There are remarkable people and organizations in our community!
We recognize their inspiring work and commitment with the Mayor’s Inspiration Award!
Spring 2022 Nominations are open now through July 15
See nomination instructions & form below.
The award acknowledges those who have made a significant impact in our community by recognizing contributions in community engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness, diversity and innovation.
Multiple awards may be presented in each of the following categories:
- Youth: any individual under the age of 18
- Individual: any individual age 18 or older
- Organization: any business, association, service organization, nonprofit, team or group
Submit a nomination in three easy steps:
1. Determine if the person or organization is eligible.
The Mayor’s Inspiration Award recognizes people making extraordinary contributions to the Lakewood community, in four categories: youth (under 18), individuals, organizations, and in memoriam.
2. Identify your nominee’s achievement areas and strengthen your nomination.
Identify how your nominee has made a significant and positive impact on the Lakewood community. The Mayor’s Inspiration Awards are selected by a panel of evaluators and based on a select set of criteria -- see the award criteria below.
Once you have learned about the awards, you are ready to complete a strong nomination for your nominee. All nominations must be completed using the online nomination form; attach additional documents as needed.
Online Nomination Form
Nomination Deadline: July 15
Questions: Dan Stoutamire, 303-987-7050, email@example.com
Mayor’s Inspiration Award Criteria
Award Evaluation Criteria
A panel of evaluators, Lakewood staff, volunteers and Mayor Paul will evaluate the nominations based on how well the nominees meet the following criteria:
- Civic Engagement and Collaboration - Explain the nominee’s level of civic engagement and use of collaboration that crosses sectors (business, local, government, nonprofits, etc.) and regions that contribute to the success of Lakewood.
- Inclusiveness and Diversity - How has the nominee recognized and involved diverse segments and perspectives as an inspiration to Lakewood?
- Innovation - Explain the nominee’s use of creativity, initiative and how they leverage community resources that exemplifies success and has directly impacted the Lakewood community.
- Impact and Value to the Community - What demonstrable, significant and measurable achievements has the nominee made to the Lakewood community?
- Share a Story - Please share a story with the selection committee including specific examples of why the nominee should be recognized. Include displays of leadership, problem solving and acting as a role model.
See the full slide presentation, including photos(PDF, 7MB) (PDF document)
Koral Castelan – a reflection of stewardship
Koral is a student at Lakewood High School who has demonstrated an intense and caring interest in the plight of teens experiencing homelessness in the city. Helping educate teens facing drug and alcohol issues, she has volunteered at shelters, with the Salvation Army and for the Jeffco Communities That Care coalition. With the Communities That Care, Koral drafted a model proclamation targeting the difficult issues confronting youth experiencing homelessness. The proclamation was unanimously supported by the board of that organization. Koral plans to continue her advocacy for the homeless and marginalized when she attends college. Koral is a role model at her school, and is often recognized for her servant’s heart.
Rosie Gavin – a reflection of initiative
Rosie doesn’t let being hard-of-hearing stop her from being a force in the community. Even with the challenges that masks have created for her lip-reading skills, Rosie has mentored fellow teens in her 4-H club, serves as a youth leader at her church, and has helped build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Volunteerism is a big part of Rosie’s life. She helped other teens learn skills as varied as cake decorating and archery – very impressive range.
Paul Miller – a reflection of benevolence
Paul was nominated for his work at the Jeffco Action Center, which describes him as a “kind and gentle-spoken” community member who is “always ready to help.” He never hesitates to take on new challenges and is always ready to say “yes” when asked to give back. In addition to his work at the Action Center – which can be anything from serving as a tour guide to sorting food and clothing donations – Paul is a force for good at his church, Concordia Lutheran, where he serves as congregational vice president. Paul has lived in Colorado since 2015 and has been a regular volunteer at the Action Center since 2018.
Nancy Hardesty – a reflection of exuberance
Nancy leaves those around her with a smile on their faces and feeling better about themselves. Her contagious exuberance made a big impact on those in need and those assisting them during tough times. She was not going to let a pandemic stop her from loving and helping her community. She has dedicated more than 1,000 hours of her time to the Action Center, saying that it’s the people that she meets that makes it worthwhile. She says that she is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to help people, and that keeps her coming back to volunteer week after week.
