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In October, The Center for Housing and Homelessness Research at the University of Denver released an interim report for the Denver Basic Income Project, or DBIP, providing a six-month update on the plan’s success. The pilot program agreed to pay $12,000, funded by the CARES Act, to over 800 participants experiencing homelessness who were negatively impacted by COVID-19.        

The research showed that all participants felt relief, decreased stress and increased hopefulness in their daily lives. Research also showed that during the enrollment period, 19-24% said they were sleeping at a friend or family member’s home and 21-26% reported sleeping in a shelter. At the six-month check-in, participants staying in an apartment or home that they rent or own increased across the three groups. There was also a decrease in those who reported sleeping outside in each group. Because of its success, Mayor Mike Johnston has committed $2 million to continue the project for another year.

Chantel Palmer, a 34-year-old single mother with two girls, was living in Joshua’s Station when she came across the DBIP, which provides “unconditional cash transfers to unhoused people living in Denver,” according to the project’s website. 

Palmer was a participant during the pilot stages in October 2022. She was working to rebuild her life from scratch after entering addiction recovery, all while being a mother to her two daughters and going to school. 

“Having that program kind of gave myself and my family an amazing opportunity to be comfortable and to not have to stress about our basic needs being met,” Palmer said. “More than that, we were able to enjoy things as a family because we had a little more funds to do so, to be able to build out connections and rebuild our relationships.”

“People understood their voice and their impact. They understood that if [they] tell people how this is affecting or helping [them] then it’s going to hopefully create other opportunities,” said Maria Sierra, community engagement manager of DBIP.

The pilot program was founded in 2021 by Denver-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Mark Donovan. According to Sierra, Donovan had invested money in Tesla prior to the pandemic and found his wealth beyond what he had ever imagined. He felt the need to help after he saw people struggling and the rise in homelessness in Denver at the height of the pandemic

Donovan took the initiative in solving these issues by making personal direct cash contributions to people until he began building relationships in the city and letting people know about his idea of the Denver Basic Income Project.  

According to Sierra, people who were eligible to apply to be part of the DBIP had to be connected to one of the 19 partners of the project, 18 years of age or older, with no unaddressed or severe mental health and substance use issues. Those who were eligible also had to be experiencing homelessness. The DBIP uses the McKinney Vento definition that encompasses a greater number of people and includes “individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”

“We came up with three different payment groups. One is $1000 a month. Then a second group would get a lump sum amount upfront to see what that impact is. So the second group was dropped $6,500 upfront and $500 a month for 11 months. The first two groups get $12,000 for the year,” Sierra said. “Then there was a comparison group that got $50 a month.”

Palmer was in the first payment group that received $1000 a month for one year. She used a portion of the money to pay debts and then to get a driver’s license, a car and insurance. With what was left over, Palmer saved up for housing, bills, school costs and food and clothes for her children.

“There was even enough to be able to take my kids to the movies, things like that, like being able to spend quality time with my loved ones and my family,” Palmer said. “Where before we didn’t have that luxury because we were living [with] basically enough to buy immediate needs and pay bills.”

Palmer also said she was able to do something nice for herself on her sobriety “birthdays,” something that she could never do before. 

“There is a lot of practicality around it but then there were also some things like being able to just enjoy life and have fun and spend time with my family in a way I haven’t been able to in a long time,” Palmer said.

Sierra said one beautiful surprise from the DBIP qualitative report was the impact the project had on people and their quality of life.

“People shared that they felt more secure, they didn’t feel like such a bleak future was ahead of them. People shared that they were able to buy a car which sets them up for work,” Sierra said. 

Participants were able to treat their kids and families with the money from the DBIP. Treats such as eating out or going out, or the fact that they could say “yes” to their kids and family made a huge impact on participants’ mental health. Not only that, but after paying debts and prioritizing basic needs, many used the additional funds to “make bigger changes” such as getting a house or buying a car. Many participants appreciated the fact the DBIP didn’t set certain limitations on how they should spend the money that they received. 

“Having a program like this, I mean just things that might seem trivial to some people or small, but like getting a driver’s license, being able to get a car, that, in itself, changed so many things and increased the opportunities for myself and my family,” Palmer said. “It wasn’t a possibility until Denver Basic Income. So it’s the same for other people who are homeless too, whether they’d be on the streets or in shelters or transitional housing.” 

Palmer and Sierra, who met each other when Sierra used to work at Joshua’s Station, both mentioned that the DBIP also offered participants cell phones and free phone service for a year to help them stay connected to their community partners and folks at the project. Palmer said that the phones were valuable in helping people find housing or jobs. 

“It’s just things I think people take for granted because most people just have them and don’t usually have to go without them,” Palmer said. “When you’re experiencing homelessness, things like that are not around. People can’t afford cell phone bills and things like that so it makes it a lot harder to get yourself to a better place when you don’t have access to those things. So it’s just a step up that a lot of people experiencing homelessness need to carry themselves further.”

Palmer will celebrate five years of recovery on Feb. 7. She’s currently going to school to get a degree in Human Services with a concentration in addiction. As a certified peer recovery coach, Palmer has been considering joining programs where people with a history of addiction can become certified doulas to help mothers facing addiction during pregnancy and postpartum. In the meantime, Palmer will continue going to school and taking care of her kids.

