Former Golden Community Center Front Porch employee Brian Braunagel was proud of the things he did to improve the senior area. Brian set up not only food, coffee, a fun atmosphere, conversation areas, schedules for groups to play cards, puzzles and games, but also arranged Colorado trips for the seniors. He says, “People always raved about the trips, they would continue to talk about the trips for weeks and months afterward about how much fun they had.” He continues, “These trips were important because it showed seniors that they were valued and they still had a place in our community.”
Photo: Brian Braunagel at Windy Saddle, above Golden
Long before he went to work for the Community Center, California-born Braunagel moved to Golden in 1995 and became the Corporate Controller for Space Imaging, inc. (Lockheed Martin Corp.) He says, “I really like Golden and I like the mountains. My wife said she did not want to live in the mountains and I thought this was a really good compromise. We love our house and we love Golden. It’s been a really good fit for us.”
Brian helped raise close to a half-a-billion dollars from investors in the US and Japan to invest in the Space Imaging, inc. After twenty demanding years, he started his own company, House Master. It was a business he thought might be less time-consuming but was in fact more onerous. He sold that company after 10 years.
During that time Brian was also involved in his sons’ Cub Scout Pack 48, Boy Scout Troop 130, and Venture Crew 130 as treasurer where the funding grew from 20K to 50K. “I set up programs for people who had financial difficulties to ensure they were able to go on trips, even if their home budget didn’t allow for it. I tried to be fair and inclusive for everyone,” says Braunagel.
In 2011, Braunagel began working at the Golden Community Center in the senior section known as the Front Porch. “I loved my time there,” says Braunagel.
Braunagel resigned following COVID when the Community Center cut back senior programs significantly. “I think there was a great amount of loneliness that developed during that time and so many people from the Front Porch have passed. I think it was the loss of a sense of community and being able to interact with other people with their common interests and similar ages. That’s just been lost,” says Braunagel. “So many other people are decaying, who were vibrant and lovely and fun and interactive, and now that COVID is ‘over’ they are staying at home. They’re not re-engaging and there is really nothing here in Golden to re-engage with.”
Since leaving the community center, Brian has found connection through his” Tramily” (trail family). In 2021, he hiked 486 miles on the Colorado Trail. And in 2022, 234 miles on the John Muir Trail. In 2023, he looks to the Long Trail (Vermont) a 272 mile-long trail. Through these trips Braunagel says that “community and people helping people in all different sorts of ways can make something that is, on the surface so difficult, so enjoyable and lovely.