Linda Behrens – a reflection of dedication
Linda is one of the Action Center’s most dedicated and consistent volunteers, who dedicates 5 days a week and at least 6 hours a day – wow! – to the center’s clothing distribution efforts. Described as a “dynamo” by her fellow volunteers, Linda is a rock at the Action Center and inspires others to stay focused on making a difference every day..
Tony Mansfield – a reflection of resilience
Tony was nominated for his seven years of volunteerism with a Lakewood ministry, and is someone who has seen both sides of charity. He came to the ministry cold and experiencing homelessness one winter night, and since has become a major part of outreach efforts, driving a food bank truck which helped to feed more than 2,000 families every month. He often did this in poor weather and on his own. In addition to driving and donating his time, Tony has donated food and other items when he can. He continued to do this throughout the COVID-19 pandemic when people have needed it more than ever. Tony was admitted to the hospital earlier this year and continues to make his recovery there.
Berrick Abramson - a reflection of perseverance
Berrick took advantage of stay-at-home recommendations by undertaking a sustainable backyard gardening project, which turned in to a neighborhood gathering spot as the pandemic progressed and people were feeling isolated. The garden became a focal point as neighbors who hadn’t spoken or met in years began to get to know each other and open up. The garden was also a success in that it produced more than Berrick and his fiancée needed, so Berrick bakes zucchini bread and other goodies to share with neighbors. This was all happening as Berrick was in the midst of recovering from surgeries after Crohn’s disease nearly killed him, and while he was working in public policy consulting and helping leaders tackle the many and significant challenges of COVID-19. Berrick remained optimistic through these challenges and his garden serves a bright, green spot in his neighborhood.
Lauren Evans – a reflection of innovation
Lauren has lived in Lakewood for nearly 40 years, since graduating from the Colorado School of Mines next door in Golden. She founded an engineering company, Pinyon Environmental, in her garage in 1992 – Pinyon’s headquarters are still in Lakewood, providing dozens of jobs in the community. The company has been recognized as one of the state’s top woman-owned companies for a decade. On top of this, Lauren has committed time and energy to several volunteer and civic efforts – Colorado CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), serving as chairperson of the Colorado Hazardous Waste Commission, and mentoring youth interns as they begin their careers in environmental services.
Jane Barnes – a reflection of collaboration
Jane is one of the inspiring forces behind the local nonprofit organization Benefits in Action, which she helped found in 2015. Even before COVID-19, she was helping people navigate the often-confusing regulations and red tape to obtain health insurance and other benefits they were entitled to. COVID heightened the need for this kind of service, and Jane dove in headfirst. Benefits in Action began a contactless food-delivery service, which now serves the whole metro area. Jane has led the Coalition to End Hunger in Lakewood, and is a member of the Alameda West Kiwanis club for decades, including serving as president of that group which has done so much for Lakewood and Jefferson County. This only really scratches the surface of Jane’s efforts to make Lakewood a better place to live.
Eaton Senior Communities – a reflection of diligence
Eaton has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit senior communities extremely hard. In the early days of the pandemic, guidance changed on a frequent basis, but the staff and residents at Eaton rolled with the changes. Because of their efforts and diligence, Eaton did not suffer a single community spread incident throughout the whole pandemic. Some of the changes made include no-contact meals, sanitizing of surfaces and the payment of hazard pay to staff to recognize their extraordinary efforts. Residents pitched in as well – sewing masks, learning new technologies to stay in touch with friends and family, and demonstrating resiliency in tough times.
Jefferson County Library Foundation – a reflection of resourcefulness
The Jeffco Library Foundation and its volunteers have contributed in several major ways to the Lakewood community over the past 18 months, ensuring that adults and children alike had equitable access to reading materials even in the midst of the pandemic. The foundation supports the STEM Girls and summer reading program at the two Lakewood libraries – they pay special attention to early childhood literacy programs, like Baby’s First Books and 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. They’ve also opened a brick-and-mortar store at Colorado Mills mall, the Whale’s Tale Book and Gift shop – proceeds of sales go right back into serving the foundation’s goals of assisting library programs. Finally, even the pandemic couldn’t stop the Whale of a Used Book Sale, held at Church of the Nazarene in Lakewood earlier this year. Volunteers sorted and priced donated books and other media for the sale, which supported library programs.
