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The Governor’s Service Awards are presented annually in recognition and appreciation to individuals, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, SeniorCorps volunteers, and AmeriCorps members for their outstanding contributions to volunteerism and service throughout Colorado. Those recognized by these awards have gone above and beyond to make our state a better place to live.
The awards were be presented at a special awards ceremony at the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday, September 7, 2017.
To view photos from the 2017 Awards Ceremony visit Serve Colorado's Facebook album.
The winners of the 2017 Governor's Service Award winners are:
Dan was the chairman for Weld Recovers, a community wide collaborative response to help residents impacted by the September 2013 flood in Weld County. Dan was one of the founders of Weld Project Connect and a member of the event’s coordinating council from the very beginning. Weld Project Connect is a one-day event held every October that provides numerous on-site services directly to individuals and households struggling and in need due to housing instability, job loss, age, health problems and other issues. Last year, more than 1,200 people were connected to services, and Dan has been there from the start whether it be helping with logistics, planning or volunteering on the day of the event.
Dan showed remarkable leadership in bringing together a coordinated response to help the victims of the September 2013 flood. Dan worked tirelessly to make sure victims were identified and helped made sure responses were coordinated so that resources were maximized. Thanks to Dan’s leadership as Weld Recovers Chairman, more than 100 government agencies, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, private businesses, and foundations were at the table working together. In December 2016, the final case for Weld Recovers was closed. Over 450 households were supported on their path to recovery.
Dan has volunteered on the United Way of Weld County Board of Directors for 12 years, and served as the Board Chairman for three years. Dan is originally from LaGrange, Kentucky and now lives in Greeley, Colorado with his wife Cyndi of 39 years. He is a proud husband, father and grandfather. And while he was born in Kentucky, his home and heart are in Colorado.
Tom and Corrine have tirelessly built awareness and capacity of the KidsPak program, expanding the program from serving 9 students in 2009 to more than 620 today. Tom and Corinne are involved in every aspect of the program, including coordinating the 85 volunteers that pack and drive for the program, monitoring food inventory, purchasing, consulting with a dietician, writing grants and soliciting corporate and individual partnerships, making presentations on food insecurity and signs of hunger to groups, and much more. They work with partners across the state to build awareness around childhood hunger and started similar programs in Golden and Estes Park. The KidsPak team also partners with statewide organizations such as Hunger Free Colorado and Share Our Strength to continue to help food insecure students.
Currently, KidsPak is able to provide 600 bags of nutritious food to 30 schools each week for food insecure children. They have raised critical community support for the program with results such as 500 holiday meals provided for needy families and 35,000 snacks supplied to schools. During a citywide food drive the residents of Loveland purchased and donated over 16,000 pounds of food to KidsPak.
While Tom has been the face of KidsPak in the community Corinne has been the cheerleader and volunteer coordinator. She enjoys keeping in touch with each volunteer, hugging them when they arrive and making sure each volunteer knows what an important part they play in the success of KidsPak. Tom and Corinne have always felt that KidsPak feeds their souls and whatever accolades and awards they may receive belongs not to them but accept them in the name of the people who show up each week to help feed our kids. Tom and Corinne celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past weekend and their friends and relatives donated over $1000 to KidsPak in their names.
In 1975, John entered law school on a full academic scholarship at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. After serving on the law journal and graduating summa cum laude, he moved to Denver to clerk for Judge Robert H. McWilliams of the Tenth Circuit. Over his career, John was a litigation partner at Holland & Hart, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and, for the last seventeen years at Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell.
In service to the Colorado and Denver Bars, John was elected Chair of the DBA Young Lawyers Division in 1984, and later served as the representative of Colorado and Wyoming on the ABA Young Lawyers’ Executive Council. In 2012, John and others, founded the Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans (CLCV), and in 2013, John founded and continues to chair the Military and Veterans Affairs Section of the CBA. In 2014, he became the President of the Denver Bar Association. Recently, John was named President-Elect of the Colorado Bar Association. He will succeed Dick Gast as President on July 1, 2018.
Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans was formed in 2012 at the behest and brain-child of then-Chief Justice Bender and CBA President Mark Fogg. John and others set out to find volunteer lawyers and match them with veterans who needed pro bono or reduced-fee legal services in Colorado. Carolyn Gravit of the CBA staff, along with others such as Doug Tumminello, through clinics held throughout Colorado, have successfully assisted more than 2000 veterans, and paired more than 430 veterans with Colorado lawyers who have provided legal advice to impoverished veterans in every area of the law. John Vaught is honored to accept this 2017 award on behalf of all veterans and volunteer lawyers in the state of Colorado who have supported the CLCV Program.
