Earlier this week I attended my very favorite yearly event, which is the Discover Goodwill’s Annual Dinner. This was my fifth year to attend and as always, it was an extraordinary evening, honoring four very amazing individual award winners. Four individuals who are just a teeny tiny example of how Discover Goodwill literally changes lives for the better.
Every year they choose a different theme and this year it was “The Edgars,” celebrating the legacy of Goodwill and Founder Edgar J. Helms. which was done up in a similar way as the Oscars. A lot of the decor, including the fabulous centerpieces, were made by the Possibilities Program participants. And they did a great job! The fabulous, larger-than-life Smiling G statues, which I did not get a picture of were created by the Discover Goodwill’s Facilities team, led by Ben Guzman.
On stage – Discover Goodwill President & CEO, Karla Grazier (left) and Aileen Berrios, Discover Goodwill Board Chair
Why do I look forward to this event each year? It’s because I so believe in Discover Goodwill and what they do for our community and this is an opportunity to meet just a small sample of who Goodwill helps. It’s also when they announce their annual report with their numbers, which is all very transparent, and I can see just how the money is spent. And believe me, it mostly goes back to the programs and community. (Which makes me feel good when I know a nonprofit is actually spending more on others than themselves.)
This year it was a treat for me to join in the fun and be live on the red carpet, talking to guests as they arrived. It was a blast and I was feeling pretty happy with my mostly Goodwill outfit. The fabulous dress ($3.50,) necklace, earrings, bracelets and ring came from the Discover Goodwill retail location on Circle over various shopping trips. I found the dress at the last-minute when I popped in last week and it was on sale that day for half off which made it even better! Who says you can’t look good without spending a ton? (That’s the talented Mike behind the camera.)
The award winners this year shared touching, sometimes heartbreaking, stories. Here are just a few words about each one.
Community Employee of the Year – SCOT CUTHBERTSON who was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome as a child, which hindered his interactions with peers and ability to learn. Scot not only overcame obstacles but was selected into the National Honor Society and Mayor’s 100 Teens recognition program. After being introduced to Discover Goodwill he went on to gain a job in the janitorial services at the U.S. Air Force Academy, which he has held for five years.
Independence Award Honoree – ANNA CORDOVA who was a newly single mother fleeing a broken and irreconcilable marriage for a better life for herself and her two young children. After arriving in Colorado Springs, she was referred to Discover Goodwill’s Career Development Center. As immediate and urgent needs like housing were met, Anna, with the help of her case manager, was able to further her college education and is now the first-ever Lead Archaeologist for the city of Colorado Springs.
Achiever of the Year – TODD (TJ) IKEHARA was diagnosed with a rare and potentially life-threatening genetic disorder early in his life, along with suffering from Narcolepsy. Just a few months after Discover Goodwill’s Possibilities program opened, TJ began attending and his life was transformed. TJ has friends, a girlfriend, that also attends the program, and has found his passion in cooking, which he learned in the Possibilities kitchen. He is known too for inspiring his peers, encouraging others to aim for higher achievements.
Helms Legacy Award Honoree – ROLAND WARREN was a boy when he, along with his sibling and mother were fugitives from their own home, seeking shelter from his abusive, alcoholic father. At age 14 Roland starting using methamphetamines, which resulted in addiction and repeated jail sentences. Roland found help though from church, the Springs Rescue Mission and eventually Discover Goodwill. For the past five years, Roland has received multiple promotions and is now a retail center assistant manager. Roland also helps other at-risk men with transitional housing and court advocacy.
Four stories that are just an example of how Discover Goodwill helps with a hand-up to those in need. And to see the joy on all of their faces… like I said, it was an amazing evening.
Here are just a few of those who joined me on the red carpet in front of the beautiful Broadmoor’s International Center…Over 700 who came to show their support!
Tom Ashley, ANB Bank Regional President and his lovely wife Keri. ANB Bank was the evening’s Presenting Sponsor.
Chuck and Brenda Smith
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and his wife Janet
Funds from donations and retail sales help support life-skill programs for youth and adults with intellectual or physical disabilities, job-training for our military veterans and the economically disadvantaged, along with day programs for seniors who require daily supervision.
The majority of my wardrobe comes from Goodwill. Seriously. I can and do buy new things but I always head to Goodwill first. I usually find something fabulous, for a lot less money, and in some very small way, that purchase helped someone in my community. And I’m also helping the environment, which is important to me. I also buy decorative items for our house, lots of plates and serving pieces for interesting table settings, and 99% of the books I read are from there.
I also donate all of things we no longer use or want. (I have to make room for all the things I buy!) You might not think that bag of clothes your kids have grown out of makes much of a difference when you drop it off at a Goodwill center but it does. Again, when you donate items you no longer need, you help others in the community and our planet. Another win-win situation.
In 2016 Discover Goodwill…
Served 81,557 individuals in our community
Reduced waste by repurposing more than 50 millions pounds of donated goods.
Provided training and career services for 29,673 individuals.
Secured community jobs for 9,731.
Employed 1,432 individuals with Discover Goodwill.
Assisted 256 people at home with daily living needs.
Gave 5,058 emergency clothing vouchers valued ad $101,158.
Helped grow our economy by 219.5 million through the collective salaries of people employed because of Discover Goodwill.
You can read a more detailed description on the four winners, along with the 2016 financial report here…
A few more pictures from the red carpet –
My friend Ashley joined me for the evening. Ashley and I attended our first dinner together five years ago and is my favorite person to shop with at Goodwill.
I met this fabulous looking woman (Felicia) on the red carpet and I warned her she needed to make sure she had some tissues on hand for an emotional evening. (We also admired each others outfits!)
Bonnie Martinez, Discover Goodwill VP Marketing, Communications and Partnerships, and I sharing a moment before the evening begins.
A bit blurry but my handsome hubby coordinated his ensemble to mine.
Jon Karroll, from KRDO News Channel 13, (on left) hosted the evening once again, and as usual, did a fantastic job. On the right is Bradd Hafer (Discover Goodwill Director, Marketing & Communications) who helped me with my very first fashion makeover for 719Woman by allowing us to go in a store and take pictures galore. That very first fashion shoot let to many more. Bradd was my first contact at Goodwill and he has helped me tremendously over the years and is an example of how very nice everyone is at the corporate office.
It was a beautiful evening filled with laughter, tears, recognition for those being honored, and amazing numbers of what Discover Goodwill did in 2016 in our community. For more information on the various programs Discover Goodwill offers or how to donate, and more…
And here is a piece I did earlier on Goodwill’s Possibilities program with pictures from a tour I took. It’s an amazing program!
On a personal note, I was honored to be a part of the Community Partners recognized that evening.
I could gush on for another thousand words or so on how much I support all that Goodwill does but I actually have a shopping date with my brother who needs to freshen up his wardrobe. Our first stop? Discover Goodwill of course!