Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Partner Agency Profile:  Project Worthmore
by Samantha Thompson, WeeCycle Advisory Board Member

As a new member of WeeCycle’s advisory board, I didn’t really know or fully understand to whom our donations and supplies of baby gear went.  That all changed I went to visit one of our partner organizations, Project Worthmore. WeeCycle supports Project Worthmore by providing new and gently used baby gear and diapers to Project Worthmore’s refugee participants.  I joined WeeCycle’s Executive Director, Jayme Ritchie, and fellow board members Morgan Siebel and Amanda Newsome for our tour, and it was an eye-opening experience.

Truthfully, I had no idea of what to expect. On my way to the location I was having anxiety about my hectic day and mentally allocated maybe an hour for this visit.  Time seemed to stop once I walked in the door. All of the “to do” items and meetings that were clogging my brain no longer were important. We immediately met Frank Anello who is the founder and director of Project Worthmore. The “office” of Project Worthmore is located in a common room within a low-income apartment building.

In the room there are six long rectangular tables and chairs and a white board.  When we went in, an English class with 20 or so students was going on.  The teacher of the class, Liz, speaks no Burmese, only English to her students.  She was giving a lesson and everyone was paying close attention.  The students, mostly women ranging in age of early 20‘s through 50’s, were mostly from Burma.

Burma is home to the world’s longest running civil war.  The US has granted asylum to tens of thousands of refugees of this conflict, and several thousand are placed here in Denver.  Frank explained to us that a primary goal of Project Worthmore is teaching English to the Burmese refugees.  He believes that if you arm someone with the English language, that individual will be more adept to help provide a strong, independent lifestyle. 

Project Worthmore is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life of Denver-area refugees from Burma by providing cultural mentorship and community supports. Teaching the Burmese refugees English is just one of the goals at Project Worthmore. They also provide family sponsorship, or what I think of as mentoring.  Typically a group of four or five people sponsors a Burmese refugee family. This group will help teach them about managing their finances, organizing and maintaining a home and the livelihood and development of the children. A big part of this process is adjusting and succeeding in Western living. 

Frank, with his wife Carolyn, first got involved with the refugee community five years ago when they wanted to help a Burmese refugee. Living in the Park Hill neighborhood, Frank always noticed the mini-clusters of ethnic communities sprinkled around Colfax between Monaco and Yosemite. After driving by for many years and noticing these apartment dwellings housing many different nationalities, Frank stopped to explore further.  There he met Nandar Kyau, a female refugee from Burma whose husband had paid handsomely to have her smuggled out of Burma. Her journey to the United States began with a treacherous ride lying on the bottom of a flat bed truck covered by a piece of plywood which was then stacked high with produce. Hidden, Nandar traveled for 10 hours to the border to cross into Thailand.  She was risking her life for a better life, yet not knowing where that life may be. Often times, the tower of produce can collapse killing whoever is hiding underneath. Or worse yet, guards at border crossings routinely stab their bayonets into the bottom of the flat bed trucks to uncover refugees fleeing the country. This voyage takes amazing strength and bravery by Individuals desperate for a better life for themselves and their families. 

The woman that Frank and Carolyn met and sponsored was the start of Project Worthmore.  Through helping Nandar, the Anello’s were introduced to others that needed help.  They started teaching English as a second language to a handful of refugees and now have helped over 58 Burmese refugee families in Denver.  With Project Worthmore’s help, Nandar and her family now live in an apartment right off City Park.  Their children attend a highly regarded elementary school within the Denver Public School system.  She and her husband saved enough money to buy a car and they both work at a successful restaurant in Denver.  Nandar’s goal is to soon work for Project Worthmore as a home visitor to help other Burmese refugees navigate this new world they are living in and succeed.

A big part of the problem is that when refugees come to the United States, they are only given 6 months of government assistance. They qualify for TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. TANF is a welfare program designed to motivate individuals to get back to work. While in theory this is a good program, in reality, it is not well suited for refugees. Most refugee families coming to our country do not speak English, they do not understand Western living and they are simply trying to find their way. Project Worthmore steps in to help bridge the gap and give the Burmese refugees the assistance they need to succeed in our country and live independently. 

While WeeCycle was visiting Project Worthmore, we asked if there was anything the resident families needed. I expected a few people to say they needed diapers or maybe even a stroller.  Everyone in the class huddled around a sheet of paper while one of the students feverishly wrote down their requests.  Our sheet of paper was filled on both sides with items they desperately needed.  This list launched WeeCycle’s first virtual diaper drive.  The diapers and baby gear that WeeCycle collects and then donates to organizations like Project Worthmore is invaluable.  Without the support of WeeCycle, these refugee families would have to figure out how to provide the basic necessities for their children on top of navigating living and working in our country.

We asked our Facebook community to help provide the materials the Burmese ladies needed, and they answered.  We delivered just a few weeks later to a very happy group of mamas.

Thanks for making our community better by helping women and children in need!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Partner Profile:  Denver Indian Family Resource Center

WeeCycle was honored to be invited to the Denver Indian Family Resource Center

(DIFRC) Annual meeting to witness first hand the great strides they have made in

2012 to continue to assist the needs of Colorado Indian families. DIFRC provides

support and programs for Indian family preservation, reunification, child welfare,

advocacy, healthy living programs and behavioral health programs. DIFRC has

provided intensive child welfare services to thousands of children and reunited

hundreds of children in the foster care system, with their families again since its


Over an amazing dinner of posole made by their healthy living class, we were

entertained by the youth group dancers. These children meet weekly to learn the

dances of their elders at DIFRC and slowly make their own costumes over several

years due to the great expense of their beauty and detail.

