The year was 1971. Tim and Sally Warde planned to spend six months in Greeley. Forty-seven years later, the Wardes still live in Greeley and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. “When you get involved in this community, you just love it so much because it’s a close-knit community even to this day,” Tim says. Three daughters, seven grandchildren (from ages 5 to 13), 49 years of marriage, a highly successful business (Northern Colorado Paper) and helping others define what Tim and Sally are all about.
The Wardes, the United Way of Weld County (UWWC) 2018 Humanitarian Award recipients, join an incredible list of people in the community dating back to 1989 when UWWC named Kenneth W. Monfort as its first honoree. Tim and Sally say receiving the 2018 Humanitarian Award is a great honor. “The United Way of Weld County gives so many organizations and nonprofits such benefit to help those in need and that means a lot to our youth and it’s important to take care of our youth,” Tim says. “United Way of Weld County is supporting the local community.”
Sally echoed her husband’s comments. “An organization like United Way is so important as a community backbone, almost a convener,” Sally says. “It’s an organization that knows the needs of the community and is able to do something in terms of support and what the nonprofits are doing. They’re a backbone of support. To me, it’s what the community looks toward for leadership. They have adapted and changed with the times. It’s a very flexible, credible community institution. I can’t imagine Greeley without United Way.”
Tim and Sally met while students at Colorado State University. “I was a freshman and he was a senior,” recalls Sally. “His fraternity was selling some kind of raffle tickets. We just got to talking and he said, ‘My fraternity’s having a rush party. Would you like to come over?’ The rest is kind of history, although I didn’t like him real well because I found out he had dated a girl from my high school who I really didn’t like. If that’s the kind of girl he likes … but then I dated a fraternity brother of his. Finally, he just wore me down. That’s how he is as a salesman, even in business. He just keeps going back and going back until they can’t say no.”
Tim was born and raised in Denver. Sally was born in Utah, but both grew up around the University of Denver area. Sally graduated from Denver South in 1965, and Tim graduated from Thomas Jefferson in 1962 before they crossed paths at CSU.
Building a Successful Company
Hard work, long hours and a passion for starting a new business put Northern Colorado Paper, a wholesale distributor of paper products, restaurant and janitorial supplies and industrial cleaning equipment, on the map in 1978. The Wardes moved to Greeley in 1971, and Tim worked at his dad’s corrugated box company until he started Northern Colorado Paper.
Memories include a box car loaded with toilet paper and towels, setting up shop out of a rented warehouse in the Greeley downtown area and turning it into a $42 million a year company with more than 100 employees in two locations. Tim wore many hats as a salesman, delivery driver, warehouse worker and manager switching from a sports coat to overalls in a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, Sally spent her evening keeping the company’s books, typing quotation letters and filing invoices, something that she didn’t study as an English major in college. The Wardes sold the company in 2011.
It was that passion in starting and running a successful business that put both Tim and Sally right in the middle of volunteering for many organizations such as United Way of Weld County and serving on multiple boards. “I started supporting United Way of Weld County slightly after when we moved here,” Sally says. “They were having a neighborhood campaign then. I must have seen a small article in the paper about supporting United Way. I remember walking the neighborhood pushing a baby stroller going house to house. That goes way back.”
Northern Colorado Paper was awarded three times the Centennial Circle Award, which is United Way of Weld County’s highest award for businesses who support the nonprofit and what it does in the community. As a volunteer at United Way of Weld County, Sally was a loaned executive for six years, a resource development committee member, CEO advisory committee member, past campaign cabinet member, Volunteer Resource Bureau chairwoman and Colorado Office of Volunteerism Regional representative.
Supporting United Way of Weld County
“United Way has been such a part of my life ever since we’ve lived here,” Sally says. “As a company, we’ve always been involved with United Way running employee campaigns and advocating to our employees all about United Way. My experience volunteering for United Way is at the top of my volunteering memories and enjoyment.”
Tim says it was vital for their employees to be involved in the community and to understand the importance of giving. “We had quite a few employees that gave at the level of the Tillers Club, which we felt really good about,” Tim says. Tim’s and Sally’s daughters – Devon, Robyn and Brooke – were raised by parents who gave to the community without even thinking about receiving any kind of recognition. Work hard, play hard and always give 100 percent are what they instilled into their girls.
For as long as the three can remember, their mom has volunteered starting with the Volunteer Resource Bureau. The girls recall Sally attending more and more meetings and hearing about United Way of Weld County, Vision Together, Weld County Economic Committee, Boys and Girls Club, the NCMC Board, Church Board, Leadership Weld County, Women’s Fund and the list goes on.
Volunteering Goes a Long Way
“I grew up volunteering,” Sally says. “During high school, I belonged to several organizations that were very involved in volunteer work. It was fun, and I took that with me the rest of my life. The satisfaction I receive from being on volunteer organizations or boards is twofold. Obviously, you feel good about making a difference in the community, but there’s also a really great payback to you as an individual in terms of getting to know people and becoming part of the community. Sometimes you can’t always see what you’ve done, but just knowing (is worthwhile). When you do volunteer in a community the size of Greeley, you can hear about the results of what the organization has done which is very satisfying.”
