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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Westminster Legacy Foundation honors local leaders during Community Awards

The Westminster Legacy Foundation (WLF) honors residents, individuals, groups, businesses and organizations who strive to make the community better at their annual Community Awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 15. Established as a community foundation in 2001, the WLF serves as the leader, catalyst and resource for philanthropy in our community. The City of Westminster is a supporter of the WLF.

“We feel it is important to bring attention to the individuals, businesses and organizations that make our community such a wonderful place to live, work and play,” said WLF Executive Director Lauren Werner. “Without these folks, Westminster would not be the vibrant, beautiful and diverse city that it is today. We are honored to recognize their work through our Community Awards program.”

Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

Health and Human Services Hero: Rachel Williams

The Health and Human Services Hero award recognizes and honors those who have affected the lives of people through their advocacy, dedication, service, volunteerism and support throughout Westminster.

Williams has given above and beyond to children in need in Adams and Broomfield Counties. Williams began her journey with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program serving as a volunteer on a dependency and neglect case in 2009. Over the past nine years, she has supervised a dozen CASAs.

Corporate Citizen of the Year: Front Range Community College

The Corporate Citizen Award recognizes an individual, organization or company that demonstrates a strong commitment to corporate responsibility practices and whose leaders are actively engaged in supporting and expanding those efforts.

Front Range Community College’s three campus and multi-centers are a dynamic force in “Successful Lives and Strong Futures” for their students, their business partners and the communities in which they are located. The Westminster Campus teaches approximately 2,000 students annually and has been the home of the North Metro Denver Small Business Development Center since 1988.

Young Citizen of the Year: Jessica Venegas Williams

The Young Citizen of the Year Award is given to an individual under 21 years of age who is focused on improving the Westminster community through service to others.

When Williams and her family were experiencing very difficult times she made a difference stepping up to help others. Williams began volunteering with Growing Home. When working at the food pantry she makes a huge impact. She assists wherever there is a need including food pick-ups, sorting food and conversing with families to determine their needs. She is studying to become a nurse and hopes to continue her path of helping others.

Art and Culture Award: Colleen Dowling

The Art and Culture Award is presented to an individual or organization that has made a significant and lasting impact on arts and culture in the Westminster community.

Dowling teaches classes at Mountain Range High School and under her leadership and enthusiasm, the visual arts department is the largest in the Adams 12 Five Star School District with five full-time teachers. In recognition of her commitment and work, she is now a representative speaker at the History Colorado Center for the Scholastic Arts Awards. Dowling is the organizer of the annual Empty Bowls project where students make and donate bowls to be used in a soup and chili cook-off purchases by staff. All proceeds are given to a local food bank.

Citizen of the Year: Roger Gudenkauf

The Citizen of the Year is given to an individual who has realized significant achievements both in the past and ongoing to better the Westminster community.

Over the years of Gudenkauf’s volunteering, leadership, and fundraising has offered inspiration to so many youth and people in need. Gudenkauf has been instrumental in the success of the Rotary Youth Leadership Award and leads the club’s partnership with Imagination Library and the Dollywood Foundation supplying free books to enrolled youth. Gudenkauf is also known for his management of Neighborhood Action Group over the past 25 years.

Nature, Environment and Sustainability Award: Rod Larsen

This award was established to highlight determined individuals or organizations that have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to efforts in conservation, protection of natural resources, land management and environmental justice.

Larsen started his career with the city’s Parks Division in 1981 as a Parks Irrigator when there was little to no formal open space to be found in the city. Larsen played a key role in the development of the Open Space Division and grew in his responsibilities as the program grew over the years. He was instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous programs including the volunteer program, community gardens, weed management, dog parks, trail head installations and many more.

Nancy Heil Lifetime Achievement Award: Wilbur Flachman

In early 1961, en route to a job interview in Monte Vista, Colorado, Wilbur and Marilyn Flachman stopped in Westminster to visit friends and they never left town. Flachman has had a 50-plus year entrepreneurial career of newspapering and specialty magazine publishing. Known as the “Publishing House,” Flachman’s newspaper and printing office was always a beehive of activity.

The arts and cultural activities have played a paramount role in Flachman’s life. Besides holding many leadership positions, he and four other Westminster Rotarians established the Westminster Community Artist Series in 1983. Flachman was the initiator of this organization which brought cultural and art programs to the north metro area. Today, it is known as the North Metro Arts Alliance.

Flachman has been honored by his college, Wartburg College, newspaper organizations, Rotary Club and District Rotary, chambers of commerce, was one of Westminster’s 100 “History Makers” featured in the 2011 centennial book, and received a leadership award from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.

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