Join Aspen in Supporting The GrowHaus

denver non-profit GrowHaus

by Cindy Chase

As the holiday season kicks into gear there is one common element at the center of most holiday celebrations…and that is food.  For most of us the notion of food is tied to “toooo much food” or “being stuffed” at this time of year.

My hobby is cooking – from the shopping, creating a new recipe, entertaining and simply serving great food at each meal.  I feel so privileged that there are so many options in my neighborhood. And it’s for this reason that Aspen Insurance is supporting The GrowHaus.

The GrowHaus Brings Sustainable Fresh Food to the  Elyria-Swansea Denver Neighborhood

Located in one of Denver’s poorest and underserved neighborhoods Elyria-Swansea, (think I-70 corridor near National Western arena, Purina plant), The GrowHaus is a unique non-profit that whose mission is to create a neighborhood-based food system by serving as a hub for food distribution, production, education, and economic impact.

Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood is known as an urban food desert.  Yes desert….not dessert!  I had never heard of this until getting involved with The GrowHaus.  A food desert is identified as a neighborhood that does not have a full service grocery store within one-mile.

Imagine for a minute if instead of jumping in your car and going down the street to King Soopers/Safeway/Target or Whole Foods, if your only choice was 7-Eleven. This is what many residents face because their mode of transportation is either walking or taking a bus.

Urban Farming in the Middle of Downtown Denver

The GrowHaus has helped to change that with innovative urban farming techniques.  Located in a renovated 20,000 sq. foot greenhouse in the middle of the neighborhood, The GrowHaus helps residents have access to fresh and healthy food right in their neighborhood.  Not only do residents have access to fresh food, but they also have an opportunity to have a job.  In addition to providing food for residents,

The GrowHaus sells its produce to many local grocery stores and restaurants. You can buy GrowHaus produce at King Soopers, Marczyk’s, and Whole Foods; as well as enjoy it in a wonderful meal at more than 20 local restaurants.

Support The GrowHaus with a Toy for the
2018 Holiday Party for Children or Donation

At Aspen Insurance we’re excited to support this innovative non-profit by sponsoring the 2018 Holiday Party for Children.  If you would like to join us, please bring unwrapped presents for children to the age of 13 to our office.  We’re located at 1315 S. Clayton ST. Suite 110, Denver Co. 80210.  If you haven’t visited us since we moved into our new office space, we’d love to give you a tour.

If you want to donate but can’t make it to our office, please call Cindy at 303-250-3462 to arrange a pick-up.

Follow us on Facebook as we share more about The GrowHaus and its impact on making our community better for all. You can learn more about The GrowHaus at their website.  You can also make a donation here.

Aspen Client Spotlight: Jennifer LaBerge and Tall Tales Ranch

This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting the good that clients of Aspen Insurance Agency are doing in our beloved community.  Regular people making extraordinary change for the common good.

Happily retired from a career in the biotech pharmaceutical industry, Jennifer LaBerge today devotes her time and energy to an emerging non-profit named Tall Tales Ranch. A long-time Denver resident who loves the weather and outdoors, Jennifer (like many of us) finds traffic to be one of the things she’d like to change.  Even more important is her passion to change the lack of housing, work, and support for disabled adults.

 

To parents of children with intellectual disabilities, the big question is what happens when they die and are no longer there to care for their adult child.

 

Schweiger Ranch Jumpstarts Tall Tales with a Gift of Land

It’s no secret the vast lands of Colorado consistently provide miles of outdoor entertainment for the state’s adventurous residents. However, there stands one particular patch of land planning to start something magnificent.

Jennifer is one of the many people bursting with excitement at the start of this community, Tall Tales Ranch. Located in Lone Tree CO, on the historic 38-acre Schweiger Ranch, Tall Tales aims to create a place where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live and work together in a positive and stable environment.

The land graciously gifted by the Schweiger Ranch will allow Tall Tales to:

  • Build residences and community buildings
  • Have access to the rest of the ranch for growing vegetables
  • Provide therapeutic horseback riding
  • Participate in farmer’s markets

Neurotypical adults, such as community and staff members, will also be invited to live and volunteer at Tall Tales Ranch.

As for the masterminds credited with bringing Tall Tales to life, Pat and Susan Mooney are parents to a 23-year-old son, Ross, who began living with an acquired brain injury at age 14. Ross then quickly became the inspiration for what now has become Tall Tales Ranch.

