Hannah Widmer’s passion for education was born at Colorado College, where she also discovered the city’s heart as she watched the community work together to recover after the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires.
“That’s when I knew I wanted to live here,” she said. “Everyone was working together; it was wonderful to see.”
She’s brought the lessons learned at Colorado College and other volunteer work to her job at The Arc, Pikes Peak Region, a nonprofit that focuses on education and jobs for people with developmental and physical disabilities. As an education advocate, she helps people get the services they need.
“My first summer as an advocate at The Arc, I had the opportunity to host educational and hobby groups, which helped us plan how we are going to use space for programs in the new building that we are planning,” she said. “That summer I met wonderful people of all abilities who are creating a more accessible and welcoming city simply by coming together and speaking up. My favorite part of being an advocate is helping people realize how truly big their fullest potential is.”
Widmer goes above and beyond for the local community, according to Gin Woolsey, director of first impressions at The Arc.
“She is an asset to the community; anything she does, she gives it her all,” she said.
Widmer mainly works with middle and high school-aged children and their parents, helping them learn how to access services they need.
“She came in knowing that she wanted to work with kids. Since then, parents have given her accolades,” said Woolsey. “She helps them find out exactly what they need and want.”
Widmer said that she also works with transition students, ages 18-21, who are figuring out adult skills.
“With an inclusive community, people support each other,” she said.
Widmer has been phenomenal at reaching out to people with disabilities and their families, making sure that they know they have an advocate at The Arc, Woolsey said.
“Everybody is important; she’s really gung-ho about that,” she said. “She’s been awesome about helping people have their voice heard.”
Widmer is currently promoting The Arc’s capital campaign — an effort to renovate The Arc’s headquarters to provide a place for those with disabilities to work — as part of her public speaking efforts.
“I believe in our mission 100 percent,” she said.
Widmer is also pursuing ventures of her own. Currently, she is starting a creative eyewear business as an artistic endeavor. Widmer takes the arms off of eyeglasses and replaces them with ribbon, beads and other materials. She plans to launch an Etsy account for the company in March.