Archive for the ‘Past Winners’ Category:

2010 – Francis M. Smyth

Frances M. Smyth’s work with the local Habitat for Humanity, now completing its 29th and 30th houses this summer, is emblematic of the “can do” attitude of the Community Spirit Award recipient for 2010.

In 1994, Fran joined the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Laramie County. The local affiliate was struggling to raise $1,000 to purchase cookbooks that would be sold to build a Habitat house.

“If you’re going to build a whole house, you need to kick this into high gear,” Smyth remembers telling her fellow board members. She knew what she was talking about: as a teenager growing up in Huntington, Long Island, N.Y., her father — who was a firefighter, but had a contracting business on the side — taught his three daughters every aspect of the home construction trade.

Now in her 12th year as president of the local Habitat board, Smyth has raised donations, written grants, established business partnerships and recruited volunteers, all with the goal of building affordable houses for low-income people. Thanks to her extensive construction experience, she also can frame a house, hang drywall, install cabinetry and tackle just about any other job necessary to erect a home.

“I just think it’s really important to lead by example,” said Smyth, who donates an average of 30 hours a week to Habitat, working at the job sites as well as handling the organization’s accounting.

From a bare-bones organization that was struggling to raise money to build its first house, Habitat has grown to an organization with $1 million in funds, property and mortgage loans. This summer, Habitat is completing its 29th and 30th houses. Next year will mark the organization’s 20th anniversary, and its first homebuyer mortgage will be paid off.

Last November, under Smyth’s guidance, Habitat opened ReStore, a business that sells unused building supplies, appliances and furniture donated by contractors, individuals and home improvement stores. The new store keeps unused construction materials out of the city landfill, and many of the donated furnishings are new and in excellent condition, with only minor damage or blemishes. Sale proceeds help build more houses.

Smyth also was instrumental in forming a local chapter of the national Habitat for Humanity Women Build program and Youth Blitz Build another program started about two years ago in which college students volunteer to help nonprofit organizations.

“When you go home every day to your nice, warm, comfortable house, knowing that other people have that, too, makes you feel a little better about yourself,” says Smyth.

Since coming to Cheyenne, Smyth also has been a kitchen volunteer, past board member and delivered meals for Meals on Wheels.

In past years, Smyth also served on the Old West Museum board of directors, chaired the Western Spirit Art Show in 1998 and helped the museum develop a computerized archive of its collections.

She also is a member of Women’s Civic League and has served on its board in a variety of positions.

Smyth and her husband, Dennis, also have served for many years on the Cheyenne Frontier Days Ticket Committee.

Regarding her overall philosophy toward community service, Smyth said: “Live your life in the best possible way you know how, and understand that sometimes people just need a little help. If everybody just did something good at every opportunity, what a better community and a better planet it could be.”

2009 – Michl T. McGee

Michl T. McGee, who played a key role in laying the foundation for Laramie County’s highly-successful economic development program, is this year’s Community Spirit recipient.

After moving to Cheyenne 26 years ago, McGee, a certified public accountant, became one of the founders and the first chairman of IDAC’s successor, Cheyenne LEADS. His involvement was instrumental in many ventures, in-cluding Progress and Prosperity II.

In the 1980s, McGee served for eight years on the board of STRIDE Learning Center, a developmental preschool. His time on the board included six years as president.

McGee also served on the Laramie County School District 1 Board of Trustees for six years, including a term as chairman. He served on the Untied Way of Laramie County board for five years, including three as president, and is a past-president of the Laramie County Library Foundation board.

McGee has been a member of Cheyenne Rotary Club since 1968, and is still active in the local club. He served on the club’s board for 10 years, including stints as treasurer and president. McGee is also a 21-year member of the Cheyenne Young Men’s Literary Club.

For the past year, McGee has served as president of Honor Flight, an organization that raises money and organizes trips to Washington D.C. for Wyoming veterans. On these sponsored trips, veterans visit the World War II Memo-rial and several other war memorials and national monuments.

Under McGee’s leadership, McGee, Hearne & Piaz has donated accounting work for various charitable and non-profit organizations. The firm also has been a donor to and supporter of many local organizations, including Chey-enne Frontier Days and youth sports activities.

McGee’s many years of civic service are even more remarkable considering that he and his wife, Ellen, have raised 14 children, including 11 who were disadvantaged. The children now range in age from 25-45.

Asked about his philosophy toward community service, McGee said, “I don’t do it to get accolades. I really do believe that you need to pay back to the community where you make your living.”

2008 – Shirley Flynn

Shirley Flynn’s involvement in the Old West museum and Cheyenne is legendary.

Shirley was a member and secretary of the Old West Museum’s founding board of directors. She was also an intragel part of the group that established the museum’s major fundraiser, the Frontier Days Art Show.

Shirley served as the museum’s director during that time the museum received donations to build the Vandewark Wing. She was a member of the building committee for the project, which was completed in 1992.

Shirley is the author of several books on local history including one about the history of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, where she served as a member of the altar guild for 40 years.

She is a past member of the Wyoming State Museum’s volunteer group and continues to write articles for “Annals of Wyoming,” a history magazine.

She continues to give speeches and presentations of historical significance to local school children, civic groups, clubs and historical societies.

Shirley is also a member of Women’s Civic League, P.E.O., the CFD Buckle Club, the W-Heels, Cowgirls of the West and the city’s Historic Preservation Board.

In past years Shirley also served on the production board of the Cheyenne Little Theater and on the Laramie County Memorial Hospital Foundation Board.

2007 – Greta Morrow

Positive and courageous are just two words used to describe the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle’s 2007 Community Spirit Award recipient, Greta Morrow.

A bone marrow donation helped her battle cancer in 2002. Now, the former high school educator donates her time to helping others. Greta organized the Annual Day of Giving to encourage others to do the same.

