We had the good fortune of connecting with Kareen Shapiro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kareen, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
As I looked for ways to volunteer in the community with my young children, I found that it was difficult to find these types of opportunities. I had been thinking about starting a non profit that would provide such opportunities for young families, but I also felt overwhelmed by the process of starting a business. My background is in social work and I felt confident that I could create partnerships in the community and create a program that would fill this void in the community. I did not feel as capable in the business side of things including budgets and fundraising. I partnered with a friend, Jenny Emerson, who also felt strongly about creating a program that would easily allow young families to volunteer and make an impact in their community. Each of our individual strengths were utilized to start Raising Kindness Colorado with the mission of empowering children and families to do good in their community.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Professionally, I am a licensed clinical social worker. I earned a Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University in 1999. Over the course of my career, I have worked in the fields of mental health and child welfare. Since moving to Denver from Chicago fourteen years ago, I have worked in adoption and surrogacy. I also spend my summers working as a mental health professional at an overnight summer camp in the midwest. I have a diverse base of experience working in a number of different settings and with varied populations. I pride myself on creating authentic connections to the people I work with. I have always enjoyed working with children and families, and when I decided to start Raising Kindness, it felt like a way to synthesize many of past work experiences. I love learning about non profits in the Denver area and working with them to provide items that will benefit their clients. My creative energies are utilized when we design the projects that Raising Kindness participants create and donate. Reflecting on Raising Kindness and the community that has been formed, I feel pride and joy. Raising Kindness has brought together a group of children and families who value volunteerism, leadership, and community engagement. On a personal and a professional level as a social worker, I hope that I am contributing to the next generation of caring citizens who have empathy, gratitude and a desire to help others.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I always say that I am so lucky that I live in Denver. There is honestly no other place in the country that I would rather live! I love to spend time outdoors so most of my favorite things to do with visitors would be outside. We would definitely visit Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods. Depending on the time of year and weather, we would do the Manitou Incline as well. Walking around Manitou Springs is fun and Adam’s Mountain Cafe is a great lunch spot. If we wanted to get a lot of local hiking in, I would take them to St. Mary’s Glacier, Castlewood Canyon or Deer Creek Canyon. One of my favorite walking trails which we would definitely visit is the Highline Canal. One day we would walk around Pearl Street and have lunch outside at Park Burger. I also enjoy walking around the Highlands and exploring new stores and restaurants. One evening we would have dinner outside at Safta and enjoy the views and the delicious food! There are so many interesting and fun places in Denver that filling a week would be easy! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our community in Denver deserves the recognition of the success of Raising Kindness! The first event took place in April 2019, and since that time all of the events have been sold out. Our friends, schools, families, and colleagues all supported the program and spread the word about Raising Kindness. Whether individuals shared a Facebook post, attended an event, told someone they know about our programs, or local businesses financially supported the programs, the success of Raising Kindness could not have occurred without our supporters. Since the first program in 2019, Raising Kindness has had over 450 participants in our programs and has donated over 2,750 items created by children and families to local area non-profits. We are so grateful to the Raising Kindness supporters in the greater Denver community.