Empower associates stand side by side after working at Denver Day of Service 2021

A “day” to remember: Citywide event brings out best in associates

Jun 14, 2021
Empower Features

They don’t call it the Mile High City for nothing.

So, when it comes to giving back, it’s no surprise that Empower associates always go “above” and beyond to strengthen their community.

During the third annual Denver Day of Service on June 4, Empower employees once again rose to the occasion — and, of course, “elevated” their game — to make a positive difference where they live, work and play. The event, which is hosted by the Denver Broncos and the Mile High United Way, featured dozens of in-person and virtual opportunities that brought people together from across the metro area to lend a collective hand to those in need. In all, associates stepped up to pitch in at 15 nonprofit organizations.

Empower also partnered closely with the Broncos to increase participation and promote the various activities.

“The turnout was amazing,” said Angie Ruddell, engagement and corporate social responsibility manager. “It was an awesome day, filled with great energy and enthusiasm. There was something for everyone.”

From providing meals to building homes to helping kids, the unique passions and purposes were on center stage, too.

Some of the local establishments that had employees on-site for volunteer shifts included Food Bank of the Rockies, Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Hospital Colorado and UCHealth. There were also colleagues at the Women’s Bean Project, the Comitis Crisis Center and the Denver Inner City Parish, among many others.

“We all have different interests that speak to our hearts,” Ruddell said. “That’s the cool thing about this effort — there are so many wonderful causes to choose from, rally around and support. It’s an easy way to get involved.”

For Ashley Hofwolt, while her alarm clock went off at 4:45 a.m. on June 4, the early wakeup call was well worth it.

Hofwolt, vice president of client services, took part in her first-ever Denver Day of Service last Friday morning by handing out breakfast to folks at the Denver Rescue Mission. The shelter, which opened in 1892, provides people suffering from homelessness, poverty and addiction with essential skills and resources for returning to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.” In Hofwolt’s case, she served at a nearby facility that specifically focuses on helping individuals and families transition into long-term housing.

“It was fun to help out,” said Hofwolt, who was joined by Rob Dwyer, vice president of government markets. “Everyone was so polite and so gracious. These are people who have been through a lot in their lives, but they’re just like you and me. I really enjoyed meeting them and listening to some of their stories.”

In fact, one man who assisted Hofwolt with the food line shared the trials and tribulations he’s endured along his journey. He had been in and out of the critical treatment programs at the Denver Rescue Mission before taking the necessary steps to recover and get back on his feet. Now, all of the changes he’s made to turn his life around are paying off, Hofwolt said, as he recently landed a permanent job.  

“He was the nicest guy,” Hofwolt said. “Talking with him, and hearing how excited he was about his future, put so many things into perspective for me. He’s worked so hard to reach this point. It was heartwarming to see.”

To Sara Giardini, the Denver Day of Service was full of heartwarming experiences, too, at Make-a-Wish Colorado.

Make-a-Wish Colorado, which was founded in 1983, provides sick children with magical moments to help make their dreams come true. You name it, they grant it. For the local chapter, that could mean raising money to present trips, gifts and other surprises. “They give kids so much hope and joy,” Giardini said.

Giardini, a client service manager, spent the afternoon cleaning and organizing the foundation’s infamous toy room, which “was completely packed with stuff.” When critically ill children visit the Make-a-Wish Colorado campus to submit their wish, they’re able to select a special prize before they leave. Giardini helped straighten and separate everything from princess dolls to sports balls to board games. 

“The best part was, I knew that what we were doing would benefit so many innocent kids who are struggling,” said Giardini, who was accompanied by several other Empower employees. “Now it’ll be easier for them to pick out something that will put a smile on their face. It feels good to make them happy.”

As for the Denver Day of Service itself, this was also Giardini’s first time participating, but it definitely won’t be her last.

“I felt very connected,” Giardini said. 

“When you realize that hundreds of people from around the city are doing something meaningful at the same moment, wow, that’s pretty sweet,” she added. “I loved that everyone teamed up to make a huge impact.”