Barbara Lawlor, Nederland
Once a year, the Peak to Peak Healthy Communities Project honors those dedicated, humble, hardworking volunteers of Nederland’s non-profit organizations and the exceptional employees of government and business.
Last Friday, May 30, PPHCP administrators Ali Johnson, Mandy Kneer and Barbara Hardt welcomed a full house of residents who came to Kathmandu Restaurant to honor the recipients of these awards.
It was a festive affair with the clinking of silverware, the buzz of conversation and the laughter of the many children who showed up, the release of the last day of school running through their veins.
The night’s big award, the Community Champion Lifetime Achievement Award, went to Dan Ball, owner of the B & F Mountain Market, for his decades of happily donating to community events. He was unable to attend the event, but those who did jumped to their feet in a standing ovation for this generous, caring, benevolent business owner.
Josh Stephens said, “I have known Dan for over 20 years and he has been my best friend for all of those years. I started working at B&F the last day of 1993. I started working here in a high school program that was based out of Boulder Valley School District’s Votech. The program was called BETA (Business Economics Training Academy). Dan brought me in as a courtesy clerk & within three months I was promoted to stocker. Within four years I had climbed the ladder to nearly the top. Dan prefers to promote from within the company.
“ I was quiet and extremely shy until I met Dan. (Boy did that go awry!) Dan has always been there for anyone. He has hired high school students in the store to support giving students their first jobs. He has donated to the elementary, middle, and high schools and other causes. Dan has helped the Boy Scouts & Girl scouts with their cookie sales. He has also helped with startup businesses getting their feet wet—Manley’s BBQ and Taggerts, for example.
Dan was nominated by PPHCP, Josh Stephens and four other nonprofits in the community for his continuing efforts in the peak to peak.
Outstanding volunteer of the year, Ross Alper was nominated for starting the Lovin’ Cup Community Kitchen. The kitchen serves soup, sandwiches and other meals bi-weekly to anyone in teh community, regardless of ability to pay. Ross was nominated by both PPHCP and Stacy Johnson.
Nederland Food Pantry nominates Judy McDougal and Betty Ventrella of the NCC. Laura Fisher noted, “These amazing ladies have been steadfast volunteers at the Nederland Food Pantry for many years and are always helpful and compassionate to our clients greeting them with warm smiles, gentle conversation and happy laughs. They are a joy to volunteer with.
“ Judy has been in the Eldora/Nederland area for decades, raising her children in Eldora, and is now an active member of our senior community, living in Prime Haven.
“Betty splits her time between living in Rollinsville with her daughter, and in Pennsylvania with her son. That doesn’t stop her from being a reliable Food Pantry volunteer as well as leading the Quirky Quilters Club at Nederland Community Library.
“It is not unusual to see these two friends at nearly every community event, lending a hand wherever it is needed. It has been my pleasure to have known them for the past 17 years and I look forward to many more years of serving the community by their sides.”
Serene Karplus says that “the Nederland Area Seniors appreciate the ongoing commitment of our meal server Cheryl Fanelli, who arrives at noon twice each week to serve meals to our luncheon attendees and pack meals for seniors in our home delivery program. She always has a smile or hug for everyone and ensures everyone has enough to eat. When our usual meal delivery volunteers are unable to assist, she delivers to the homebound.”
Cheryl is a business owner of 24 years with Nikki’s Nook and has served as a volunteer for the hockey team, the Girl Scouts, Miners’ Days, and numerous other events and groups over the years.
The Wild Bear Volunteer of the Year is Louisa Slaght who has been volunteering regularly at the Wild Bear Ecology Center since last fall during the flood. “She came to us during the midst of the floods,” says Jill Dreves, “and enjoyed the peacefulness of the nature center. She told us ‘I really need to volunteer here,’ and she has ever since.