“This isn’t a handout. This is really an opportunity to show people we believe in them,” Sierra said.  

In October, The Center for Housing and

“Kendama teaches you everything you need to know about college athletics,” said Amy Watanabe, one of my MSU Denver volleyball coaches. “It’s failure, trusting the process, the moments of victory when you finally do it. That’s perseverance in a nutshell.” 

I didn’t know what kendama was until I committed to play volleyball at MSU Denver. It is a wooden Japanese toy comprised of a ball on a string, several cups used to catch the ball in different variations, and a narrowed end with which you use to “stick” the hole in the ball. 

Completing the four-step kendama is considered initiation into this program, a feat recognized as your entrance into the “kendama club,” providing you with the small, yet satisfactory knowledge that comes from asserting yourself in tradition. 

I’m writing this on the bus with my team as we travel to Texas for the regional finals. Limbs are sprawled across the aisle while some sleep and others are encircled around a card game. We are guaranteed only one match heading into this weekend. From now on, it’s do or die on the road to a National Championship. 

There are the milestones: the titles, the rival matches, the hard-fought wins and losses, and then there are all the millions of moments in between: the bus rides, the candid conversations, team meals and comedic mix-ups. What started out as a middle-school activity has become the most significant vessel of connection and experience that I have known this far in my life.

If I’m being honest, the glamor of college athletics is minuscule. You get a kill to score a point and your face lights up on a jumbo screen with your name booming through the speakers, but such details slip your notice with the crowd in a frenzy. You look to your teammates. Cheers ensue until focus sets in again. There’s another point to play.  

These are the moments. The ones you think of when it’s 5:30 a.m. and your car is iced over and you’re thinking, “No one should be awake right now.” But you have weights and conditioning at 6. When you’re beaten down with exhaustion and expectation, potential glory often provides an extra push. But most times it’s the person next to you.  

I fell in love with the game because there seemed to be few things more fun than keeping a ball off of the floor. While this is still true, time has broadened my affection. I remember entering my freshman year of pre-season freaked out and filled to the brim with the excitement of reaching my potential. The year-round frenzy of high school practices, club tournaments, camps, clinics and early morning open gyms had all pointed toward a chance to play at the next level. 

Each year starts the same. The team and coaches report to campus at the beginning of August. We are expected to be in shape, ready to face a week of fitness tests and twice-a-day practice sessions. The first game day always arrives like a breath of fresh air, the chance to finally suit up and compete. Over time, the nerves and adrenaline start to quell as trust begins to build within yourself. Confidence is one thing, but conviction is deeper, and in my freshman season I was sowing the roots. 

That was until COVID-19 entered the scene. The progress, the potential, all of it had come to a grinding halt. Then, freefall. I was sent home, spending months fretting about nutrition, staying in shape, obsessing over anything that would make me feel as though I had a sense of control again. I returned to campus ready to play, but felt as though I was different, a shell of the athlete I once was. 

After three seasons at University of Hartford in Connecticut, I decided to wander back west and transferred to MSU Denver in January 2022. A change of place was needed, particularly after the emotional whiplash that was the result of trying to combine the logistics of pandemic protocol and sport. 

MSU Denver Volleyball proudly touts itself as being a winning culture, having made it to the conference finals and advancing to the NCAA tournament for a consecutive 23 years. Anyone will tell you, however, that winning is hard. The years that come before have little to do with the one at hand, meaning that each day is treated as a new commitment of time, focus and effort to those around you. Thus, it’s important to like the people you’re with. Training and showing up on the court is one thing, but cultivating a space of love and acceptance is just as crucial to success, and absolutely the best part. 

The best teams, in my opinion, are those who recognize the potential sphere of influence they possess and take it seriously. If there is anything I have learned over the past five years, it’s that we need each other more than we may think and that sports offers a relentless, beautiful confrontation with this truth. 

There is your team on the court, and then there are the radiating rings of parents, teachers, kids, players past and players to come who stand around you as you take part in something uniquely greater than yourself. I like to imagine that my middle-school self would be proud to know where volleyball would end up taking her. From Connecticut to Croatia, the sport that started out as a hobby became the most significant catalyst for connection and growth that I have known so far in my life.

Anyone will change in the span of five years. But to have had a consistent set of friends and supporters taking a dedicated interest in my success has so directly shaped my sense of self that I hesitate at the thought of having to leave it all behind. 

But, as my teammates will tell you, “It’s bigger than volleyball.” And they are right. To try and epitomize the lessons that I have learned in my time as a collegiate athlete would be insufficient (and probably pretty cheesy). 

Instead, I can’t help but refer to the film “Cool Runnings,” which seems to sum up my greatest takeaway as I step into the real game of life. “Peace be the journey,” they say. And no matter the outcome, you are always enough.

“Kendama teaches you everything you need to

Magic mushrooms have been used in spiritual practice, medicine and as a party enhancer for millennia. But recently, mothers in Denver have found the benefits of microdosing psilocybin mushrooms. For Lucy, a working mother of two who only wanted us to use her first name, microdosing has become a gentle way to be more present.  

