Marla Petrini & Kelly Triplett
2023 Humanitarians of the Year
The Center Board of Directors unanimously named lawyer Marla Petrini & musician Kelly Triplett of Jacksonville, Florida, as the 2023 Humanitarians of the Year. Long active in supporting Center projects in Asia & Africa, together they have funded the Spring Brunch for sixteen years, aiding innumerable AIDS orphans in Kenya.
As a former Center Board member (now honorary), Marla led the way in ensuring anti-discrimination policies & developing new programs. Kelly has shared her extraordinary musical talent at numerous Center fund-raising events. They have encouraged human rights by funding programs for LGBTQ+ persons in Africa.
They will be honored at the 2023 Denver “Swinging@AIDS golf benefit on August 8.
Rev. Nathan Adams - 2022 Hero of the Year
During the five years that Nathan Adams has been lead pastor at Park Hill UMC, he has promoted the Center for Health and Hope as a special Advent offering. As a result, at least $15,000 has been raised each year. The Church in past years hosted World AIDS Day Sunday Service. He led a group to Kenya and is ready to lead another once COVID subsides. Because of his leadership, the church has embraced former Bishop Catherine Mutua as a "missionary" and supports half of her salary as Director of the Drug Treatment Center in Meru, Kenya. “A dynamic pastor and preacher, Pastor Adams focuses on missional issues of justice & mercy both locally and internationally” says Center Executive Director Don Messer. “Whether it is caring for the homeless in Denver or orphans in Kenya, he is on the forefront of compassion and care.”
Ms. Rachelle Schaap - 2022 Shero of the Year
Since 2011, Rachelle Schaap, Sioux Falls, has been a generous contributor to the Center’s mission in Africa and India. A civic leader in South Dakota, she is an owner of a well-known recreational vehicle and motor homes business. In travel to Kenya, she particularly bonded with vulnerable AIDS orphans. “A woman of deep faith, she connects her theology with action aimed at helping the most marginalized and stigmatized,” notes Center Executive Director Don Messer. “She knows how to ‘walk her talk,’ by reaching out to those treated as the 'least of these' in society.”
Chin Keong Tan- 2021 Hero of the Year
Chin Keong Tan, a native of Singapore and resident of Denver, has been named our 2021 Hero of the Year. Volunteering his time and talent, both in technology and music, he became the Center’s technological and inspirational bridge-builder that enabled the Center to forge a vital link that zoomed across time-zones and overcame lock-downs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the many new changes and challenges, Chin has taught himself post-production skills which he has used to produce video content for the Center. Chin knows the Center’s projects first hand, having visited its programs and partners in India four times, Kenya twice, as well as Sri Lanka and Rwanda. He cares for persons living with HIV and LGBTQ persons facing persecution and marginalization. Chin brings hope and inspiration to other volunteers, as well as to persons in India and Kenya when with his basso profundo voice he shares his vast repertoire of music. Kenya Bishop Catherine Mutua recounts, “None of us will ever forget his singing ‘Bless This House,’ when homes were dedicated for families living with AIDS.”
Dr. Marjorie Bayes- 2020 Shero of the Year
In recent years, Dr. Bayes has been instrumental in providing two meals a day for the children attending school in the slums of Nairboi, Kenya. Additionally she and her grandsons, Eli and Cosmo, have written two small children's books that featured "Superkids in Kenya." Over 700 copies of their recent book were distributed to children in 2019. Dr. Bayes was honored during our 2020 annual "Gathering to Heal" breakfast.
Rev. Teri Todd - 2019 Shero of the Year
Rev. Teri Todd and the generous people of Elizabeth United Methodist Church were honored at the "Spring is a Time for HOPE" Brunch. The church, under her leadership, has provided housing for an uneducated, impoverished woman in India forced into "survival sex"when her husband died of AIDS. Her church paid the monthly rent required for a school in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Todd first raised funds for AIDS orphans by walking bare-foot for 30 days on the famous El Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage in Spain. The term "shero," was first used in 1836, says Merriam-Webster, to designate a woman of high achievement and courage.
Dr. Burton Golub - 2017/2018 Hero of the Year
Burton Golub, MD devoted a lifetime to medicine, retiring after 50 years in 2015. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University Medical School, he went on to specialize in infectious diseases at the University of Colorado Medical School. Dr. Golub provided medical service to persons infected by HIV and AIDS for over 30 years. He has also been deeply involved in supporting the Center's programs in India that he has visited six times at his own expense. In each trip he has spent time with the Center’s Indian partners, N. M. Samuel, M.D., and Pastor Ambrose Dhanaraj, as well as visiting countless HIV patients in the clinic, office, and in their homes. He has lectured at various Center conferences that have focused on
topics of HIV, LGBTQ, and violence against women. He also visited remote areas of Sri Lanka that had recently survived a devastatingly long civil war.