Conectando – a reflection of vision
When the COVID-19 pandemic began to really impact Lakewood in March 2020, Conectando had a feeling that this virus’ impacts would have a terrible impact on Latino communities and immediately began taking action to mitigate that impact. The group created a Spanish-language phone line which directed non-English speakers to the resources they needed, including rental assistance, food banks, testing sites and more. To date, Contectando has linked people with more than $1.4 million in benefits. It has also worked to make food and clothing distribution sites more welcoming to the Latino community by providing translators and removing unnecessary red tape that might prevent people from taking advantage of these programs. On the health front, Conectando advocated for a dedicated bilingual COVID testing site, which was realized when such a site was set up at Mile Hi Church here in Lakewood. When vaccines were available, Conectando continued to work with Jeffco Public Health to support community vaccine clinics, including one at Alameda Crossing shopping center where the vast majority of vaccine recipients were Spanish-speaking. This would not have been possible without the volunteers of Conectando. The group continues to provide food and health clinics around the city to this day.
Ballmer Peak Distillery – a reflection of service
Ballmer Peak is a Lakewood-based small business – located near Green Mountain – which has had a major impact in its relatively short time in business. Without any prompting, Austin and Eric at Ballmer Peak pivoted their distillery to produce large quantities of sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic, as other supplies were running short nationwide. They looked around to local healthcare, first responder and assisted living facilities and gave them sanitizer at no cost, and provided sanitizer at-cost or for trade to other local businesses which suddenly found themselves needing it. This helped many of these businesses to stay open and continue to make money even during the most restrictive lockdown periods. In addition, along with Alameda Connects, Ballmer Peak worked with Belmar to set up sanitizer stations to enable that area to continue to welcome guests and stay in accordance with public health mandates. Throughout this tough time, Ballmer Peak has kept a community-oriented focus, helping other local businesses in creative ways, like working with the Doughnut Club to create a Groundhog Day-themed cocktail and snack.
The Action Center – a reflection of hope
We’ve highlighted the work of some of The Action Center’s volunteers earlier this evening, and the organization for which they work is a backbone of community service in Lakewood. This nonprofit has stepped up to the challenges of COVID, providing people in need vital services, including food, clothing and household goods. Those experiencing homelessness can receive important mail there, or use phones and computers to seek employment or stay in contact with loved ones or government services. The center also serves as a connective hub for a range of other services, putting people in touch with heating, housing, transportation and senior services. The volunteers and full-time staff at The Action Center always go above and beyond to treat those who use their services with respect and dignity.
IN MEMORIAM AWARDS
Charles Johnston – a reflection of transformation
Charles Johnston was the director, and later chief, of the Lakewood Police Department for nearly 20 years. In his 30-year career with the department, he headed every division and even serves a two-year term as acting city manager. Before becoming a police officer, Johnston served in Vietnam, receiving four Bronze Stars and flying 50 helicopter missions. He was a proud booster of the Special Olympics and was inducted into its Colorado Hall of Fame for his contributions. His legacy lives on at the Lakewood Police Department through the Speakers Bureau, Neighborhood Watch and Citizens Police Academy programs, which all began on his watch. He passed away in April 2021, and will be remembered as a leader with a great sense of humor who helped transform the LPD into what it is today.
Ron Burns – a reflection of integrity
Ron Burns served with distinction for six years as the chief of the Lakewood Police Department at the turn of the millennium. He is remembered there as always leading by example, showing a willingness to listen to the community and forward-thinking nature that quickly earned him the loyalty and respect of his colleagues. Burns focused on community policing and was a visible and active leader. He would often prepare meals for those agents who had to work holiday shifts, bake cookies for the Citizens Police Academy, and visit sick and injured agents and volunteers. Chief Burns passed away on Jan. 2, 2021 and will be remembered as a charismatic but humble man who made the LPD and every other organization he was a part of a better place than it was when he found it.