To this day, Devon, Robyn and Brooke are amazed at the time and passion their mother put into her volunteer work and the Weld County community. Just as Greeley is important to Sally, they say Greeley is the perfect place for their dad. “Greeley is truly home for our dad and he would do anything for this community. Our dad is the hardest worker I know and still is to this day,” the girls say. “When he was the owner of Northern Colorado Paper, he made sure to give back to the community, both monetarily and with his time. He has also been connected with Rotary, Boys and Girls Club, UNC Athletics, CSU Athletics and more.”
The girls believe their dad’s desire to give back comes in part, from his experience in the Peace Corps in Venezuela. “It means so much to give to other people,” Tim says. “You always want to give more than receive, and that’s the real reward. The reward is giving.” Tim tells stories of connecting with village children and teaching them to read English while in the Peace Corps, and his daughters think those memories stayed with Tim, as he gives back to his local community.
The Wardes’ volunteer time with Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala was a great experience, too. “That was so rewarding. At the end of it there was the beginning of a house to help people,” Sally says. “More than that, it was the one-on-one relationship with the people we were helping. If you feel you made a difference even in one person’s life whether it’s building a house in Guatemala or volunteering here in Greeley, if one person has benefited it stands out in your mind.”
Setting a Great Example
“Through our parents’ example, it was engrained in us girls that it’s important to give back. Each of us volunteer in our kids’ schools, are members of service organizations, and serve on community boards or committees,” the daughters say.
Devon, Robyn and Brooke note that the United Way of Weld County Humanitarian Award is so special to their parents. “United Way of Weld County touches so many different people, organizations and communities,” the daughters say. “For our parents to be representative of an organization with such breadth is a true honor. This honor comes at a special time, as this is a monumental year for them. They will be married 50 years in June and our dad will turn 75 in June. Having resided in Weld County for over 40 years, it again, shows their love and dedication to this community. They truly are a part of the fabric of Greeley and this honor recognizes that.”
The award coming from United Way of Weld County makes it even more special because their daughters say it is the avenue through which they inspired others to give. “This happened every year at Northern Colorado Paper through the employee giving program,” the three recall. “Each fall, my parents would campaign to the employees of NCP to give back through the United Way. They would speak at sales meeting, warehouse meetings and the hallways would be covered with United Way posters. They drove home the idea that even $5 a month can make a difference. Another trait that makes my parents good representatives of United Way of Weld County is perseverance. Their business had many ups and downs including the (1991) fire that burned down the warehouse, a huge technology upgrade that crippled their business for several months and a warehouse move to west Greeley. All of these endeavors could have been enough for many people to say, “I’m done!” But not Tim and Sally. As the fire was still smoldering, my dad was on the phone finding temporary warehouse space and ordering new product to deliver to his customers the next day. They were not going to let anyone down – not their customers, employees, or themselves. Similarly, United Way of Weld County will always be there for this community.”
The examples the Wardes taught their three daughters about volunteering and giving to others are inspiring. “Just as my mom and dad did with me, I am trying to be a good example for my two girls,” Robyn says. “The more my girls see me and my husband volunteer or give back to our community, the more they will see that it is just something that we do in our family. We live in Grand Junction and I have volunteered at my girls’ schools since they were in kindergarten (they are now 13) and was actively on the school board. I loved helping out with young children in the community so I have volunteered for an elementary art program for several years.”
Brooke says: “As my parents engrained community activism in us, I hope to do so for my kids as well. Both my husband and I are involved with local organizations, including the Community Foundation serving Greeley and Weld County, Windsor Community Foundation, Clearview (Windsor) Library, Meals on Wheels Loveland and the Weld RE-4 Foundation. My hope is that our kids will see Mike and I engaged and that it will teach them the importance of giving back. We, too, live in Weld County – in Windsor. Similar to Greeley, Windsor has a strong sense of community and town pride. It is my hope that raising them in this community will give them a sense of belonging and ownership, similar to what Greeley did for my mom and dad. I hope this cycle will continue and that my kids will someday be inspiring others to give back.”
Devon and her family live in Denver and have been able to find their small community within their own neighborhood of Stapleton. “We are involved in the school advisory committees for our neighborhood public schools, and are also involved with the Kids’ Compassion Project,” Devon says. “This organization was founded by two local women, with the mission of getting children involved with community-based events, fundraisers and outreach for children and families in need. I am so pleased to share this spirit of giving back with my children, and to highlight the accomplishments of their Nana and Papa!”
Tim says he wants his daughters and grandchildren to look at making a better future. “To this day, we want them to give back. It’s so important to give back,” Tim says. “It’s so rewarding. It means more to give than to receive.” Sally says she’d like to instill in her grandchildren the idea of volunteering and giving. “I think by doing that, I want them to have a feeling of empathy toward other people and gratitude for what they have,” Sally says.
Sally says she’s still trying to wrap her arms around being recipients of the Humanitarian Award. “Hopefully, we’re representative of so many others in Greeley who do so much,” Sally says. “Maybe by highlighting a couple, it makes other people think, ‘Shoot, maybe we can do that, too, or become interested.” Tim says: “We’re just deeply honored and overwhelmed. There are lots of deserving people out there. We are humbled.”