Sixteen years ago Jackie and her husband, Rich, made the front page of the Canyon Courier leaving their wedding reception at the Lakehouse in a getaway car that attracted much attention, including that of a Courier photographer. She’s been deeply involved in the Evergreen community ever since, attracting attention in more constructive ways.
A volunteer at an early age
She and Rich had met at George Washington High School in Denver eight years earlier where Jackie was a high achiever, holding a variety of leadership positions there. She’d also won an award from Mayor Wellington Webb for her outstanding volunteerism in the Denver community. It was her mom who’d lined her up for numerous volunteer jobs.
“I was a latch-key kid,” she said of herself, explaining that moving frequently was also part of her life. Prior to purchasing a home in El Pinal 12 years ago, she’d lived in 25 different places – a lot for someone who’s not yet turned 40 – leaving her with a desire to rearrange her furniture frequently.
High school was also where she’d been introduced to student safety when it came to drinking and driving, something that’s become a theme in her life ever since. She’d volunteered with Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD) and Students Taking New Directions (STAND) and continued building that awareness while in college at Colorado State University (CSU).
Caring for her single-mom during a terminal illness stretched out her college years at CSU, but she did earn a degree in Sports Medicine, although needing to give up plans for a post-grad degree as a physical therapist. Without a place to call “home” after her mother died, Evergreen became her home base because her sister lived here. She took a job as a lead trainer at a fitness studio in Evergreen where she focused on using exercise to help in situations other than elite sports.
As Executive Director of Drive Smart
She began volunteering with Drive Smart in 1996, becoming certified as a car seat technician, and three children later was hired as Executive Director of Drive Smart in 2005 when founder Cheryl Ladd expressed a desire to move on. Promoting transportation safety was a natural for her. “Motor vehicle accidents and crashes are the #1 cause of preventable deaths in America,” she points out; and Jackie works with determination to reduce the numbers in the Evergreen-Conifer area, whether it be by properly installed car seats, improved motorcycle safety, or promoting driver safety to tweens and teens in the schools.
When one of her sons had to draw a picture of what his dad and mom did when he was in pre-school, Isaac depicted his mom next to a police car with a teddy bear, labeling it “My mom saves lives.” At age four Ian was already noticing others who didn’t wear seatbelts. And it was a ‘right of passage’ for Isabella when she earned the privilege of sitting in the front seat of the car. Jackie’s involvement in driver safety has proven to be character building with her own children, for whom she finds time no matter what.
You may have seen her taking the plunge at Evergreen Lake on New Year’s Day, an event that raises money for Drive Smart (and the EPRD Special Needs Program), or Barks and Belts, a fundraiser that started in 2012, partnering with Evergreen Animal Protective League, both of which have Jackie’s signature on them. Skate the Lake has long been the main fundraiser for the organization, just completing its 16th year as a family-oriented alternative to drinking and driving on New Year’s Eve.
She’s a pro at partnering with other organizations and tapping into volunteers, instilling that same spirit of volunteerism into her own children, who can be seen ‘working’ the Pancake Breakfast, safety fairs, the Triple Bypass, Big Chili, and events tied to Drive Smart.
Proud of her Jewish heritage
Jackie is devoted to her Jewish faith, holding a seat on the membership/marketing committee at Congregation Beth Evergreen (CBE). In the past she taught Hebrew School for third and fourth graders at CBE. Her goal has been "to see kids happy being Jewish and proud to be different in a non-Jewish community.” She’s also entered her recipe for ‘Jewish penicillin’ in the Chicken Soup Challenge, CBE’s variation of a chili cookoff.
An active parent at RMAE
In addition, she serves on the foundation board for long-term sustainability of Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen (RMAE), the charter school her three children attend. She introduced the Holiday Shopping Party where gently used donated items are available for RMAE students to select as gifts for their family members, whether they celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas.
She’s been a class coordinator for sixth and eighth grades and frequently volunteers as a cashier for Bingo, a weekly fund-raising activity for RMAE at a bingo hall in Arvada. She ran the Sock Hop for four years and still volunteers for Community Service Day.
She and Rich chose RMAE for their kids because they wanted them to be in the same school as much as possible and liked the dress code that requires uniforms. "I like the small-school-being-creative persona in this privileged community, the level of parent involvement, and the fact that RMAE kids excelled in CSAP scores without all the amenities of a typical Jefferson County public school," she explains. It’s important to Jackie that her kids “need to work well and play well with others” and she’s grateful for an early education that teaches more than academics. RMAE focuses on core values.
Still using her training in sports medicine
A woman wearing many hats, Jackie still makes use of her education in sports medicine doing post-injury rehab and cancer wellness therapy, promoting exercise and women’s wellness one on one. She relies on friends to remind her to slow down long enough to take a breath herself.