Meet Your Neighbors: the Singh-Ewing Family

Meet Your Neighbors: the Singh-Ewing Family

I first met Ruby Singh (Ravinder) at his regular hangout, the cash register at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on Wadsworth. He runs the place with a friendly outlook, cheerful with everyone. We held our monthly Neighborhood Association luncheon there last month, and his wife Darlene came to join us. She was every bit as friendly and outgoing, brightening the room with smiles and lively conversation, and holding the sweetest grandchild you ever saw. It was pretty clear, this was a family to get to know!  We visited in his front yard on a cool sunny afternoon, in a private little grove under a shade tree fronted by native plants and flowers.  Interview by Bruce McDonald

Bruce:  Well, we always like to start off by asking how long you’ve lived here in Southern Gables, and how you came to choose our neighborhood.

Ruby: I’ve been here since 2018, and choosing the neighborhood was very easy – it was because Darlene lived here!   I suppose that would make it an easy choice for sure! But it makes us want to know, how did you two meet, to make this all happen and put us here sitting in your garden?  Darlene: I was on a vacation trip to the Cayman Islands in 2014 with my sister, and there was this guy at the resort, a cute bartender. So personable and friendly! He was from India, and was there in the Caymans working the bar and as a waiter. We hit it off right away. We stayed in touch, and made several trips to see each other in 2015 through 2017 both there and in the States. I went to Jamaica to be with him when he applied for a visa to come and visit here in the US. Then we got married in 2018.  So then, we still have the question of what brought you to Southern Gables…  That goes back to when I moved down here from the mountains. That was September 1996, and it was to be closer to places I had to go to regularly for work, appointments, shopping and all. Up there I spent SO much time commuting. I looked at houses all around the area, and when I saw this one I loved it right away.

What are a few things you like about living here in Southern Gables?   It’s convenient – we’re so close to the schools for example. Devon was in the fourth grade and right away he could just walk there by himself or with other kids. And same for James who was in eighth. Our neighbors too, so friendly and easy to get along with. I had a dog who would go to our back fence and start barking to rile up the dog on the other side. I was so worried about bothering people that I took a can and put some coins in it, would toss it out near her to startle her and she would quit for a while. My neighbor came over and told me not to worry – she understood and it didn’t bother her. We became the best of friends, and there was a gate in between our houses and we used it to visit back and forth so it was like not having a fence at all.

Can you tell us about any other neighborly experiences?  One of the neighbors is by herself and when it snows she doesn’t have to worry about getting her sidewalk shoveled; someone always gets it done. And watching out for each other, like someone might text a neighbor to pick up a package from the porch if they’re gone, things like that.

How about your work, and how you spend your leisure time?  Ruby: You know about my work of course, being the manager at Dickey’s. I started there as an assistant manager in 2018 and became the general manager in 2020. I supervise ten people, with two to five of us on a shift. It keeps me busy. Darlene: Right now I’m a stay-at-home grandma. I take care of Devon and Sylvia’s little girl, Athea. I worked at Coors in Creative Services – doing their advertising campaigns. So, you were behind the “Silver Bullet” ads that we remember so well? Yes I contributed to them, and the “Elvira” campaign. That was so exciting, getting to meet the celebrities and all. On another campaign I met Haven Moses. for those who don’t remember he was a Broncos player! I was the liaison between “the creatives” and the print shop.  And hobbies, leisure? I can see from your front yard that gardening must be one. Ruby: Ha! All that plant care isn’t from us; it’s all done by our daughter-in-law Sylvia. She is going to school to become an ecologist. As for me, I love sports. All sports: Ice hockey, soccer, basketball, football… I’m a big Manchester United fan, and they have such a story of overcoming hardship. I admire that. Darlene:  I like taking scenic drives, and showing off beautiful places in Colorado to Ruby. We take walks – not really hiking but we do love to be outside enjoying nature. Ruby: And reading. I read a lot. For me it’s a big part of improving my English. I speak and write in Hindi and Punjabi as well, but improving my English is a constant process. Darlene reads a lot as well, so that’s something we both enjoy.

