By Glory Weisberg
The Triumphant Faces gala for the Excelsior Youth Center keeps growing every year and that pace picked up Feb. 22 for this year’s benefit as confirmed when guests were asked to raise their hands if this was their first Excelsior gala and at least 100 people raised their hands. More than 500 people were there, using the entire massive Hyatt Convention Center grand ballroom with a dance floor and stage for the Pointer Sisters whose concert rocked the rafters.
We call that a success and bow to the leadership of Lois Paul, Megan Fearnow and Kasia Iwaniczko MacLeod who lead the effort.
Honoring Susan Kiely as the newest Triumphant Woman was another terrific decision. Formally titled Rev. Susan Kiely, on video she recounted years of sexual abuse by her stepfather and emotional stress from her mother. She went on to create the Women with a Cause Foundation, which so far, has educated more than 800 women in India, helping them learn to sew and become small business entrepreneurs.
The Denver Seminary graduate has a University of Denver Certificate in Gerontology and other educational and personal successes.
Not only that, Kiely is a warm dynamo who can in seconds motivate others to open their wallets at chosen charitable events. Husband, Leo Kiely, retired CEO of Miller Coors, fully supports his wife’s efforts, donating the beer for guests during the gala reception.
Excelsior Youth Center is the largest residential facility in the U.S. treating women ages 11 to 18 to conquer past mistakes and abuse and go on to bright futures. The problem is that California and Colorado, from where most girls come, only pay Excelsior about 83 percent of the cost of their residential treatment. That leaves about $1,000 in expenditures per girl per month that the center has to fund on its own.
The live and silent auctions and fast moving paddle raiser rose to the cause and a $25,000 donation from Fred and Jana Bartlit was an adrenalin infusion for the facility’s financial health. The total take from the paddle raiser alone was $76,000.
Songstress and former Triumphant Woman, Lannie Garrett, was emcee and at this dinner we met her husband, 5280 magazine publisher, Dan Brogan.
Some of the other past Triumphant Women there included Jamie Angelich, Ryta Sondergard, Victoria Aguilar, Lisza Gulyas and Glory Weisberg. Dave and Glory Weisberg started a new Mentorship Fund for Excelsior graduates who remain in Denver, to pay the annual salary of a counselor whose job will be to keep in touch with these women as they embark on their independent job and other personal efforts.
For information on Excelsior Youth Center, visit www.Excelsioryc.org.