“You’re taking a moment out of your own head, of your to-do list, your kids’ schedule and all the things that come with motherhood,” Lucy said. “You’re taking that one snap second to be present and, in the moment.”

Microdosing psychedelics is the practice of ingesting very low, sub-hallucinogenic doses of a psychedelic substance such as lysergic acid diethylamide—better known as LSD—or psilocybin-containing mushrooms. In November 2022, Colorado voters approved Prop 122, legalizing psilocybin mushrooms and allowing individuals 21 and up to grow and use the fungi. The mushrooms are being extensively researched as effective treatments for mental health disorders. 

“You take a dose that is low enough where you don’t have any perceptual effects,” said Tracey Tee, founder of Moms on Mushrooms, or MOM. “You’re not high, you’re not hallucinating, it’s more like the feeling that you get when you drink a strong cup of coffee. You know it’s there but it’s not inhibiting you in any way, if anything it’s sort of enhancing you.”

Tee founded MOM after experiencing a traumatic car accident with her family and realizing how microdosing helped her heal from the accident. She shared her experience with her community and found women wanting to learn more about the practice. 

“I sort of came out of the shroom closet to our community and just said, ‘Look, I’ve been doing this, it’s been making me feel so amazing.’ Women were like, ‘Oh my gosh you’re microdosing, you’re normal. If you do it. maybe I could do it.’ So, I found myself talking to all these moms,” she said.

The MOM group is an online community that offers microdosing courses created exclusively for moms all over the world. The three-and-a-half-month course is a safe space where mothers come together and create a microdosing practice with the support of a facilitator and their peers. Members can access the private community The Grow, a Facebook-like platform exclusively for moms on mushrooms, where they will find discussion groups, microdosing information and vetted resources. 

“It’s a place where moms are connecting and learning about this medicine together. No guru, no expert, no dude in a coat. Just talking about their own shared experiences and asking questions of each other,” Tee said. “We have mothers who’ve been working with this medicine for decades and moms that are still just learning or just want to learn and have no intention of trying it anytime soon, so that’s the best place to start.” 

In the Zoom meetings of ten or fewer women, members can share their personal experiences with microdosing, the amount they consumed and how it benefits them. They give each other advice if they are having any issues with microdosing but overall they have created a village of moms who share motherhood wisdom.

“At one point a mom of an 18-year-old said, ‘You know, I would do anything to put my kid to bed tonight, and get that time back,’ because I was complaining about bedtime with my kid and I can never get him to go to sleep,” Lucy said. “This cohort kind of allowed me to have a village. They’re not coming and changing my kid’s diaper, but to have the village mentality that’s just a sounding board across generations was really cool.”

After having her second child, Lucy was struggling with postpartum depression and was prescribed antidepressants. But she didn’t love the idea of being on the medication long-term and decided to give microdosing a go after learning about its benefits. She completed the MOMs course, where she learned to microdose with intent. Throughout the course, the women practice journaling, moving their bodies and meditating. Lucy said microdosing is not like taking an antidepressant, where you take it and feel better. Rather, sometimes it may cause opposite side effects, like tiredness or sadness. However, the facilitator is there to help you identify these different effects and symptoms.

“I kind of went into it thinking that it’s going to be a bunch of young moms who are super tired, who are dealing with young kids and the temper tantrums, the exhaustion, no sleeping, potty training and all of that,” Lucy said. “Come to find out, it was actually moms of all ages which was really really cool because it kind of helps me understand that the journey of motherhood is never really over.  If you’re a mother of a two-year-old or a 16-year-old you’re still a mother, the challenges are just different.”

One of the many things Lucy learned from the course was the amount of microdose that works best for her. She said unlike normal medication, psilocybin isn’t based on body weight because it is processed differently in the body. During their Zoom meetings, the women share their experiences with different amounts of microdose that can range from 75 mg to 250 mg. Initially, Lucy was taking 250 mg, which is considered the maximum microdose before one starts to feel the effects of the psychedelic properties. The other moms in the group suggested she drop down to 120 mg to see how that worked for her. 

“It’s so incredible to have that support because now when I microdose on a work day I don’t take more than 120 [mg] because I know that it puts me in that sweet spot of being most productive,” she said.

While microdosing has recently gained popularity, medical professionals advise against self-experimentation. 

“Psilocybin is generally thought to be safe in low dosages,” said Dr. Peter Grinspoon, a Harvard Medical School medical contributor. “However, if one takes too large a dose it can result in a terrifying event [or] traumatic experience.” With a variety of mushroom species, Dr. Grinspoom suggests sourcing mushrooms from a trusted source to avoid self-poisoning.  

Tee doesn’t microdose every day, but when she does, she likes to put her fungi in a cup of warm cacao. As she sips on her drink, she says a prayer and thinks about her day and what she wants in life moving forward. She said mushrooms are more of a co-creation and the medicine is an ally for whatever you are trying to work on for yourself; it shouldn’t be disrespected or overused. She also says it is not a magic pill that will solve all your problems. 

