Wednesday, November 6, 2013

50 Years, 50 Stories - Greg Wellems

Today’s installment of “50 Years, 50 Stories” comes from Greg Wellems, Imagine!’s Chief Operating Officer. Greg’s contribution is short and sweet, and is a perfect reminder of what I often say – we are so lucky to be part of the Imagine! community.

Thanks for sharing, Greg!

Lucky? Indeed I Am
By Greg Wellems

Greg Wellems back in the 1990s.

I was recently talking with some friends when they asked me what I do for a living. I responded with my usual prepared comment that I have worked for more than twenty years for Imagine!, a not-for-profit organization that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their communities. And while a few my friends responded with the expected generic comments, one of them followed up with the question of why and how did that happen? Poor fellow, he opened the floodgates, and for the next twenty minutes was regaled with how and why I came and stayed with Imagine!.

I did not get the job I wanted when I applied at Imagine!. I wanted to be a weekend overnight counselor at 19th street. It would be a perfect fit for my lifestyle. I was working on my Masters Degree in Special Education and anticipated that the schedule would allow for me to attend to my schooling, a pregnant wife, and the expected birth of my first child. So I showed up in my coat and tie, a polished resume, and the confidence that I would get a job that I knew from experience would not be in high demand. For those of you not familiar with the culture of the ol’ DDC in 1991, I was a tad bit overdressed, overconfident, and not what my interviewer, dressed in his Birkenstocks and cut off jeans, considered a good match. So, only after considerable begging on my part did he offer me a substitute counselor position. OK, I thought, no worries, I was only going to be here a year at the most. Was I ever wrong.

Twenty –two years later I am still with the DDC, now known as Imagine!. What I didn’t know in 1991, was what Imagine!, its culture, its mission and values, and more importantly the extended family it provides, would mean to me. Imagine!’s mission of creating innovative supports so people may live fulfilling lives applies to all it touches. I work for Imagine! because the individuals I work with and for constantly inspire that creativity. The unique supports created over the years - the first medical and senior homes, innovative companion services, Out & About, CORE/Labor Source, Imagine!’s Behavioral Health Services, the ASD program, the FRE program, the Boulder County Initiative, and the SmartHomes are just a few of the innovative programs developed by the stakeholders of Imagine!. I have been fortunate to have been involved in a few of these initiatives, but I know that as we move forward there will be many more. Imagine! creates a culture that inspires everyone to live up to its name.

I am grateful for the opportunity I received all those years ago, so when my friend commented, “You’re lucky,” my immediate thought was, "Indeed I am."

Are you interested in sharing your story for “50 Years, 50 Stories?” If so, contact Caroline Siegfried at or 303-926-6405. We’d love to hear from you!

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