Reading at grade level by 3rd grade is a key factor in graduation rates; annual evaluation data show that Book Trust students make greater gains in grade level reading than non-Book Trust students (19% vs. 4%). With Book Trust, students learn the power of choice and the pride of ownership. Built on solid research, it empowers a “skin in the game” attitude whereby kids choose what they want to read, and teachers/families provide the daily opportunity and encouragement to do so. Over multi-year exposure to the program, students’ reading levels and academic performance continue to improve, further motivating them to succeed. Since 2001 tens of thousands of children have become better readers and achievers.
Amy Friedman is an educator, change agent and innovative nonprofit leader. As CEO of Book Trust, Friedman led the growth from seed stage to a $5+ million organization, a benchmark that less than 3% of US nonprofits achieve. Today Book Trust serves 53,000 students in 22 states. Friedman’s focus on literacy as a lever to disrupt the cycle of poverty led her to Book Trust. She is committed to pursuing her life’s passion: helping kids escape poverty through education. She’s been attacking this challenge from multiple angles over the course of her career, beginning as a classroom teacher, later in a variety of senior leadership roles in Denver Public Schools. She experienced the rewards that come from working with English language learners as well as the challenges teachers face trying to balance the demands driven by federal, state and local policy while meeting individual student needs. Amy has worked to change policy to address these challenges and believes that the critical lever to ensure success for kids is developing strong literacy skills early on in their education.
After returning from Afghanistan, Vanessa attended school sporadically and continued to serve in the National Guard for six years until her contract was completed and she was honorably discharged in 2015. Vanessa then moved to Alamosa, Colorado and served two years as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the SECond Mission project at Adams State University.
As an AmeriCorps VISTA member with the SECond Mission project Vanessa worked to help meet the specific needs of student Veterans to help to ease their transition from military to civilian life and success in college. In 2015, Vanessa was instrumental in Adams State instituting an in-state tuition policy for all veteran students and a policy for student veterans to live independently in family housing on Campus. Vanessa created and maintains a community resource web to assist veteran students and veterans across the San Luis Valley with financial instability, behavior health issues, and navigating disability.
In her own words, “Through AmeriCorps VISTA, I have grown as a young professional and found the sense of purpose I lost after returning home from Afghanistan. I have put my passion for student veteran success into action, and created actual reform in an area that serves many veterans. We have students that come back now, and are blown away by the changes that have been made to our Center on campus, because it was something they never had. I personally struggled in school because I felt out of place, as most student veterans do. Through my service, I can “pay it forward”, and help those student vets who struggle like I did. The military is based upon group mentality, so recreating that in a student veteran environment is incredibly important. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA and serve my fellow veterans.”
Vanessa was awarded her bachelor's degree from Adams State University, and this fall will begin attending University of Colorado Denver to pursue a Masters in Education.
In 1967, they moved to Nairobi, Kenya where her husband was on the staff of the veterinary school with a CSU/USAID program for 5 years, Betty volunteered at Starehe Boy’s Center and with the American Women’s Association. She worked at Teledyne Water Pik for 23 years as a secretary and then as a marketing coordinator.
Betty Clark has been leading Volunteers of America's Mail Brigade on a volunteer basis since its start in 1996. The Mail Brigade prepares and sends mass mailings for fundraising and awareness-raising purposes for local nonprofits, a critical service for nonprofit development and success. In her 20 years of service with this group, Betty has served at least 2,568 hours. Rising to a leadership role, Betty has become a volunteer coordinator for the Mail Brigade, scheduling work days and communicating with group members and nonprofits alike. Each week the Mail Brigade with Betty at the helm, helps two nonprofit organizations with mass mailings. In its 20 years of existence, the Mail Brigade has completed about 2,080 mailings free of charge for community organizations. It is estimated that these mailings have assisted in raising upwards of $20,800,000 for area agencies.
Betty’s work goes far beyond scheduling and organizing the mailings for nonprofits – she gets right in there with the group and does the work, every step of the way. She builds personal relationships with each volunteer. Her nominators remarked, “We are so proud to know and work alongside Betty Clark, and we believe her impact in the community – in sheer numbers and through her interactions – is invaluable.”
Betty has sung with a women’s chorus and church choir and volunteered at her church. She enjoys belonging to a book club and playing cards with friends. She has two daughters, a son-in-law and two married grandchildren, all of whom live in Fort Collins and enjoy many activities together.
Nicolas served two terms with La Puente Home Inc.’s AmeriCorps State program in Alamosa, Colorado as a Volunteer Coordinator. Beyond his direct responsibilities of coordinating 397 volunteers who contributed over 12,280 hours to his community, Nicolas filled many of his evenings and weekends connecting with people to finish up projects that improved their community.
In his position as Volunteer Coordinator, Nicolas worked hard to ensure there were projects available for all ability and skill levels so that anyone could serve in a way that was meaningful to them. He always followed up with people to let them know the full scope and impact of the service they provided, which help motivate them to continue volunteering. Nicolas remains true to the heart of service and inspires others to do the same.
