Community Reach honors school reading advocate

Brighton’s Nancy Skeels wins annual Cianco award

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An effort to help kids learn a love of reading has side benefits, according to the newest winner of the Community Reach Center’s latest Ciancio Distinguished Service Award winner.

Brighton’s Nancy Skeels won the award and was honored at the center’s annual awards dinner April 13 in Thornton. Skeels, who founded a Reading Literacy Project 11 years ago, said one goal is to give each student a book of his or her own to take home.

So far, she’s given away 9,332 books, she said.

Another goal is to get area senior citizens reading to students. That has a side benefit, too — the enjoyment from being involved.

“They get so giddy, so happy,” Skeels said. “When they’re finished, every single classroom they were in was the best classroom ever. So it’s good for the kids, but it’s just as good for the seniors because they get to see what’s really happening in the schools. It’s not what gets portrayed in the media.”

In his nomination of Skeels, Reach Board Member Dr. Chris Fiedler called her a tremendous gift and blessing to students and other volunteers.

“I can’t think of anything more valuable and magical than the elders of our community sharing with our children the gift of literacy,” Fiedler wrote.

Community Reach Center is a mental health and counseling agency that serves Adams County and part of northern Denver.

The award ceremony is named in honor of former Community Reach board member, the late Mary Ciancio, for her nearly 70 years of advocacy and volunteer service on behalf of persons with disabilities and health challenges. The award has been given out consistently since 1980.

Skeels was among six nominees for the Ciancio award. Other nominees were Dr. Brian Kelly, who donates dental services; Winona Libhart, who works with SeniorHub; English as a Second Language teacher Patricia Joe McIntire; North Suburban Medical Center volunteer Barbara Wade; and Rachel Williams, who volunteers with abused children.

State Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democrat from Commerce City, was given the Legislator of the Year award for his support of funding and policy that impacts mental health care and providers.

Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh received the Marjory Ball Mental Health Advocacy Award for his effort to address mental health issues at the Adams County Jail.

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