“You work with the medicine and you put that intention there and the medicine illuminates the toxic patterns that we have in ourselves and gives you permission to fix them without any fear around,” Tee said. “It’s really about empowering yourself with education as much as it is being intentional around your usage.”

Apart from coaching groups, MOM also works to destigmatize the use of psychedelics by framing it within the context of personal growth and healing. Tee said the public has been fed so much misinformation about psychedelics by the government and media, but it is important to learn about microdosing and safety. 

Tee advises women interested in starting their microdosing journey to explore the options and empower themselves with knowledge. 

“Learn about it, talk to other moms, and give yourself permission to change your mind, to change your own preconceived notions about science academics. Get clear on your why, why is this calling to you and if your heart is saying, ‘I’m tired of going through the motions, I want to be more for myself and for my family,’ come join us and we’ll support you if we can.”

Magic mushrooms have been used in spiritual

Happy day after Thanksgiving, Bucket Listers. How are those leftovers? Our team at Bucket List Community Cafe hopes your bellies are full, your blessings are counted and that you remember to support our local merchants on Small Business Saturday. We have given our team some time off but we still have the who, what, where, when, why and hows of contributing to Bucket List Community Cafe during our upcoming #newsCOneeds fundraising drive.

Why We Do This

In August 2019, our publisher, Vicky Collins, was feeling the weight of the world. In her TV news job she was bouncing around from tragedy to tragedy covering the Kelsey Berreth murder case, the story of a little boy who was hurled off the third floor of the Mall of America, two mass shootings and Hurricane Dorian. She wanted to cut through the sadness, so she created Bucket List Community Cafe to share reflections on her new neighborhood in Denver. When COVID struck in early 2020, Bucket List found its purpose: informing and connecting the community with free hyperlocal neighborly news. Our solution-oriented, character-driven storytelling captured an audience and we’ve grown ever since.

What We’re Doing

Over the last couple of months, our team of multimedia journalists has produced podcasts and stories that matter to the community. Stories you won’t see anywhere else. You can check out some of this top-notch reporting below.  

Our most recent podcasts by Mimi Herrick with Anne Trujillo and Brianna Titone

Documenting Life with Long Covid Makes Golden Girl a TikTok Star by Daianee Galindo

School Board Candidates Reflect on Their Educations by Jackie Ramirez

Denver Churches Offer Safe Space to LGBTQ Community Among Rising Bigotry by London Lyle

Denver Community Steps Up to Help Venezuelan Refugees by Daianee Galindo (Spanish translation here.)

History Colorado Launches New Green Book Project by Mabel Gonzalez

These stories are done by aspiring journalists from CU Boulder and MSU Denver. Bucket List is the first step on their career path, and to date, we have mentored over 30 students and recent graduates who are the next generation of storytellers. They move forward into excellent jobs too. 

Mimi Herrick interviewing Anne Trujillo.

Who Supports Us

We have received a $5000 matching grant from Colorado Media Project and generous contributions from others to get us going. Kathy Neustadt and Ginny Jordan have each given $2000 as additional challenge matches. 

Gary Shapiro has seeded our partnership program with his recurring contribution. His $50-a-month gift ensures money comes in regularly to help with our operations. Everyone who gives a monthly contribution becomes a partner of Bucket List. 

Phil and Angela Garvin, Tom Walsh and Robert Thoele have pledged over $3000 for the Darrell Ewalt Scholarship, which provides BIPOC journalists with more opportunities.  

Sports and programming producer, director and television executive Darrell Ewalt.

Where and When to Give

Starting Nov. 28 (Giving News Day) through midnight on Dec. 31 (Happy News Year), Bucket List Community Cafe will be fundraising for our #newsCOneeds year-end campaign. We’ve set a goal to raise $7500 to keep us going. Raising this much money is a big reach for us, but we are confident with your support that we can do it. We believe people in Denver want solution-oriented journalism, and many are overwhelmed by news that divides rather connects us. We feel strongly that the community that inspires us will support us. 

How We’ll Get There

Now we need you, Bucket Listers! Reaching that $7500 goal might be a challenge, but we’ve got this. Because of our matching grants, almost every penny you give will be doubled. We are so grateful you believe in what we are doing to innovate community journalism and provide free hyperlocal news without paywalls, memberships, ads or paid subscriptions. Thank you in advance for your generosity and for remembering community journalism in your holiday giving. P.S. We hear if you put a picture of a dog in your fundraising request people give more. So here is a photo of Vicky’s dog, Ca$h, our canine correspondent.   

Happy day after Thanksgiving, Bucket Listers. How

I love using quotes as inspiration. While I was looking for one to launch this Voices piece I came across a thought by Anita Roddick, the British entrepreneur who founded the Body Shop and believed business can be a force for good and empowerment.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” 

Bucket List Community Cafe is small, but we are growing and having a significant impact. Like the mosquito, we’ve been in your ear for a while now sharing what we’ve accomplished with your support. Here is the 2023 buzz.

We have continued to amplify our mission to be free online community journalism for Denver. We provide hyperlocal neighborly news that builds community by sharing our stories.

We have almost twice the number of unique visitors to our website than we had last year.

