The nominees listed below (and last week) deserve a humble, gracious, and joyful thank you. They give their time, talents, and treasures supporting programs, building bridges, and tenaciously trekking towards goals that make our town a better place to live. Additionally, we can’t help but shout out to the countless others in the Estes Valley who care for a cause, think towards a solution, and take action. This character of service—the level of philanthropy in this community—is inspiring.
Jean Rissmiller is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club and is very involved in various organizations throughout Estes Park. She has organized the Labor Day Arts & Crafts Festival for the last several years; this year’s funds will exceed $40,000 which funds youth scholarships and provides grants to local nonprofits.
Nancy is never known NOT to be doing something to support the community, especially vulnerable families and children. Nancy was the visionary behind the Kids Quest Playground and has served on the Estes Park School Board. Nancy is perhaps best known for her work with Crossroads as a volunteer, Board member, and project leader. For the past 8 years, she has spearheaded the Bright Christmas program, organizing volunteers, shopping for Christmas gifts and school supplies and coordinating the community-wide distribution of gifts to families in need. Nancy has a heart for people; she works quietly in the background, making a tremendous impact.
David has served on many boards: Estes Valley Crisis Advocates, Pet Association, the Nonprofit Resource Center, Bella Fortuna Center, and the Estes Valley Library. He has provided accounting services for these organizations as well as the Estes Park Learning Place. His work and wisdom goes far beyond the financial support he provides to these and other nonprofits in Town. And, with out a doubt, his wife Mary works with David and supports all that he does.
Alice has served as a Board Member, then Treasurer, then volunteer accountant for 21 years at the Art Center of Estes Park. Her “working board” position is deep and persistent, from insurance policies to grant writing. She also collects donations for community-wide projects such as the Women’s Monument. “Go ask Alice!” That’s our mantra here at the Art Center. I cannot imagine a more hard-working and deserving volunteer.
Marlene volunteers with the RMNP Junior Ranger program and supervises the Hidden Valley sledding hill in the winter. She shares her extensive knowledge of wildflowers by teaching classes at the Library. She volunteers at Cliffhanger Used Book Store and helps deliver food for Meals on Wheels. For the last year-and-a-half, she has chaired the Park District’s Trails Committee, working to build trails throughout town for commuters and visitors alike. Our town has benefited tremendously over many years due to Marlene’s generosity of her time and talents.
Dave Thomas is important to recognize for his ongoing efforts to help others. He is an inspiration for making a better and stronger community, specifically through education. He is currently volunteering with ESL classes, and just stepped up to help organize Día de Los Muertos. He cares for each one of his students and wants to see them achieve the ability to understand, speak, and write the language.
Cynthia has worked passionately on various boards, including EPNRC and The Learning Place, and given generously of her time, talent, and treasure to many causes over the years. Recently, she’s dedicated significant efforts to improving the American Legion Post 119. It’s hard to think of a nonprofit that hasn’t received some gift from Cynthia. This is often done quietly and without much attention. She very much deserves to be recognized by the entire community.
Frank has been an integral part of the Watershed Coalition since the 2013 floods. His service has included the original flood restoration projects, forestry projects, and the formation of the Wandering Wildlife Society (WWS) in 2019. The WWS offers wildlife education in the Estes community through educational talks and provides public outreach such as the Elk Ambassador program.
Louise was instrumental in creating a Hispanic serving organization that supports language learning, finances, and promoting Spanish-speaking families’ engaging in the community, including the schools. Louise worked on Estes Cares, a program designed to promote better civil discourse and empathy in Estes. Her long-time service extends to the Catholic Church and Crossroads. This is not even half a complete listing of her caring ways.
Sally has been volunteering with Partners since 2001. She has mentored 4 youths and engages youth who are waiting to be matched. Sally has considerable skills in group facilitation, leadership training, and fundraising for various nonprofits in Estes. Her special work with Salud, The Learning Place, the Nonprofit Resource Center, School System, and Loving Spirit have made this community richer and kinder.
For the past six years, Mary has donated countless hours, shared her contagious energy, spearheaded transformative initiatives, and contributed financially to the sustainability of American Legion Post 119. She is at the heart of propelling the Legion into a more modern view of service to veterans and to the community they live in. She enthusiastically lends a hand in any and EVERY capacity through the “Circle 119” initiative to update the facility.
And the Katie Speer Individual Philanthropist of the Year nominees are……
Dr. Cory Workman is our local audiologist, and is one of those “silent do-gooders” volunteering in various capacities. He is treasurer of an audiology cooperative and volunteers as a medical provider. He acquires new hearing aids through donations then fits the underserved community across the state and locally, via Quota Club, so that they may “rejoin the conversation.” You can see him working concessions, pulling trailers, holding props at band competitions and so much more. Thank you, Cory!
Mary Banken (nominated twice)
Mary is the bookkeeper for The American Legion, Post 119 in Estes Park. That’s what she volunteered to do, but what she actually does is serve as Administrative Director. She manages the whole show, including the tavern, kitchen, and events. She puts in anywhere from 8 to 12 hrs per day, 7 days per week. Prior to her investment of time and talents—the Legion was an eyesore situated at the entrance of our town. Mary’s efforts have taken the Legion from surviving to thriving. I hope she understands the immense value of her role in this community!
Chief David Wolf
Chief worked hard to organize and bring the 9/11 Memorial 5k and Stair Climb / National Fallen Fire Fighters event to Estes Park, CO. After the fires of 2020 and 2021, the first year of this event was meaningful to our community and drew in firefighters from all over Northern Colorado.
Martha’s contributions have made it possible for EVICS to support and serve more local families. She provides office coverage, leads a weekly Hispanic Women’s group, Mujeres en Conexion, and commits additional volunteer time to Cultivamos, an emerging leaders program for Hispanic individuals. She models the impact of participation and actively draws in other community members, encouraging their voices in decision-making.
Linda has been active for seven years, including as chairperson, in the Estes Park Quota Club’s (medical equipment) Loan Closet. If you have ever had an injury or surgery, or known anyone in need of a hospital bed, you’ve met Linda. She is cheerful, compassionate and incredibly organized! She uses her experience as a nurse practitioner in the armed forces to run a well-maintained and much used program for our community.
Click on https://www.epnonprofit.org/hall-of-fame–award-winners.html#/ to see past winners.
National Philanthropy Day Award Winners will be announced at the November 10 event.