At the beginning of his service Nicolas and a community volunteer began devising a plan to get a shipment of bikes donated to La Puente. Bikes are crucial to the lives of La Puente’s clients in the San Luis Valley as there is no form of public transportation. Nicolas understood just how valuable this resource would be to those he served, so over the course of 9 months and through much coordination, Nicolas’ efforts resulted in 22 bikes with helmets and locks brought to the San Luis Valley to be given to La Puente’s clients. This would not have happened if not for Nicolas and its impact will be felt long after he leaves.
Since arriving in Colorado for AmeriCorps, Nicolas has grown a love for long backpacking trips and backcountry snowboarding. Nicolas joined AmeriCorps hoping to make a change, big or small, in the San Luis Valley; what he found was a major change in himself.
In her first term, Ms. Vang and her team were assigned to the El Paso County Sherriff’s Department. They responded to multiple fires throughout El Paso County and Fort Carson and gained a wealth of experience in the process. During this assignment, Ms. Vang consistently pushed herself to perform beyond expectations. When others began to tire, she caught her second wind. She earned a reputation as one of the program’s highest performers. For her second term, Ms. Vang was promoted to serve as an NCCC Team Leader. In this capacity, Ms. Vang used her experience from her first term to mold her team into a high-performing, unified force.
As a result of NCCC’s collaboration with the Lt. Governor’s Office through Serve Colorado, Julie’s team began 2017 by providing service to a priority need identified by the state; long-term disaster recovery. Julie and her team worked for six weeks in Longmont, Dacano, Jamestown, and Lyons helping to build affordable homes for those impacted by the 2013 floods, as well as other low income families of the region. Following this assignment, Julie and her team moved on to the US Forest Service’s San Carlos Ranger District, where they took on the challenges and responsibilities associated with fire management. From March through July of 2017 the team responded to an initial attack fire and been on stand-by for two others. Ms. Vang and her team have been instrumental in reducing potentially dangerous fuels that could ignite or drive an inferno by felling dead or diseased trees, and administering prescribed burns. On one specific week, they cut down 78 trees and burned approximately 13,000 lbs. of fuel, eliminating the potential of a wildland fire.
Julie was presented her Governor’s Service Award in July of 2017 before NCCC’s graduation ceremony.
David earned his Juris Doctorate degree from Howard University School of Law in 2004. David then went to work as a prosecutor for the City of Denver. In 2007 David earned a Masters of Law Degree from the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver in Environmental Law. David then moved to a small law firm specializing in immigration law. In 2010, David joined Colorado Division of Early Care and Learning as the Associate Director and the Division Director in 2012. David left CDHS in 2015 to join the Denver Preschool Program as Director of Operations. In January 2017, David returned to the practice of Immigration law. David presently volunteers two evenings a month as an attorney at free legal nights at Centro San Juan Diego.
David is also a passionate urban farmer and was a leading donor to the Denver Food Rescue’s Fresh Food Connect Program, donating over 150 pounds of homegrown organic produce last year to ensure that families in Denver’s food deserts have access to fresh produce. David also volunteers his time teaching fellow gardeners lessons he has learned. When Denver Urban Gardens hosts a learning opportunity at his local community garden, David brings over his garden shredder to help advance composting efforts, and is always quick to help fellow gardeners with weeding their plots, sharing seeds and seedlings, and watering their plants as needed.
David’s passion for helping children began as a YMCA camp counselor as a teenager and has been a recurring theme in his life for the past 30 years. Each year David volunteers as an assistant coach with the National Flag Football League. He spends three months each fall and three months each spring coaching third and fourth grade students on the fundamentals of football, and coaches the defense in weekly games.
Barbara also has served in the Volunteer Clown Program at Swedish Medical Center in order to bring a small measure of joy into the lives of her patients, especially the children. In 2016, after spending 7 years of writing, Barbara self published a book Nurse Patch It’s Diary: The Diary of a Public School Nurse and Clown.
Barbara has served years in leadership capacity as both Chairwoman and Vice President of the Peace Corps Vista Alumni of Colorado group and her outgoing personality has helped to recruit new members to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado (RPCVCO). She’s the top seller of RPCV calendars, which supports grants to currently serving volunteers. Barbara also has worked for the JFK Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project, interviewing fellow Peace Corps Volunteers whose stories are sent to the JFK Library in Boston.
Recently Barbara has been inspiring others to serve by demonstrating how easy it is to volunteer at any age through her participation in Boomers Leading Change AmeriCorps State program. During her 11 month term of service, Barbara served with refugees in Denver’s East Colfax and Yosemite neighborhood helping to reduce their barriers to healthcare. Barbara remarked that her service opened her eyes to “another world, only 15 miles from my house in Southwest Denver” and described her experience as very rewarding.
Barbara charges other seniors who wonder if they still have something to offer to, as her AmeriCorps plaque reads, “Change the world, again!” Barbara and her husband, Bernie Lopez, celebrated 20 years of marriage in August, 2017.