Living Happily Ever After – Tall Tales Ranch from Brad Conner on Vimeo.

A 15 Year Wait for Colorado Housing of Adult Children
with Disabilities

When the Mooney’s began to investigate the options for Ross, they were shocked to discover the few resources and waiting lists of 15 years or more. They learned that Colorado is in the bottom five of state funding and provisions for this special population of people.

Growing up in a family that has children with developmental or intellectual disabilities is something Jennifer can relate to, thus her passion to volunteer. She grew up with a brother that suffered from brain damage caused by birth trauma.

 

Jennifer recalls watching her parents struggle with the challenges of finding safe housing and steady jobs for their disabled, adult son. The obstacles Jennifer’s parents, and many others, faced in caring for their son are precisely why Tall Tales Ranch was created.

 

Help Tall Tales Ranch Create a Community of Open Doors for Adults Living with Special Needs

Tall Tales is mostly funded thru donations and is the grassroots stage of developing this inclusive and special community. An annual “Hoedown” is the primary Tall Tales fundraiser event. The first year 150 people attended and in 2017 – year number three – more than 450 people attended.  This year the Hoedown will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2018.
As the community of Tall Tales begins its journey of establishment in Lone Tree, Jennifer points out the positive impact on the surrounding community.

 

“It provides evidence that [Lone Tree] is reaching out to all different types of people, beyond the traditional bedroom community.  Tall Tales will add character to Lone Tree with amenities like coffee shops, a unique venue for events or weddings, and weave diversity into the fabric of the Lone Tree community.  ”

 

A timeline of three phases Tall Tales plans to initiate can be found on their website, starting from 2017 with building relationships to 2022, when they expect to establish the ranch and all of its business operations. To learn more, donate, or volunteer please visit the Tall Tales Ranch website.  And if you need help with your homeowners, auto, life, or commercial insurance please call Aspen at 303-777-2991 or send an e-mail.

Salvation Army Denver- Doing the Most Good

Ask ten people what they associate with The Salvation Army, and the most common answer is Christmas Bell Ringers. But the Salvation Army has programs that reach far beyond the traditional Christmas Bell Ringer program. These programs range from providing meals to alleviate hunger, temporary housing, to community centers and more.

The Salvation Army tagline is Doing the Most Good, and that aptly sums up the goal of all their initiatives.

For more than 25 years Aspen Insurance Agency has had the privilege of serving countless Coloradans and Colorado Business Owners.  And just as we have thrived we feel it’s important to participate and help our community thrive.

Our goal is to work in close collaboration with a non-profit that provides a broad range of services to the less fortunate.  And that’s why we’ve chosen to partner with The Salvation Army.

Helping the Less Fortunate in Colorado

Denver and the state of Colorado has one of the hottest economies in the US, which could lead you to think that poverty is not an issue.  But according to Lieutenant Jessica Pearce the Corps Officer of The Salvation Army Denver Red Shield Community Center, they helped 750 families at Christmas in 2015, and it increased to 1,000 in 2016. And that was just at their location which is one of six in Denver. The Aurora location helped more than 1,500 families at Christmas last year and could do more with more donations.

Yes, the Denver market is booming, but the boom has more to do with people moving to Denver because of a good job. What hasn’t changed from Jessica’s perspective is the people who live here, that don’t have access to the right experience to get those good paying jobs. Now they are faced with an even higher cost of living because of the boom.

According to TalkPoverty.org, Colorado had an 11.5% poverty rate in 2016 with more than 14.4% of all Colorado Children living in families who had incomes below the poverty line.
So yes the need is real.

Salvation Army Services

The Salvation Army has been in Denver since 1887.  Today Denver has 6 locations, and there are seven additional locations in Greeley, Fountain, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, Broomfield, Grand Junction, and Pueblo.

While The Salvation Army can provide a wide range of services, the actual programming varies with local needs. It is not a one size fits all approach. Each location provides services that “Do the Most Good” for the individual community.

General Salvation Army Services include:

  • Adult Rehabilitation
  • Veterans Affairs Services
  • Prison Ministries
  • Elderly Services
  • Combating Human Trafficking
  • Missing Persons
  • Hunger Relief
  • Housing and Homeless Services
  • Christmas Assistance
  • Youth Camps & Recreation
  • Kroc/ Red Shield Community Centers
  • Emergency Disaster Services

The Salvation Army delivers services through a variety of programs.  As you review the list, you may recognize the names of some of the programs.