We have covered over 160 stories and we’re translating some into Spanish. We also are producing monthly podcasts that are featured on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Our storytelling includes all voices and ensures our neighbors see themselves in the news. Folks tell us they can’t find character-driven stories like ours anywhere else. 

We have mentored over 30 aspiring journalists from CU Boulder and MSU Denver, giving them experience in the real world of news and news entrepreneurship. We have celebrated them as they move on to jobs in broadcast news, production, community journalism, events, advertising and business in Colorado, Texas and New York.

We put together an advisory team of six exceptional leaders in local and national journalism, DEI, media partnerships, and program management.    

We have met you at community events like Viva Streets, Sunnyside Music Festival, Huerta Urbana Farmers Market, Convivio Café’s Mercaditos, and Tenn Street Coffee and Books. We give away free refrigerator magnets, and kids love showing off our stickers.

We received $25,000 in grants from LION Publishers and Colorado Media Project this year to help with our sustainability.  

We received an additional $5,000 grant from Colorado Media Project to set up the Darrell Ewalt Scholarship Fund so aspiring BIPOC journalists can prioritize their work and have more opportunities. Thanks to CMP, we gave out three $1,500 scholarships in 2023.  

Now we are proud to say that we are part of a cohort of 30 trustworthy and local Colorado newsrooms throughout the state that are asking for your support in our #newsCOneeds fundraising drive. It starts Nov. 28 and runs through Dec. 31.

The summer 2023 Bucket List team.

We have received a $5,000 matching grant from Colorado Media Project to incentivize giving. Our friend and advisor, Kathy Neustadt, has added a challenge match for $2,000. Another friend and advisor, Gary Shapiro, is helping us lead the charge for recurring contributions in our partner program. Phil and Angela Garvin have seeded the Darrell Ewalt Scholarship Fund for the year ahead. During our #newsCOneeds fundraising campaign, our goal is to raise $7,500 up from $5,000 in July.

So that’s the buzz, Bucket Listers. We’ll try not to be pesky, but between now and the end of the year our team will be reminding you how community journalism takes a community. When we kick off our #newsCOneeds campaign on Tuesday, Nov. 28 (Giving Newsday) please contribute generously. We are community-inspired and supported and can’t do this without you.

I love using quotes as inspiration. While

Nestled within the heart of Volunteers of America Colorado’s cold warehouse in Commerce City, ambient lighting casts a gentle glow, creating a warming atmosphere that welcomes seniors to take their seats. 

The air is filled with the comforting aroma of a home-cooked meal, providing a haven for the elderly to gather, dine and find a community. There are signs of thoughtful preparation everywhere: Newsletters sit on every table with tips on combating the winter blues, word games and resources for food insecurity. 

In the busy catering kitchen, chef José Huizar works his culinary magic, preparing a hearty dinner for seniors in the Denver area. Sparkling and clean stainless-steel counters shine brightly as the kitchen staff prepares a delicious menu featuring chicken Alfredo, steamed broccoli and other colorful vegetables, plus fresh bread rolls. It’s a team effort, with each dish crafted to bring joy and nourishment to those in their golden years. They create a joyful experience for all, especially ahead of the holiday season.

“The dinners were a hit,” chef Jose Huizar said. “We only had two people on the first Thursday, and it tripled since then.”  

The Senior Nutrition Program was discontinued when COVID-19 hit in 2020 and resumed on Sept. 28 of this year. It’s been wildly popular as it gives older folks a hot plate of food and socialization. The dinners are composed of different menus thought up by a dietician at Volunteers of America, who considers the different dietary needs of seniors. 

Huizar loves his job, which he said is very rewarding. The hot meals never go to waste, as seniors often bring guests with them. Any leftovers are sent home with diners. Faustine Curry, vice president of marketing, can attest to its success and the charitable work culture of the Volunteers of America. 

“At this facility alone we do about 1.2 million meals a year, and that’s just in Colorado.”

The new location in Commerce City used to be a warehouse. The old location of Volunteers of America on Larimer St. in Denver just wasn’t enough for all the Meals on Wheels volunteers and staff.  

“It’s perfect, it fits all the food donation pantry items we distribute and makes it easier for the Meals on Wheels volunteers,” Curry said.

According to a Meals on Wheels fact sheet from 2022, Colorado ranks 9th in the U.S. for seniors experiencing food insecurity, with over 9%, or about 105,000 seniors, at risk of hunger. Older Coloradans also rank third in the country for being at risk of social isolation. That becomes particularly apparent around the holidays, which many spend alone. But Volunteers of America and Meals on Wheels are hoping to at least fill their stomachs this Thanksgiving. 

“We have about 225 turkeys right now for our Meals on Wheels program ahead of Thanksgiving,” Huizar said. “We also have a lunch truck that we drive around and hand out food from, especially when we have extra food.” 

The new Volunteers of America building in Commerce City on Nov. 9.

Many tents and homeless camps can be seen close to the location in Commerce City, where Curry and Huizar said they deliver food on days when there’s more than enough for the Meals on Wheels and Senior Nutrition Program. 

“They’re on our route so why not? We might as well provide them with hot meals,” Huizar said. “We avoid throwing food away as much as we can.”

