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The Evergreen Angel: A beautiful way to celebrate loved ones and support hospice

At Mount Evans we believe in angels. We believe in their power to inspire hope, to give comfort, to lift hearts and to bring peace. We often refer to our devoted staff of nurses and clinicians as angels because they exemplify those very qualities. Mount Evans has also been blessed with a host of community angels, dedicated volunteers and supporters whose good works have helped us provide hope, comfort and peace to families all across the mountain area.

No one speaks to our loving purpose more eloquently than “Gabrielle.”  Clad in flowing silver, her shimmering wings outstretched in welcome, Gabrielle is this year’s “Evergreen Angel” and the 25th in a beloved procession of beautiful silver pendants that’s become one of the mountain community’s most enduring holiday traditions. Gabrielle comes bearing joy to the light of spirit, comfort to the sorrowing, and desperately needed help to our neighbors in crisis.

Virginia Haley of Evergreen Fine Art Gallery created the first Evergreen Angel pendant, “Sarah,” in 1993, and she donated a portion of her proceeds to Mount Evans. Sarah’s angelic family grew bigger by one each year, and when the gallery passed into the compassionate hands of longtime Evergreen residents, Barb Hadley and Phil Shanley in 2008, the couple was happy to continue the tradition.

“The Evergreen Angel has always been meant to benefit Mount Evans,” says Phil, an early Mount Evans board member. “When we took on the gallery, it was a given that we would take on the angel.”

Evergreen Angels have winged their way around the world marking individual triumphs, supporting personal struggles, celebrating important milestones, remembering loved ones departed, and simply re-connecting loving hearts separated by miles, mountains and even oceans.

“People get them for every occasion you can imagine,” smiles Barb, “and every one of them has a story.”

Our favorite Evergreen Angel story is one that Barb shared about the angel’s marvelous power to rescue forgetful husbands from the doghouse. Every year, she said, a small number of desperate fellows would neglect their Christmas shopping until well after dark on Dec. 24 and then race to the gallery in an 11th-hour effort to find something suitable for the missus. For the sake of those absentminded gentlemen and their patient wives, Barb would leave a small flock of angels on the gallery’s doorstep each Christmas Eve, inviting empty-handed husbands to redeem themselves now and pay later. While that wonderfully small-town tradition ended when Barb and Phil gave up the gallery, for the better part of 10 years not one grateful husband ever failed to make good on their honor-system Evergreen Angel.

The best traditions endure because when one good soul sets down their happy burden there’s another good soul right behind them who’s happy to pick it up. Beth Riser is the new owner of the Evergreen Gallery on Main Street and the good soul behind the 2018 Evergreen Angel.

“The name Gabrielle symbolizes strength and courage,” Beth says. “I think that’s perfect for Mount Evans.”

We think she’s right.

A true Colorado native, Gabrielle was designed in the Crestone workshop of silversmith Janet Martinez. Cast in sterling silver, Gabrielle can be customized with a gemstone of your choosing or even robed in 14-karat gold. The Evergreen Gallery expects to send along anywhere between 600 and 700 Evergreen Angel pendants and ear rings this year, and a little part of each one will help brighten the holiday season for someone whose light has been dimmed by illness or injury.

Visit EvergreenAngel.com to see the entire collection, or stop by the Evergreen Angel office at 3082 Evergreen Parkway, Evergreen, on Fridays and Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Call 303-674-4871 for more information.