2019 Youth Winners
Girl Scout Troop #60418 – A Reflection of Action
This girl scout troop is hungry to learn about ways to impact their community. Once the troop finds practical ways to help, they spring into action by setting, then implementing a goal. Troop 60418 used the income they earned from cookie sales to purchase items for people experiencing homelessness. They purchased the items, assembled the goodie bags, and organized delivery to Lakewood PD for distribution. The goodie bags also contained a note from the troop explaining the gift and even included an empty trash bag to encourage the recipient to make their environment better than they found it.
2019 Organization Winners
Library to You Volunteers – A Reflection of Civic-mindedness
These volunteers bring access to the library to folks who cannot leave their home due to injury, age, or incarceration. Without these volunteers, the public library would struggle to meet the needs of the community for which they serve. Volunteers pick up prepackaged deliveries from Lakewood libraries to deliver to homebound residents in all seasons of weather. They also fill the technology gap by placing holds on publications for residents who lack computer skills so they can get the items they want most. Volunteers are often the only personal contact in a resident’s day, providing a valuable opportunity for interaction, connection and in some cases, intervention. Library to You volunteers have strengthened the impact of the library and have helped enrich the lives of these residents.
Mommy Rocks, Deb Sanders – A Reflection of Caring
Mommy Rocks has been serving new parents and their babies in the Lakewood community since 2002. Often when a baby enters the world the new parents don’t know what they’ll need to help nurture the bond with their child. Mommy Rocks strives to support the bonding experience by providing rocking chairs thanks to generous donations of supporters. The organization even fits the new parents to the perfect chair to address their needs. The rocking chair provides a safe place for the baby to nurse, to cuddle, to be soothed to sleep, or to hear a story. Mommy Rocks is a bright light in Lakewood that helps new lives in our community shine.
2019 Individual Winners
Dave Adams – A Reflection of Mentorship
Dave has been a volunteer leader for over 25 years with Boy Scout Troop # 537, mentoring and teaching Boy Scouts ages 11-18 years old. Dave’s volunteerism doesn’t stop at the Boy Scouts. He also served in other capacities in his community: Lakewood Junior Baseball Association; Boys and Girls Club; and Lakewood United Church of Christ. He was also an active member of the Police Athletic League, but he always made time to work with members of Boy Scout Troop # 537, even after his own sons aged out of the pack. As a testament to the impact he made, as Scouts earn their Eagle Scout Award, they present a mentor pin to an adult who has helped them throughout the program. Dave has dozens of pins from grateful young men whose lives he has impacted. He has dedicated his life to the youth of our community.
Sandy Austin – A Reflection of Empowerment
This high energy retired high school counselor at Green Mountain High School created a team called B.I.O.N.I.C., which stands for “Believe it or Not, I Care.” The team, comprised of high school students, was created to empower young people to reach out to students going through similar tough times to let them know they are “seen,” “valued,” and “cared for” in hopes of preventing them from spiraling down into more serious issues, including suicide. Sandy teaches the students in our community how to truly care for others. Her work helps to ensure that students grow to be caring, empathetic adults.
Declan Costelloe – A Reflection of Passion
Declan is a voluntary Program Manager for Lakewood CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), which prepares communities for a day when first responders may not be able to help immediately when faced with a crisis. He is also the Chair of the North Central Region Citizen Preparedness Committee, which covers 10 counties, including Jefferson County. CERT has trained over 200 people and will likely be 300 by the end of 2019, thanks to Declan’s tenacity to help people prepare for a crisis. The CERT team have volunteered thousands of hours collectively to improve awareness with Declan leading the way. Declan passionately believes that everyone can help each other and do more in their community. Those who have learned from Declan call him an inspirational leader, passionate, encouraging, mentoring, and delighted by the success and development of his team.
Kelly Cvanciger – A Reflection of Awareness
This Bear Creek High School teacher, collaboratively with members of the Blue Spruce Lakewood Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, came together to make sensory bottles for the 25 local Jefferson County schools with autism center-based programs. Sensory bottles give people with autism something to focus on when their surroundings become overwhelming. Once assembled, Kelly spent hours delivering these bottles to schools all over the Jeffco area, including multiple schools in Lakewood. Kelly designed this as a service project for students to learn how to identify needs in the community and find creative, innovative ways to solve the problem. Education in Kelly’s classroom is not just book learning; it is using what the students learn to improve the community.
