Southern Gables Neighborhood Association: 2022 Recap

Southern Gables Neighborhood Association: 2022 Recap

Whew! Remember way back, when the end of 2020 was such a relief?  We thought that pandemic thing was almost finished. Then we thought the same thing again at the end of 2021. Going into 2022 we were aching for a full return to “normal.” (Remember normal? We don’t either.) All things considered, in 2022 the Neighborhood Association had a near-normal, busy and productive year. Let’s take a look at how that came about. 

In January the Association Board started working to revive our Local Business Supporters program, which was comatose in 2020 and barely breathing during 2021, with so many of our valued business supporters hurting, damaged, and some even closed. Local business supporters participate in our Tote Bag distribution, promotion on our website and social media, and can have booths at Neighborhood Night Out.

During the winter months we started contacting our local business partners, gathered information and prepared articles for the spring newsletter, and started planning for the Tote Bag program. Our Green Gables Girl Scout troop proposed a project to prepare and distribute a safety flyer, and we had it put together with the newsletter. The girls helped with the delivery, covering part of our 1,000 homes. Soon after the newsletters went out, our local Boy Scouts took on the job of assembling and delivering the Tote Bags to all those homes. It’s so great to have our young people involved in these projects, making for long-term growth of community spirit and cooperation.

The project of getting a walking track built on the campus of Green Gables Elementary, for which the Association had proposed and received a grant in early 2021, stalled out due to huge increases in building materials. The benefit of getting it done would be to make up for the fact that we don’t have a park in the neighborhood. The delay was frustrating, but Doug Whitten kept quietly working in the background to find solutions. In another improvement project, the residents along a stretch of Evans Avenue had petitioned the City for speed bumps to be installed. The way it works is that if a certain percentage of the affected residents sign the petition and Traffic Management concurs, the City pays half of the cost and the residents pay the other half. They asked for the Association to chip in half of the residents’ half. The request was voted on and approved, carrying out the wishes of our neighbors.

In the spring we started planning for our two summer programs: encouraging and sponsoring individual block parties, and then our big annual Neighborhood Night Out. The block party sponsorship idea started in 2021 when it looked like COVID would prevent us from having the Night Out, then at the last minute we got the go-ahead to use the school property. We went ahead with both ideas, and the block parties proved popular and successful, bringing neighbors together and making new people feel welcome. We like to do that.

In May at the annual business meeting of the Association, Mayor Paul and City Council Representatives Mary Janssen and Wendi Strom spoke on current City issues and status of ongoing programs, and fielded questions. The fiscal year Treasurer’s Report and a summary audit report were presented. The new Board officer and director nominees were announced and voted in. A notable change was with outgoing president Doug Whitten, who was recognized for having served in that position for eight years. Although he declined a petition to accept the position of President for Life 😉 he did agree to stay on the Board as a consulting Director. We met the new Green Gables Elementary Principal, Jennifer Withee, and she told of having lived down the block as a child, and starting kindergarten in the room next to where we were meeting.

The June Board meeting covered details for block party stipends, raffle prize budget for monthly luncheons, and extensive Neighborhood Night Out details and assignments. The shopping lists, volunteer recruitment, and other behind-the-scene coordinating tasks are huge. With over 700 neighbors attending, it is so gratifying when it all works out and we all have a good time.

The block parties took place in July and early August, and then our big Night Out was on August 26. We chose that date, as we have each year, because it is soon after the school year starts so families are back from vacation. It makes a fine “end-of-summer” social occasion for the neighborhood. With 700 people in attendance, the businesses and organizations that had booths and concessions had lively traffic, the DJ kept things going with music and fun interviews, and six lucky winners turned in their free raffle tickets for a $50 gift card win. The free hot dogs and lemonade were popular as always, paired up perfectly with Magill’s Ice Cream for a nutritional win-win. (Well, many of the kids and former kids thought so.)