In addition to delivering hot meals to home-bound seniors through Meals on Wheels, the Commerce City location of Volunteers of America hosts dinners for the elderly every Thursday night at 4:30 p.m. According to Curry, congregate dining like the Thursday senior dinners “create community and help the elderly be social.”

The application for signing up for the congregate nutrition program is a simple one: It asks for your age, your veteran status, and your income. If you don’t qualify, the application has two pages of information regarding other resources for food shortages and other needs.

Nestled within the heart of Volunteers of

After almost 40 years of storytelling for Denver’s channel 7, Anne Trujillo is retiring–or as she calls it reinventing.  Already her fans and community are missing her.Trujillo has received a multitude of thanks and well wishes in her last week on air. Her social media comments are flooded with love and support. 

“You will be greatly missed! Best wishes on your next adventure and enjoy your family!” Heather Jaramillo said in a Facebook Comment.

“Congratulations on a job well done. Enjoy the next part of the journey.” Melissa Gabel Guinn writes

Trujillo grew up in Colorado, and didn’t know she wanted to be a journalist until her first internship with the press and communications team for a member of congress. After that she went all in, leaving the University of Colorado a semester early to pursue her dream and take  a job in ScottsBluff, Nebraska. Trujillo was one of two journalists in the newsroom and figured out pretty quickly what she was good at and what she wasn’t. 

“I learned that I was not a good photographer, certainly not a good editor,” Trujillo said, “but I learned to get more and more comfortable in front of the camera and reading.”

Trujillo joined channel 7 in 1984 as a general assignment reporter, and met her husband on her first day on the job –she says it was love at first sight.

“My very first day on the job I was assigned to follow a crew,” Trujillo said, “[Mike Kalush and I] just hit it off right away and … I like to say he was flirting with me the whole time.”

Being a woman of color when that was rare in broadcasting wasn’t easy but it taught Trujillo that she needed a thick skin. She became a leader for other women of color and was a co-founder of the Colorado Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ). Trujillo has won a multitude of awards for her outstanding work and is a member of the NATAS Silver Circle, and in 2019 was inducted to the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame. 

Not only has she made an impact on journalism in Denver, Trujillo has also dedicated time to helping the community. Trujillo has served on several boards across the state, including the Denver Scholarship Foundation, which helps Denver Public Schools provide college opportunities for students. 

“Having worked in news all these years I feel like I know [Colorado] really well.” Trujillo said.

Quality time with her family has been Trujillo’s main motivator for leaving channel 7. She’s leaving just in time to spend the holidays with her family–something she hasn’t been guaranteed working in journalism. After that, Trujillo doesn’t have any set plans but she’s excited to see what the future holds. 

“As I get ready to walk out the door at 123 Speer Blvd, I have already shed tears and am sure many more will fall as I think about how transformative KMGH has been in my life. I grew up here. I am proud of the many stories I was able to tell and honored to all of you who let me into your homes and personal lives. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Anne Wrote

Listen to this month’s episode on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or right here.

After almost 40 years of storytelling for

The best sports team at the University of Colorado Boulder isn’t Deion Sanders’ football or Tad Boyle’s men’s basketball. Instead, that title likely belongs to the CU women’s basketball squad. Head Coach JR Payne has quietly put together an absolute powerhouse of a program. Last season, the Lady Buffs made it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. On Monday night, the women opened their season by knocking off the #1 ranked, reigning champion Louisiana State in a dominant 92-78 win.

Colorado started the season ranked as the 20th-best team in the nation, but they’ll surely skyrocket even higher in the polls after beating the Tigers in such a convincing fashion. Some very notable people have been singing CU’s praises, including former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal and Coach Prime himself.

“[The women] are comin’ and we should play their theme music because they are ballin’!” Sanders said during his media availability on Tuesday.

Buffaloes fans react to watching Colorado upset #1 LSU at the CU Event Center in Boulder on Nov. 6, 2023. Video by Ryland Scholes.

What Coach Payne has done in Boulder may be the most underrated coaching job in the recent history of the state. After taking over a women’s hoops program in shambles, Payne has rebuilt Colorado into one of the strongest programs in the entire country. In her seven full seasons in Boulder, Payne has led the Buffaloes to a winning record five times. The Buffs have made the NCAA tournament the last two seasons under Payne’s watch, and look to make it three straight appearances on the biggest stage in 2024.

What Payne has done is especially impressive, given the spending discrepancies between the men’s and women’s teams. CU women’s basketball’s total expenses are around $3.4 million per year according to the U.S. Department of Education, which is only around 40% of what their male counterparts spend. Despite that, the coaching staff has made the most of what is available to them to turn the Lady Buffs into one of the best programs in the country. 

This team has the legitimate possibility of being the best women’s sports team the state of Colorado has ever seen. Not only do the Buffs have a chance to win the Pac-12 conference, but they have a legitimate shot to win the national title. If the Buffaloes can manage to get further than the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, they’ll have officially surpassed the 1995 Lady Buffs as the greatest women’s sports team in the history of the state. 

“I’m really excited about our team. I think I say this every year, that I love our team, and this year is no different. This is a special group,” Payne said.

