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April 13, 2020
Since moving from Denver’s tech center to an office on Zuni Street in the city’s Sun Valley neighborhood, our team has been getting to know our new neighbors and working to build relationships and trust through hyper-local service and outreach efforts.
Through our ongoing partnerships with Sun Valley Youth Center, Sun Valley Kitchen, and the Greenway Foundation, we are focused on empowering young people, supporting and feeding individuals and families, and improving the health of our shared environment.
“We’re doing a big cleanup at the Sun Valley Youth Center at the end of the year and we’re going to help them with some building projects as well, said Chloe Bennion, a senior specialist with the Community and Citizenship program, noting that its uniquely satisfying when the team has a chance to give back using their professional skills and expertise. “Our volunteers can do anything, of course, but there’s something special about giving back by doing building and construction work, especially when we have the chance to engage with students and young folks.”
The Sun Valley Youth Center offers a huge range of after-school and summer programming for students of all ages, providing meals, services, and support related to everything from social and life skills to homework and academic development, to sports and the arts.
“We created a garden in front of our Zuni Street office where we grow all kinds of herbs and even some veggies that we donate to the Sun Valley Kitchen,” said Chloe, explaining that herbs “We built the garden beds for Founders’ Day right after we moved in and we’ve adjusted our plantings a few times based on feedback from the community on what they want and need most.”
The Sun Valley Kitchen and Community Center provides no-cost groceries and hot meals – and much more – to kids, families, and the community.
“Our team has volunteered a couple of times on cleanup days along the South Platte River,” said Chloe, adding that the office is also restocking the river with native fish species and sponsoring a fishing derby fundraiser to benefit further care and conservation efforts. “It’s catch and release of course,” she added. “We’re wishing the nearly 100 anglers the best of luck!”
The Greenway Foundation takes care of the South Platte River and works to cultivate safe and ecologically healthy places along its banks for neighbors and visitors alike to gather, play, fish, and explore.
Though it can be tempting to think of Sun Valley and other historically under-resourced neighborhoods as up-and-coming when outside companies like ours begin to move in and launch huge development projects – Turner is involved with the River Mile development, for example – it is important to reflect with clear eyes on our role in the evolution of each place we work.
“We have to recognize that we are, inevitably, part of a wave of gentrification. And that our very presence in this neighborhood can be complicated, even when our intentions are good and our hearts are in the right place,” said Chloe. “Even when we as individuals are doing our best to listen and be of service, we have to respect and hold space for the hyper local cultures and communities that were here first.”