“During the school year Louisa has been a steady support at our Bear Cubs programs held every Monday for ages 3-5. She reads stories, helps with the craft and comforts these little ones when necessary. Louisa also helps on Thursday afternoons during our busier after-school programs. She talks to visitors, works the register, organizes the gift shop, and answers the phone. We really have appreciated Louisa’s dedicated support and we’ve made a lifelong friend with Louisa.”
The Nederland Community Center Volunteer of the Year is Danny Glasser, someone you never see behind the desk. You may have seen him early in the morning or at dusk putting up or taking down the flag. Perhaps he was planting or watering the flowers in the summer or using a snow blower in the winter to help the NDD staff keep the walkways clear. You may have seen him picking up trash around the property or mowing the berm at the backside of the parking lot.
“He always keeps an eye on the place. He was never asked to do any of these things; he just does them because they need doing and because he can and because he is the best of neighbors and because that is who he is and what he believes in. Thank you, thank you to Danny Glasser for his quiet diligence in all the small but important things that make such a difference,” says Dawn Baumhover.
Eric Hartman, Teen of the Year because of his unwavering dedication to his community, attends Chinook West and Arapahoe Campus High School.
“At Chinook West, Eric is always willing to lend a helping hand. When things need to be cleaned up, if we need help moving or lifting items, fixing anything that needs fixing, and even if someone is having car troubles, Eric is there.
“In the CTE program at Arapahoe Campus, Eric has also been a very good student. He gets up every morning to drive to Nederland to catch the early bus. Eric completed automotive Collision Technology I and II this year, and even won the Outstanding Student Award.
“But what qualifies Eric the most for the Community Champion Award is his commitment to the community through work with the Timberline Fire Department Cadet Program. Eric has served hundreds of hours with Timberline. His dedication to the fire department, even while attending school, is outstanding.
“He has been so dedicated in the Cadet Program that this year he was given the responsibility of Head Cadet. Eric studies the ins and outs of the fire vehicles, emergency fire and medical procedures, and goes on every possible call he can.
“This year he was awarded the President’s Volunteer Firefighter Award for his exceptional volunteer time and dedication. Eric even serves with the High Country Auxiliary in his spare time, making food and refreshments for on duty firefighters. We are lucky to have Eric in our community,” states Alisa Musser.
Katherine Harvey was named Teen of the Year for her work at TEENS, Inc. Molly Cohn says of Katherine, “She is easily one of the most disciplined, hard-working and conscientious teenagers I have ever met. She works tirelessly to better herself and rarely considers stopping something she has yet to finish.
“Beyond her incredible drive, which gained her access to her dream school, Cal Poly, and made it possible to fund her own education, Katherine is a genuine and kind human being. Typically, in my experience, a person usually becomes aware of the needs of others and their impact on people much later in life. Katherine is astute, patient, and incredibly kind.
“She works with a lot of middle school girls, a classically challenging age, and I have yet to see her outwardly frustrated or annoyed. She is warm and open with them and serves as an outstanding strong, female role model.
“Katherine is also a huge support for the adult staff at TEENS, Inc. She is on top of her work, and always willing to cover a shift or work extra hours. Her maturity, honesty and loving nature makes coming to work very enjoyable and stands as a reminder of why I love my job.”
The Town of Nederland nominated Nicole Bratsos as the Employee of the Year. She began to work with the town a few years ago, working first at Town Hall as receptionist and billing clerk. She took it upon herself to learn what she could about the Town’s water and wastewater utilities, eventually moving to work in the Utilities Department as a trainee. She took on the difficult task of becoming certified in operating the Town’s two plants under the oversight of Utilities Supervisor Chris Pelletier, who nominated Nicole for the award.
Town Manager Alisha Reis says that Nicole took and passed her water and wastewater certification tests back to back, an impressive action unheard of in the field. “Nicole’s commitment to water quality in wastewater and water is unwavering and makes her a valuable asset to the Town.,” said Pelletier. “I’m certain that Nederland has the best water around because she cares so much about her job. Nicole’s professionalism and attention to details has really raised the bar of this department and I am really fortunate and proud to work with her.”