Despite their stellar win over LSU and fantastic performance these last two seasons, the Lady Buffs don’t get the attention they should. Guard Jaylyn Sherrod is the heartbeat of the team, as she has proven herself to be one of the best five players in all college women’s hoops. Meanwhile, guard Frida Formann has perhaps the cleanest shot in the entire state, rivaled only by Nuggets superstar Jamal Murray. Payne feels as though her players don’t get the recognition they deserve.

“I don’t think they do. But I also don’t think they mind. They’re just trying to be great,” Payne said. “They’re built that way, that they don’t need to shine. They have earned the shine, and they’re going to continue to. But they don’t necessarily care about that stuff.” 

Now that the Buffs have such a big win on the national stage, they’re expected to get some of that well-deserved appreciation. For those who haven’t been following the Lady Buffs, now is the time to hop on the bandwagon. Women’s basketball is the best bang-for-your-buck ticket in all of Boulder, as one general admission ticket costs around $7 and allows you to get up close and personal to the action. 

Fans who are interested in showing up to support Colorado Women’s Basketball can do so on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. when the Buffs take on Oklahoma State. The Lady Buffs will play at least 13 more games at the CU Event Center this season. 

“It’s going to be a great year for us. We’re ready,” Payne said.

The best sports team at the University

In a 60-second TikTok video, 19-year-old Lilly Downs shared a “day in the life as a sick kid.” Over 5 million people have watched her get out of bed and prepare her morning medications that help her treat her health problems caused by long COVID. Downs is from Golden, Colorado and before contracting COVID-19 for the first time she was a healthy teenager, playing soccer and hanging out with her friends. 

Many people who test positive for COVID-19 fully recover from the infection in days or weeks, but others can experience symptoms and develop health problems long after the infection diagnosis. More than 200 symptoms have been identified with impacts on multiple organ systems and at least 65 million individuals are estimated to have long COVID. As winter approaches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is anticipating a “moderate COVID wave” with as many hospitalizations as last year’s winter peak, and advises vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from the disease.

“When I got COVID no one even knew what long COVID was,” Downs said. “Doctors were not very open or kind at first, because no one knew what it was. As months went on and more people came out with long COVID issues, doctors realized it was an issue, a thing.”

In one of her pinned TikTok videos Downs explains the health issues she’s developed since her original diagnosis in November 2020 to her viewers. She is currently treating two autoimmune diseases ankylosing spondylitis and behçets disease. In her video, she mentions having small fiber neuropathy, dysautonomia, and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS. Downs also has gastroparesis, which causes stomach and intestinal paralysis. Due to this disease, she receives her nutrition through a central line and feeding tube.

Lilly’s TikTok video, posted on Nov. 28, 2022, was viewed over 5 million times.
Another video from Downs with 5 million views, posted Nov. 5, 2023, shows her nightly medication routine.

“It’s pretty different for everyone,” she said. “Initially, when I was in the hospital my heart rate was like 120 when I was sleeping. My nervous system is the big one—dysautonomia, so pretty much just complete dysregulation of your nervous system—so I can’t regulate temperature. COVID came in and was just like shutting down this, shutting down this.”

From a young age Downs enjoyed creating YouTube videos, even though her parents never allowed her to post them. She liked the creative process, which has helped her with sharing her life on TikTok. During her months in the hospital, she would spend her time on the video app and later began learning TikTok dances with her mom and hospital staff. She said once she left the hospital, she wasn’t sure what to do next and missed the constant stimulation of the hospital, doctors and nurses.

“I definitely came home and was just kind of like, I don’t know what to do with my brain. So, I started making TikToks. I was making the most out of my gap year and documenting what I do to stay busy and stuff like that and just kind of having fun with it,” she said.

From the comfort of her home, Downs is recovering from recently contracting COVID for a second time. Unaware of how her body could react to the infection, Downs was terrified and diligently did everything she could to maintain her health progress. She shared her experience by posting a TikTok video that reached over 5 million people, most of whom were not entirely aware about long COVID and its repercussions.

“I received a lot of different requests and questions through that and it kind of took off from there. People are curious, I can do this to keep myself busy but still kind of connect with others and share my story,” she said. 

The TikTok platform has quickly become a space where people go to share their stories or bring awareness to certain topics like mental health. The app has also given young people the opportunity to learn from others experiencing similar issues and help build online communities. 

“I’ve made the most amazing friends through meeting people online. My best friends are all people who have gone through similar situations,” Downs said. “Friendships are so much stronger and more comfortable when you know about the person and don’t have to explain yourself. With everyone else, you do have to explain yourself because they don’t have the perspective that you do. That’s when being chronically ill can get super isolating.”

Not only does Downs want to bring awareness to long COVID while sharing her life on TikTok, but she also wants to give people perspective and show that she is a normal person. She said she lost a lot of friends through being ill and believes people forget you have a personality when you’re sick. 

“It’s weird, people forget that you’re a human and I’m a normal person,” she said. “I kind of liked bringing that to TikTok and showing my personality, showing that I am a normal 19-year-old. Giving them an inside look [at] my every day, how I feel, and how things affect me. I just like sharing everything and more than just pictures and texts.”

