Thank you to everyone who attended the WomenGive Larimer County Spring Social and New Member Happy Hour! Your support, enthusiasm, and dedication to the advancement of women was on full display! Special thanks to Alee Landeros and Madisen Golden who both shared their stories with us, their strength and dedication inspiring all of us to reach our potential.

In Her Own Words – Alee’s Story

Hello, my name is Alee Landeros, and I am a WomenGive alumni. I spoke at the WomenGive Luncheon in 2020 before the pandemic. I am a first-generation CSU graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in social work graduating in 2019, and now I am thriving in my first career called Volunteers of America, where I am a service coordinator that provides services and resources to my senior residents at the new Cadence apartments.

My life as a single mother began almost 10 years ago. In May of 2013, my daughter Amia was born. Her dad left and never came back, I was very fearful, clueless and alone. Then I blinked and now she’s going to be 10! I am incredibly thankful to be a single mother and to have her as my daughter! I am so thankful for the life that we have built together so far. When I spoke at WomenGive Luncheon my daughter was in 1st grade, and now she is in 4th grade! She only has one year of elementary school left after this school year, and will then go off to middle school, which is hard to believe! She currently plays volleyball and has participated in basketball, cheerleading, dancing, and was even in the honor choir. She is thriving in school, she has an incredible GPA, she’s at a 7th grade reading level, she is in GT math and English, and has an incredible group of friends! I am beyond proud of my daughter!

While I attended college, I used the Colorado Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) to help cover the day care expenses. After 24 months I was told that CCAP will no longer cover day care expenses while I attend school, and I thought to myself, “Really? Do they really think I could complete a Bachelor’s degree in 24 months?”. I felt hopeless and thought, “how am I going to pay the daycare expenses to continue my education journey?”. At that time, I was a participant in Project Self Sufficiency, and my advisor told me about WomenGive, so I applied for the scholarship, at the start of my second semester at CSU I received the WomenGive scholarship award for the remainder of my college career. WomenGive has been a positive support system for me throughout my college journey. I’m so thankful for the benefits it offers and for the friendships that I have made. If it wasn’t for WomenGive, I probably would not have been able to complete my Bachelor’s degree or would have had to break my bank just to pay childcare expenses. WomenGive has been a phenomenal help for me and my daughter.

After earning my Bachelor’s degree in December of 2019, my post-graduation journey was not one I had expected or had hoped for. When applying for jobs I was aways getting told “you do not have experience”, well how am I supposed to get any? It was the beginning of an unexpected pandemic in March 2020 that prevented access to new opportunities. I was without a stable job for three years. I couldn’t work even though I wanted to. During that time, I was also in a new serious relationship. I truly thought that this man was the love of my life, and it turned out to not be the case. After over a year of dating the relationship ended and it had made me realize that different relationships can. impact us and change us as a person either for the better or the worse. It’s up to us at the end of it all how we allow it to change us. It’s okay to grieve losses and people, but without him I’m now thriving, and I am the best version of myself. I realized what a benefit it is to be on my own just me myself and I, and my daughter of course. I am honestly so happy with it just being me and my daughter and I deserve the very best, my standards are extremely high, I am so deserving of much more than I hope, and I refuse to settle.

Throughout the last three years I have tried working a few different jobs and none of them worked for me. One evening I was scrolling through Indeed and I was applying for everything that stood out to me. I then received an email the next day stating that they received my application for an organization called Volunteers of America as a service coordinator and that they would like to have a phone interview with me. Then I asked myself, “What did I even apply for here?” so, I went ahead and accepted the interview. The questions I was being asked made me doubt myself and made me think that I was not going to be considered. Then surprisingly I was offered a second interview, which I accepted. During that time, I was working with a career coach, and he helped me with practice interviews and went over commonly asked questions. I found it to be helpful because I was serious about getting this job and wanting something stable. During the second interview with my now boss and a few other now colleagues, there was not any, maybe one or two, commonly asked questions that were asked. All the other questions were ones I’ve never even heard of, but I was not going to respond with I don’t know, or I don’t have an answer to that. The interview made me feel very nervous, but I just did my best and rolled with it, which ended up being good enough because after that interview my boss emailed me offering me a final interview. It was like the third interview, and I was like just “give me the job already!”. During that time, I had another job offer but I was really hoping to get a job with VOA. Finally, my boss gave me the final interview and it was a job offer. I asked if I could think about it because I really wanted to make the right choice, and it was a no brainer, I had to go with VOA.