In September we supported the Carmody Middle School Chili Cook-Off, did a critique and lessons-learned session on the Night Out, and made assignments for getting out the fall newsletter. We nominated Joy’s Kitchen, the food pantry located in Southern Gables, for the Lakewood Mayor’s Inspiration Award, and attended the award ceremony on behalf of the neighborhood. Planning for Leaf Collection Day in November started last year with discussion of how to keep it from getting out of hand again, with people drawn by word-of-mouth publicity and coming from far away. It was addressed at just about every Board meeting and we gradually came to the solution of making it neighborhood-only, others pay a fee. Even with a snow day throwing things off this year, neighbors pitched in to get it all done. Community spirit!

At the December Board meeting we discussed resuming the practice of having a neighborhood garage sale weekend. We used to do that but interest died off even before the pandemic; still, several neighbors have asked if we would do it again. We will try it, on a Friday-Saturday in April or May. We also saw a big step forward in the Walking Track project, with the construction actually getting started a few weeks ago. Completion will have to wait until the weather warms, but the foundation is literally set in.  We also accepted nominations and awarded our year-end donations. It is a central aspect of our charter to support local organizations that benefit our community. Recipients were as follows (amounts are recorded in the meeting minutes). Westwoods Community Church for community support programs, Lakewood Police Toy Fund, Green Gables Elementary School Community Support, Cub Scout Pack 419, Denver Christian School and Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms both for Leaf Day support, and Joy’s Kitchen. Earlier in the year we donated to Carmody Middle School for their Chili Cook-off fundraiser, and we conducted a Chipotle fundraiser for Green Gables Elementary.

It was a good year for Southern Gables. We love our neighborhood, and look forward to fostering an even higher level of community spirit in 2023.

For full detail and transparency, the meeting minutes and reports of the Association can be found here: SGNA Records. We encourage neighbors to get involved and join us, actively working for a better community. If you are not a member of the Association, you can join by paying dues of $20 a year. That step is a step toward supporting a better community for all of us.


Meet Your Neighbors: Bruce & Stormy McDonald

Meet Your Neighbors: Bruce & Stormy McDonald

Another in our series of interviews with Southern Gables neighbors, but with a twist. I have been posting these, but this week we turn the table. Bruce McDonald, answering interview questions written for this series by Christy Cerrone. 

How long have you lived in Southern Gables, and how did you decide to move here?  We’ve been here since 2006. Stormy is from Pueblo and went to college at Loretto Heights in Denver. I came to Colorado after high school and we met at a dance at Loretto Heights. Blind date, love at first sight. After we graduated and got married, the Air Force took us to lots of different places. We always knew we would come “back home” to Colorado. We decided on Lakewood after looking at a lot of different neighborhoods all around the Metro area. It’s a great place to be.

What are a few things that you like the most about the Southern Gables community?  It’s pretty quiet, and the location is close to the mountains and the city. We also like the feel of an “established” neighborhood. When we were looking for a home, the Realtor showing us around commented, “It took me a while but I figured out what you two are looking for. Trees!” We do love the big shade trees all around Southern Gables – well, except during those late spring snows. People too, of course, not just the trees. Since getting involved with the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association, we have met so many nice people that we are glad to know. There is a good mix of older people and young families. We love the sound of kids playing.

Do you have a favorite memory with your Southern Gables neighbors?  We have had such enjoyable times at the monthly luncheons and the annual Neighborhood Night Out at the Green Gables school campus. Both of those activities were suspended during the worst of the pandemic but now that they have started up again we hope they will continue. We hosted one of the block parties the Association sponsored last August, and the Neighborhood Night Out last September was a success.

This year’s Night Out will be on August 26 at the Green Gables Elementary School campus. Since becoming president of the Association last May, I have become even more aware of what a great job Doug Whitten has been doing for the neighborhood for so long. It’s kind of intimidating to follow him in this role. I’m glad Doug agreed to stay on with the Board this year, and we have some new people with fresh ideas for keeping up the momentum of helping neighbors know and appreciate each other.

What is the most neighborly experience you’ve had or seen in our neighborhood?  Our first winter here, there was a series of snowstorms that shut down all car movement in our part of the neighborhood for a few days. That first winter, more or less snowbound, we had the neighbors on our block over for a “whatever you have” potluck. We learned by example from the neighbors that keeping the sidewalks clear is important. Many times, those who can shovel the sidewalks take care of it for the ones who can’t.

