Archives for April 5, 2017

Karen Smith, Executive Director of the Broomfield Community Foundation retires – Mentor to Melissa Tumblin of the Ear Community Organzation

Broomfield Community Foundation’s Karen Smith talks with Tom Currigan Senior Director with Kaiser Permanente, who has been a sponsor of Heart of Broomfield for more than 10 years, during the annual Heart of Broomfield Awards banquet on Monday at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

Karen Smith, Executive Director of the Broomfield Community Foundation, is retiring this fall.  Karen was my mentor who guided me and taught me how to run a nonprofit organization, how to run our Ear Community Organization. I will never forget the day when I met with her to tell her about my passion for wanting to start a nonprofit organization (in 2011) and about the cause that I wanted to support for children and adults who have Microtia and Atresia. Karen loved what I was trying to do and agreed to run it past the Broomfield Community Foundation’s board of directors to see if the Foundation would be interested in awarding a fiscal sponsorship.  The board and Karen then invited me to present to the board of BCF and they loved what I was trying to do and all agreed to give me a chance at being their very first fiscal sponsor where Ear Community would be taken under their wing and guided as a nonprofit organization, being offered 501c3 status.  After helping carry the Ear Community Organization under your wing Karen, for four years until my organization became it’s own 501c3, thank you for all that you did to help me with Ear Community, for understanding my passion for wanting to help people, and for believing in me and my organization’s cause! I would not have been able to do this without your help and to have gotten Ear Community to where it is today.

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“After 14 years at the helm, Karen Smith is stepping down as executive director of the Broomfield Community Foundation.”She’s a remarkable person and I don’t think we’ll replace her,” Foundation Board of Directors President Bruce Erley said. “I think we’ll find someone to fill the position, but she can’t be replaced.”

The Foundation was established in 1993.

Smith is incredibly tuned in to the community needs, he said.

“She’s so integrated into the community in every way,” Erley said, “and wears the Foundation on her sleeve.”

Erley announced the retirement at Monday night’s Heart of Broomfield Awards ceremony.

A search team to look for a new director began last fall, he said, and the group hopes to have the job description completed this month. The team, made up of past and present board members, will interview candidates in June and July.

Smith will help the new director for a month or so to transition into the position, and will be on-call the rest of the year.

Janell Daly, the Foundation’s administrative assistant, will remain on staff.

Smith and Erley called Daly a valuable asset to the Foundation.

Losing someone like Smith means losing a tremendous amount of cultural history, Erley said, and Daly carries a lot of that institutional knowledge..

Smith, who has been asked for years when she’ll participate, will compete in this September’s Dancing with the Broomfield Stars as a send-off. A few weeks after that performance will be her last day as director.

Carina Martin, founder and CEO of A Precious Child, remembers when the Foundation awarded the nonprofit its first grant.

“On the day of the reception, I walked up sobbing,” Martin said. “I thought ‘someone believes in me and my organization and the work we’re going to do.’ I just lost it.”

Smith, she said, has been a longtime friend and someone who cares deeply about children.

“She’s always there for you,” Martin said. “She’s one of the kindest people I know.”

Smith will spend her retirement working with her husband in his part-time handyman business and will have time to volunteer around Broomfield.

She said it has been her pleasure to work with the various board and committee members, and witness their dedication to the Foundation and to Broomfield.

The rebranding process the Foundation rolled out last year was an “excellent continuation of the board’s strategic planning process that resulted in a message for the Foundation that we can be united in telling,” she said.

“Our tagline, ‘One Community. Many Hearts. Unlimited Impact,’ says it very well,” she said. “We are a leading voice of philanthropy for Broomfield.”

She is proud that three years ago the Foundation moved to a complete online grant application process that makes it easier for non-profits to plan and more efficient for the grant committee to review applications and see final reports.

The Foundation reached $1 million in its Legacy Partners endowment fund in 2013. Their next goal is to raise $2 million by 2020.

“I so appreciate the donors to the Foundation and hope they continue with their support and that we continue to get our message to the community to expand our donor base and build our Legacy endowment fund,” she said.”

Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, or

You will be missed Karen, but I will never forget your help, kindness, knowledge, and generosity.  Thank you for helping me with Ear Community and for understanding my need to help children and adults who have Microtia and Atresia all over the world.
– Melissa Tumblin
Founder and Executive Director of Ear Community
(a Broomfield, Colorado headquartered 501c3 charity organization)

Helping Joan hear better thanks to Oticon Medical and the Ear Community Organization

Joan Yirenkyi of Greensboro, North Carolina receives a newly donated Oticon Medical Ponto 3 through the Ear Community Organization on April 3rd, 2017.

Ear Community is thrilled to introduce you to Joan Yirenkyi.  Joan is a beauty at 27 years old and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her family.  She was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome along with Microtia and Atresia of her left ear and other birth defects.  Being born with craniofacial abnormalities such as Treacher Collins Syndrome can create an extremely difficult path through life.  She has had to undergo several surgeries, including several on her teeth and face.