As of October of 2022, my career began as a Service Coordinator to the senior residents at the new Cadence apartments and to residents in the community here in Fort Collins. What I find a very interesting is how my goal was set on being a probation officer, and then after graduation my goal was to work with high school students, and let me tell you – I may not be working with high school students, but it’s pretty similar

I love my job very much and I never saw myself doing this type of work. I have never even heard of Volunteers of America. I find it so astonishing that we think we know what we want to do, and we end up in a place where we have never envisioned ourselves. At the start of my job, I was clueless and timid, and here I am slaying it! I have my very own office which God was saving just for me! I am incredibly thankful for this job which offers benefits and flexibility so that I can still take the best care of myself and my daughter! This job has provided my daughter with stability, and we are very content. I thank God every day for this job every single day.

Ever since graduating I have learned that having a college degree does not guarantee a job. And that everybody’s post-graduation journey is unique, difficult and it’s their own. I have also learned that we are always growing, and evolving, and there is no stopping point. I also learned that the best experiences in life may not always feel so comfortable, but it is courageous to step outside of our comfort zone to do things that we never thought we could such as having courageous conversations and making courageous moves when it comes to facing difficult circumstances. My support system is almost nonexistent, but at the end of the day I give myself a pat on the back and cheer myself on because I don’t do my best to impress others, it does not matter to me who is proud of me or not, what matters is that I am proud of myself. And that I am being a positive role model for my daughter. It is important that I continue to provide her with security and love. All in all, I will not keep quiet about My King, I do all things in His glory, He gave me what I needed to fulfill my role as a single mother and in my job, and I will work my hardest for Him.

As I mentioned, my daughter will be 10 in a few weeks, and we have a big birthday party planned for her that we are looking forward to. Double digits are a big deal, and she is worth celebrating! I have begun to implement traveling for myself and my daughter, we got to visit Disneyland for the first time this last December and this summer we are going to visit Texas to see my baby sister. And YES I’m aware it’s going to be HOT, but my baby sister assured me there will be air conditioning and water. Money is worth spending on experiences and we are eager to see the world. I quote Ken Jeong, “travel because money will return but your time won’t”, I made a commitment to travel at least one to two times a year. Me and my daughter have a lot to look froward to.

I’d like to thank WomenGive for the continued support and the connection we have still to this day even after graduating. I look forward to giving back to the organization like you all have given to me. I’d like to thank my daughter for unapologetically being herself, and if it were not for her, I would not be who are where I am today! I know that I am not the perfect mom, but I will always do my best for her! I’d like to thank my supervisor and colleagues with Volunteers of America, for allowing me to be myself and accepting me as I am. For giving me the opportunity in something I haven’t done before, and for seeing and believing in me when I question myself!  Thank you for your support and patience in helping to be the very best service coordinator that I can be!  Finally, I’d like to thank God! He knows what is best for me and He continues to bless me more than I deserve! Thank you!

If I can do it you can do it too!

Mask & Artist Statement from Madisen Golden

Hello, I’m Madisen Golden, your 2023 WomenGive Member Mask Artist and Leadership Giving Director at United Way of Larimer County. I’ve been on staff for almost seven years, with the majority of that time focused on this amazing WomenGive program.

For the last several years, the Museum has graciously reserved masks for WomenGive to feature a member, a recipient or both. I work at United Way, but I also give personally to the WomenGive program. This year – I am your WomenGive Member mask artist. My mask is hanging in the hallway of the Museum!

I am very sentimental and so it can be hard for me to let go of things, especially gifts. The first two years I worked at United Way were two of my most heartbreaking years. I was very happy in a new marriage. Things were good and then they weren’t.

I was determined to do everything I could to make it work and I gave it everything I could, at least all I knew how. I held out hope for a long time, maybe too long that things could be repaired.

When I started to think about the materials I wanted to use, I wanted them to be meaningful and what could represent me personally. A counter top cobalt blue bowl from Crate & Barrel for onions was the prized item on my registry. I loved that bowl. Now I see that I am the bowl.


Artist Statement:

My favorite wedding gift. Wedding to marriage to heartbreaking divorce. I kept this bowl for nine years, moving it to a friend’s basement, to apartment, to apartment. Two moves ago, I discovered the broken bowl, but kept the “useless“ item. Wedding Gift is based on the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, meaning “golden seams,” a technique for repairing broken ceramics, drawing attention to the mended cracks. Our broken pieces show the world so they can heal too.

We all have our mended seams and maybe some that could use a little glue and a little gold. This style of art work draws attention to the cracks and makes the piece more valuable and more beautiful. This United Way Community and WomenGive community held me together long enough for the glue to dry.

As a part of WomenGive and this incredible community, in a small way, we are able come along side our scholarship recipients who are doing the work as women, parents, students, survivors, advocates, and inspiration.

We invite you to join us in supporting women in our community who are working towards stability, economic mobility and the life that they want to create for their families. Make a gift to WomenGive today! You can check out all of the submissions to the MASKS exhibit and bid online until the exhibit concludes on May 5, 2023.

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