Maybe you have already heard of VORP, but I pride myself on knowing about all local nonprofits and I had not yet heard of this one, although they have been providing services to Denver youth for over 20 years. I was incredibly inspired by my visit and am grateful that my clients chose to donate to this wonderful organization, so that I could learn about this organization and contribute to their cause.

VORP stands for Victim Offender Reconciliation Program and they keep young people out of jail by restoring the relationships between oneself, one’s family, and one’s community. This is an alternative justice practice, which acknowledges individual experiences and identities. Have you ever heard of transformative justice?

Angell Perez, Executive Director of VORP, almost brought me to tears with the story of Julia…

Julia was a 12-year-old when she was referred to VORP from the Denver Juvenile Diversion Program after receiving a ticket for Assault and Interference with School Staff. She had been handcuffed, arrested, and expelled from her middle school, after spending 5 days in a local “juvenile jail.” Why? Because she got into a fight with another student and when a teacher tried to break it up, she was punched in the mouth by someone who she thought was Julia. Completely unacceptable, right? Sure… but there’s a lot more to the story.

For many months, Julia had been consistently bullied at school by several girls because she plays a lot of sports and dresses like a tomboy. Julia had sought help from several staff members at school and their advice was to “just ignore it.” One day, she finally lost it and got in a fight with one of the bullies. She had been having a terrible time at home. Six months prior, her father had passed away from cancer unexpectedly. Julia had been separated from her siblings, as they were all living with different relatives. She was worried about her little sister, who had been threatening suicide, and since they were separated, Julia could not be there for her. And so the events of Julia’s fight unfolded as they did.

VORP facilitated a Face2Face healing circle with Julia, her grandfather, and the teacher from school who pressed the charges, Ms. Audrey. Ms. Audrey was able to share how much hurt she experienced, both physically and emotionally. She shared that her daughters were students at the school, who saw her get assaulted and were afraid for their mother’s wellbeing. The incident caused so much harm to Ms. Audrey that she had considered leaving her career as a teacher, although she had become a teacher because she wanted to support youth in their education to lead them to better lives.

In this circle, Julia was able to face the harm that she had caused and was able to share her story with Ms. Audrey, so Ms. Audrey could understand the root of Julia’s anger and help her learn how to better deal with it. With the staff and volunteers of VORP, everyone was able to create empathy and understanding with one another.

Ms. Audrey praised VORP’s Transformative Justice Programs and vowed to advocate for calling VORP, instead of the police with school administrational issues. Ms. Audrey also committed to helping Julia get back into school after she had been expelled. Julia completed her community contract to make amends to Ms. Audrey, herself, and her family. She got back into school and finished the school year with all A’s and B’s.

The focus of Transformative Justice is to begin a journey of transformational healing for youth, families, and community by focusing on the root causes of harm (crime.) This is done by addressing generational wounds and trauma caused by societal oppression (racism, poverty, etc.) to inspire youth to empathize with survivors of crime and heal the harm they’ve caused them.

Transformative Justice also actively works to transform systems that cause harm to particular communities, especially communities of color, such as the school to prison pipeline, mass incarceration, and the prison industrial complex. VORP provided programs to 230 youth and their families in 2015. Over 90% were youth of color and 87% qualified for free or reduced lunch.

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Pictured are Conscious Real Estate clients: Zoe, Patrick, Aster, and Oriole with myself

I am incredibly grateful to Zoe, Patrick, Aster, and Oriole for choosing VORP for their Conscious Real Estate donation, so I was able to meet Angell and learn about all of the wonderful work that VORP is doing in our community to help young people. We met with them on December 31, 2015 and I couldn’t ask for a more inspiring end to my year. As we were walking out, Zoe mentioned that one of her friends had recently purchased a home from another realtor and was bragging that her realtor had given them a new security system as a closing gift. Zoe responded to her friend, “Our donation to VORP is our security system.”

“We chose to give to VORP because we have seen an increasing pattern of people of color being sent to courts and jails at early ages. VORP sees the factors that schools and courts miss, like trauma, economic, and social factors that make youth more likely to end up in the correctional system. We believe in VORP’s holistic and transformative approach to justice as well as their leadership opportunities that support young people in changing our future.”

If you would like to learn more about VORP and their programs, click here. You can volunteer or donate to VORP or “like” them on Facebook. And as always, when you purchase or sell a home with Conscious Real Estate, 10% of our commission goes to the nonprofit of your choice and we are always more than happy to donate to such wonderful causes. I hope everyone’s new year is going well. – Allison

We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that Elizabeth (Ellie) Lord has chosen to be our newest broker associate.