Do you have a favorite saying, or any words of advice for youngsters or friends? Ruby: Respect your elders. Darlene: As a parent, start hard and finish hard. You can’t be too soft. Being a parent takes focus. Bruce: Those two bits of advice go together pretty well, don’t they?  Ruby: Yes, just like us.

In closing, what else should we know about you?  Darlene: Ruby is SO honest and sincere, sometimes it’s hard for him with situations in the shop where people aren’t doing right, and they or others get upset. Ruby: Yes, like one time a lady thought I made a mistake with her change, and she got mad when I tried to explain and calm her. Later she realized it was her own mistake and came back with a gift for me, and that was such a relief. Darlene: We love to be there for people when they need help.  We love to decorate for holidays. Halloween and Christmas are so much fun. We had 115 kids stop by this year for Halloween. This is a fun-filled hobby for Ruby.

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Meet Your Neighbor: Marcel Guajardo

Meet Your Neighbor: Marcel Guajardo

When I first met Marcel Guajardo a few months ago, to talk about joining us on the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association Board, he had come through a rain shower on his bike to get to our meeting. Then again this week when I showed up at his house to have this interview, it was just after a heavy rain shower, and he had just dried off after a good bike-soak. If we keep this up it could get to be a habit. He’s not going to stop riding his bike, and I’m not going to stop asking questions and getting to know our neighbors…  Interview by Bruce McDonald

Bruce: How long have you lived in Southern Gables, and what brought you here?  

Marcel: Ándie and I have lived here about four years. I’m originally from Houston, but I’ve lived in Colorado most of my life. Colorado is the place where I’m really at home. My parents live just west of us here, in Country Village, I have lots of good memories from there – from this area. I always wanted to live here. Always?  Well, from when I was a teenager. I would drive through Southern Gables, like on my way to school, and I always thought, “This is really beautiful. I want to live here someday.” It was the trees, I think. Houston has lots of trees in most of the neighborhoods, and something about that brought back really good childhood memories. It’s more than trees though… it’s quiet, the neighbors are so nice, and the location is convenient. Like biking to work?  Sure, and more than that, the mountains! Close to good schools, Belmar, the lakes.

I guess we agree it’s a pretty good place to live. How about the neighbors, do you have any neighborly interactions you could tell us about?  Sure. I have a green thumb and I’m really proud of the trees I’ve planted and gotten to grow. We have some apple trees that had huge yields last year, so many that we packed up bags and carried them up and down the street in a wagon giving them out to neighbors. A number of times, when we hadn’t met the people before they would ask, “Those aren’t from our neighbor’s trees down the street, are they?”  We could say yes they were, but we were the ones who lived there and we were giving them away. Even before they knew us they were watching out for us, concerned that somebody might be taking our apples. And another one, we have a neighbor who is a roofer and fell, had terrible injuries. While he was gone the neighbor kids mowed his lawn and we all watched out for his place. When he came back home after rehab, all of us gathered around and he had a big welcome home. People brought meals to him and offered to run errands. Good neighbors.

Marcel with two of his paintings

How about your work and hobbies?  Ándie works for the EPA, in sustainability programs for communities and reservations. Specifically, engineering and program management for water: flood control and safety of drinking water. I work with TV and electronics, as a product manager for wireless services. Hobbies, huh. Everything. I love grilling. Whether you’re hungry or not, if you’re around here you’re going to smell the delicious meats I’m cooking, twice a week, rain or shine, hot or snow. It’s really a thing with me. It’s an art. I guess you could say all of us in the family are artists at heart. I paint – all the pictures you see on the walls are ones I’ve painted. We both like hiking and paddleboarding. I like to write. I write movie scripts. I like hands-on work: painting, drywall, plumbing, car repair. Ándie is a musician and a dancer. She’s got a lot of musical talent, and so do our two sons. The older one, Javi, plays clarinet, sax, and piano. His brother Miguel plays violin, and sings in the Colorado Children’s Chorale. Sports too. They are both good athletes, and it seems they can do anything.

