Have You Met?

The word “blessed” comes up a lot when you’re talking with Kristi Helzer. At first this might seem like an odd word for someone whose dad died at the age of 43, and who watched as one sons died on her living room floor when a blood clot stopped his heart and a year later she became the caregiver to her other son after he was badly burned in an oil & gas tank fire.
 
But when you get a glimpse of her strong faith and her active career in helping people; it starts to
make sense. When you add a large dose of determination you can see how things get done when
she is around and how lucky/blessed she feels to have a hand in so many wonderful community
efforts.

And there are so many that she has been blessed with work-wise, that she sometimes forgets all
she has helped do. Kristi got her start by graduating from the University of Northern Colorado
with a major in Mass Communications/Journalism with a Minor in Anthropology.

While Kristi was still in school she went to work for Joe Tennessen, at radio station KFKA. “I
was a copywriter and wrote advertising. While at KFKA part of my job was creating a show
called ‘That’s Entertainment’ where I got to review movies, concerts and community theatre.
This was great “entertainment” for newlyweds (46 years married and counting) going to lots of
events that were sponsored by advertisers not costing us a thing,” Kristi recalled.
 
Some of those events still loom in Kristi’s life. She and husband Rich still love to attend the
Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra and the Greeley Chorale preformances. The Chorale is
“ordinary people doing extraordinary things” (a marketing phrase Kristi used while promoting
them). Christmas doesn’t start for the Helzer’s until the Pointsetia Pops Concert the first
Saturday of December.

“When I was at UNC, I went to my advisor, Bob Hess and asked to get an internship at a Denver
TV station. He said they hadn’t done that and didn’t have any connections but he set me free to
try. I was successful in landing at KMGH-TV Channel 7 and worked in the promotions
department helping with things like the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I met a lot of interesting and
successful people, who put their pants on one leg at a time just like we all do, they were
delightful to learn from. That’s always been a good reminder for me, to be myself and treat
everyone with admiration & respect.” Kristi says.

Later when Joe Tennessen was the Director of the Greeley-Weld County Habitat for Humanity,
he asked Kristi to put together a “Women’s Build” which she did; it was the first women only
build for Habitat in Colorado. “I could never say ‘no’ to Joe.” Kristi’s loving and patient
husband, Richard asked her one day what she had to show for all her hard work. “So she drove
him to a Habitat neighborhood and I pointed out the homes her team helped build and I told him
that some of the beams bore good wishes to the family and the signatures of your wife and sons
behind the drywall,” Kristi exclaimed we worked side-by-side with those home owners – it was
very rewarding!

Unlike a lot of people who have thousands of friends on social media, you get the impression
that Kristi actually knows them all. Her long background in volunteering and helping different
companies (United Way, Arix Corporation, Aims Community College, Bonnie Dean Associates,
Noble Energy, and countless firms that she helped through own marketing company Kristi’s
Kreations) played an integral part in starting Northern Colorado Women in Business in 2009.

As folks will remember 2008 was the start of a recession and a lot of Kristi’s friends were saying
that “we need to do something to get through this or we aren’t going to make it.” That was the
impetus that Kristi needed to start Northern Colorado Women in Business (NorCoWIB).
NorCoWIB provides monthly networking workshops for women in business who care about
supporting each other and a healthy local economy. Kristi invites women to present on topics
requested by members, to help them be the best in their chosen field. Their roster hosts 1,200.

She told her members she wasn’t looking to make a lot of money but didn’t want to lose any
either. Many organizations and small businesses fail in the first 5 years, so given this
organization is celebrating 15 years, is a testament to a good idea and great execution.

There’s a philanthropic component to NorCoWIB called “Sister to Sister/Pay It Forward” that
benefits a different nonprofit each month. The members put in $5 with their business card to
support the work of the designated nonprofit organization. Together members have invested over
$24,000 back into northern Colorado nonprofits in the past 6 years.

Kristi’s last job before retirement was with the West Greeley Conservation District, where she
served as the Education and Community Outreach Coordinator. She enjoyed teaching all ages
about the importance of bees and other pollinators to our food source, and is often still
recognized as the “bee lady” throughout Weld County.

“For the 1st time in 42 years, I’m not serving on a non-profit board. My husband insists I should
slow down & be retired, I’m doing my best. Grandchildren help; they are my JOY and my reason to inhale and exhale,” Kristi explains.

Given her vivacious personality a lot of people would be surprised to hear that Krisi says she is
profoundly sad. And who wouldn’t be after experiencing so many losses. Kristi and Rich
supported the launch of the Community Grief Center (CSC). Kristi explains, “This Center is an
amazing organization that provides free services to parents who have lost a child; people who
have lost a partner, sibling and even a pet. They work with kids who don’t want to make mom
and dad sad. But when they gather in peer groups with a counselor and start sharing feelings, it’s
amazing to watch the healing begin.” This is personally very rewarding.
 
Kristi recently received the 2023 Leading Lady - Woman of Distinction award from Biz West
Magazine; recognizing her for her life’s work and leadership. Congratulations to this self-
described “feisty, courageous and empathetic” woman.

When you move, what will your home tell its next owner, about you? 
Kristi loves a beautiful yard. She thrives on growing things, that provide habitat areas for pollinators. And loves having an abundantly producing garden.

What three words would you use to describe yourself? 
Intuitive, hard-working, loving

What was your first job and your worst job? 
My parents owned the Mode ‘O Day (women’s clothing & Accessories) store in Greeley, I was a janitor, sales clerk, wrapped gifts, created window displays, unpacked freight, recorded bank deposits, etc.

