habitat for Humanity to help build safe homes for low-income families. The proceeds from the sell-out crowd who paid a suggested $ 10 donation to build their sweet-dream castles are going to help a couple named Omar and Judith build a home that will be ready this holiday season. They commented, “You’re not just helping our family…you’re helping change our family’s future.”

The veritably balmy weather, after multiple frigid days, brought holiday cheer to all. Hundreds of families, hipster millennials and couples of all ages adorned and decorated their masterpieces. Some of the kids ate them as quickly as they were built. One excited participant motioned exuberantly around the plaza saying, “This is so magical. The families. The trees. The lights. The music. I feel like I am in a movie.”

FirstBank provided free gingerbread crumble ice cream to the crowds and brought huge cheer to winners with snowboards, skis and Copper Mountain 4-packs. All in all, a sweet affair that brought the holiday’s home for one family, and brought together the entire community as family.

An Affair of the Heart

Basha Cohen and Jim Walsh tied the knot after 20-years of unwedded bliss on 11.25.16, sharing her parents, Phillip and Agnete’s, 57th wedding anniversary.

I hope you will forgive me for wearing my heart on my sleeve, but I am so deeply moved by our community and its generosity on so many levels. Thank you isn’t a strong enough word to convey my deep love and sentiments for so many in our neighborhood.

During this tumultuous year my family has agonized through my father’s emergency brain surgery, putting our sweet dog “Loco” to sleep when he could no longer fight off cancer, and worried through our daughter’s severe brain concussion when she fell down a flight of stairs at school. If that wasn’t enough, we are now faced with the shock of my husband’s potential heart transplant, as his own heart is too tired to go on.

Through these traumas the meaning of our community has never been greater to me.  Every life I have touched has surrounded me with generosity of spirit. Texts, calls, emails, meals, rides, sleepovers, hugs and help with writing articles like this one have flooded in.  It is enormously humbling to know how many people have my back. My good friends Paul and Loren and my beautiful “kids” at the Can picked up where I left off mid-stream in events. Family, friends, neighbors, merchants, principals, counselors, commanders & cops, clergy, City Council and State Representatives have all checked in for my family’s pulse. Even strangers like Madeline Fenton at the City & County building showered us with help as we scrambled to secure a marriage license in a split-second decision.  I will never forget her kindness for as long as I live.

And then there are the amazing doctors and brilliant nurses. Dr. Sfiligoi at Wheatridge Animal Hospital kept Loco going for two extra years. Dr. Colapinto at St. Joseph’s saved our Dad’s life. Dr. Maddox at the V.A. and Dr. Cornwell plus dozens of other doctors and surgeons at the University of Colorado Hospital are working tirelessly to give Jim a next chapter. My heart has expanded because of these remarkable people who have shown the true meaning of compassion and care.

Through all of this, I have come to deeply respect and understand the consequences of being an organ donor.  Although we all hope and pray for a long and healthy life, there is something we can all do to give the gift of life.  This holiday season; take the time to become an organ donor. Visit and talk to your family about your decision.  You never know whose life you might save or when you could be in need yourself.   

From our hearts at the North Denver Tribune to yours…to the greatest community on earth, may peace, health and happiness be yours.

With contributions by: Jennifer Wolf, Ed Kieta, Irene Glazer, Nancy Olsen and Loren Martinez

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