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THORNTON — Veronica Cordova was honored April 17 with the 2014 Mary Ciancio Memorial Distinguished Service Award for her 40 years of extensive volunteering near her home in unincorporated Adams County. 

The award was presented at a dinner hosted by Community Reach Center at Stonebrook Manor in Thornton. 


Cordova started volunteering when she was 17 years old, helping children learn to read. She currently volunteers 18 hours weekly at food banks, driving food to people in need, and for six years has volunteered at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office Operation Free Bird program, cooking more than 4,000 hot dogs for attendees.

Last Christmas she made more than 148 Christmas stockings for children at Pioneer Village Mobile Home Park, and finished filling them with goodies she purchased when the donated items ran out.

As a community activist, Cordova has helped Hyland Hills Park & Recreation District with many projects, including building the Jim Baker Community Center playground. She is a founder of Goat Hill Neighborhood Group, helping that neighborhood develop paved streets, sidewalks and gutters.

“Wherever help is needed, Veronica is there,” said Gloria Rudden, a friend and fellow community advocate who nominated Cordova for the award. “Not only does she deliver food, she delivers hope.” 

“Ms. Cordova knows her community and how to help. Whether for a child, a senior, a family or an organization, you can count on her to be there,” acknowledged Rick Doucet, CEO at Community Reach Center. “The number of years she has served as a volunteer (more than four decades), along with the quantity and quality of her work made her the perfect Mary Ciancio Award recipient this year.”

Other Adams County residents recognized for their extensive volunteering efforts include Juanita Brito of Thornton, Bob Duensing of Thornton, Joan Kniss of Brighton, and Anita Mercado of Commerce City.

Earlier in the evening, Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr was given the 2014 Marjory Ball Mental Health Advocacy Award for his commitment to improving access to mental-health services in Adams County. 

“Sheriff Darr has collaborated with multiple county agencies to create programs that support folks with compromised mental health, and also supported important training for law enforcement officers regarding the realities of mental illness. He partnered with Community Reach and the 17th Judicial District to create the Community Engagement Supervision & Evaluation Program (CESE), which focuses on diverting non-violent, mentally ill offenders out of the jail system and into intensive treatment and community-based supervision,” said Doucet. “Thanks to Sheriff Darr’s support and leadership, hundreds of offenders have successfully completed the program since its start in 2007. Fewer than 7 percent have re-offended.”

The Mary Ciancio Memorial Distinguished Service Award honors the memory of Mary Ciancio, an extraordinary community volunteer who championed mental-health care in Adams County. Her efforts benefited thousands of Adams County residents living with mental and physical challenges. Community Reach Center’s Thornton office is named in honor of Mary Ciancio. This prestigious award has been presented annually to an outstanding Adams County volunteer by the Community Reach Center Foundation Board since 1980.

The Marjory Ball Mental Health Advocacy Award was created in 2007 to commemorate former Board Member Marjory Ball’s role as a major advocate for individuals living with mental health challenges. This award recognizes outstanding individuals in our community who follow Marge’s excellent example of advocating on behalf of challenged individuals in need of help. Ball died in December at the age of 93.

To learn more about Community Reach Center and the services provided by the community mental-health nonprofit, visit www.CommunityReachCenter.org or call 303-853-3500.