What are your hobbies or recreational interests?  Bruce: I like to write.1 I enjoy being part of the Neighborhood Association since I think it does a lot to bring people together. Stormy: I am involved with the American Association of University Women, and I volunteer for a program at church where we handle requests for financial aid, helping parishioners get out of a tough spot. Bruce: Oh, volunteering. I guess that counts as a hobby. I help out at Joy’s Kitchen, right here in Southern Gables. They can always use volunteers.2 People can come and shop for free, no qualifications and no questions asked. Pretty amazing. It’s good food too, and lots of variety – fresh produce, frozen foods, meat, breads and pastries.

What is your favorite quote or saying?  Stormy: “Live simply so that others may simply live.” — Gandhi. Bruce: “Expect the best.” — me.

Is there anything else you want us to know about you?  After we retired from regular work we joined the Peace Corps and served in Bulgaria. We taught English in schools and at an orphanage, and worked with youth programs in our town. It was a life-changing experience.

To nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series, contact


All Those Leaves!

All Those Leaves!

One of our favorite neighborhood projects brings people together in sharing a job that just about no one really looks forward to. After enjoying the brilliant seasonal glory of all the yellow, red, and purple colors as our Southern Gables trees hunker down for the winter, we have to deal with the aftermath as the glory fades and the leaves fall to the ground. We bring out the rakes. 

Our neighbor Sharon was one of 34 Southern Gables residents who signed up to have their leaves raked up by volunteers for our Southern Gables Neighborhood Association Leaf Day. She wrote to Judy Whitten, the Volunteer Coordinator, to express her feelings after the young volunteers had completed the job, and sent a pretty impressive photo to show off their work. 

November 6, 2021

Hi Judy,

Thank you. Thank you. I appreciated the help of your young leaf raking volunteers yesterday. It was wonderful having such amazing young people in my yard. I enjoyed them. I included a picture to show you how hard they worked. I wanted to tip them but I was told I needed to donate to the school so I did. I appreciated this so much. It meant so much to me.

Sharon Sheppard

Leaves from Sharon’s yard, one of 34 yards raked by volunteers from Denver Christian School for Southern Gables Leaf Day

All the raking volunteers were from Denver Christian School. Denver Christian has a long history of volunteer community service with their students, and the Friday leaf raking in our neighborhood was a part of that tradition. 1

The bagged leaves were all picked up by yet more volunteers on Saturday morning, and taken to the Green Gables Elementary School parking lot where Doug Whitten had arranged for three large dumpsters to receive them to go to a composting facility. Keeping this much organic material from being wasted, and keeping it from taking up space in a landfill, is a big benefit of our Leaf Day project. In addition to all the leaves raked by the Friday volunteers, on Saturday many of our Southern Gables neighbors brought their own raked and bagged leaves to the collection site. Before the morning was half over, a fourth dumpster had to be brought in. Even after that, according to Doug, “Regrettably, we had to stop receiving leaves as we had nowhere to put them.  Our dumpsters were completely full after being compressed.”

Activity at the collection site on Saturday. The combined total of leaves brought in Saturday was 987 bags, compressed in the dumpsters to 80 cubic yards for composting.

Leaf stompers Carolyn Wolfrum and Bruce Loftis surveying the scene

The Saturday crew included the Whittens, Ken Fischer and his dump truck, and Greg Abelein with his truck. Trent and Margaret Freedman went around the neighborhood picking up leaves as well. The collection station was manned by Bruce Loftis, Monica Abelein, Monica Norval, Carolyn Wolfrum, Courtney & Jack App, Deb Martin, Kathy Bunzli, Drew from Westwoods Community Church, and several others along with a few of our neighborhood kids from Lakewood High School and Carmody Middle School. 

The cost of the dumpster rental and hauling to the composting facility was only made possible by the dues paying members of the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association.

As Doug said, “Your help is appreciated by all. In addition, we had a donation jar for the Make A Wish Program at Green Gables Elementary School. Those who brought leaves DONATED $281.OO for Make A Wish!  THANK YOU.”