I never experienced a “worst job” I always found good things to enjoy at every opportunity.

If there were one thing you would change about yourself, what would it be? 
NOT to care so deeply about people and situations so I could turn off the head chatter and possibly sleep more.

What is your greatest indulgence? Loving my grandchildren – they bring total JOY!

What is a 'perfect down day' for you? 
Working in my garden, enjoying the sunshine, making things grow, dead-heading, harvesting veggies, and sharing them with others. Enjoying a good book. A bike ride and/or a swim.

Favorite vacation spot?
I love and need the mountains and water…rivers, lakes, the ocean. It is spiritual and those parts of nature replenish my soul.

Who is the most interesting celebrity you ever met? 
The everyday heroes. Ordinary people accomplishing amazing things.

Do you have any pets? 
I love all the dogs we have raised, and the cats, horses, pigs, and chickens too.

We didn’t rescue the dogs, they rescued us! Currently - Zoe!

Which talent would you most like to have?
My Dad died unexpectedly my freshman year at UNC. He had the most beautiful baritone voice and sang at weddings, funerals and in the Elks Chorus. It would be wonderful to have that gift to share with others.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Never giving up!  Push, Pull or get out of the way! Learning from Failures.

I hope it is yet to come!

What is your most treasured possession? 
Every day since August of 2014 I have worn a necklace with my deceased son, Joey’s finger print on it close to my heart.

Favorite books / writers?  I love books and learning. I hope to one day write a book! I loved working for the Weld Library District.

My first favorite book was introduced to me by Dr. Earl Reum, a Colorado educator and youth leadership mentor who ran conference like Camp Chili when I was 16.

  • The Greatest Salesman in the World, by Augustine “Og” Mandino Still my favorite!
  • To a Child LOVE is spelled T-i-m-e…what a child really needs from you by Mac Anderson &  and Lance Wubbels  - - - Inspired by Art Linkletter
  • The Broken Way a daring path into the abundant life by Ann Voskamp
  • Roundtrip Ticket An exercise in Going Home to Your Heart by Belaine Dishong
  • For One More Day by Mitch Albon
  • Falling Out of Grace Meditations on Loss, Healing and Wisdom, by Sobonfue.Some’
  • Dolly Parton–Songteller, My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton with Robert K. Oermann

Favorite CD / recent concert or show? 
I love Christmas music and filling our home with songs sung by: Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Vienna Boys Choir, Nat King Cole, Lady Antebellum, Men II Boys, Bing Crosby, Faith Hill, Barbra Streisand, Michael Bolton, Diana Ross, James Taylor, Brad Paisley, Martina McBride, Peggy Lee, Harry Bellafonte, Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Julie Andrews, Pink, Michael Buble, Straight No Chaser, Perry Como, The Temptations, Luther Vandross, The Lettermen, Stevie Wonder, Kenny Chesney, Sara Evans, Diana Ross, Vince Gill, Kenny G, The TEN Tenors, Chicago, Kelly Clarkson, El Alicia Keys, DIVO, on and on…

Concerts: Amy Grant Concert, Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra

Which social events are  your favorite? 
Friends of A Woman’s Place - Celebrating Women Gala & Weld Food Bank’s Stone Soup

What are your volunteer activities?
I launched a women’s networking group - Northern Colorado Women in Business (NorCoWIB) in January of 2009 following the recession, at the request of many female friends. It was always a “side hustle” to my fulltime job(s). I served on numerous Nonprofit volunteer boards for 42 years. As the first Marketing/Communications Director for United Way of Weld County I learned how many peoples’ lives are touched by the efforts of these organizations.

As our NorCoWIB TRIBE grew we kept evolving and enriching our businesses with more options and added our Sister-to-Sister/Pay it Forward monthly philanthropy. We are committed to support local and spending our money with one another’s businesses and the charities impacting our community. Our members have invested $23,920 from 2018 through December of 2023 back into the lives of people in our Community.

Some of the charities are: A Woman’s Place, Life Stories Child & Family Advocacy, Weld Women2Women, Greeley/Weld Habitat for Humanity, the Weld Food Bank, Genesis Project, Envision, People with Developmental Disabilities, Whispering Hearts Therapy Horses, Hope House, ACS’s Relay for Life, Zac’s Legacy Fund, Partners Mentoring Youth, The Success Foundation and The Dream Team through School District 6. We build homes, assemble food baskets, host mentoring youth and job shadowing, coordinate silent auctions and collaboratively sponsor events and dream up new fundraising events.

If your life were a movie, who would play your part? 
Someone approachable who loves people and life; and who can laugh at all the imperfection.

Favorite restaurant ?
Any place that serves gluten-free & dairy-free options I enjoy seafood and fresh trout

What is the best advice you have ever received? 
Set the bar high and keep working!

When you sacrifice for who and what you LOVE, the return is greater than you could ever imagine!

What is your motto? 
Be kind to others; give everyone a smile - it doesn’t cost a thing and it could be the best gift a person will get on any given day, so SMILE. Friends are worth their weight in gold!

What’s always in your fridge?
Eggs, veggies, apples, berries, & dark chocolate

What’s something that a lot of people don’t know about you?
I would like one more HUG from Joey!
My heart aches missing the people I love and have lost.
Life is hard – everyday, but it is worth the work!
A private cry sometimes is necessary.