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Labor of love: Unheralded workers are the unsung heroes of the community

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By Ramsey Scott

In 1887, Colorado was among the first five states to officially recognize the contributions of laborers by creating a holiday to honor them. 

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The Columbine Courier has highlighted four residents whose daily work keeps South Jefferson County in motion, though their diverse careers represent only a tiny slice of all the jobs in our coverage area. 

David Kacprowicz

Zamboni driver at The Edge

David Kacprowicz gets a lot of questions about his job when people hear what he does for a living. 

“I tell them I drive a Zamboni, and the first thing they ask is, ‘Really?’ Then the next thing they ask is, ‘Can I have a ride?’ ” Kacprowicz said. “Even my wife asked for a ride when I got the job.”

Kacprowicz has been driving a Zamboni, which resurfaces the ice by shaving off the top layer and spraying hot water in its place, at Foothills’ Park and Rec's Edge Ice Arena for three years. He landed the job after deciding to put his years of driving heavy equipment to a much cooler use. 

“It’s the best job I’ve had. The atmosphere at the ice rink is just great, and the schedule is great since I work mostly nights, which means I get to see my kids,” Kacprowicz said. “Unlike when I was driving road scrapers, this is a sweet, easygoing 3 mph. I get paid to go slow.”

The Edge is right in Kacprowicz’s neighborhood, so he has developed relationships with many of the men and women who play their weekly hockey games late at night. 

And while he loves his current gig, Kacprowicz dreams of driving in the big leagues.

“The Pepsi Center — I’d love to drive a Zamboni there during a (Colorado) Avalanche game,” Kacprowicz said. “I
love my job. It’s the coolest, most unique job out there.”

Cecilia LaFrance

Bookmobile coordinator for Jeffco Library

Cecilia LaFrance has a literary ride. 

LaFrance coordinates and works with the Jeffco Public Library’s bookmobile. The former school librarian said it gives her joy to provide patrons with the information they seek at the bookmobile's 40 or so stops. 

“Libraries are a place of growth,” LaFrance said. “It just makes me smile. We had a senior come in earlier this week and wanted to learn about warp speed. We help connect people with information.”

The bookmobile serves areas in the county that are underserved with libraries, including several stops in South Jeffco. The bookmobile also stops at the Jeffco jail. 

“We also serve inmates. That’s been very rewarding to see those people use their time wisely to improve something in their lives,” LaFrance said. “We get to give people access to books outside of a normal situation.”

Having a 40-foot library drive up every week gives residents access not only to books, but all the services a library can provide. 

“The nearest library to them isn't necessarily convenient to go to. By bringing our bookmobile there every Saturday, we've created a temporary library. The library isn't just a place; it's a service,” LaFrance said. “Every day is different. Each patron has a unique interest or question. My days are always interesting.”

And while she might also have a cool ride, LaFrance said that, like most librarians, she’s a nerd at heart.

“Many people think librarians are nerdy and geeky. I think that’s true to some extent, but sometimes it’s cool to be a geek,” LaFrance said. 

Paul Brooks

Jeffco sheriff’s deputy

Jeffco sheriff's Deputy Paul Brooks recalls a defining moment from his childhood when he's asked why he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.

At about age 5, young Paul was decked out in a new shirt with iron-on "Jeffco sheriff’s deputy" patches that his mother had made him.  

“I was a dorky little kid with my shirt on. I went out to get the mail, and the mailman was still there,” Brooks said. “He said, ‘Morning, deputy.’ I thought it was just the coolest thing.”

Brooks, a 15-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, is the fourth member of his family to put on a Jeffco sheriff’s badge. His father and two older brothers all served in the department. Yet it wasn’t following in the footsteps of his family that led Brooks to his chosen career. 

“I was working in the private sector after college and had been married for several years. I had to spend so much time away from my family that I missed first steps, birthdays,” Brooks said. “My family means more to me than that job ever did.” 

So Brooks put on the badge and started patrolling the streets of his home county.

“In the 15 years I’ve worked for the Sheriff’s Office and the 13 years I’ve been on patrol, I’ve never had two days that are the exact same. It’s like Forrest Gump said, ‘You never know what you’re going to get,'00” Brooks said. “Being able to patrol where I grew up is amazing.”

Brooks said that, on any given day, he must interact with people facing a difficult time in their lives. Yet he still sees the world through rose-colored glasses. 

“I think people are inherently good,” Brooks said. “I’m able to see how other people live and what they go through. I just want to be able to look out for the little guy.”

Mary Tyler 

Volunteer driver, 

Seniors' Resource Center southwest branch

Mary Tyler had been retired for all of three days when she realized she needed to get back to work. The former U.S. Forest Service employee was accustomed to staying busy,  so she joined the Seniors' Resource Center as a volunteer driver. 

“I just enjoy helping the people. There are all sorts of people with disabilities that can't get out anymore, and they're grateful to have someone come and pick them up,” Tyler said. “Even before, when I was working, I volunteered for 22 years. Volunteering was drummed into me by my parents many years ago. It’s just the joy of helping people and keeping myself active. And it engages me in what's going on in the area.”

Tyler has more than a few stories about the friends she’s made over the last five years driving clients to medical appointments and to the occasional game of mahjong.

“It’s a good way for me to to stay connected and keep my mind working well,” Tyler said. 

Tyler lived in the South Jeffco area for 15 years before selling her home recently and moving across town. Yet she still travels to the area several times a week to volunteer in her old neighborhood. 

“I still come back and do my exercising at Foothills, too. They’ve got great classes, and I get to see my friends,” Tyler said. “It’s nice to stay connected to the area.”

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check Columbinecourier.com. for updates.