Dianne Bennett's been known as the "trashy lady" about Evergreen – the one to talk to when it comes to needing waste and recycling receptacles for special events. She's also the one who arranges for educational programs about recycling in the mountain schools and tours of the recycling center and transfer station in Evergreen owned by EDS Waste Solutions.
Her innovation and connection to the community helped earn the company honors as 2011 Business of the Year at both the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Chamber. (It might have been a trifecta, but consideration as Business of the Year with the Conifer Chamber was withdrawn because Dianne was serving as a board member at the time of the competition.)
As the Business and Marketing Administrator for EDS, she coordinates company participation in the parades and festivals and handles the special events that require trash and recycling service in the areas they serve. She represents the company in the various chambers and has been serving on the Golden Chamber board in addition to the one in Conifer. She also serves on the board of EAS+Y, Evergreen's Alliance for Sustainability, as well as the Lariat Loop. She is a member of Rotary too.
Her job description labels her as the public relations liaison for large and municipal accounts, handling governmental bids and programs. But somehow she tends to make small towns like Evergreen and Conifer feel like they're the most important clients even though they aren't municipalities. Simply said, she's partial to the mountain towns.
Among the many community-based programs she's developed is a new one with Drive Smart Evergreen-Conifer where the two organizations work together to accept, disassemble, and recycle unusable car seats for small children. The seats, which now carry an expiration date, have a limited life cycle because of changing safety regulations, ineffectiveness once a car has been in a wreck, and reduced stability of the plastics used after exposure to extreme fluctuations in temperatures. Resale stores and agencies providing assistance to low-income families generally will not accept used car seats because of the liability attached, so disposing of them has become an issue. The soon-to-be-launched carseat recycling program by EDS will make it the first such program in the state.
Other programs she's developed include Neighborhood Lookout, which works with the Sheriff's Department to make trash truck drivers additional neighborhood watch participants, and the company's holiday food drive for five area food banks.
She doesn't just talk trash though. Sometimes she talks "Southern." Words like "twitterpated," "crawfishin" and "bumfuzzled" tend to roll off her tongue unexpectedly, letting her Mississippi roots show. Among her favorite foods are cornbread, chicken and dumplings, and fresh tomatoes – "but only from a Mississippi garden," she points out. When she's mad or excited, her Southern background comes out.
In Mississippi, she was the first female to serve on the board of The Builders' Association where they called her "the little lady."
She's currently president of the board of the Rock House in Idaho Springs where she's been involved for about 10 years as a mentor and/or board member. The teen outreach program provides tutoring, mentoring and recreational activities for at-risk teens in the mountain town.
Dianne has a passion for organizations that help young people. "It's alarming how quickly children can become 'at risk,'" she says.
In 1986, a drunk driver caused an accident that killed her husband and severely burned her young son, a passenger in the car. That life-changing event led to her founding the first chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) in the state of Mississippi. It was the first of many volunteer activities that have defined her community involvement since then.
When she moved to Colorado in 1994, she and her current husband, Steve, both volunteered as counselors with Camp Comfort, a weekend-long program providing counseling for children dealing with grief. "I wish something like that had been available for my kids when they experienced the loss of their father," she says.
In addition to working full time, Dianne is raising two grandchildren (aged 9 and 14) and can be seen running them to school and other activities like most moms 20 years younger than she. She talks about someday developing a handbook for those involved with "kinship care" – grandparents and other relatives navigating the judicial system to gain and/or maintain custody of minor children.
Dianne enjoys all that our mountain town as to offer, rarely missing an art festival or wine tasting. She loves to explore the state with her family and walk in the beautiful surroundings that are part of Evergreen.