At Home With: Jamie Angelich
With so many nonprofit organizations in need, Denver philanthropist Jamie Angelich has a trusted method for deciding where to invest her time, energy and support: “I tend to choose charities and causes that I have a personal connection to,” Angelich says. She’s had a long involvement with Children’s Hospital because her son Adam was treated there twice before he turned two. A past president of the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, she now serves on the organization’s national board of directors, all because a family member has the disease. She cared for her ailing mother for years prior to her death, so volunteering for organizations like Bessie’s Hope and Volunteers of America’s Meals on Wheels comes naturally to Angelich. “I’ve always had a heart for helping the elderly,” she says.
And so it’s no wonder that Denver-based Excelsior Youth Center—a residential treatment program that nurtures troubled girls between the ages of 11 and 18, some of whom have suffered abuse—named Angelich its 2012 Triumphant Woman. Her own personal draw to the organization, however, might surprise some: Angelich, herself, experienced a difficult childhood.
“If you see the family portraits of me, my brother and sisters from our childhood, everything looks sweet and perfect on the outside,” she explains. “But behind closed doors, we were dealing with serious dysfunction and abuse.”
Her work with Excelsior Youth Center as well as Kempe Foundation—a child abuse prevention organization for which Jamie serves on the board—has been cathartic. “I forgave my parents long ago,” she says. “But my sisters and brother and I stand as advocates against abuse, and the four of us are testaments to the power of breaking the cycle.”
Angelich is deeply devoted to her own family—her husband of 22 years, Alan, and their son, now a college student. Their spacious, sunny Greenwood Village home is at once elegant and inviting, with comfortable furnishings accented by splashes of color. “I like a lot of personal touches, from our family photos and handmade accessories to the art we’ve collected over the years,” she says. “We love to have people over and entertain, and I think a home reflects the warmth and graciousness of its owners.”
An avid golfer and tennis player, Angelich favors knitting needles and yarn during Colorado’s colder months. “Knitting is my winter sport,” she says. “It relaxes me.”
Year round, and with the help of her numerous community ties, Angelich enjoys another, more meaningful, sport of sorts: introducing people and fostering new connections. She’s introduced a number of job candidates to employers, and six of the couples she matched are now married. “People tell me I could be a professional matchmaker,” she laughs. “I just get a kick out of connecting people.”
WE WERE JUST WONDERING...
How do you manage your busy social calendar?
Our family made a choice long ago not to be gone on weeknights, and we try not to go out on two consecutive weekend nights. Sometimes that means we have to miss important events, but family always comes first and the truth is, we enjoy our home life, too.
You’ve attended countless charity galas; tell us about an especially memorable event.
This is going to sound a little crazy, but years ago we were at a ball for Children’s Hospital and one of the guests brought in a bunch of rolls of aluminum foil. Before long we were all out on the dance floor, wrapping big swaths of aluminum foil around each other!
Describe a perfect Saturday morning.
We’d sleep in, cook waffles and bacon for breakfast, and enjoy a lazy morning drinking coffee, reading the paper and doing the Jumbles puzzles. Oh, and I’d stay in my robe until noon. That’s a luxury for me, because I’m from Texas where women never leave the house without makeup and earrings.
What makes a great dinner party?
We love to have friends for dinner, and if we’re gathering in the kitchen or outdoors I might cook something casual like pasta. For more formal parties in the dining room, I usually hire a caterer. Since I plan the seating arrangement in advance, I like to use place cards—and I always put the most talkative person in the middle of the table. To encourage conversation, I sometimes write questions inside the cards for each person to answer.
Can you give us an example of one of these ice-breakers?
One of the best questions is, ‘Tell us something about you that no one else knows.’ Each guest writes his or her response on a piece of paper. Then we read the answers aloud, and you have to guess who wrote them. It’s so much fun, and you hear some great stories.
What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I love to shoot pistols. I have my concealed weapons permit, and I really enjoy target shooting. I’m very competitive, and I’m a good shot. In fact, I’m asking for an AR-15 [semi-automatic rifle] for my birthday!