Thanksgiving thoughts on Denver businesses honoring community
Denver Business Journal by Heather Draper, Reporter
Date: Wednesday, November 21, 2012, 2:39pm MST
As we sit down with our families and give thanks, we need to remember the people who don’t have families or friends to visit on Thanksgiving. Many of those people are in nursing homes and rarely get visitors at any time of the year, let alone the holidays.
The management and merchants at Aspen Grove Lifestyle Center in Littleton are doing something to help some of those elders. They are partnering with Denver-based Bessie’s Hope, a nonprofit that connects elders in nursing homes with their communities, for the “Queen for a Day” program.
The monthly program honors a nursing home elder who receives little to no visitors. She is treated to a day out at Aspen Grove, where she gets a free lunch, a new outfit, salon services and other gifts from participating merchants.
“Queen for a Day allows Aspen Grove to support Bessie’s Hope in their mission of bringing comfort and friendship to nursing home elders,” said Kim Cronin, marketing director for Aspen Grove. “The retailers enjoy pampering the queen with meaningful services and gifts to show her how special she is and how much we all care.”
Elizabeth Horner, a 90-year-old resident of Cherrelyn Health Care Center in Littleton, was the Queen for a Day in October.
“I had such a good time. We went into almost all of the stores,” Horner told me. “The managers of those stores were so wonderful.”
One of her favorite memories of the day was a visit to Gigi’s Cupcakes, as well as being treated to a beautiful artificial orchid plant by the manager of Pier 1 Imports.
“He went downstairs in the store and pulled up an orchid that looks so real, my neighbor was giving me advice on how to water it,” she said, laughing.
The Queen program is an offshoot of Bessie’s Hope’s Community and Elders program, which is targeted at the business community, said Linda Holloway, co-founder of Bessie’s Hope.
Bessie’s Hope can facilitate partnerships between nursing homes and companies so that the partnership can be part of businesses’ corporate social responsibility programs or community service projects, she said.
“Our Community and Elders program is so great for businesses,” Holloway said. “Businesses can come to us and tell us how often they’d like to get involved. It’s a great team-building effort, because when employees are in the nursing home, in the light of compassion, they see each other in a whole different element.”
Corporate volunteers receive training, materials and support from Bessie’s Hope to make visits with nursing home elders, who are often isolated from and by society.
For its “Queen for a Day” efforts, Aspen Grove was named the 2012 U.S. Community Support Award western region winner in September by the The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Foundation.
ICSC also recognized Cronin, Dawn Marie Lecklikner, regional vice president of shopping center marketing, DDR Corp. (owner and manager of Aspen Grove), and Margie Munoz, general manager, DDR Corp.
Calder and Munoz gave a $5,000 donation to Bessie’s Hope during the October Queen for the Day lunch at Panera Bread in Aspen Grove.