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Inspiring Stories from Westminster & Thornton

The heart of our mission at VoyageDenver is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of Denver’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out Westminster & Thornton’s rising stars below.

Itzel Annaly Bailon

I came to the United States in 2005 and started freshmen year in high school. Not speaking the langue was a bit scary, but I was ready for the challenge. I’ve always been a go-getter and my parent’s support has been key. I graduated with honors and received the presidential award “Leaders of the future” that impacted my life. I wanted to help my community inspire others and make a difference. I started college at CCD, and after graduating from the dental program, I got offered a job at a non-profit clinic. I felt so happy serving my people and the community I became a health care advocate. I also attended various leadership training at Colorado Center for nursing excellence, but I wanted to do more… I always dreamed of being my own boss! While on a family vacation, we all agreed to start this dream as we all wanted something of our own to combine our talents and serve our community in a different way. Growing up in Mexico, the only thing that made us feel close to home was the food. Read more>>

Cami Malone

I am the sole owner and operator of Bake My Day. I have always had a passion for all things, artistic, expressive, and creative. As many were navigating through young adult life, I had a hard time deciding what my “why” in life would be. I always knew I was meant for a career with a creative outlet but found myself less than thrilled about all the avenues I pursued. Through all of my trials and tribulations, one thing was consistent, and that was my form of stress relief. Any time I was stressed, sad, excited, or anxious, I would turn to bake. Something about ignoring the outside world for a few hours and creating a delicious and beautiful dessert became the perfect way to find balance in the hustle and bustle of day to day life. It was then that I decided; This hobby of mine could be more. I wanted to chase this feeling and turn baking into a career. After two years of community college and probably about five failed “majors,” I enrolled in Johnson & Wales University to the Baking and Pastry Arts and Food Service Management program. It was there that I learned everything there was to know about the science of baking, the art of creating recipes. Read more>>

Chris Johnson

Be the gift is a non-profit organization that began in 2008 and is devoted to improve and secure family stability by providing home repair at NO COST for Widows and Single Mom homeowners and their children. Chris Johnson, Be the Gift’s Founder and Executive Director with over two decades working with families, recognized an opportunity to support and help alleviate a large need not being met in the community. He approached a neighbor, a single mom raising her daughter and inquired about helping her with her home. Through tears, she described her old, leaking, and inefficient windows. A team of volunteers came together, purchased, installed new windows, and witnessed a family’s life changed forever. From that day forward, it became our mission to assist as many single moms and children with home repair as possible and Be the Gift was born! Be the gift exists to assist widows and single mom homeowners who struggle to make hard decisions regularly about paying for necessities like food, clothing, childcare, health care, and transportation. Read more>>

Justin Charboneau

SugarTats Cookie Company started as an accident. My wife and I decided to throw our friends a space-themed dinner party last year randomly, and I googled “space-themed desserts” to find ideas of what to make for the evening. There were a ton of cool ideas, but the one that stuck out the most were these gingerbread man cookies decorated like astronauts. My first thought was, “I bet I could make those” so I then went back to google and searched for all the things needed to make these decorated cookies. The cookies took me forever to make and were nowhere close to what I pictured in my perfectionist’s brain, but I had a lot of fun making them. And when our friends came over and saw them, they loved them! That was the first inclination that there was something special here and I wanted to keep doing this. Read more>>

Yvette Carter

Currently, my little business is focused on custom cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. I am not inherently a baker, but I have had to pick that part of it up and adjust accordingly. I was given the opportunity to learn the skill set of decorating cakes while I was in college for Fashion Design. What makes my little business unique is the absolute joy behind the scenes. Locally, when word got out amongst the moms in my area that I could offer custom cakes, I found myself taking more orders than I ever expected. Mostly for kids’ birthdays and showers and even a few wedding cakes. It didn’t take long before I was working at a volume that warranted seriously organizing my hobby to transform it into a tiny business. Read more>>

Carrie Thrall

For just over ten years, I worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in service to America’s Veterans and Active Duty Service Members. I excelled in this career and moved up quickly into an administrative role. While this career was rewarding at the start, more and more, I found myself hunting for something more significant that moved beyond reacting to problems to creating something proactively. I was frustrated with the bureaucratic tape blocking progress. I worried each day what new “fire” would need attention, I doubted that systemic problems would change, feared that I would not have the answers to the many issues brought to me daily. I even found myself putting what I value most “on the back burner” until I could find more time or energy to deal with it. Read more>>

Shelby Babcock

When I was about nine years old, I picked up this big yellow ball called a softball. From that point forward, I was in love with the game. At first, I started in the outfield, so one day one of my really good friends took me out in the backyard and asked me to pitch a ball underhand to her, so I did. My eyes filled with excitement, and from that point forward, I was never caught without a ball in my hand. I got an unbelievable pitching coach, and I was working on my craft 24/7. I was blessed to play on such an incredible club team (Styxx), win three state championships with Legacy High School and earn a Full Ride Scholarship to the University of Arizona. I played all four years at Arizona, and then the thought of, “wow, I am almost done with my playing career” came into play. But I never wanted to leave the game behind. Read more>>

Jaylyn Begay

I can still remember the days when I carried disposable cameras everywhere I went. There was no way my mom would have ever bought a nicer camera if I had no idea how to use one manually. I still have photographs of my friends and family members creating silly faces and laughing deeply. I thought it was necessary to remind myself of the faces that have impacted my life. I wanted to keep them for as long as I wanted to. There was so much energy evoked when reliving these experiences that got captured; to this day, I strive to evoke those genuine giggles and personality within my work. Read more>>

Sara Walsh

I’ve always been “that person” who would take photos at parties and events, which then pushed me into taking some formal photography classes. I started taking a film class, which included developing in a dark room, which I found incredibly romantic and foundational. In the classes, I made some friends who asked if I would be interested in wedding photography. Having never done it, I said sure and began working as an apprentice. After about a year and a half of working for free, I had a portfolio that I felt was solid, and I basically sat on it for a little while. I didn’t have any clientele and I wasn’t too keen on spending money on advertising since I didn’t have any. Thankfully, that’s where my friends came in. Read more>>

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