Red Shield Centers/ Kroc Community Centers

Not all youth are given the same privilege to succeed in athletics, education, and the arts. These centers are dedicated to providing underprivileged youth with a chance to explore, cultivate and thrive through low-cost or free programming.

Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, began a legacy of hope when she entrusted The Salvation Army with $1.5 billion to build 27 community centers all across the country.  She dreamed of a network of “Kroc Centers,” each providing opportunities in arts, education, and athletics for children, adults, and families in under-served communities.

Denver is home to a Red Shield Community Center located at 2915 N High St, Denver, CO 80205. Here, children and families are engaged through art, basketball, homework help, boxing, fitness programs (like yoga and Zumba) day camps and more. This location also serves the community through social services providing emergency food boxes, help at Christmas time with food and gifts, energy bill assistance and the Pathway of Hope.

Pathway of Hope

Dedicated to providing individualized services to families with children who want to break the generational cycle of crisis and vulnerability. Pathway of Hope seeks to address the causes of poverty by helping families overcome challenges like unemployment, unstable housing, and lack of education.

Harbor Lights Center

Focused on helping people who have fallen captive to substance abuse. Each center provides detoxification services, residential treatment, transitional housing, and outpatient treatment for men and women.

The Denver Harbor Lights Center is located at 2136 Champa St., Denver, CO 80205

Adult Rehabilitation Center & Salvation Army Family Stores

When you donate goods to The Salvation Army, those items are then sold at Salvation Army Family Stores. The proceeds are used to fund Adult Rehabilitation Centers that help people struggling with addiction find help, hope, and a second chance at life.

Housing and Homeless Centers

Group homes, emergency shelters, and transitional living centers provide housing, food, and overnight lodging for varying amounts of time to those in need.

Crossroads – Men’s Night Drop-In Shelter, located at 1901 29th St, Denver, CO 80216
Lambuth Family Shelter Denver – Family Transitional Shelter, located at 2741 Federal Blvd, Denver, CO 80211

Hunger Relief

The Salvation Army serves more than 56 million meals to anyone in need through its many soup kitchens, sit-down meal programs, food pantries, mobile meals and community gardens.
Meals are served daily at Crossroads Shelter, while emergency food boxes are given out at any Salvation Army Corps.

Christmas Assistance

The “miracle” of Christmas has repeated over and over again through the joy of caring and sharing. The traditional red kettle is an integral part of the Christmas scene, with millions of dollars donated each year to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless.

Donations and financial assistance provide Christmas dinners, clothing, and toys for families in need, including families of prisoners.

Join Aspen in Supporting The Salvation Army

As part of our ongoing support, Aspen will donate $10.00 to the Salvation Army for every referral we receive.  It’s a great way for all of us to help our community thrive.  We will also participate in supporting other programs and will keep you up-to-date on how you can join in with Aspen.

We will be posting and sharing other information about our support initiative of The Salvation Army in Denver on our Facebook page.  Please like the Aspen Insurance Agency Facebook page to stay up to date.

Spring Cleaning and Denver Non-profits: Make Meaning with Your Cleaning

Because spring is a time for new beginnings, cleaning and organization around the house are popular at this time of year. One way to turn spring cleaning into something more meaningful is to donate gently used items or the cash proceeds from a garage sale to your favorite Denver non-profit.

We live in one of the “hottest economies” in the U.S. which makes it easy to forget that there are still families and individuals who struggle to survive.  According the U.S. Dept. Of Agricultural 12.1% of all Coloradans are hungry because they don’t have enough money to buy food.  The 2016 U.S. Census reveals that 11.5% of Coloradans live below the poverty line and that includes 1 in 7 children.

So give a hand up to those less fortunate by making meaning with your spring cleaning!

If you’re ready to tackle that monumental chore, read on for some helpful information. (And if you’re so tidy and organized throughout the year that spring cleaning isn’t a big chore for you, well, keep that to yourself! Unless you want your friends and neighbors to be jealous, that is.)

