In a split second everything changed for Kim Gaudet, and that was the beginning of a life-long climb to find her old self.
The Evergreen Christian Outreach (EChO) Resale Store Manager was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin and moved with her family to Englewood when she was seven years old. She says her parents worked “really hard” and gave Kim and her sister wonderful opportunities, including attending and graduating from Cherry Creek High School. “I was known as the one who drove the VW Bug instead of a Mercedes,” she laughed.
Kim married soon after high school and moved with her Marine husband to Washington D.C., Boston and Virginia. They had their son, Clayton, and Kim “was a stay at home mom.” Later, when she was single again, Kim and her son moved back to family and the Denver area. She began to dream of becoming a physical therapist.
Kim and her son moved to Yankee Creek in 1990 and “rented a home on the top of the hill.” Kim was working for a visiting nurse agency as a CNA and PTA and looked to earn her degree in physical therapy. And that was when life turned.
“I was driving no more than 25 miles per hour when one of my tires went off the road....” Kim suffered a closed-head traumatic head injury. “I had cerebral hemorrhaging but was misdiagnosed. Later, I started to forget terminology and began to have seizures.” She worked with the Brain Injury Association. “I was very angry about the misdiagnosis, then insurance fought me. I lost everything.”
Despite being injured and a single mother Kim “stubbornly” insisted that she was going to be able to work again. “I finally won in court, but part of that was declaring me permanently disabled.” She exercised at home, doing her own occupational therapy.
In 1996, 12 years after the accident, she began regular volunteering as a client with EChO. “I started by doing odd jobs but very quickly a friend said that I should go work at EChO’s Whitney House, a store for clients. She suggested that the act of sorting and arranging things would be good for me.” Kim recalls “simply sorting socks was so hard for me.”
Through EChO, Kim believes that she was lucky, in her words. "I couldn’t walk into the world too fast. I just kept going back more and more.” From 1998-2002 Kim was a regular volunteer. Two years after the Resale Store had opened in the Evergreen North location, with the staff’s dream of making it an upscale store, Kim found her next position. “They had seen my creative side and they took a chance on me. They made me write a résumé and go through interviews before the EChO board members. She admits, “I didn’t get the job the first or the second time, but they gave me a third try and I’ve been the manager ever since.”
“The store is such a positive community-based place. I think every community should have a store like this.” Kim said, “I just ran with it.” But she has done so much more than just run with it.
EChO receives a wide variety of donated items of different quality and value. Kim set up a pricing system that EChO shares with other thrift stores. “We have a five-tiered system of low/medium/high/designer” and exclusive items. With 145 volunteers (but always interested in more) EChO’s 8 staff have a huge job processing the clothing, décor, furniture, art and so much more. What is perhaps most surprising is that EChO receives not only that wool coat that you donated last week, but also a dining set valued at $14,000 and a painting that was appraised at $19,000. Kim looks to do special auction events and online auctions in the future to best benefit EChO from these donations.
When she’s not working endless hours at the resale store, Kim loves the outdoors and traveling... "I love renovating my home, gardening, cooking and spending time with good friends. I always love a new adventure off the beaten path.”
Her climb away from her injury has been long and hard; but through it all, our community of Evergreen is a better place because of her determination.