George and Kari Grady Grossman
In 2001, George and Kari adopted Grady from Cambodia. Several years later they adopted Shanti from India. Most adoptive families with mixed heritages try to provide opportunities for their children to understand their roots, but Kari and George have gone much farther.
Beginning with Cambodia, they started with the simple idea to build a village school. Eight years later they lead a thriving nonprofit, “Sustainable Schools International” whose mission is to empower Cambodian communities to sustain schools through economic development. Kari’s book, Bones that Float, A Story of Adopting Cambodia has received numerous awards. Although they invest themselves whole heartedly to help others, their family is one that is vibrant, creative, and committed to each other and to learning.
The first school they built serves five rural villages in Cambodia. The school is the village’s only permanent structure. Starting with just 50 children in a dilapidated hut, today there are 500 students, 7 teachers and a solid cement structure with a water well, and a solar powered computer. Their teacher program adds critical incentives and sustenance for full-time teachers. The Abundant Forest Life Skills Program uses alternative energy fuels in order to protect the forests around the village from illegal logging and to provide entrepreneurial skills for economic growth among villagers. Economic growth is essential to allow Cambodian families the luxury of sending children to school rather sending them to work to support the family. The Grossmans introduced the first music program in Cambodian primary schools. Their dream is to expand their sustainable schools throughout Cambodia.
George and Kari have also played leadership roles in the development of the Colorado Cambodian Heritage Camp, designed for children adopted from Cambodia and their families. These camps play a crucial role in the formation of children’s identities as international adoptees in inter-racial families.
As loving, committed parents and teachers of their two children, seeing them take that dedication to help communities thousands of miles from their comfortable Colorado home is truly inspiring. We can think of no better parents to receive this award!
Dr. Christophe and Pensal McCray
Dr. and Mrs. McCray have devoted over 25 years to helping minority youth pursue higher education while also raising their own children to be successful and responsible adults. They instilled solid values of respect, love, integrity and service in their five children and never accepted excuses for poor performance. Dr. McCray tells the story of how he “gently” corrected one of his daughters who was not working up to her ability in a high school class. He explained to her that he would be happy to come to school daily to help her and, by the way, would be wearing his colorful “clown” pants to school. Needless to say, she made sure she didn’t need dad’s help to succeed. Today, that young lady is a college professor who has earned a doctorate. Two of her sisters are medical doctors and one of her brothers has a Ph.D. A younger brother is involved in teaching and coaching.
Mrs. McCray, with her husband’s support, founded the Ethnic College Counseling Center over twenty years ago. They decided that the information they learned while helping their own children prepare for college would also be helpful to others. The ECCC has helped over 500 youth find scholarships, summer college programs and four year universities. Mrs. McCray has a cadre of volunteers who provide bi-weekly workshops, tutoring and mentoring for ECCC students. Every two years, she takes a group of students on a tour of historically Black colleges and universities, often tracing the path of the Underground Railroad.
Both Dr. and Mrs. McCray are devout in their faith and set the highest example by their behavior. They are members of Park Hill United Methodist Church. Both Dr. and Mrs. McCray keep God as the center of their family life and demonstrate their commitment to the values and standards of their faith. Mrs. McCray exhibits a quiet strength that commands respect from all who know her. She is quick to remind both students and parents of the standards and expectations she has for all students. Her ECCC students are expected to dress for success, present themselves respectfully and challenge themselves to reach for academic, social and moral excellence.
Dr. and Mrs. McCray are extraordinary parents because they have set an example of steadfast, consistent parenting and raised five exemplary children. Anyone who has had the benefit of the McCray’s wise counsel knows their ability to motivate and guide others to success. Several students who completed the ECCC program ten years ago have come back, after college, to volunteer with the program. Dr. and Mrs. McCray have continued their parenting, grandparenting and community service despite significant health challenges. Mrs. McCray suffered severe heart problems on one of the ECCC college tours. Despite pleas from friends, family and others to “slow down,” she continued her leadership role with ECCC and has continued to organize and lead the tours. Dr. McCray is facing the challenges of kidney failure and cancer, but continues to encourage and support Mrs. McCray’s work.
Joshua Zhong and Lily Nie
Joshua Zhong and Lily Nie are loving parents to Art, Amy and Anna. They are also the symbolic parents to the almost 7000 Chinese orphans they have single handedly found homes for via their adoption agency, Chinese Children Adoption International.
Josh and Lily have devoted the last 12 years of their lives to couples who want to be parents. They opened CCAI in 1994 and have been internationally recognized for their outstanding adoption services. They are the largest Chinese adoption agency in the world. To support adoptive families in the U.S., Josh and Lily established, in 1996, the Joyous Chinese Cultural Center, which provides children a chance to connect to their heritage with education and fellowship.
In addition to their work here in the States, the Zhongs have been strong advocates for Chinese orphans and have constantly worked to improve orphanage conditions in China. In 1995 they established the Chinese Charity Fund for Chinese orphans. They also established the Lily Orphan Care Center to provide training and to lead orphanage reform in China. They have a deep concern for orphans with special needs and have established the waiting Child Program to expedite matches for these children, who are often older and in need of additional medical support. Josh and Lily and their twins, Art and Amy, themselves adopted Anna, a special needs child into their family in 2004.
Faith plays a big role in Josh and Lily’s lives. Josh is an ordained minister and has a background as a missionary. Both are involved in Face the Challenge, a Christian group dedicated to offering medical services to children in developing countries. Josh and Lily lead by example. Their faith translates into action on behalf the some of the world’s neediest children.
