Sharon Montgomery

Chambers of Commerce 2018 Award Winners

If Evergreen and Conifer had anything to brag about and get just a little giddy, it is the extraordinary residents that offer everything you need to live. But it's more than that isn't it? Hey, we all love creature comforts, good food and great deals, but what makes the Mountain Towns unique is...heart. Loyalty and Commitment-Driven relationships that foster community.

If you've lived here long enough, you have probably experienced families and neighbors coming together for a good cause. Well that takes more than just showing up. It takes getting involved. It takes dedication, hard work, and … moxie. You know, Moxie. A force of character, determination and sheer nerve. Take a look at the Evergreen and Conifer Chambers of Commerce Award Winners this year for the best local examples.

Each year the Chambers recognize the extraordinary folks you see every day who make a difference in our mountain town communities.

These are the people who show up to help when you need it. Who organize and host the events for you and your families to get out and enjoy your community. Meet this year's winners. If you're in their area of town, stop by to say hello.


Leader of the Year Winner - Eric Gill 

If you have ever met Eric you would probably say that his positivity and openness are what really stands out about him, and so it's no surprise that he has taken the Leader of the Year award. Eric is co-owner of family-run Bear Paw Rentals, where he helps people new to the Evergreen area integrate into the community with rental homes.

This is a passion for Eric and it really shows with the personal touch he gives to all his clients. Through Bear Paw Rentals, he provides homes for people to alleviate some of the stress of moving and get people rooted in the community. Eric is a go-getter and jack-of-all-trades. He will answer the phone and show up to do whatever needs to be done.

But he doesn't stop there. He is all about giving back to his community. A member of the Rotary for over twenty years, Eric has instigated Main Street Clean Up Day, an event where volunteers gather to pull weeds, pick up litter, and beautify Evergreen. He is dedicated to making Evergreen a community that locals can be proud to be a part of. The next Main Street Clean Up Day will be May 9th, 2018. Volunteers will meet at the Baskin-Robbins on Main St, and then divide and conquer! It will start at 8am and runs until 11am. So this is a fantastic opportunity to you to bring the family and make your world a better place..

Nonprofit of the Year Winner - Evergreen Animal Protective League (EAPL) 

If you're like me you understand just how awesome animals are. Our pets are our family members. And it's the people like The Evergreen Animal Protective League that make our community a better place by saving the animals in your towns. The EAPL began in 1981 when a handful of people set out to save the animals of the Evergreen area. EAPL's mission is to educate the population about their pets and save ALL breeds. They help all kinds of dogs, cats, horses, goats, reptiles, and even guinea pigs and truly seek to save lives. Instead of choosing the cute, fluffy, easily adoptable puppy, they foster the scarred dog that isn't conventionally pretty and might be euthanized in the next hour.

EAPL is excited about a recent grant they received to treat heartworm positive dogs because this is usually a death sentence for these animals. The treatment itself is expensive and requires three months of rest – something most animal facilities can't afford. This grant allows EAPL to save more lives.

Along with fostering, EAPL helps families in need feed their pets and arranges urgent vet visits. They also love meeting with groups of kids to teach them about different pets, their care, and the importance of spaying and neutering.

Most of EAPL's funding comes from Bruno's Annual Birthday Bash. This year's celebrations will include food, bands, silent auctions, and more. Join EAPL and Bruno June 2nd at the Lariat Lodge Brewing Company for a good time and for the animals.

Volunteer of the Year Winner - Dave Montesi 

How many people can say they have actually saved a life? Dave Montesi has made it his mission to help others do just that. Dave believes every person in Evergreen is capable of saving a life. He started Evergreen Public Access Defibrillation to teach the community CPR, how to use a defibrillator, and where Evergreen's AEDs are located. Because Evergreen is rural, it can take emergency personnel longer to reach people in need, and when a heart has stopped, or an airway is blocked, every second literally matters. For free Dave teaches a scheduled, public class and three to four private classes monthly. Sometimes heroes are the hero makers.

Dave's efforts have already saved five lives in Evergreen. The first was a twelve-year-old boy whose heart stopped after being hit in the chest with a baseball. He still lives and works in the area. Another person was saved after choking on a potato. What Dave really wants the Evergreen community to know is not only CPR but the location of Evergreen's defibrillators. He wants you to continue saving lives.

Dave's Evergreen Public Access Defibrillation is funded by their annual golf tournament. This year's tournament will be held June 4th at the Hiwan Golf Club. So dust off your clubs and get ready to play for a great cause.