Imani Latif - 2016 Hero of the Year
Imani Latif, Executive Director, It Takes A Village, Aurora, CO, has been named “Hero of the Year” by the Center for Health & Hope. Since the earliest years of the epidemic, she has been on the frontline promoting education, prevention, care & treatment. From handing out condoms in New York City streets in the 1980’s to starting her own non-profit charity focused on African-Americans and other ethnic minorities in 2002, Imani has been an inter-faith community leader. With Center support, she has reached out with short-term housing to homeless or recently released incarcerated African-Americans, who are HIV positive. She will be honored April 29 at the University of Denver during the 10th Annual “Spring Is A Time For HOPE” brunch.
Julie White - 2015 Hero of the Year
A full-time teacher, wife, and mother, Julie White in Centennial, CO, also on a daily basis is involved in ensuring impoverished HIV positive women and their families are supported in Chennai, India. After traveling with the Center in 2006 to India, she created One Mother, an economic empowerment program that employs HIV-positive women at a fair wage to make quilts, scarfs, placements, etc. from used saris. Julie tirelessly markets and sells their products in the USA.
Additionally, she engaged Bethany Lutheran Church in raising funds to purchase equipment used to conduct eye clinics for persons living with HIV who experience a loss of vision, requiring glasses & cataract surgery. The Board of Directors of the Center for Health and Hope cites Julie’s “practical humanitarianism” in honoring her as the 2015 “Hero of the Year.”
Bill Graf - 2014 Hero of the Year
Bill Graf, Evergreen, Colorado, was recently honored as Hero of the Year. A Denver lawyer and global humanitarian, Bill has devoted his life to helping people. Whether it is Africa or the United States, Bill has a reputation for care and compassion.
In Kenya and Rwanda, he has reached out to help those Jesus called "the least of these." He has been deeply involved in making sure impoverished persons living with HIV and AIDS have received malaria nets, condoms, family water filters, and de-worming medicine. In Rwanda he has helped pastors to get Bible concordances in their own language, and helped them attain property for churches so they can carry on a ministry to the poor and those living with HIV and AIDS. An AIDS orphan is now an effective college-educated teacher because of Bill's generosity.
Humble and self-depricating, most of what Bill does, nobody ever knows. Whether it is visiting someone in the hospital, counseling a woman about to be thrown out of her home in Denver, or helping a person negotiate a will at a critical moment in their life, Bill puts service above self. Since its inception, the Center has benefited from his pro-bono legal skills and his visionary, hopeful outlook on life. Truly he is a hero--not just to us, but countless unnamed people in Rwanda, Kenya and the USA.
Ann Fort - 2013 Hero of the Year
Fifteen times at her own expense, humanitarian Ann Fort, Greenwood Village, CO, has journeyed to Kenya, raising unknown thousands of dollars, engaging groups of people in projects like building schools and public sewers to working on HIV and AIDS. “Age is only a number,” declared octogenarian Ann, as she recently distributed malaria nets, condoms, family water filters, and de-worming medicine in the heart of Africa. Called “Mom” by countless Kenyans, the Center honored her at the annual “Spring is A Time For HOPE” brunch at the University of Denver on April 12, 2014. An avid skier, she often can be found on the Rocky Mountain snow-covered slopes.
Pam Merrill - 2012 Hero of the Year
Pam Merrill, Westminster, CO, was named the 2012 “Hero of the Year” by the Center's Board of Directors. She was honored for her extraordinary humanitarian service at the “Spring is a Time for HOPE” brunch at the University of Denver on Saturday, April 13, 2013.
“Pam has left an indelible mark on the lives of countless of the most impoverished women and children of India,” says Executive Director, Donald E. Messer. “In her nine self-financed trips to India, she has developed close personal relationships with persons who are the most marginalized in the world due to a combination of caste, gender, and HIV.”
As a result of these experiences she had led the Center to 1) create a care and support program for 28 HIV-positive women, 2) provide backpacks for 350 elementary Dalit school children, 3) initiate alternative income generating projects for HIV-positive women and homosexual men, 4) support tutors for 400 Dalit girls, 5) help five girls go on to college, and 6) repair mud and thatched huts damaged by monsoons. “Wherever I go,” reports Messer, “people stream out of their mud huts with pictures of Pam, expressing their gratitude for the help, health, and hope she has initiated.” Merrill believes that “education is truly the path out of poverty,” and her relentless advocacy and generous support has transformed life for the poorest of the poor. It costs about $15,000 a year for these programs—do you want to help our hero? Click here to learn more about the programs Pam has made possible.
Jay Patterson - 2011 Hero of the Year
In the 2011, Jay Patterson was named “Hero of the Year” by the Center’s Board of Directors. After neck surgery,she rode 2,000 miles and hosted a “Swinging at AIDS” golf event in Kanas to raise $10,000 to benefit the Center’s free clinic for Women and Children with AIDS in rural India. Since visiting India, she has been untiring in her efforts for the “Friends of Namakkal,” seeking to alleviate AIDS among India’s most impoverished. She was greeted with fire trucks and balloons when she rode into her hometown of LaVeta, Colorado.