DIFRC programs meet the needs of Indian families to create strong family bonds,

live healthy lives by eating nutritionally and exercising. They also help in crisis;

helping families gain the parenting skills and receive the mental health services

they need to become strong parenting role models which can result in the families

being reunited with their children. The reality is that many children have never had

a positive parent role model in their life due to drug or alcohol abuse. DIFRC teaches

the much needed parenting skills that many Indian parents need.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Partner Agency Highlight: Florence Crittenton High School

Think back to your high school years. Perhaps you are reminded of your insecurities and the new challenges you would be facing.  Would you fit in with your new peers? Would you have the right brand name clothing, shoes and book bag? These are all fairly common high school fears.
Now imagine being pregnant. Your family is one of many that are below the poverty line. You are no longer included in your circle of friends because your life has taken a serious turn. Your teachers don’t understand why you have missed school or have been ill lately. Attending the Friday night football game and dance seem very trivial to you.
You need serious support, help and resources. You need a school that understands you, and the current and future needs of your baby. You need a school that supports your goal of becoming the well-educated mother who can provide for her child in the future.
On our recent tour of the Florence Crittenton High School in southwest Denver, a WeeCycle partner, we found just that school for Denver’s teen mothers. With a blend of high school teachers, mental health and nursing professionals, and daycare providers, Florence Crittenton helps teen mothers stay in school and graduate, give birth to healthy babies, learn how to be nurturing mothers, pursue post-secondary education and acquire marketable job skills. 

WeeCycle provides baby gear essential to a safe environment for a new baby. Teen mothers are shocked when they receive a car seat, crib, and stroller from us because they know how costly these items are. A stroller is essential for many young mothers taking the city bus to and from school, sometimes with three bus changes. Our goal is to make this stressful time in these young mothers lives a little bit easier. FC is yet another partner of WeeCycle that is making a real impact to those in need in the Denver metro area!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Here's How You Can Help Flood Victims

Help Colorado Flood Victims!  WeeCycle is hosting a diaper drive to benefit the victims of the recent Colorado floods.  We are partnering with A Precious Child to collect and distribute diapers directly to Longmont and Boulder families who were affected by the flooding.  Please help by donating a box of diapers to your local WeeCycle drop-off location today!  For a list of your nearest drop-off locations click here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Other Side

We can get so caught up in our daily jobs and our long list of to-dos that it's easy to forget there's another side to our community.  People for whom life is not only busy and stressful, but truly a daily struggle.

As you may know, WeeCycle works by partnering with community organizations who serve the impoverished members of our community.   They call us needing baby gear, car seats, diapers, etc., and we provide it--that simple.  One of our partner organizations, The African Community Center, helps people displaced from their countries by war.  All of these photos were provided by ACC and taken just last week in Denver.

They leave their families and homeland to come live amongst us here on the Front Range.  Many come here with very little and must start their lives over from scratch.

We are fortunate that we can provide assistance in the small but vital form of a stroller, high chair or toy.  It is our privilege.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Come on out to The Steller Group of Keller Williams Realty's Fall Festival

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This year, The Steller Group of Keller Williams Realty will be partnering with WeeCycle at its Third Annual FREE Fall Festival. Please join us on Sunday, September 15 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Cherry Knolls Park in Centennial for entertainment and lunch. The Steller Group offers the festival as a client appreciation party and is encouraging voluntary monetary donations to WeeCycle at the event. Guests may enjoy children’s train rides, crafts, field games, freshly popped kettle corn, jumping castles, face painting, balloon sculptures, caricatures, pumpkins, lunch, beer and more! The event is free, but RSVPs are requested in order to help plan quantities. To register, please call 303.539.5228 or email

WeeCycle is Seeking Volunteers!

Do you have a few hours of your time and would you enjoy helping WeeCycle with events? We are seeking volunteers to help with street fairs, assist with our annual Blues, Brews, & BBQ, host gear drives and more! WeeCycle would love to have your support! for more information.
WeeCycle is still looking for a handful of volunteers for the afternoon of Sunday, September 15 to help run games and to help spread the word about our nonprofit! Would you consider donating 3 hours of your time (1pm-4pm) to help us with this event? Please email if you are interested in volunteering.

Trattoria Stella Night Out to Benefit WeeCycle

On Sunday, September 22nd, from 5pm to 11pm, Trattoria Stella on Colfax (3201 East Colfax Avenue, Denver CO 80206) will be donating 10% of ALL sales from ALL customers to WeeCycle.

Reservations are welcome but not required and large parties can be accommodated! Roll in fall with a great meal out for a great cause! If you haven't been there yet, you are in for a treat, try some of their homemade pastas, seafood, pizzas, salads and more!

WeeCycle has a New Drop-off Location in Littleton at Sweet Beginnings

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WeeCycle has a new drop off location in Littleton. Sweet Beginnings is located at: 5661 S. Curtice Street, Historic Downtown Littleton, CO 80120. Please drop off any new or gently used baby gear to be donated to WeeCycle! The current high demand items that WeeCycle is particularly in need of include: strollers, double strollers, car seats, and cribs manufactured after June 2011. A great big thank you to Sweet Beginnings for opening up their doors to collect baby gear for WeeCycle!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Help Us Help Kids

Did you know that according to Kids Count Colorado, our state has the second fastest growing rate of child poverty in the nation? 

WeeCycle helps children in poverty by providing parents with baby gear and diapers--essentials they would struggle to afford otherwise.

Want some good news?  You can help by going out to dinner.

On Sunday, September 22nd, Trattoria Stella on Colfax will be donating 10% of all of the evening's proceeds to WeeCycle. If you don't know this fabulous local restaurant, they serve pizzas, home-made pastas, and a delicious lasagna of the day.

Don't cook. Bring your kids. Come out to eat with the WeeCycle team.  Help children in poverty in Denver.  Let's see, I believe that's a win, win, win, win.

See you there!