Passing the Torch

Parker Residents, Already Making Their Mark, Share Who Has Inspired Them Along the Way

Article by Jennifer Starbuck

Photography by Roger Ballard Photography

Originally published in Parker City Lifestyle

It was a simple question, posed to one person already doing inspiring work in Parker and Douglas County. Parker Lifestyle asked Dennis Gorton who inspires him.

Dennis is the chief operating officer of SECOR Cares, a faith-based nonprofit organization that operates a free food market and financial-education program in Parker. The mission of SECOR, which stands for South East Community Outreach, is to care for those faced with suburban poverty and help financially struggling families gain self-sufficiency.

Dennis says he is inspired by the talents and leadership of Doug Crozier, the founder and CEO of The Solomon Foundation, a church extension fund with global headquarters in Parker.

“He is a man of high moral character who cares about impacting communities and making them healthy—morally, spiritually, physically, mentally balanced—strong places for people to live and raise their families,” Dennis says. “His drive to help others has been an inspiration for me in my several years here in Parker.”

From Doug, we were introduced to Ed and Mary Lou Glass, longtime Parker residents who have made a difference in the Denver area, and nationally, through Ed’s work in management in the YMCA. In all, he served the YMCA for 51 years, in Denver, Littleton, Oklahoma City and as a national consultant.

“We recently celebrated our 68th wedding anniversary, so we too have seen many changes in Parker,” Mary Lou says. “We love Parker. We have met so many wonderful people during our time here.”

One of those people, Mary Lou says, is Genese Sweeney, an inspiration for volunteer service. Genese has spent the past 23 years volunteering with Parker Task Force, a food bank that serves people in Parker, Franktown and Elizabeth.

That one question for Dennis of SECOR started a chain reaction and could have continued, filling the pages of a tome. So our question to you, Parker, is who inspires you? And who are you inspiring? Let's keep the chain going.

Name: Dennis Gorton 

Business/Organization: SECOR Cares,

Who Inspires You: Doug Crozier

Who Are You?

Dennis Gorton is the CEO of SECOR Cares, a faith-based nonprofit food market and financial-education program. He has lived in Parker with his wife for more than a decade, having spent more than 40 years in full-time church ministry as a pastor and church consultant. Dennis oversees and empowers the staff and volunteers that serve our guests as family and encourage them to have hope for the future. 

“One in nine families in Douglas County and Parker is struggling to survive financially not because of irresponsible behavior but because life happens—divorce, huge medical expenses, loss of jobs, unexpected disabilities, school loans, rising rents, childcare, low wages, etc., all contribute to suburban poverty,” Dennis says. 

Dennis seeks to empower people to become the leaders of the future by providing opportunities for creativity in serving the needy in our community.

“Every time I have a conversation with a family who has seen a significant change in their circumstances and feels the seed of hope growing for the future in them, I know we are successful.”

Dennis says SECOR has created a culture that treats guests like family and gives them the opportunity to shop for groceries with a free market providing 85-90% of food for the family every two weeks. SECOR also provides a personalized coaching process.

“Money saved on groceries allows families to pay utilities, rent and other expenses for a time as they move toward getting finances and life circumstances stabilized,” Dennis says.

Name: Doug Crozier

Business/Organization: The Solomon Foundation,

Who Inspires You? Ed and Mary Lou Glass

Who Are You?

"I am the founding CEO The Solomon Foundation, which is a church extension fund. In less than nine years, Solomon has become the fifth largest CEF in the U.S., growing to almost $600 million in total assets. When my wife and I decided to start The Solomon Foundation, we lived in Southern California. The board of TSF allowed us to start TSF anywhere in the United States, and we chose the Denver area, specifically Parker.”

Doug credits his wife’s uncle and aunt, Ed and Mary Lou Glass of Parker, for influencing their decision to move to Parker. Ed spent more than 50 years in management and consulting for YMCA, and the Glasses made their home in Parker in retirement.

Doug credits the lower cost of living, compared to California, and his long-term relationship with Southeast Christian Church, which Solomon provided the funding for both phases of its development, in making Parker a good fit.

The Solomon Foundation partnered with Southeast Christian Church to create the $22 million The Solomon Centre, which houses The Solomon Foundation’s national headquarters, as well as Southeast Christian’s administrative offices among other facilities for the church.

“We also employ 35 at The Solomon Foundation and more than 150 work at The Solomon Centre,” Doug says.

Name: Ed and Mary Lou Glass

Business/Organization: YMCA, retired

Who Inspires You? Genese Sweeney

Who Are You?

Ed and Mary Lou Glass have lived in Parker for more than 20 years. They have three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. They are involved in Parker United Methodist Church. 

Ed and Mary Lou were high school sweethearts in Lincoln, Nebraska. After graduation and two years at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Ed served in the Navy during the Korean War. After service, Ed completed his degree and began working for the YMCA in Lincoln. That turned into a career in management for the national organization. Ed took a position at the Denver and Littleton branches as director and then central branch director. He officially retired in 1993 but kept working as a consultant for the Y’s all over the United States.

“When we relocated to Parker, it was a small community,” Mary Lou says. “We have met so many wonderful people during our time here. We love the PACE Center, the new library and all the new restaurants. We pray every day to be able to continue our life here.” 

Name: Genese Sweeney

Business/organization: Parker Task Force,

Who inspires you? Nancy Gripman

Who are you?

Genese worked for IBM Corp. for 31 years, retiring in the mid-90s.

“We moved to Parker in 1984, when there were still hitching posts for horses in front of the Warhorse Restaurant,” Genese says. Her son, Dan, was in the first graduating class of Ponderosa High School in 1986. Genese has volunteered for various organizations in Parker for more than 30 years—23 of those years at Parker Task Force.

Genese says she was inspired in 1987 when she heard Shirley Hansen of Praying Hands Ranches and Nancy Gripman, co-founder of Parker Task Force, speak from the pulpit of her church. She spent 10 years volunteering at Praying Hands, and in 1997, Genese began work at the Parker Task Force.

“Every single day of my volunteering at the Task Force has been heartwarming, meeting and interviewing the clients, and especially seeing so many folks getting back on their feet.” 

Genese is a member of the Eden Gardeners Club, Parker Area Historical Society, Parker Breakfast Club and Parker United Methodist Church. Her husband, Ted, is a longtime member of the Parker Rotary Club.

Genese says her inspiration is Nancy Gripman, a friend and mentor who passed away in 2015. There is a statue of Nancy in O’Brien Park in Parker.

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