If you are new to the area or are just looking to meet new people, a great way to connect with others in the community is by volunteering. Just ask Lori Frease! She was named Volunteer of the Year in 2017 for good reason. “I volunteer a lot,” she said.
Lori, a Colorado native, grew up in Longmont. She met her husband, Dean, while they were both attending CSU. They settled in Superior, and when Dean grew tired of his commute, he suggested relocating to the mountains closer to Denver. They moved to Conifer with their three young children in 1997.
Friends told Lori she wouldn’t like being isolated in the mountains and making friends would be difficult. “I found the best way to meet people was through volunteering,” she said. Lori had grown up watching her parents helping others, so volunteering came naturally.
She started helping out at Marshdale Elementary where her kids went to school. She volunteered in the cafeteria, monitored the attendance line and served on the PTA. She continued volunteering where her kids attended through high school and formed lasting friendships along the way.
As a member of Rockland Community Church, Lori led the children’s ministry as education director for 11 years, teaching Sunday school, recruiting teachers, running vacation bible school and helping to organize the Christmas pageant. It worked well because her kids were also there helping out.
Later, she worked as an administrator of Mean Street Ministry, a nonprofit that assists the homeless and working poor through in-person outreach two nights a week, delivering food, toiletries and bibles to people in need on West Colfax in Lakewood and East Colfax near Children’s Hospital. The program also runs a food bank and is part of the Severe Weather Shelter Network.
Lori worked as the administrative coordinator for Evergreen Chorale (now Ovation West), ensuring that everything associated with Center Stage was taken care of and running smoothly. That led to a position as development director for EChO (Evergreen Christian Outreach), which she held for five years despite the fact that, as she said, “I was horrible at asking people for money.” The way she would engage donors was, of course, by volunteering for other nonprofit organizations and events.
One of those opportunities was working with John and Pandora Erlandson serving on the committee for Boogie at the Barn. She also volunteered with Rotary Club’s annual Home and Garden Show and the Salvation Army, as well as both the Evergreen and Conifer Chambers.
Eventually, she took a job with the Conifer Chamber doing marketing and finance 30 hours per week. Since she’d been a longtime volunteer, it was an easy transition. Now, looking ahead to retirement and spending more time with her new grandson, she has cut back to an administrative position that requires only 10 hours a week, a schedule she refers to as her “princess hours.”
Lori’s friends from down the hill needn’t have worried about her feeling isolated in the mountains. After 24 years of being involved with so many local organizations, she has met many people and created many lasting friendships. It is difficult to imagine a time when Lori won’t be involved with nonprofits in some capacity, as it has been her career, her passion and her social life for many years. However, she is looking forward to spending more time traveling, visiting her grandson, crafting and enjoying all the benefits of a life well lived.