Tammy Fisher – A Reflection of Love
Tammy is a woman on a mission to feed Lakewood families in need. She supplies 1,000 pounds of food weekly to the veterans housed at 40 W Colfax/Harlan in addition to her multiple visits to hotels along W Colfax to supply groceries. This is all funded only by a couple of donors and herself. Tammy does not receive a salary for the work she is doing. What makes her stand out, however, is her love for the children in the hotels along W Colfax. She gets personally involved in helping to make their lives better by remembering them at Christmas and Easter. She helps the children buy their mom a gift on Mother’s Day and gives them new school clothes and supplies. In the summer, on her only day off, she loads the kids up in her van and takes them to a local swimming pool with passes that have been donated. Tammy truly loves these children who are living in rough conditions. She strives to make their lives better by giving them a chance to run, play and swim – a day to just have fun and be a kid.
James Fry – A Reflection of Persistence
Mean Street Ministry was founded by James Fry. James has a gift for building relationships so in order to help people who were hungry, he started buying day-old sandwiches from 7-Eleven stores to share with people on Colfax. This small act of kindness helped build trust between James and the folks he was helping. Before long, others came to help. Soon James was buying food and keeping it in his garage to deliver to the motels with his group of volunteers. However, as the needs in the community grew, he was unable to keep up with the demand financially, so he decided he had to stop. But on that very day, a man inspired by James’ mission, delivered an entire van full of food. James then knew that his calling was to continue the mission he started. After six years of visiting people in motels with food and other supplies, he officially started Mean Street Ministry. Eighteen years later, the ministry is completely donor funded and has grown to include a food bank, a café, and a family winter shelter. James has created trusting relationships with many of Lakewood’s homeless as well as service providers in the community.
2018 Youth Winners
Evelyn Murphy – A Reflection of Compassion
This high school student is president of the Hutchinson 4-H Club. Because of her understanding about living with special needs, she learned at a very young age how to have an inclusive life full of love and compassion. She volunteers as a children’s camp counselor and teaches adults how to work with kids who have special needs. Evelyn has been a guest panelist for the Colorado Mentoring Summit to discuss mentorship. She also volunteers at her church and in a pet food drive for Foothills Animal Shelter. Her sense of humor helps people feel at ease around her, allowing her to make a difference in their lives.
Youth Winner: Henry Walsh – A Reflection of Perseverance
After being challenged by his school to develop a project that could change the world, Henry knew he had to do something that would help The Action Center. He had recently taken a tour with his grandmother and he set forth a plan to raise money for the organization that has helped so many in his community. He decided to combine his passion for mountain biking with his community service roots and he developed a Pledge Ride. At 11-years old, Henry biked over 200 miles on the trails in Ken Caryl, doubling his goal of 100 miles. His hard work paid off and he was able to donate $1065 to The Action Center on June 29th.
2018 Organization Winners
Foothills Credit Union – A Reflection of Generosity
This organization has built strong community partnerships through its charitable donations and sponsorship programs. The Foothills Charitable Donations program allows organizations in need to raise up to $5,000. Many types of organizations have benefited from this program, from schools to sports programs to churches. The Community Sponsorship Program provides sponsorships for numerous events in Lakewood, which helps to bring people together to build an inclusive community.
West Colfax Community Association (WCCA) – A Reflection of Diversity
The leadership and members of this organization work hard to help community members realize their dreams of building a more tight-knit community. It took hard work to bring diverse people together and move projects forward. Thanks to the persistence of the WCCA members there are new and exciting things happening on West Colfax.
Kaleidoscope Therapy Services, LLC – A Reflection of Healing
This is an organization who works tirelessly with families and children that have been affected by child abuse and neglect. Kaleidoscope Therapy Services is constantly trying new approaches to the challenges they face in order to achieve permanency for children. The organization recently launched HUGs (Help Under the Guidance of Service professionals), which combines the skills of a registered nurse with a social worker to support children. Mental health services are often expensive, therefore the agency prides itself on having a sliding scale and accepting Medicaid.
