Monday, November 14, 2016

Fantastic Five - Celebrating Five Years Of Volunteers At Imagine!: Leona Stoecker

Imagine!’s Volunteer Program officially began five years ago (of course, we had volunteers before, but it was a loosely organized effort). To celebrate five years of volunteerism at Imagine!, I am sharing on my blog short videos highlighting five volunteers who have truly made a difference at Imagine!.

Of course, choosing just five volunteers was very difficult – last year 379 volunteers donated 8,784 hours of their time to support Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities! We are grateful to them all, and hope that the five we highlight serve as a great representation of the many generous folks who so kindly give back to their communities.

Today’s video features our fifth and final volunteer highlight: Leona Stoecker. Leona is in many ways Imagine!’s number one community ambassador. She works tirelessly on behalf of Imagine! and the people we serve. You are encouraged to read more about Leona’s support of Imagine! following the short video below.
  Can’t see the video? Click here

Leona Stoecker is a truly remarkable woman who has made a tremendous difference in our community. After more than two decades of direct involvement with government service at the local, county, and regional levels, including serving as Mayor of the City of Longmont from 1993-2001, she has since devoted herself to community service in the non-profit sector. In most cases, she has risen quickly to a position of leadership from which she has been able to guide each organization to strengthen and improve itself and the services it provides. It would be difficult to find another person in our area who has made similar contributions of effort and time or who could match Leona’s ability to rapidly understand a need and to involve and inspire just the right people to help.

Leona’s involvement with the Imagine! Foundation typifies her commitment to all of the non-profits she has served. In 2006, the Foundation board sought to increase awareness of its operations in Longmont, where it supported nearly 1,000 vulnerable members of the community. Research and discussion with Longmont residents led the Foundation board to believe that Leona could be the key to that effort. Board members met with Leona in January 2007, and she attended the annual Imagine! Celebration event later that month, followed by a board meeting in March. She was immediately enthusiastic and truly moved by the work Imagine! does in the community. The Imagine! Foundation signed her up then and there, and she jumped right in!

Leona has gone above and beyond even the Foundation’s greatest hopes in bringing the Imagine! message to Longmont. She has spoken to every Rotary Club, the Philanthropic Educational Organization, grandparent groups of children with developmental disabilities, and many other community organizations. She has talked with senior management and reporters at the Longmont Times-Call and has been able to interest them in developing many stories about Imagine! and its services and clients. She has also invited a large number of people to the Imagine! Celebration, has secured auction items for the event, and has donated a “Year of Baked Bread” (which has sold for up to $2,500!) for seven consecutive years. She has even established an endowment at the Longmont Community Foundation in Imagine!’s name.

Leona has developed a very personal relationship with the residents and staff members at Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome. She often rides her bike over to the SmartHome with home-baked cookies to share. When she heard that the SmartHome needed a dining room table, she found a beautiful table top at a consignment store, persuaded the owner to donate it, and then found someone to make the table legs! Because of the deep connection she has with the SmartHome’s residents, she has played an integral part in raising community awareness and funding for the facility. A perfect example is the day she spent at the Charity Hole of the Longmont Chamber’s Commerce Cup Golf Tournament in 2009. As each cart rolled up to the hole – for five hours straight – Leona greeted each foursome with a brochure and a story about Imagine! and the Charles Family SmartHome. Because almost every player already knew and respected Leona, she was able to gently but enthusiastically encourage each person’s support. That event and countless other meetings with potential donors, talks to groups, and scores of SmartHome tours that she set up, accompanied, and often led (34 tours to date involving 179 individuals!) have resulted in critical funding being raised.

What is amazing is that the enormous impact she has had through the Imagine! Foundation board is only ONE example of this marvelous woman’s influence, which has been replicated for the many organizations with which she has been involved throughout her adult life.

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