Civic Center Conservancy

The Garden Club of Denver (GCD) launched a new partnership with the Civic Center Conservancy (CCC) in early 2024. GCD has committed $7,000 over two years to the organization as well as at least four volunteer days.

The first of two $3,500 checks was presented to Executive Director Eric Lazzari and Development Director Sara Leitch in February. This relationship demonstrates GCD’s civic interests in CCC’s success in using public gardens to educate, inspire, and improve the lives of the people of Denver.

The Garden Club of Denver selected the Civic Center Conservancy as a civic project because of CCC’s ability to successfully leverage its 25,000 square feet of garden beds to solve some of the city’s biggest challenges – support for the unhoused and those suffering from food insecurity. For the next two years, GCD will not only provide financial support to the CCC’s WORKS program, but will also volunteer in the growing and harvesting of the vegetable gardens for the hungry. This new relationship hits at the heart of the Garden Club of Denver’s purpose and values, while also supporting an organization that serves as the physical crown jewel of the city of Denver.

Located between the City & County building and the state capitol, this iconic Denver locale has more square feet of flower beds and more public art than any other park in the city. It has hosted millions of people over the last decade seeking recreation, respite, entertainment, or civic engagement. CCC serves as the chief organization behind the operations of the park, partnering with a number of organizations to achieve its many goals. GCD’s financial and volunteer commitment will augment CCC’s partnership with Bayaud Enterprises for the WORKS program and Grow Local Colorado for the vegetable garden initiative.

The CCC and Bayaud Enterprises hire the unhoused to keep the park clean, attractive, and active. In doing so, the workforce program (named WORKS) serves as a pipeline to permanent employment and housing opportunities, clearly improving the lives of those who participate and helping Denver address their housing crunch and unhoused crisis. Meanwhile, the park is improved and is treated with a high level of respect by the communities that use it. WORKS is launching into its fourth summer, hoping to improve upon its already impressive 40% success rate in finding permanent employment for its unhoused maintenance workers.

In partnership with Grow Local Colorado, the vegetable garden project yields about 2,500 lbs of vegetables each year to benefit thousands of people in Denver with food insecurity. The Garden Club of Denver will have at least two whole-club work days planting the vegetable garden in the spring and harvesting in the fall, delivering food to the food bank.