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Arvada City Council held a business meeting on Jan. 24, with most council members returning to the dais after weeks of discussing how to hold meetings in light of the recent Jefferson County Public Health Department mask mandate.

Council recognized the Northwest Metro Business and Professional Women’s Organization’s 2021 Woman of the Year and discussed the recent Arvada Resiliency Taskforce’s gift card drive to benefit victims of the Marshall Fire.

Councilmember Bob Fifer attended the meeting via Zoom because of a persistent cough, while Councilmember John Marriott Zoomed in due to not being in compliance with JCPH’s order.

Woman of the Year

City council recognized Arvada resident Shelley Long for earning the Northwest Metro Business and Professional Women’s Organization’s 2021 Woman of the Year award.

Long is the co-founder of Grace Church, a congregation in Arvada that works to aid people without housing. In 2016, Long started the Facebook group One By One Helping Arvada Homeless, which now has over 2,400 members.

In 2020, One By One Helping Arvada Homeless raised and paid for 322 hotel nights for 71 different individuals, costing nearly $20,000 and providing shelter on sever weather nights.

“Tonight, we recognize a truly phenomenal member of the community for the work she’s done,” Councilmember Lauren Simpson said. “City council would like to thank Shelley for her work in our community.”

Long said she felt humbled by the award and emphasized her love of working with people in need.

“I am very grateful and thankful and feel very undeserving, honestly. There are so many amazing organizations in our community and people who are doing so much more. it’s a privilege to get to meet people on this level and just see the power of people improving their lives,” Long said.

Long said her favorite part of her work was being able to see the progress of the individuals she serves.

One family Long has worked with since the early days of One By One sought out the organization when they were homeless and living in a dilapidated van in the King Soopers parking lot at 64th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard.

Long said that when she first started working with the couple, one was two weeks clean from a meth addiction and the other had been in and out of prison for drug0related offenses.

“Fast forward, they’re clean, they own their own business — a towing company — they’ve remodeled a Coachman they live in on his parent’s property. They had 30k in the bank through all the principles they learned from One By One and this budgeting process they paid off all of their bills, his court fines, they both work consistently,” Long said.

“And it’s a tearful thing to sit and watch people, by their own hard work and a little bit of encouragement from the community step forward and make those kinds of dramatic changes,” Long continued. “And we get to see that over and over.”

Arvada Mayor Marc Williams thanked long for her contributions to the community and for sharing her story.

“Thank you for your hard work and for sharing that great success story,” Williams said. “That’s what keeps us going, is those kinds of success stories.”

Gift Cards

In response to the Marshall Fire, the Arvada Resiliency Taskforce set up a gift card drive to provide aid for those who have been affected. The drive was initially slated to run from Jan. 3 to 14, but due to the outpouring of support, it will continue for the next few weeks.

Simpson said that the drive has raised about $65,000 so far but added that the taskforce’s nonprofit partner in the fundraiser said they were going through about $10-20,000 in gift cards a day to support victims of the fire.

Simpson said that donations can still be made at the Arvada Chamber of Commerce offices.

“Huge personal thank you from myself and Councilmember (Lisa) Smith for the support this community delivered for the gift card drive that we did,” Simpson said. “If you are still inclined to donate, the box at the Arvada Chamber of Commerce offices at 7305 Grandview (Avenue) in Olde town will stay open for a couple of weeks to get those late donations in and they go to a really good cause.”

Williams commended Simpson and Smith for their role in heading up the fundraiser.

“I want to commend both Lauren and Lisa for taking the bull by the horns on this issue and really showing how caring Arvada is and really led the entire metro area in terms of its recognition of the plight of our neighbors to the north, so thank you both for your tremendous work,” Williams said.

Recent passings

Williams recognized two community members who have recently passed away; Lauri Dannemiller and Duane Whisler.

Dannemiller was the executive director of the Apex Parks and Recreation District for over six years, and died from cancer on Jan. 16 at the age of 60.

Williams recalled Dannemiller’s enthusiastic attitude and her accomplishments with Apex, which include passing a $25 million bond and getting the Fitzmorris Recreation Center, Secrest Recreation Center and Apex Tennis Center built.

“She did an incredible job on (Apex) when she was here. We got some great projects and we’ll always have fond memories of Lauri at various ribbon cuttings and diving into swimming pools and things of that nature for the great projects we partnered on,” Williams said.

Whisler died on Jan. 12 and was a realtor and football coach in the local area.

“Someone who I considered an institution in Arvada for many years, Duane Whistler, who was a realtor in Arvada for many years. (Whisler was) very involved in the community and was a coach and coached many, many students as a line coach in football and was a classic individual who gave back to his community in so many ways,” Williams said.

The next Arvada City Council meeting will be on Feb. 7.