She is passionate. She is knowledgeable. She chose to work with us because of our philanthropic business model. Let us tell you about all things Ellie…

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Elizabeth “Ellie” Lord’s personal mission statement reads; “my purpose is to create a life that is rewarding personally as well as professionally, and in return, enhance it through active community involvement.” She lives this creed every day, and through everything she does.

  Born and raised in Seattle, Ellie grew up surrounded by an amazingly supportive family and a herd of golden retrievers. After eight years in the residential design and construction industry, she moved to Denver for graduate school at the University of Denver. With a graduate degree in real estate and construction management, and a new found love of Colorado, she reestablished her award winning design business, Elizabeth P. Lord Residential Design LLC, in Denver. In addition to her extensive experience in residential design, and her background in construction, she offers her real estate clients the opportunity to use her wealth of knowledge to achieve the maximum value out of their home in preparation of selling, or insight into making a potential house their personalized space with design advice.

In her spare time, Ellie enjoys traveling the world and thrives on experiencing new adventures. After participating in a Habitat for Humanity build in New Zealand, she chose to live a life of gratitude and has continually pursued opportunities to give back to her community. She volunteers with the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, as well as donating design services to charitable organizations. She recently purchased a condo in Wash Park, and adopted a Bernedoodle, who will be trained to become a therapy dog.

 

Well, friends, did you happen to notice that Allison failed to speak in this video?  That’s exactly what happened!  If you have met Allison, you know she is rarely at a loss for words, but she got camera-shy and failed to speak.  Curt had to do all the talking (which we didn’t mind, because he has a great message) and Kim had to jump in and save the day for Conscious Real Estate.  They both did a great job, though they may not let Allison live this one down…

We encourage you to learn more about the Art of War Project founded by Curt Bean.  This organization is spearheading some truly innovative work promoting well-being for veterans dealing with PTSD, including weekly yoga and meditation classes, as well as a variety of art classes.  The Art of War project has a monthly art show for the First Friday Art Walk and puts on a great party at the VFW Post 1 at 841 Sante Fe Drive in Denver Colorado, just a few doors down from 8th Avenue, so we encourage you to stop by and see the great work they are doing.

To learn more about Art of War and their upcoming events, you can follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Remember, each time you buy or sell a home with Conscious Real Estate, 10% of agent commissions go to the nonprofit of your choice, so you can donate to the Art of War Project with your next real estate transaction and help them continue their great work in our community. If you would like to learn more about buying or selling a home with Conscious Real Estate, please contact Allison at 303-908-9873 or allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

Greetings All!  This weekend, Kim Johnson of Faceted Media and I volunteered at the First Friday event with the Art of War Project.  While I was there, Erika Righter, owner of Hope Tank (that cool gift boutique on South Broadway, which gives a portion of EVERY item to nonprofits) introduced me to the artists of the VSA Colorado Access Gallery.

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The VSA Colorado/Access Gallery is an inclusive nonprofit organization that provides creative and educational opportunities for people with disabilities to access and experience the arts.  Each summer VSA Colorado/Access Gallery works with 15 – 20 high school students with disabilities to develop skills and strategies to increase access to economic opportunities.  I think these kids are awesome and I think you will think they’re awesome.

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A GREAT way to support these teens is through the “We Make Great Pets Project,” through which you can commission a portrait of your pet!  The goal is to develop, implement, and support arts-integrated education and employment programs for teens and young adults with disabilities.

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Commissioning a portrait of your pet is simple.  Come to the gallery at 909 Santa Fe, Denver, CO 80204.  See examples and pick three artists whose style you like.  They will make every effort to have one of your selected artists complete the piece, and for an additional fee, they can guarantee your top choice.  In two weeks, your portrait will be complete.  It’s fun for you OR it’s the perfect gift for any animal lover.

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It costs $80 for an 11 X 14 portrait of your pet.  You provide them with a photo of your pet and a deposit and the artists will begin the portrait.  You can commission any animal you choose.  The artists are encouraged to use their creative talent, so the painting will be an interpretation of your photograph.  (No refunds on commissioned paintings.)

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Find the artist that fits your pet’s flair and email them a photo!  For more information, call 303-777-0797 or email cris@accessgallery.org, you can stay updated on their events through Facebook, or if you’re feeling inspired, you can donate.  I hope you’re all having a great summer!  – Allison

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With Memorial Day coming up (and just because we love dogs), we decided that Freedom Service Dogs should most definitely be this month’s featured nonprofit. Last week, we got an exclusive tour at their facility in Englewood. It was dog-tastic and we learned a ton!