Ambassador of the Year Winner - Penny Randell 

This was Penny Randell's third nomination for Ambassador of the Year, proving she is dedicated to Evergreen year after year. She is passionate about the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce and shows up to ribbon cuttings, assist with community outreach, and help Evergreen businesses flourish.

Penny lives the saying "We're all in it together." Through the Chamber, she connects local businesses to give them the opportunity to partner with and help each other. By writing biographies, articles, and interviews, she showcases the people and businesses of Evergreen to let them shine.

Penny is also an international volunteer. This summer will be her seventh trip to Africa to help Ugandan women and their family units. To teach other travels, she gathered her African experiences into the book Becoming African: The First Three Years.

Young Professional of the Year Winner - Caitlyn Dunbar 

Be ready to be wow'd by this young powerhouse. Caitlyn Dunbar in a member of the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce board and coaches the ambassador team. With her guidance, ambassadors partner with new Chamber members to make introductions and help them get the most out of the Chamber. She's been a member of the Chamber ever since she became an Edward Jones Financial Advisor, and through them, she learned how to become and maintain a successful business.

Caitlyn loves helping people work towards their goals, whether that's saving for a child's education, reducing taxes, or planning for retirement. She likes living and working in the same community, so she can see her efforts to help people pay off. Her joy is your joy.

In 2016, she won the Edward Jones Zeke McIntyre Pioneer Award, an award given to financial advisors with outstanding performance early their careers. When you need someone to make sense of your financial situation, stop by and say hi to Caitlyn. You'll be glad you did. Her office is located at 30792 Southview Drive, Suite 100, Evergreen, CO 80439.

Youth of the Year Winner - Alexa Brown 

Speaking of Moxie, Alexa Brown, volunteers with the National Charity League through which she works with Evergreen Players, Evergreen Downtown Business Association, EAPL, Drive Smart, and Mount Evans Hospice. She also coaches the Pirates youth cross-country program and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Alexa's recent mission has been to start a positivity movement where her peers could share messages of motivation and confidence, so with her mom, she created Moxie and Moxie Jr. Their website stands for nerve, courage, and tenacity. She posts weekly to combat negativity and bring positive, inspirational messages to the Evergreen community and beyond.

Extremely active, Alexa has visited over twenty countries, swam with elephants in Thailand, and sky dived over a volcano in Chili with her family. She loves the community, outdoors, and food in Evergreen.

Lifetime Ambassador (Special Award) Winner - John Ellis 

John Ellis is a local boy who had done his community proud. Born and raised in Evergreen, he has always been involved in the community. He says back in the 60's people did everything together. High schoolers played multiple sports and participated in school plays and sang in the choir and so on. Community involvement was instilled in him then and carried over into his time as ad director for the newspaper and director of community relations for the bank.

It's no surprise to us that John was awarded the Lifetime Ambassador Award. He has been a member of multiple community groups and enjoys acting as a liaison, and being the guy to make connections between people. He particularly enjoys working with groups geared toward kids because he knows they are the next community leaders and members. Through his efforts, he hopes Evergreen's youth will remember and return to their home after college and give back to their communities.

John wants to thank everyone for helping him and his groups over the years and ask people to stay involved in their community. He knows every little bit counts.


Rookie Business of the Year Winner - Scooters Smokehouse and Grill 

If you are ever in Conifer and you find yourself immersed in the hickory sweet good smells of delicious BBQ, you have found our Rookie Business of the year, Scooters Smokehouse and Grill. The Smokehouse began as Mike and Kathy Barnett's dream to travel the area smoking and serving meats. So they moved forward in making their dream come true and they bought a trailer and the rest was history.

Eight months ago they expanded their dream to include a brick and mortar restaurant in Conifer and continue to use the trailer for weddings, adversaries, and breweries. They love providing another food option, so locals don't have to travel to Denver for variety.

One of Mike and Kathy's favorite ways to give back to the Conifer community is by hosting fundraisers for local schools at Scooters Smokehouse and Grill. They were very happy with the turnout for the recent Deer Creek fundraiser and are looking forward to hosting another group in April. The fun never ends at the Smokehouse! Mike and Kathy enjoy meeting new people and connecting with the community through these events.

In need of a culture fix? Scooters Smokehouse and Grill offers live music from local musicians. The couple wants to shine a light on local talent and create a space for people to gather, have a good time, and enjoy a smoked meat, fish, or something from their American grill. For them it's more than just good food. It's about connections.

They are located at 11825 US Highway 285, Conifer, Colorado 80433. Stop in and enjoy a delicious meal and fun conversation.