Joan did not give up; she is a fighter!  She worked hard through school, despite massive obstacles both through her peers and not receiving equal access to all the information.  She has met with countless specialists during her young life to gain better access to sound.  In January of this year, Joan reached out to the Ear Community Organization to see if we could help.

With the help of Oticon Medical, the Ear Community Organization was given the opportunity to donate a new Ponto 3 sound processor to Joan so that she can have access to sound!  On April 3, 2017, Joan was finally able to get her Ponto 3 and gain sound while wearing the soft band head band.  When she tried on her new Ponto 3, Joan said, “I am so happy for this!  Thank you SO much!” Someone with as much spirit and perseverance as Joan definitely needs to have hear voice heard and we know that by giving her the gift of hearing, she is going to do great things!

Ear Community wishes to thank Jared Schnackenberg, President of Oticon Medical US, and Alan Raffauf, Vice President of Marketing for Oticon Medical US, for giving our organization the opportunity to help Joan hear better.  A very special thank you to Beverly Ostrowski of Oticon Medical for helping work with us to improve lives with better hearing.  We also would like to extend a warm thank you to Joan’s audiologist, Dr. Shannon Frymark, AuD at Aim Hearing and Audiology in Greensboro for donating her time and services to fit and program Joan’s new hearing device!  Thank you to Ear Community’s donors and to the friends and relatives to the late Curt Gorman (past President of Oticon Medical US) who have also helped make it possible for hearing device recipients, like Joan, receive the gift of hearing.

Sometimes it takes a village, and we are all happy to be a part of Joan’s incredible journey.  We are so proud of the things Joan has accomplished and faced so far in her life, and we can’t wait to see how far she’ll go.  You are an incredible woman Joan, and you now have the access to sound that you fought for.  Good luck, Joan, show the world how bright you shine!

We’re so proud of you Joan!
Ear Community

Giving back: how one communtiy member helps a child hear better through the Ear Community Organization

Daniel Alejandro (2.5 years old) of Mexico receives a gently used donated Cochlear Americas Baha 4 hearing device from Samantha Pillion of the United States on April 1st, 2017.

Please meet one of our cutest Ear Community members, Daniel Alejandro, from Mexico.  Daniel was born on July 14th 2014 to his wonderful parents Patricia and Daniel.  From the first moment of his precious life, he was admitted into the neonatal intensive care unit and stayed there for an agonizing two months.  During that time, he showed determination and toughness that proved he was ready to fight for his life!  Daniel’s parents didn’t have any answers on his condition, even when they were released from the hospital.  Finally, they met with a geneticist who explained some test results to them.  Daniel was born with a rare genetic disorder that caused him to have Bilateral Microtia and Atresia as well as low muscular tone, strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), and a high degree of hypermetropy which also makes it difficult to see.  Daniel had a long, hard road ahead of him but his parents fought to give him everything he needed.  They made sure he received physical, feeding, and sensory therapy.  Finally, when Daniel was almost a year and a half old, he started to crawl and pull himself up to a standing position!

Patricia and her husband, Daniel, reached out to the Ear Community Organization to add another fitting piece to little Daniel’s puzzle.  They wanted to help him hear.  For hearing parents, it can be so daunting to have a baby who is born without hearing in either ear.  When that is compounded with countless other conditions and hours of therapy, it can become exhausting.  Ear Community was happy to help, and were able to find a generous donor to give Daniel the chance at sound.

Samantha Pillion

Samantha Pillion, a student at American University had a very gently used Cochlear Americas Baha 4, which she had never quite warmed up to.  She is in the MPA program and set to graduate this year.  Samantha contacted Ear Community, wanting to share this generous gift with someone who needed a device, and we knew exactly who to send it to!  Along with the Baha 4 that Samantha donated, she included lots of goodies for the lucky recipient such as:  Hal-Hen Mini Super Dri-Aid in its original box, 28 batteries with the magnetic tool, listening tool so others to experience listening through the Baha 4, an abutment cleaning brush, sound processor cleaning wipes, sterile wipes, digital battery tester, Bluetooth microphone accessory, cords/clips/wires, a spare back for the sound processor, user manual, and warranty card.

On April 1st, 2017, Daniel traveled with his family from Monterrey Mexico to the United States to pick up his new Baha 4.  The difference in Daniel was almost immediate says his mother, Patricia, “…his face lit up when he heard our voices and we could tell it was a once-in-a- lifetime moment.”  Daniel’s parents were just thrilled for their precious little boy and now can’t wait to see how the world opens up for him now that he has access to sound.

Ear Community would like to extend our warmest gratitude to Samantha Pillion, who thought to share this device with someone who could use it.  She is little Daniel’s hero for hearing.  A special thank you to Luis, a close family relative, who lives in San Juan, Texas who was able to hold onto Daniel’s Baha 4 and keep it for him until his family could pick it up.

Daniel, there is so much good in the world, and our organization is so happy that you can now hear countless joyful things throughout your life!  We wish you all the very best, and are excited to watch you grow and learn.

Here’s to happy hearing, Daniel!
Ear Community

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