Freedom Service Dogs began with Mike Roche, a paramedic injured in the line of duty. Together, with his wife PJ, the couple trained what would be the very first Freedom Service Dog, “Oreo”, to help Mike with daily tasks.

Freedom Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs from shelters and custom training them for individual client needs.

Michael, a lucky boy who received a custom-trained dog put it this way when talking about his new best friend Fender on the Freedom Service Dogs website, “He has become my best friend and given me self confidence. He is also helping my walking. People no longer stare at me because I walk differently.  They now look at me and my dog and smile.”

Allison Parks of Conscious Real Estate started her firm in order to fulfill her two obsessions:

1) Real estate (she can’t get enough of learning about trends, eco-friendly building materials, and the rich history of Denver neighborhoods)

2) Making a difference to nonprofits like Freedom Service Dogs by donating 10% of her commissions to nonprofits of her clients’ choice after every completed home sale.

Allison says, “I like Freedom Service Dogs because it’s one of the few nonprofits that helps people and dogs.”

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Allison Parks, Conscious Real Estate Owner/Broker, with Lindsay Ganassa, FSD Development Manager and “Cargo”

The dogs are rescued from shelters and trained to become service dogs for people who otherwise would not be able to afford one. Getting a service dog trained is very costly and can cost over $25,000, and these dogs demonstrate how amazing dogs rescued from shelters can be! Also, if you have ever seen a dog work, you know how happy they are to have that opportunity. It’s truly amazing to see these dogs have a second chance at life, happily working to help the people who need them.”

Freedom Service Dogs is thriving. They have expanded by helping veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries by custom training dogs to help children as young as 12 live more comfortable lives – despite such daunting conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and more.

Noticing the extreme PTSD that military personnel were coming back with after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Freedom Service Dogs started Operation Freedom to help wounded warriors returning from traumatic conditions abroad.

Freedom Service Dogs Development Manager, Lindsay Ganassa filled us in on some of the details of the program. “Operation Freedom provides custom train service dogs to help mitigate multiple issues. Our clients might be facing PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or mobility impairment.  We can teach the dogs to perform room sweeps where they go into each room, turn on the light, scan for intruders, and signal “all clear,” which is important for flashbacks and anxiety.”

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Allison Parks, Conscious Real Estate Owner/Broker and “Cargo”

Ganassa told us that their custom-trained service dogs “can find phones in case of emergency, open and close doors, and can learn more than 50 custom commands.”

On average, Freedom Service Dogs rescues between 105-110 dogs per year. Out of that bunch, about 35 dogs are chosen to be trained as highly specialized service dogs. Those who do not make it as service dogs are adopted into forever loving homes.

There are many ways to support Freedom Service Dogs! Our favorite is buying a home with us and choosing to donate to Freedom Service Dogs through our Conscious Real Estate philanthropy program.  To date, we have had two clients select FSD after purchasing their homes and we look forward to the opportunity to multiply this number and increase our impact on this fantastic organization!

You can also attend the Ryno & Tracy’s Rally for Freedom on June 13th. Or, you can donate directly, volunteer to walk dogs, foster a service dog, or start your own fundraiser. (Think: dog wash for charity!).

For more information and to learn about all the different ways to give to Freedom Service Dogs, check out their website here.

And, if you’re thinking about purchasing a home the socially conscious way, contact Allison at Conscious Real Estate today to set up a complimentary Q&A session.

Finally, please share! The more you share, the more you care.

Check out more from our tour of the Freedom Service Dogs facility in Englewood, Colorado right here.

 

zonta-clubMary Benoit, President, Zonta Club of Denver

The Zonta Club of Denver stands up for women worldwide, seeking to improve the legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional status of women, both globally and locally. Since 1927, the group has raised over $2 million toward the cause.

Recently, the Zonta Club held a fundraiser at Sie Theater to raise awareness and highlight a brutal cultural practice that continues to this day – Sati.

In some Hindu communities, a recently widowed woman either voluntarily, or by force or coercion, commits suicide as a result of her husband’s death.

The practice varies in how it is performed and perceived, however in most cases, the woman is thought to have brought upon her husband’s death by negative actions in her previous life or lives. The thought is that if she honorably burns herself to death alongside her husband, she will erase the shame she has brought upon her family and restore abundance and good will in future reincarnations.

