Multicultural Project Worthmore at Stanley Marketplace to benefit Aurora’s refugees

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AURORA | The Cherry Arts Festival at Stanley isn’t the only dash of cultural potpourri hitting northwest Aurora this month. 

Stanley Marketplace, north Aurora’s forthcoming gastronomic and cultural bazaar on Dallas Street, will host a benefit Sept. 24, set to feature music, food and art, for local nonprofit Project Worthmore.

Deemed “Our Neighbors, Ourselves,” the benefit will raise funds through ticket sales and by asking attendees to purchase local, galleried art. All proceeds will go to Project Worthmore, a nonprofit on Galena Street that provides a slew of healthcare, nutritional and educational services to refugees.

Now in it’s fourth year but first at Stanley, the benefit will feature music from Tom Hagerman of Denver-based group DeVotchKa, as well as performances from members of Denver-based hip-hop group Flobots. Lucas Chandler and Jeff Webb, former chefs at Denver’s Il Posto, will be dishing plates. 

Frank Anello, who founded Project Worthmore with his wife, Carolyn, in 2011, said he aims to raise $30,000 at this year’s event. In 2015, the benefit netted about $23,000 for the local nonprofit, according to Anello.

He said all proceeds will go to the nonprofit’s suite of “welcome services,” which provide refugees with various tools and aid upon entering the country, including dental care, food-sharing programs and English classes, among others. 

Last month, Project Worthmore launched a new, nine-month-long citizenship class that preps hopeful U.S. citizens for the citizenship exam, according to Anello. The class is currently capped at 16 students and is only available to immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least four years, as only people who have lived in the country for five years may apply to be citizens. 

Project Worthmore helps provide dental services for about 500 people a month, food sharing for 130 families and English classes for about 200 individuals. The group serves refugees from Burma, Nepal, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Congo, Sudan, Eritrea, Burundi, Colombia and Cuba, among others, according to Annello. 

Anello said he’s hopeful moving the benefit to Stanley will provide a bridge to bind north Aurora with the surrounding, significantly more affluent Stapleton neighborhood.

“My hopes are that (Stanley) does provide a place for both communities to come together,” he said. “I think this is a great opportunity … to really showcase the diversity in Aurora and to make sure that the community stays involved in the growth of that area, and not get pushed out.”

Earlier in the day, Stanley will host a job fair intended to help place Aurora and other residents in jobs at future businesses within the market.

Mark Shaker, co-founder of Stanley, echoed Anello’s thoughts on the project acting as a social vehicle. 

“We’re lucky to be in such an interesting location. One of the best components of our northwest Aurora neighborhood is its rich diversity,”Shaker said in a statement. “Working with Project Worthmore is a great way to celebrate the diversity and share it with a bigger audience from all over the metro area.”

Once expected to open on Labor Day, Stanley Marketplace and its forthcoming slew of new businesses will slowly open throughout the fall.