6 Spring Cleaning Tips

  1. Take It One Room at a Time
    Deciding to clean or organize your entire home can quickly get overwhelming. If you focus on just one area or room, then move to another only when you’re finished, you’ll likely work more efficiently.
  2. Follow the Six-Month Rule
    Generally, if you haven’t used something in six months (with the exception of seasonal items), it’s a good idea to consider throwing it away or donating it.
  3. Don’t Forget the Kitchen
    Just like other rooms, your kitchen likely has things that haven’t been used in some time. And this includes food in the refrigerator or freezer. Give those appliances a thorough cleaning and get rid of anything that is no longer edible or that you won’t be eating.  If you have non-perishables, check the date.  If they’re safe to eat, set those aside to donate.
  4. Set Yourself Up for Success
    Paper clutter is something we all could probably cut back on pretty easily. Setting up a few recycling bins throughout the house gives you a convenient alternative to just setting that old magazine or paperwork down somewhere and watching the pile grow.
  5. Have a Garage Sale and Donate to Your Favorite Denver Charity
    Of course, the spring cleaning garage sale is a tradition for many homeowners, and can be a great way to raise money for a Denver non-profit. Talk about a win-win-win situation — you get rid of stuff you don’t need, someone pays you for it, and then you can help someone else by donating the proceeds to a Denver charity.
  6. Stay Safe So You Can Enjoy Your Results
    Spring is one of the best times of the year in Colorado, so you want to make sure you keep in mind the potential for physical strain and injury.
    When you’re cleaning or maintaining your home, be mindful of the physical risks involved. Lift with your leg muscles, not your back. Avoid prolonged repetitive motions. Use ladders, lawnmowers and other dangerous tools with caution.

The Denver Rescue Mission – Join Our Drive

You can also bring gently used items to the Aspen Office to participate in our initiative to support The Denver Rescue Mission.  Because of your contributions during first quarter, together we made a huge contribution of gently used items including much needed coats, sweaters, and other cold weather items.

Just bring your items to our office at 2238 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80210.  We will be taking our next donation in May.

Aspen Community Support: Share Our Good Luck with Others

Cindy Chase Denver Rescue Mission

The “Good Luck” theme of March causes me to reflect on my own good luck.  I have always felt lucky to be a Coloradan.  I’ve spent my entire life living in the state of Colorado and for the past 25 years, I’ve built Aspen Insurance Agency, a business that serves Colorado residents and business owners.

Because of my own good fortune, I feel strongly about giving back to our community.  As an individual and as a business owner, I feel it’s important to give back in ways that helps our community thrive.

 Aspen Supports the Denver Rescue Mission

Each quarter Aspen supports a non-profit.  Denver Rescue Mission is our non-profit for first quarter 2017.  We’re collecting clothes, non-perishable food, and other household items to donate during January through March.  At the end of January we made the first delivery.

The growth of Denver and Colorado has brought opportunity and prosperity for many.  At the same time, it has created challenges for others struggling to make a life for themselves.  That’s why we feel the work of the Denver Rescue Mission is important.

Denver Rescue Mission Helps Homeless People Build a Sustainable Life

In addition to providing emergency services and shelter for the most vulnerable in our community, the Denver Rescue Mission also takes the next step to help homeless people get back on their feet.  They provide many education programs, life skills training, counseling, transitional and permanent housing, with a goal to help people thrive and build a strong foundation for a self-sufficient life.

As an insurance agent, I get a first-hand view into the delight and excitement that my clients feel when they buy their home, or their new car.  I also help many of my clients build and expand their business by providing advice and insurance products that protect their risk and help to insure their success.  This is what I love about my business, the opportunity to participate in my clients’ lives and be of service in a way that helps them thrive.

It’s also why my team and I choose Denver Rescue Mission as our non-profit for this quarter.  If you have gently used items of clothing, non-perishable food, or house hold items, please drop them off at our office.  We will be delivering all collected items at the end of the quarter.

Aspen Insurance Help Our Community Referral Program

Another way to contribute to Denver Rescue Mission is by making a referral to us. We work hard to provide great service and appreciation for your business every day.  As our way of saying thank you, we’ve created the “Aspen Insurance Help Our Community” referral program.  Every time you send a referral to us, we will donate $10.00 to the charity of the Quarter, which is Denver Rescue Mission.

Thank-you for the opportunity to be of service you.  I feel lucky every day to live and work in our great state of Colorado.