Sadly, many of the women are forced into this practice, leaving behind their children and suffering an unthinkable and painful demise.

sie-film-centerZonta Day of Film at Sie Theater in Denver

The Zonta Day of Film brought home this alarming practice in a fictional story of one family who is torn apart by a father’s death and a mother’s sati. Later, hope is restored when bv chance, the mother’s only son happens to find her in a cave while tending his small herd of cattle. She had escaped in the night as the flames began to engulf her and dove into the river. Together, with the help of family members, mother and son were able to escape their community and tell their tale.

Sati was formally outlawed in 1920, however the practice continues to this day. And, in 1987 was brought to the media’s attention when an 18-year-old woman committed sati in the name of her husband.

At Conscious Real Estate, we are committed to giving back to organizations like Zonta Club. We donate 10% of our own commission to a non-profit of our client’s choice. We’d love for you to consider Zonta Club of Denver and also to spread the word about Conscious Group. Together, we can make an impact.

To set up a free consultation with one of our realtors, please email: allison@theconsciousgroup.com or kim@theconsciousgroup.com or, call us at 303-908-9873 and mention this article!

For more information about the Zonta Club of Denver, please visit: www.zonta-denver.org.

The Hope House of Colorado really does bring hope to young women, especially 16 – 21 who often lack resource provided to pregnant teens and low-income women.

hope-houseSara Littlejohn (left) of Hope House and Kim Johnson of Conscious Real Estate

I found out from a recent tour of Hope House that there aren’t many programs to help teen moms after they give birth. Hope House seeks to provide them not only with outstanding resources, but also a sense of family, community, and strength.

There are two parts to Hope House. One is the residential center where teen moms and their children actually live. I was shocked (utterly surprised!) to find out how much Hope House cares about the girls down to the smallest, special, important details. They actually interview them ahead of time to get a sense of their style and then paint and decorate their rooms based on that interview.

Hope House offers teen moms lots of in-kind donations like diapers, clothes and toys for their children

The moms get their own rooms and their child gets his or her own nursery. It’s not clinical feeling or looking like some would expect. It’s homey, it’s safe, and Hope House makes it theirs.

Hope House also has a separate building, a few miles away, which holds the development and program team. There, teen moms in the Hope House program can get childcare, a meal or snack, activities for bonding (think: pedicure and movie nights!), as well as help with resumes, classes on how to carry yourself in an interview, and free GED assistance (so awesome!).

The GED program is a huge cornerstone of Hope House’s offerings. One of the many goals of the organization is to help the girls and women graduate high school, go to college, or find a career. The ultimate goal is to help these women and girls become self-sufficient and off government assistance.hope-house-2Hope House offers daycare and early learning classes for kids of teen moms in the program

Hope House recently won a substantial grant which allows them to build on a plot of land they had purchased in the same block as the residential program. With help from the grant and donors, Hope House will soon be able to combine both sides of their organization and help even more teen moms become confident, self-sufficient women.

At Conscious Real Estate, we know how important donors are to the health and stability of a non-profit. That’s why we’re committed to donating 10% of every commission when we sell a home to a non-profit or charity of our client’s choice.

We want to urge donors of Hope House to consider us for their real estate needs. The impact is huge. We can help together!

To set up a free consultation, just call us at 303.908.9873 or email us! Expert Realtor, Allison Parks can be reached at allison@consciousgroup.com and Kim Johnson, Sidekick Do-Gooder Extraordinaire, can be reached at kim@theconsciousgroup.com.

We also want to urge our clients to consider Hope House as their beneficiary of choice. Donations from our home sales average between $500 – $2500 (of OUR money, not yours!).

Curious about the impact you could make?

$80 = Counseling (one professional session for a teen mom or child)

$79 = Bus Pass (one-month bus pass for a teen mom)

$125 = GED Test (covers the government fees for GED certification)

$50 = Computer needs (covers Hope House’s computer, IT, & software needs)

$25 = Educational Software

$100 = Glasses (Help a teen mom cover vision costs)

$500 = New Tires (Self-sufficiency requires reliable transportation)

$30 = Prepare a teen mom for her first day of work

$75/$300 = Groceries (Feed a teen mom and her child)

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Conscious Real Estate is proud to announce a partnership with Denver nonprofit, Work Options for Women.  WOW is an innovative nonprofit designed to help impoverished women gain the skills and confidence they need to work their way out of poverty and become gainfully and permanently employed in the food service industry.  Since 1997, this organization has been using food to change lives.

Take a peek.

There are a lot of great way you can support this organization:

-You can donate.