Jeffco Eats – A Reflection of Commitment
This organization recognizes that child hunger is a hidden problem and while children from low-income homes may receive free or reduced meals at school, there is no assurance they are being provided balanced meals over the weekend. Jeffco Eats stepped in during the 2017/18 school year. Volunteers provided 400 sacks of food each week out of Foothills Elementary School to children at Title I schools.
2018 Individual Winners
LaDawn Sperling – A Reflection of Selflessness
LaDawn leads a busy life as a real estate broker but dispelled the myth that having a full-time career eliminates the ability to be active and invested in the community. She has taken the opportunity to introduce fellow employees to a number of nonprofits, including The Action Center, Family Tree, and SpayToday. LaDawn recruits fellow staff members for service days to support these important community organizations. LaDawn’s concern for the homeless became personal when instead of turning a blind eye, she was instrumental in finding a permanent housing solution for a homeless woman in the community.
Beth Parker – A Reflection of Creativity
Beth embedded herself within the Westgate Elementary School and the greater community by taking on many voluntary leadership roles, including the launch of a food and clothing pantry for Westgate students. She worked hard to establish and to stock a community hub with these important items and by mid-fall Beth was sending home backpacks of food every Friday for over 30 families. Her goal is to expand the community hub to include clothing, hygiene support and connections to services/community organizations to meet the other needs of the families in the community. She also builds partnerships with businesses and community supporters to raise money and provide sports to the students during recess for the next school year. She is 100% a volunteer.
Cathy Hatfield – A Reflection of Graciousness
Cathy is all about filling needs she finds them and she makes sure her neighbors are well informed about what is happening in the community. She lives a life of volunteerism by being active in the Belmar Sustainable Neighborhood group, Belmar Community Connection (BCC) and by taking the helm for organizations in transition such as Alameda Gateway and The Action Center, which was supposed to be a walk in the park but turned into an Everest climb! Attempts to draw a community together are often met with strife and a certain level of resistance but Cathy, with an easy smile, gracious and helpful demeanor will continue to encourage everyone around her to engage and invest in the community because it’s just who she is!
Doug Whitten – A Reflection of Inclusion
Indeed, this winner is a community organizer. If he catches wind that there’s a new resident in his neighborhood, he invites them over for coffee and donuts to get to know them and to share all the good things happening in the community. One of the community’s favorite events that Doug was instrumental in launching is the Southern Gables Neighborhood Night Out, where approximately 600 neighbors attend a game-filled night with businesses, schools, and other community members. Doug fosters partnerships with schools, churches, organizations, and businesses throughout the City, and with the help of the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association (SGNA), started a “Neighborhood Business Partners” program. Over 50 businesses have signed up, which has helped the SGNA raise money for community events. His innovative fundraising efforts have enabled SGNA to make financial contributions to important organizations and causes in the community.
2018 Special Shout Out Winners
CASA Volunteers of Lakewood – A Reflection of Kindness
These volunteers work tirelessly with children who may have been abused or neglected. CASA volunteers meet with children weekly, spending quality time playing games, reading, doing homework, or going out for ice cream. Children who may feel vulnerable, having been placed in a foster home, have a volunteer whose sole purpose is to make that child feel that they are being protected and that someone is advocating on their behalf. This type of contribution to a community is unmeasurable.
Steve Strunk – A Reflection of Enthusiasm
In the short time that Steve has lived in the Lakewood community, he has proven to be a vital member! He has taken it as his job to promote events, such as the 9 Health Fair, by delivering over 100 flyers to Lakewood businesses to display. During the 9 Health Fair, he acted as an ambassador, ensuring that participants go for testing and addressing any needs they may have. Steve has been an active member and supporter of the 40 West Arts District and the West Colfax Community Association (WCCA). He saw a need to have Little Free Pantries strategically placed in the community so he purchased the supplies and materials needed to paint and place two new pantries in the Lakewood community. He has made a significant positive change in the community.
2017 Individual Winners
- George Valuck
- Sandie Weathers
- Palani Palaniappan
- Judy Davis
2017 Civic Association Winner
2017 Business Winner
2017 Youth Winner
- Troy Jackson
- Sofia Titarenko
2017 Organization Winner
- Mile Hi Church
- Clements Sewing Group