Lauren Alter is one of those rare people in his age bracket (80+) -- a native Coloradan from Denver. He and his wife, Eileen, have lived in Evergreen for the past 35 years.
Lauren might best be known for his work with the Salvation Army, an organization he's been affiliated with for about 15 years, serving as the treasurer for most of that time. He and Eileen count all the money collected in the red kettles each holiday season, three days per week. Bank of the West knows them well enough to have given them a key to a room in the bank to help with that process, providing them with counting machines and whatever else is needed to make the job easier.
"Every year, even though a depressed year, people in Evergreen and Bergen Park are very generous," he reports, noting that the annual numbers typically exceed the previous year's take by $2-5,000. Occasionally, he reports, the red kettles produce things of value other than the expected currency and coins. They've discovered a man's wedding ring, diamond rings, and foreign currencies. As a bellringer, Lauren enjoys seeing kids coming with bags of coins they've accumulated and thinks it's great when parents encourage their children to be charitable. Some tell stories about feeling the need to pay back after having used the services of the Salvation Army earlier in their lives.
Last year the Salvation Army raised more than $35,000 with 90% of that amount staying in Evergreen to assist those in need; the other 10% goes to the main office of the Salvation Army to support the needs of battered women and mental assistance. Lauren says people give abundantly here because of the fact that it helps locally. He's pleased to say that the Intermountain Division has never needed to hire anyone to ring the bells, as 17 different civic and religious organizations participate in the effort.
Money is used to assist those with utilities, car repairs, rent, medical/dental expenses, glasses, prescriptions, and even an occasional prosthesis, but never food. The organization coordinates carefully with other agencies in the area to avoid allowing someone to work the system. A maximum of $750 is awarded per incident. Sometimes Lauren is in the position of having to turn people away when they apply for assistance, but he knows how to handle those situations in a firm but kind manner.
In addition, Lauren helps get kids from this area to the Salvation Army camp in Allenspark (near Estes Park). Approximately 20 children each year get to attend, thanks to SA funds, and Lauren often is the one to takes them in a van owned by the Methodist Church.
As a member of Blue Spruce Kiwanis for more than 20 years, he served as its secretary until that job required knowing how to operate the computer. Running the Big Chili Cookoff is the main source of funds for the group, with most of the money going to area fire departments.
Having grown up with a judge for a father (Colorado Supreme Court) honesty and integrity have been ingrained in his way of life, so it is not surprising that he would align himself with the values of the Boy Scouts of America. Lauren has been a registered Boy Scout leader for more than 40 years, although he is no longer active. As Advancement Chairman of the Gateway District that included Arvada (but not Evergreen) for nearly 20 years, Lauren considers himself privileged to have interviewed more than 500 candidates for Eagle Scouts during his service in that capacity.
He and his wife cook for the Community Meal put on by the United Methodist Church the last Wednesday of each month for approximately 60-90 people.
Lauren put in 30 years as an engineer with the telephone company before retiring 25 years ago when phones began going to fiber optics. He is a veteran of the Korean War and remembers the bitter cold and close calls. Since then he's learned to enjoy using a gun in other ways, namely hunting elk with friends and family.
Lauren values family, as he's outlived three of his six children and tells the sad story of his father's loss of three sisters and a brother within five days of each other in the late 1800s in the Denver area. Diptheria was the culprit, and mortuaries wouldn't even take the bodies of those who had died; relatives had to obtain the caskets and place the bodies themselves to reduce spread of the disease.
Thank you, Lauren, for your many years of service to our community and to our country, exhibiting exemplary values and serving as a role model for others.