A commitment to community and faith inform Lee Palmer Everding's generosity and community work.
Philanthropy is an essential element of Lee Everding's world, and she sees an opportunity to learn and engage everywhere.
A social worker by training and profession, Everding has always taken a "resident leadership" approach to her work. "I try to help people find their voices and lead and advocate for their own issues," she says. Her story of taking a group of mothers from a low-income area to meet with the governor at the Colorado State Capitol exemplifies her commitment.
"The women realized that they do have a voice and that people do care," she recalls.
Over 40 years ago, Everding founded Denver Eclectics, a nonprofit organization that promotes discussion and lifelong learning among women in Metro Denver. With field trips and presentations from dozens of experts a year, Denver Eclectics explores wide-ranging topics including urban agriculture, reintegrating former prisoners into society, international politics, and Renaissance Venetian art. More than 200 members participate in the programs and discussions.
Faith plays a major role in Everding's life. "I've been involved in the Episcopal Church since I was quite small," she explains, "and that helped form a social justice view." Everding learned to "stand and be counted in issues that matter" and get involved to help others directly. "It's no good to be on the outside observing," she says. "I learned that it is both better and more fun to give than to receive."
In early 2001, Everding helped to found The Abrahamic Initiative, which facilitates lectures, readings, and "conversations that matter" in the Christian, Hebrew, and Muslim traditions. The Initiative helps people expand their knowledge and increase their networks, and promotes understanding among different faiths. It's also about taking social action. (See abrahamicinitiative.org)
"Given the circumstances of today's world, it's important that we are open to meeting people from other faith traditions. We need to learn about each other's traditions and learn what we share," Everding says.
Everding would rather talk about ideas and activities than about herself. But she will say that her reasons for giving started at home. "I've always felt very fortunate, and also very responsible," she explains. She brought up her own children with the same desire to look inward, to reach out, and to help others.
Faith, family learning, concern for community: These are the reasons why Lee Everding gives.
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