Elections staff brings joy to Judi’s House

SOS elections staff serving dinner to Judi’s House children and their families. From left to right, Melissa Polk, legal manager for the elections division, Kris Reynolds, campaign finance trainer, Hilary Rudy, deputy elections director, Annie LeFleur, elections legal fellow, and Minerva Padron, voter registration coordinator/Judi’s House grief counselor. (SOS photo)

Big hearts and some chicken goes a long way, as a group of election staffers with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office found out when they volunteered at Judi’s House.

Minerva Padron, a voter registration coordinator, is also a bilingual grief counselor at Judi’s House, a nonprofit devoted to providing care for grieving children and their families. It was founded by former Denver Broncos quarterback Brian Greise and his wife. Padron visits middle schools in the Denver metro area and holds “grief groups,” group counseling sessions for students who have lost someone close to them.

Judi’s House, in the City Park West neighborhood of Denver. (Judi’s House photo)

Two years ago, SOS staffers served dinner at Ronald McDonald house in Denver so Padron suggested a similar volunteer opportunity at Judi’s House.

Deputy elections director Hilary Rudy jumped at the idea and sent an email to elections staffers asking if they could donate time or money to the cause. She said it wasn’t hard to find volunteers or donations because a lot of people were interested.

“I tried to make it clear I wasn’t pressuring them given my position,” she joked.

Once they had a group together and donations, the group bought deli chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit salad and rolls and served it to the 60 or so children and families at Judi’s House last Thursday.

Read moreElections staff brings joy to Judi’s House

Colorado Secretary of State staffers serve up chicken, cheer at Ronald McDonald House

Colorado Secretary of State staffers served up a hot meal to residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Denver. From left to right: Ben Schler, Kathryn Mikeworth, Kyle Dostart, Hilary Rudy and Minerva Padron.
Colorado Secretary of State staffers served up a hot meal to residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Denver. From left to right: Ben Schler, Kathryn Mikeworth, Kyle Dostart, Hilary Rudy and Minerva Padron.

By Keara Brosnan

Colorado’s Secretary of State’s office employees trekked through the snow Sunday to serve an evening meal for residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Denver.

“They thought with the weather we might change our plans, but they were so appreciative that we didn’t,” said Hilary Rudy, deputy director of elections. “It was a lot of fun and well worth it.”

Rudy and her colleagues bought chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and cookies with money from the office’s Employee Relations Committee. She estimated they served around 55 people.

Colorado Secretary of State staffers Kyle Dostart and Ben Schler have some fun while getting a meal ready for residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Denver.
Colorado Secretary of State staffers Kyle Dostart and Ben Schler have some fun while getting a meal ready for residents at the Ronald McDonald House in Denver.

“What we learned was to buy more chicken than you think you need and then double that,” Rudy said with a laugh.

Rudy had heard about the volunteer opportunity through a friend and noted that it was easy to sign up online through the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Denver website.

“It was great,” staffer Ben Schler said. “It was fun. I’d do it again.”

Holly Sullivan, one of the two house managers at the Ronald McDonald House of Denver, said a wide variety of groups volunteer to provide families with a warm dinner. Sometimes families cook for the residents and other times it’s members of Greek life, sports teams or clubs.

Families nationwide stay at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Denver while their children receive treatment at local hospitals.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of our community,” Holly Sullivan said. “Families spend so much time at the hospital and maybe they snack at the hospital, but they come back to our facility and to eat a home-cooked meal is special.

“It’s a special time where families get to meet other families and know that they are not isolated.”

Keara Brosnan is a University of Denver student interning with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.