The Outstanding Employee of the Year is Lois Ott, who has been the Nederland Police Department administrator and the Nederland Municipal Court Clerk for the past eight years. “She has been the very best person at the NPD front desk that the newspaper has ever had the pleasure to work with,” stated Barbara Hardt. “Thank you, Lois, for your many years of hard work and for always having a smile when someone walks in the door. You are Nederland.”
The Frozen Dead Guy Days Volunteer of the Year is Bruce Lish, who, according to Amanda McDonald, “has been a giving and active community member for as long as I have known him. He helps to foster and grow the fantastic music scene that is such an integral part of Nederland and supports a lot of folks along the way. They are many people who help make FDGD happen but Bruce is the rock.
“For the last three years Bruce has assembled some of the finest musicians, both locally and nationally, and put on what I believe to be one of the best free live music festivals in the state. He has also been a patient and caring hand-holder and a logical voice of reason. Thank you, Bruce, for being such a great participant and caretaker of your community. Bruce is kind, generous, smart and genuine.”
Amanda MacDonald was honored with a new addition to the awards, the Best Festival. “Amanda has taken a small festival and turned it into an amazing weekend, worldwide event. Thank you for your continued interest in our great mountain town,” says Barbara Hardt.
Awards for Educational Excellence went to several Ned teachers.
According to Jill Morimitsu-Mahon, “Liz Pelletreau supports and advocates for all our students as a speech/language pathologist. Her dedication, enthusiasm, and passion for speech growth and development, as well as childhood development, is evident in her daily work and staff conversations. She keeps students first and foremost in her mind, her day and her practice.
“Liz has been a teacher to and advocate for many NES students from preschool through fifth grade. Her ability to communicate with parents is unparalleled in her field. She is intelligent, optimistic, and reassuring in her manner. Her knowledge of their history, social and academic development is a consistent, valued resource.
Morimitsu-Mahon also cites NES parador Ruth Whirl, who also won the Educational Excellence Award. “She always makes time for kids. During the school day, she can regularly be seen in the hall discussing actions and choices. When she has these conversations, they clearly value the input of all students involved in the process and conversation.
“As a Colorado Paraprofessional of the Year, her influence and focus on students is evident every day at NES. Having put her children through Nederland schools, her love and support of our community is felt in every conversation that she has.”
Sue Hubert, also a retiring teacher, received an Educational Excellence Award. “She is the first educator to arrive the morning and almost always the last one to leave each night. When you walk into her classroom, her dedication to education is evident. Students are happily engaged in meaningful learning activities. They are problem solving and working together collaboratively.
“Sue is supporting and guiding students in a positive, nurturing way. She makes it look effortless. In fact, it is her commitment and drive that makes her expert teaching look so easy. Sue always puts her students first. Her meticulous planning results in an outstanding learning experience for Nederland children. The after school telephone calls to parents which celebrate student accomplishments are sincere and motivating.
“Children will leave NES with the strong sense of self Sue has instilled in them in first grade. Her coworkers will miss her generous sharing of materials and ideas. The time, dedication and collaboration that continues to support learners and her colleagues is to be commended.”
Another Educational Excellence Award went to Rhonda Horowitz-Romano. “She loves our Nederland students. She keeps her students in the forefront of every moment of her work at NES. Rhonda goes above and beyond her daily duties to offer every possible accommodation for our students’ continued daily success in their work.
“Rhonda even tutors her students in the summer for free. Not just as a teacher, she supports her students emotionally as well. Her communication with all staff members is to be commended and her clear, consistent communication with all parents about student growth and success further supports the Nederland community.
“Rhonda is also a positive motivator for faculty. She writes songs for every occasion to develop community, and when comic relief is needed, she provides it. Rhonda would do anything for colleagues as well as students. Her eyes sparkle with warmth and generosity regardless of extenuating circumstances.”