Do you have any advice for us, a saying or some wisdom to pass on to the neighborhood?  (after a pause)  That’s a hard one. But I say, “If you can cook it, why not smoke it?”

Sounds delicious. On that note, I guess we can wrap up but I’ll stop by sometime for a smell! 


Marcel is on the Southern Gables Neighborhood Board, as Area Representative for Area 7.

Contact to nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series.


A Joyful Place

A Joyful Place

Jenn Withee, the new Principal of Green Gables Elementary School, grew up in Southern Gables just down the street from the school. She recalls her first day as a student in what was then the Kindergarten room, and the sense of anticipation that something great was starting. It turned out to be a lifetime of dedication to the educational process and the joy it brings. Interview by Bruce McDonald

Bruce: It must have felt a little strange to be coming back to your old school not only as an adult, but as the adult heading up the responsibility for what happens here…

Jenn: Yes, it sure did. My parents were from here, went to Alameda High School and have a longtime identity with this part of Lakewood. I’m a Colorado native, and to be exact a Lakewood native. Mom and Dad moved us into the house on Estes Street when it was time for me to start school, and Green Gables was a central part of our family story for me and my siblings. We had lots of cousins here too! When I came back into the building to consider the assignment here as Principal, the feeling was just overpowering. It’s such a joyful place!

I know you have been a Principal before, up in Arvada, so you have a lot of experience in the educational field. What was your path here?  Well, my undergraduate degree was in Human Development and Family Studies at CU Denver. I also got my Master’s Degree and Teaching license at CU Denver, and I did my residency work at Fitzmorris Elementary in Arvada. Most of my teaching years were at that school, and I have vivid memories of how I learned the critical importance of what teachers do. When I welcomed my first class of kindergartners, and saw all of them sitting on the carpet expectantly waiting for me to guide and nurture them, the magnitude of my responsibility as an educator sunk in. Every day, the families of these children trusted their children’s care to me. It is a profound responsibility and it anchors me as a leader.

What are some of your memories of growing up here in Southern Gables?  The friendships. Childhood friendships formed here are still strong, and the sense of community is a lasting one. I remember the Community Picnic the school used to put on at the end of the year – lots of good memories there. The talent shows. Oh do you sing? Dance?  No, no.., but it was fun. All about doing fun things with friends.

How about your hobbies, leisure activities?  I’m big on mom stuff right now, so that’s what I do with my leisure time. My husband and I have three kids, the oldest in third grade. We do soccer, swimming, basketball. My youngest isn’t into all that yet, at two-and-a-half, but she’ll have her own way of doing things, whatever she gets into.

We hear of teacher shortages – how are you doing here at Green Gables?  We are almost fully staffed, lacking one position for a paraprofessional. We’re working on filling that position, and the fact that we are so well off is due to how great a school this is – it is , as I said, a place of joy. A joyful, positive place. The teachers and all the staff here are so dedicated to the children and their education, and vested in the importance of that mission. It gives such a sense of fulfillment. It’s an easy fit for me to move into and lead, because I am a relational leader. The emphasis is on partnership.

On the subject of partnership, what can the Southern Gables community do for the school – the broader community, besides the families having children here?  We have a gem of a school. It is a positive and real asset to the neighborhood. On social media, though, negative people have louder voices. When people come here and take a tour of the school, and see what we have, the reaction is always positive. But sometimes families moving in from nearby just keep their kids in another school where they came from, and don’t even check us out. I think the families here are proud of the neighborhood, and proud of our school. Tell it!  If neighbors want a tour of the school to learn more about us, we’ll give it. Our neighbors can be goodwill ambassadors. That would be great!

In wrapping up, how about a quote or saying that you look to for guidance?  I’ve heard a quote from Nelson Mandela, “Education Is the most powerful weapon to change the world.”  With every bit of knowledge and skill, with every child, we are changing the world for the better.