Home-Based Business of the Year Winner - The Fairy Dust Mother 

We can't think of a better choice for the Home-Based Business of the year. I mean, who doesn't love someone (not you) cleaning their house? The Fairy Dust Mother offers honest, reliable, and reputable cleaners to the Conifer area. Owner Jane Parker is proud of the people who want to clean for The Fairy Dust Mother because they are amazing people that she considers the cream of the crop and excellent cleaners. Something to be proud of.

Jane is an essential part of the Conifer Area Chamber of Commerce team. She can be found assisting at monthly breakfasts, mixers, and training classes and helping new members get the most for their membership as an ambassador.

She shared that her absolute favorite event to help with is the Adopt a Highway Clean-Up. She got to know some of her favorite people while picking up trash and says when you spend a couple hours walking the highway you really have an opportunity to bond with each other. If you see Jane around town, don't forget to thank her for your clean roadsides.

Jane and the other Fairy Dust Mothers love working for Conifer residents because they feel appreciated and get to provide their friends and neighbors that little bit of extra time to spend with their kids or pet or spouse.

Business of the Year Winner - Macaroni Kid: Evergreen-Bailey-Conifer 

Julie Dikken is passionate about the families in her community. Period. She started Macaroni Kid: Evergreen-Bailey-Conifer as something to do in tandem with Evergreen's Jazzercise, but she quickly realized the newsletter was her true passion. She feels connecting moms and creating a family-oriented community is what she was meant to do.

Macaroni Kid is a landing place for moms to connect and find events to entertain and educate their families in the area. Julie knows mom-to-mom connection is key to combating the isolation motherhood can bring. Macaroni Kid provides an avenue for moms to build their community and help integrate families new to the area.

Happy it's become a community resource, Julie strives to make the newsletter feel like a chat and recommendation from a close friend. Macaroni Kid is sent out every Thursday, and you can subscribe at

Non-Profit of the Year Winner - Conifer Community Church 

Let's talk about the Conifer Non-Profit of the Year Award. Start with an organization that is dedicated to helping their community flourish. Conifer Community Church partners with other organizations in the area, and are able to provide resources and a positive environment for Conifer.

This year they handed out 100 cords of firewood to families in need with the help of the Mountain Resource Center, helped start a backpack project that ensured that all kids will have snacks and food for the weekend, and built a Christmas light show for the enjoyment of the community, among other things.

If that wasn't enough,did you know that Conifer Community Church is also happy to provide the use of their facilities to the community free of charge? They currently host The Conifer Chamber of Commerce, AA meetings, the Salvation Army, a bridge club, and a scout troop. In the near future, they are hoping to partner with others and expand their campus to address some of the needs brought to their attention through a recent survey.

Inspired by how God sent Jesus to move into and improve the world, Conifer Community Church seeks to improve their neighborhood by working with others to create a community Conifer can be proud of.

Ambassador of the Year Winner - Karen Heydman 

What does it take to win the Conifer Ambassador of the Year Award? As a Conifer Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, Karen Heydman's mission is to be the engaging and outgoing face of the Chamber. She does this by volunteering at and showing up to most of the Chambers fun and quirky programs with her husband. Together, they love meeting people and handing out cold beers in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter.

When Karen returned to the Chamber as a new realtor, she was delighted by the warm welcome, the familiar faces, and how the Chamber helped broadcast her new business. The Chamber helped her grow organically and now she gets to help other local businesses in the same way. Karen is also happy to be the Chamber's go-to graphic designer for posters and other advertising needs because it allows her to use the skills and creativity she honed in a previous career.

Norman F. Meyer Award Winner - Yvonne Ludwig 

To preserve Conifer's valuable historic resources, Yvonne Ludwig volunteers with multiple local organizations. She helped start and continues to assist the Conifer Historical Museum, is on the Salvation Army Board, and is President of the local Pleasant Park Grange. She is looking forward to the summer when she will help run a bike rest stop. Along the Deer Creek Canyon path, the rest stop provides water, snacks, and relief for cyclists.

Yvonne particularly enjoys working with the Salvation Army to provide a monthly lunch and entertainment session for Conifer's retirees. The next lunch will take place April 3rd at Aspen Ridge Church and feature a talk on local birds. Yvonne would like to see more programs like this for the aging population in Conifer. A native, she is proud of how many people come together to better the community and likes watching the area grow and evolve.

Congratulate Our Winners 

The next time you happen across one of this year's Chamber of Commerce Award winners, stop and say hello. Give them a crisp high five. And if you're feeling generous make it ten. Thank our incredibly talented winners, the Evergreen nominees, and Conifer nominees for what they are doing for our community and give their services a try. They are here to serve and help build a community we can all be proud to call home, and they would love to get to know you.

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