Participants were encouraged to drop off food or personal care items. They were also asked to donate blood and register as a tissue, organ or bone marrow donor.

“We’re all in this world together,” she said. “We’re all in the same boat.  We were born into an imperfect world. We struggle, and when we help each other, the trip is so much easier and pleasant.”

Greta also works to connect other cancer survivors with support and resources. She has become an advocate for insurance reform and coverage for clinical trials. Greta was an Ambassador to the 2006 Celebration on the Hill in Washington D.C. to lobby for increased funding for cancer research and access to healthcare.

Greta has been active with many organizations such as the American Cancer Society, I Can Cope, Meals on Wheels and Road to Recovery. She is also a Deacon at First Presbyterian Church of Cheyenne and has been an active member for 32 years.

2006 – Dana Bates Mezke

The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle’s 2006 Community Spirit Award recipient Dana Bates Metzke is known for getting things done.

Active in the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, the Cheyenne Rotary, the Laramie County Library Foundation and the Wells Fargo Community Bank community advisory board. Metzke has also served as the president of the Cheyenne Symphony Foundation board. She is credited with raising the endowment from $130,000 in 1997 to its current $1.5 million.

Metzke has also worked on the boards of the Wyoming Transportation Museum and Learning Center and the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, as well as the publicity committee for Denim N Diamonds, an annual fundraiser for the United Medical Center Foundation.  She’s also a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels.

Previous Community Spirit Award Winner Fred Baggs commended Metzke not only for her efficiency but also for her upbeat attitude toward community service.

“Community service is one thing anyone can do,” Metzke said, echoing the words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. “All you have to have is a desire to make the community better.”

2005 – Jerry Jessen

Vowing to “volunteer until I drop,” Jerry Jessen accepted the 2005 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle Community Spirit Award in a ceremony Thursday, Sept. 22 at the Old West Museum.

A professional engineer, Jessen has donated his time and expertise to the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, the building of the Junior League Baseball Complex and the planning of the Sherard Water Treatment Plant. He’s served on the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce board of directors and contributed for many years to Cheyenne Frontier Days, serving as security chairman and general chairman of the CFD General Committee, as well as president of the CFD board of directors. He has also chaired the Western Spirit Art Show and Sale and served on the board of the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, where he continues to volunteer.

He has also been active in the Cheyenne Jaycees, Cheyenne Rotary Club and Boy Scouts.

In nominating him for the award, Cheyenne resident Roger Lawrence wrote that Jessen has “given tirelessly to the community” and is one of those individuals responsible for making Cheyenne what it is today and what it will become in the future.”

2004 – Carol Farthing

Mrs. Farthing is described as an inspirational leader by those she has worked with on a wide variety of civic organizations and projects.

She has been active with many organizations including the Old West Museum, Cheyenne Civic League, Cheyenne Frontier Days, the United Medical Center Foundation and Laramie County Cowbelles. Her long-time love of sewing has resulted in her making more than 100 costumes for CFD parades.

“There are events in your life that define your future and I had one of those about twenty years ago,” Mrs. Farthing said.

“I became critically ill and when I recovered, I decided I had to live each day to the fullest. There were three things that I decided I would do, and one was to let my family know every day how important they were to me. The second was to be the kind of friend that my friends had been to me and the third, to leave my community better for my having been a part of it.”

2003 – Roslyne W. Kaufman

Mrs. Kaufman is known as a strong-willed woman who gets things done. She has frequently been called on to work on special projects, solicit and organize volunteers and raise money for many worthwhile civic projects, and has a particular interest in human services.

She is very proud of her involvement in the establishment of the Cheyenne Community Clinic, which provides primary healthcare to low-income Laramie County residents who have no medical insurance.

She was also instrumental in the creation of what is now Stride Learning Center for developmentally delayed children, Needs Inc., Laramie County Attention Home and the Cancer Assistance Association.

Mrs. Kaufman has also helped United Medical Center raise money to purchase new equipment and broaden its medical services. She helped start the hospital’s Pink Boutique gift shop and the Christmas gift-wrapping program, two important fundraisers.

I can’t repair the world,” Mrs. Kaufman says, “but I can make my space a better place to live.”

2002 – John C. Cole

Mr. Cole is well known for almost 50 years of service to Cheyenne Frontier Days, but his dedication to community service doesn’t stop there. The former Wyoming Department of Transportation official has donated his time, efforts and voice to many activities. In the 1950s, Mr. Cole started driving carriages in the Frontier Days parade. He went on to serve on many rodeo committees and for more than 26 years, he has announced morning events. His voice can also be heard at 4-H, FFA and Laramie County Fair events. He has also been active in youth baseball leagues and has served on the Laramie County Community College board of directors. As president of the Jaycees, Mr. Cole oversaw the project to reclaim the swampland of Lake Minnehaha, creating the area where the “Big Boy” locomotive is now located. He is also known for his 32 years of service in the Kiwanis Club. “You’ve got to be active if you want to see things done in the community,” he said.

2001 – Fred T. Baggs

Mr. Baggs was honored for his many accomplishments, not the least of which was making sure Cheyenne had enough water to thrive and grow. The owner of a custom clothing shop for men since 1991, Mr. Baggs, as president of the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities, helped shepherd the “Cheyenne Stage II” water project through the regulatory process, guaranteeing the city a stable supply of water. He also helped Laramie County Memorial Hospital obtain its first “CAT” scanner, helped establish Cheyenne’s City Center Parking Lot and raised money to put an elevator in the Cheyenne Civic Center. “Simply stated, Fred Baggs consistently and continually gets things done,” Dana Metzke said in her letter nominating him for the Community Spirit Award. “I think people should do something for their community in whatever arena they find satisfying,” Mr. Baggs said.