-You can dine at Cafe Options located at 1650 Curtis Street in downtown Denver.

-You can take cooking classes with acclaimed Denver chefs for which 100% of your ticket price goes to WOW

-You can attend their 10th annual Women Cook event on May 5th, 2014, featuring a dinner prepared by an amazing list of renowned Denver women chefs.

-You can follow WOW on Facebook or Twitter.

And of course, when you buy or sell your home with Conscious Real Estate, we donate 10% of all commissions to the nonprofit of our clients’ choice, and you can choose to donate to WOW!  Call Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

Conscious Real Estate is pleased to announce a partnership with Denver-based nonprofit, S.O.U.L. (Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn.)

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S.O.U.L was founded by Brooke Stern and her father, Kenneth Stern, who set out on a backpacking trip through eastern Africa in 2009. After spending just 5 days in poverty-stricken Bujagali Falls, Brooke’s idea of creating a not-for-profit foundation devoted to helping the impoverished Ugandan community began to take shape. In reflecting on her first visit to Uganda, Brooke states, “In the village we saw hunger but we also saw thirst: thirst for knowledge, thirst for a better tomorrow, thirst for the opportunity to lift themselves out of gripping poverty.”

Brooke returned to Uganda one month after her initial life-changing visit. She immersed herself in the culture and community for 13 months.  Like her village neighbors, she lived without electricity, hot water, or the comforts of modern society.  She devoted this first year to listening to and learning from the villagers before she realized that the most effective soul-ution for the community would involve accessibility to education. Shortly after that, S.O.U.L. Foundation was born.

S.O.U.L. believes that education is the foundation upon which Uganda will build a stable and prosperous future. Families already struggling within the cycle of subsistence living must pay school fees for every child seeking an education.  Often these fees are beyond their means, and as a result, children with motivation and academic potential never see the inside of a classroom.

S.O.U.L. Foundation focuses on creating partnerships with families through a shared approach to learning. To achieve this goal, S.O.U.L. created its Education Program. The foundation contributes 50% of tuition and book fees as well as a daily school lunch for each sponsored student. This provides scholastic opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach while keeping families invested in the academic success of their children.

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S.O.U.L. Foundation envisions a world free of extreme poverty and chronic hunger, where people have the economic means to sustain their families. Their Village Business Cooperatives are designed to increase villager’s incomes in a sustainable way, thus allowing the rural poor to meet their families’ basic needs while creating additional income that brings the dream of education and upward mobility within reach.

You may donate to S.O.U.L., get involved, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

When you buy or sell a home with Conscious Real Estate, you may choose to donate 10% of your agent’s commission to S.O.U.L.

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Conscious Real Estate is pleased to announce a partnership with the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund.  The mission of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) is to reach underserved women of Northern Uganda through economic, social, and political programs.  Implementing grassroots strategies, marginalized women are given the tools necessary to alleviate poverty thus facilitating sustainable development and empowerment.

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Women’s Global Empowerment Fund was founded upon the belief that microcredit loans, when bundled with educational programming, can build social capital and increase the potential for women’s empowerment and success.  Clients invest their loans in activities in which they are already skilled – such as farming, food processing and selling, raising chickens and livestock, operating a shop, tailoring, construction, restaurants and tourism. Each borrower must earn enough to pay back their loan with interest, participate in the savings program, and have enough to purchase necessities. When the first loan is successfully repaid, the borrower is eligible to apply for a second loan to expand her business.

Women’s Global Empowerment Fund, in partnership with Literacy Aid Uganda, has developed a program that is relevant and responsive to the educational needs of their clients. When a woman learns to read and write, possibilities and opportunities are created.  To date, WGEF has provided over literacy opportunities to over 600 women.  In 2011, WGEF had 5 clients run in political races, with 3 successfully taking office.

WGEF clients have experienced empowerment, gained leadership skills, understanding of advocacy, legislative participation and policy development. Women in the program are leading in their communities, speaking out on important issues, advocating for women and families, challenging their leaders and community members to do better, moving their communities forward. Through relevant and meaningful programs, this nonprofit has been able to offer women critical knowledge to transform their communities, creating a brighter and more secure future for themselves , their families, region and nation.

If you would like to donate to WGEF, click here.  If you would like to volunteer with WGEF, call:  303-520-7656 or email: info@wgefund.org.  You may also follow WGEF on Facebook or Twitter.

Remember, whenever you buy or sell your home with Conscious Real Estate, you can choose to have your real estate agent contribute 10% of their commission to WGEF!