Giving thanks: Residents across the Denver metro area share what they're thankful for

Area residents talk about their gratitude for their families, friends, school — and simply being alive


Whether it’s simply giving thanks or the Thanksgiving holiday, gratitude has special meaning this time of year.

No matter what their age, area residents are thankful for everything from family and friends to having a roof over their heads to enjoying life.

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

Eckhart Tolle

Gratitude is important for everyone, according to Heather Aberg of Evergreen, the founder of Resilience1220, an organization that provides counseling to teens.

“I would encourage people in our world today to make that a real cornerstone of their focus,” Aberg said. “Gratitude allows us to grow, adapt and change.”

She noted that people, especially during the pandemic, focused on the negative, when there are things to be thankful for. It’s important to count blessings in life, she said.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more.”

Melody Beattie

No one knows more about gratitude than those living at Elk Run Assisted Living in Evergreen, where residents happily talk about the good things in their lives. They sat in the lobby to discuss what they were thankful for, and it had nothing to do with possession and everything to do with family and friends — and still being alive.

“I thank God every day that I’m on this side of dirt,” said Bettie Lynn Walden, who believes in making others laugh every day, “and I have a place to live on this side of dirt.”

Her friends laughed and agreed with her sentiment.

Resident Steve Kurland added that he was thankful for having a place like Elk Run to live and having family close by who visit. Several residents added that they were thankful for their families, especially their grandchildren.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

At the West Metro Chamber of Commerce based in Lakewood, Erin Acheson was optimistic that small businesses and nonprofits were recovering after closures during the pandemic, and personally, she was thankful for her new job as the chamber’s director of member engagement. She called the position a new opportunity both personally and professionally after months during the pandemic when she didn’t work.

Volunteers and patrons at the Golden Visitors Center said they were grateful for their health, the beautiful fall weather and the opportunity to live in a wonderful place like Golden.

“I love working here,” said Ron Bettinger, who is a Golden native. “I get to meet all kinds of people from all over the county and the world.”

Charlene Pazar, a 55-year Golden resident, is thankful for dance, even when dance groups have met while wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

At the Wheat Ridge headquarters of Family Tree, a nonprofit that helps combat homelessness, child abuse and domestic violence, both the executive director and chief development officer were thankful to serve the community and grateful for the support they have received to achieve Family Tree’s mission.

“I’ve had the privilege to serve in this role and in the community,” Executive Director Scott Shields said, with Chief Development Officer Katherine Lawson adding that the volunteers, donors and the community have been phenomenal in helping the nonprofit’s clients.

“This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.”

Maya Angelou

Third graders at King-Murphy Elementary School in Clear Creek County agreed they were thankful for typical things such as family, friends and pets. Third grader Edith said she was thankful for her home, food and all the things her family has, while Alice added that she is grateful for everything her family does for her, plus her house and Halloween.

Some of the students were thankful for something not-so-typical: being back in school with their friends. Drew and Paityn were happy they were no longer learning remotely.

Likewise, middle schoolers at Two Roads Charter School in Arvada were especially thankful for their school, where they said the teachers took a special interest in them and where extracurricular programs including sports were available.

“This school really inspires me,” said seventh grader Devon Fallis. “There are a lot of nice people here.”

Seventh grader Leila Evanetich said she felt she has help in both her education and mental health, making her feel like she’s not alone.

In addition, high school students at STEM School Highlands Ranch were thankful for the community at the school, helping them navigate their education and prepare for college.

Senior Isabelle McCall said she was grateful for the teachers who put so much effort into classes and extracurricular activities, working to make students feel safe so they can learn.

Senior Sarah Braunschweig added that her amazing friends have supported her through school, college selection and her life.

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”


Twins Mischa and Zoe Dvoretsky, both STEM School juniors, said in unison that they were grateful for each other. They also are thankful for their family and friends who have been strong support groups.

“If it wasn’t for my friends and family, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Zoe said.

Mischa was more philosophical, noting that people should appreciate that they get up every day, and they have the ability to do what may seem like mundane activities.

“Not everyone gets that opportunity,” she said. “People should realize what they have. They get to breathe fresh air and enjoy every day with the people they love.”

thankfulness, Deb Hurley Brobst


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