Sharing so much online can come with some repercussions. Although most responses to her videos have been positive, Downs has received negative feedback on her page. However, she says there are also people in her comment section who have been rooting her on and are aware of events happening in her life. 

“I got a new job and people were so excited and so uplifting when it came to the job and I was like wow, people actually care. It’s been so cool to see all the people who are just so supportive, and I appreciate that so much, it has made such an impact on me personally,” she said. 

In a 60-second TikTok video, 19-year-old Lilly

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, with the 14th marking World Diabetes Day. Since there is so much to learn about diabetes and many common misconceptions, I wanted to share my story and bring awareness to this disease that affects over 11% of the U.S. population. As a journalist, I plan to use my abilities to inform others so they recognize the symptoms. It’s also important to me to provide perspective on what life with diabetes is like. 

When I was a sophomore in high school, I became severely ill. I could barely stand and couldn’t keep any food in my system. My mom rushed me to Swedish Medical Center where I was quickly admitted to the intensive care unit and treated for diabetic ketoacidosis. As the medical team drew blood from my arms to run lab work, I can distinctly remember the doctor saying, “You got here just in time. If you would’ve waited any longer you wouldn’t have made it.”

A year before I was rushed to the ICU, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. At the time I was experiencing issues with my insurance and my parents were unable to afford my insulin. While awaiting coverage, I avoided sugary foods and rationed my insulin. However, after further testing during my hospital stay, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and learned I was going to be insulin-dependent my entire life. I was shocked and confused, unaware of the harm I had been causing myself by not taking my insulin regularly. 

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease, where the pancreas makes little to no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps blood sugar enter the cells in your body for use as energy. Without it, blood sugar begins to build up in the bloodstream causing various symptoms and complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Type 1 diabetes is less common than Type 2. Only 5 to 10% of people with the disease have Type 1 diabetes.

At the age of 14, I would push through my school days, go home and crawl into bed. I was experiencing extreme fatigue, frequent thirst, blurred vision, and continuous headaches. These symptoms along with weight loss and frequent urination are some of the early signs of diabetes. After several days of feeling unwell, my grandma, who is a Type 2 diabetic, checked my sugar levels with her blood glucose meter. My sugar levels were over 500 mg. A normal blood sugar level is less than 140 mg. 

“Type 1 diabetics with high blood sugars will have those extreme symptoms, whereas Type 2 tends to sometimes be severe onset, but sometimes it’s more gradual. If they go in for their regular annual physicals, which we should all be doing, they’ll have a glucose check and it could be caught kind of early before they develop any symptoms of high blood sugar,” said Dr. Alexandra Reiher, an endocrinologist with Centura Health.

Diabetes management can become tedious at times but there have been new developments in technology that have helped with its daily management. There are many methods of insulin administration, and what has worked best for me is insulin pump therapy. My insulin pump is a small device that I carry on my body that delivers continuous doses of rapid-acting insulin throughout my day to match my body’s needs. Another device that I use daily is a Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor, which is usually attached to my arm or abdomen area. This device is synched to my insulin pump and estimates my blood sugar levels throughout the day. This technology has helped me keep control of my diabetes while getting through my daily activities and has made life with diabetes a lot easier. 

Managing the disease from a young age has been extremely difficult for me. Being the only one with Type 1 in my family, I felt isolated and misunderstood by others. Getting used to new medication and continuously checking my blood sugar levels was overwhelming and discouraging at times. 

“With chronic illness, there’s a lot more to it than just the disease. It’s also the burden of the disease,” Dr. Reiher said. “My experience with my patients is that sometimes, patients will associate their blood glucose number like it’s a test. If your sugars are always high it feels like you fail the test, and if your sugars are doing really well, you’re acing the test. If their sugars are running high, there’s embarrassment about it as if it’s their fault. [There’s a] feeling of self-shame and blame that they have with it, and it comes with mental health issues.”

Currently, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but there is ongoing research for one. There have also been new advancements in technology and new medications that can prevent the progression of Type 1 diabetes. Research has brought diabetes management a long way from the years where people had to prick their fingers regularly to test. 

“Research for Type 1 diabetics is huge right now. [That said], one thing that a lot of Type 1 diabetics will tell me is when they were first diagnosed, their doctor [would say], ‘Oh there’s going to be a cure in 10 years.’ And that’s whenever they were diagnosed, so in the ’60s, ’80s, and we still don’t have a cure,” Dr. Reiher said.

Managing my diabetes has improved my life and given me the opportunity to have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to my daughter. With the constant monitoring of my pump and Dexcom, I can continue to do everything I enjoy, like spending time with my family or traveling without worrying too much about my blood sugar levels. Living through this experience has taught me the importance of prioritizing my health, listening to my body and knowing my body’s limitations. This experience has also helped me realize how strong I really am.

“If you don’t have diabetes, take good care of yourself and get annual physicals and blood work done because the earlier you capture it the better. If you have diabetes, give yourself some grace and focus on doing all the things you’re supposed to be doing. But don’t be too hard on yourself, know that as long as you’re trying that’s what matters,” Dr. Reiher said.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, with