Volunteerism is Celebrated in a Most Challenging Year
by Cindy Piggott
For the past 45 years, The Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award Committee has
recognized and honored hundreds of volunteers who have given their time, energy and
hearts to worthy nonprofits. This past year has proven to be a challenge on many levels.
While the onslaught of the pandemic has forced many restrictions on our daily lives, nonprofits have never been more important. Volunteers have never been needed more than
during these difficult times. Many nonprofits rely on an older community of volunteers and
that has been problematic. And yet through all of this, volunteers have continued to come
The award is named after Minoru Yasui, a Japanese American, born and raised in Oregon.
Yasui later moved to Denver and became a leader in civic affairs. He valued integrity and
inclusivity. He fought for civil rights. He acted with vision, perseverance and compassion and
most importantly, he volunteered. Yasui’s work with the city was legendary. He was
involved with more than 75 different organizations.
While this past year made it difficult to celebrate these extraordinary volunteers in a
conventional way, the MYCVA Committee got creative. Celebrations went to porches, to
backyards and to sidewalks.
We began the year honoring Katie Bradshaw for her extraordinary volunteer efforts
with Kenzie’s Causes, photographing events and providing family portraits for those that
had never had a family picture.
February took us to the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley celebrating Karl
Soderstrom and his inspiring work helping those shy, under socialized and behaviorally
challenged dogs find forever homes. His success rate was most impressive.
Dale Lovin was honored for his work with Bootstraps Scholarships, an organization that
helps students access financial aid and to further their education. Bootstraps assists families
in alleviating some of that financial challenge. Loving’s was also on the board of Resilience
1220, a teen suicide prevention program and he volunteered for Mount Evans Home Health
Care and Hospice.
The summer took us to the side yard of Bev Bishop and a celebration of her volunteer work
at Growing Home. Bev served as a team lead in the food pantry, worked as an Ambassador
and continues to support the mission of helping families break the cycle of poverty.
Gilbert Vasquez’s front porch was the backdrop for his special ceremony. For the past 15
years, Vasquez has donated his time and energy to The Delores Project. The first Thursday
each month, he and his family put together a home-made dinner for more than 60
participants. The Delores Project’s mission provides safe and comfortable shelter and
personalized services for unaccompanied women and transgender individuals experiencing
We honored Kyle Abrahm, in his backyard. Kyle a rising senior at South High School,
founded Generation Ocean. This nonprofit leads river and park clean-ups and campaigns to
educate locals about the alternatives to single use plastics. They also take expeditions
abroad to participate in coral restoration, citizen science and research projects. Kyle also
volunteered with the South High School Food Bank, was on the Student Senate and
coordinated three blood drives at South.
The sidewalk in front of Central Presbyterian Church safely allowed for the celebration
of Carol Lingenfelter and the volunteer work she has done for the Central Visitation
Program. Central Visitation is a unique nonprofit that provides a safe place for supervised
parenting time for families that are struggling with divorce, separations and restraining
Our last honoree, Bill Loftis was recognized for his work at the Habitat for Humanity
ReStore. For the past 12 years, Bill has organized and run their recycling program. He trains
volunteers and in one year has enabled the ReStore to help recycle over 31 tons of material.
These incredible volunteers were nominated by their peers with descriptions like, “a
profoundly good man”, “instrumental in guiding the organization,” ” an extraordinary young
changemmaker,” “critical to the mission,” “selfless giving of their personal time, love and
care,” “integral part of the team bringing a smile and energy level to every event.”
Shakespeare once wrote, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to
give it away.” Without question, this quote clearly describes each of the remarkable and
dedicated 2020 honorees.
Recipients of the Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award receive a $2,000 cash award
which they donate to the non-profit of their choice. More than $942,000 has been awarded
to 494 nonprofits. If you would like to learn more about this award, nominate an exceptional
volunteer or donate to this award, please visit our website at www.minyasui.org.
The Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award is a program of Spark the Change
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About the Author
Cindy Piggott, cindypiggott505
I am a proud volunteer member of the Minoru Yasui Community Volunteer Award