We are proud to honor Joshua and Lily as our 2006 Colorado Parents of the Year!
James and AnnaMarie Jackson
Jim and AnnaMarie were born in the same hospital room at the Samaritan Hospital in Nampa, Idaho exactly one year and one month apart. He remembers her as a little girl, with her hair hanging in ringlets. She remembers him singing with his family quartet. She took Spanish classes from his dad; he took her home to her daddy’s farm – and the rest is history.
Together they ran a grueling paper route to pay for their school. He finished his master’s degree while completing his undergraduate degree by attending two different schools at the same time. She received her teaching credential, which launched a life-long passion for teaching and learning. They moved to Denver for the promise of a job – a job that had evaporated by the time they drove their 1957 GMC truck into Denver. So Jim became an entrepreneur. He applied his diligent work ethic to the area of real estate development. By the time he was in his 30’s, he had amassed a fortune that would make most people envious. But, they discovered “just ‘cuz your rich doesn’t mean you’re happy”, as Jim is fond of saying. So they gave it all away!
Convinced of the obligation to share everything – including his remaining time in his life, Jim began to consult in the third world. It was on an economic consulting trip to Brazil that he encountered the startling state of third world healthcare. In response, he returned to Colorado to enlist help. Since 1987, Jim and AnnaMarie have worked as a team to save the lives of people around the world. At first, they loaded the donations of medical supplies and equipment into the old, brown Dodge pickup truck and unloaded the boxes into their garage. AnnaMarie helped sort while Jim retrieved more material. Today, PROJECT C.U.R.E. has several large trucks, and operates hundreds of thousands of square feet of warehouse space.
These two have traveled the world together, from the streets of China’s burgeoning cities, to the slums of South Africa. They have stayed in jungle cottages and Khazak tents. Together, they have been an example of teamwork and friendship – an example to pass to their children and grandchildren.
Jim and “Annie” have been married for 45 years. Along the way, they collected a couple of doctorate degrees, making them “the doctors Jackson.” They have two sons, Douglas and Jay. Doug left his career as an attorney and finance professional to join Jim at PROJECT C.U.R.E. Jay is a Captain at West Metro Fire Department in West Denver. They have one grandson and four granddaughters. All of these little kiddos love their Nana and Papa, and look forward to hiking the trails behind their mountain home, and hearing stories of far off places in the world.
In younger days, Doug and Jay remember the trappings of success. There were Mercedes limousines and old Bentley’s. For young boys, these were dream cars. When dad and mom gave them away, it made an impact that little else ever could. Suddenly, there was a tangible message that things don’t matter – even when they look neat and go fast. Only people count, and the obligation for those who have much is to help those who have little.
Once, their church was in the middle of a building campaign. They had already given hundreds of thousands of dollars for the concrete and carpet, the landscaping and stained glass windows. But they felt moved to give more. They decided that Sunday afternoon, on the curvy road from Denver to their home in Evergreen, that they should borrow the money, secured by a second mortgage, and give money that they would make sometime in the future.
Difficulties in the volatile real estate markets impacted the family cash flow from time to time. It became a game to see how much money the family could save. Whether ethical challenges or business adversities, they shared their tribulations, and their concerns became a family challenge. And when the values of diligence and integrity won out, the struggles became a family triumph.
For several decades, Saturday mornings have been a time of spiritual reflection at the Jackson household. AnnaMarie’s cooking skills are legendary among friends and family, and Saturday’s start with big breakfast. When the feasting is over, Jim grabs his well-worn leather Bible and begins a devotion. Friends and family have gathered around the table to reflect on a week gone by, and the issues ahead. International dignitaries from places like North Korea and Rwanda have been part of the family tradition. And regardless of those in attendance, the single message is one of the power of a faith commitment.
Thumbing through the pages, Jim’s Bible contains high-lighted passages. A remarkable number of those verses address the issue of stewardship – the teaching that we are only here for a short time, and our obligation is to use the things we’ve been given to honor God and care for others. Clearly, that is the basis for the work at PROJECT C.U.R.E. The example of stewardship in action is, quite simply, remarkable.
Paul and Kate Tauer
Paul and Kate Tauer, Colorado Parents’ of the Year 2004, have been married for over 47 years. They have successfully raised eight children, the second of who is currently serving as mayor of Aurora. Paul taught in public schools for thirty years and served as mayor of Aurora for 16 years (1987-2003). The Tauers have both exemplified a life service to family and community through their tireless volunteer efforts at school, community and civic organizations.
Mr. Shamoo Nath Sopori and Mrs. Shobhawati Sopori
Mr. & Mrs. Sopori have been married for 62 years. They have 3 children, Mohan (61), Bhushan (58) and Bhajan (55). They wee recommended for this award by Purnima Voria, past president of the India Association. Mr. Sopori comes from Kashmir, India. He has been a teacher thoughout his life, starting from teaching in high school and followed by teaching as a professor in the University in Srinagar, the capitol of Kashmir. Mr. Sopori has taught music to more than 10,000 students. Some of his students are internationally known artists. He has also taught many dignitaries and their families. The Soporis believe that music is a healer. Through music they have touched many lives and helped people in need. In the Denver community they have created a name for themselves through untiring volunteerism. The Soporis three children are truly a credit to the family. The eldest son is the head of Pulmonary Immunology at LoveLace center in Albuquerque. The second son is the Principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden and the third son is the Director of All India Radio. All are accomplished and renowned musicians as well.