Denver Actors Fund in Action: Beki Pineda



‘Dr. Kelly listened to my tale, heard my fear, and responded in the gentlest voice possible: ‘Let’s get you a smile you can share.’ “

Aid recipient: Properties Director Beki Pineda, who was given the Colorado Theatre Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 Henry Awards, has been an active member of the Colorado theatre community since the early 1980s. She started as a volunteer at the Bonfils Theatre on East Colfax Avenue before building her trade in properties for countless theater companies. Beki, who turned 80 last year, worked on the making of 10 theatrical productions in 2019 alone, including Vintage Theatre’s “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” and Firehouse Theater’s “Outside Mullingar.” She is also the longtime Box Office Manager at Denver School of the Arts, where she has helped organize ongoing collections for The Denver Actors Fund.

Her medical story: We’ve helped Beki in a number of ways over the years, including buying her new eyeglasses ($325) and hooking her up with our partnering dentist, Brian Kelly DDS, for his help on a minor dental matter (a service valued at $182.) Then Beki’s world was rocked at when a fainting spell led to a breast-cancer diagnosis. She has since undergone surgery for successive mastectomies.

How we have helped Beki: As Beki convalesced from surgery, Denver Actors Fund Volunteer Coordinator Kristen Samu arranged for a team to help Beki recover, starting with several weeks of meals delivered to her apartment and other assistance. By the end of 2019, The Denver Actors Fund had provided Beki with $3,089 in overall medical assistance, including $744 for the cost of her new prosthetic breasts.

A message from Beki: “Words you pray you’ll never hear: ‘You have cancer.’ So casually spoken – so heartbreakingly heard. A few tears are allowed, and then you pull up your big-girl panties and say, ‘OK, let’s take care of this little problem.’ When my surgeon explained that the top half of my right breast was ‘fully engaged,’ I asked her if the bottom half was just dating? She responded with. ‘Oh, you’re going to be just fine.’ If you want to know the true definition of a village, try getting sick in this theatre community! Best friends, casual acquaintances and people from years past all rallied around to fill my fridge and offer rides. They called to check on me, share their experiences and send prayers. The Denver Actors Fund’s volunteer angels stepped up and came through the way they always do. What an amazing gift it has been to have The Denver Actors Fund on my side through this whole ordeal. I am so happy happy to report that the cancer is gone, with no need for chemo. Dr. Julie Barone literally saved my life by discovering a second cancer that didn’t show up on any of the tests and caught it before it could do any lasting damage. I feel I have been spared for a reason … maybe to help make The Denver Actors Fund stronger and more productive than ever. God bless you, everyone!”

Smile! In 2020, it was time for Beki to face the culmination of years of dental neglect. As mentioned above, The Denver Actors Fund has a partnering dentist in Dr. Brian Kelly DDS, who accepts a limited number of emergency cases each year as his personal, in-kind donation to The DAF with his associates at the Dental Center at Thornton Plaza. Dr. Kelly performed all of the necessary work Beki needed, including 11 extractions. The value of Dr. Kelly’s services to a regular patient would have come to $5,714. Instead, no money changed hands, other than an additional $676 outside lab bill that The DAF has covered. Beki paid nothing, making the overall value of her latest dental treatment $6,390. To date, the total value of Dr. Kelly’s service to the Denver Actors Fund is more than $70,000 since 2017. It’s no wonder that, last month, 5280 Magazine included Dr. Kelly among Denver’s top dentists as chosen by his peers for the 12th year in a row. He is himself a dancer and a veteran of four Broadway productions.

Grand total: The Denver Actors Fund has now provided Beki with $9,479 in overall medical assistance.

How Beki has helped us: In addition to being a longtime monthly donor to The Denver Actors Fund, Beki is among our original and most steadfast Action Team volunteers. She played a vital role in helping us to transform actor Russell Costen’s low-income apartment while he was in the hospital recovering from lung-cancer surgery. When we put the call out for drivers to help actor Gregory Alan West, who needed long-term transportation to and from rehab appointments following heart and kidney transplants, Beki was one of three volunteers who drove Gregory three times a week for more than four months. And she was a primary helper when The Denver Actors Fund helped actor Abner Genece recuperate at home following a near-fatal car accident. In each case, the DAF beneficiary has been younger than Beki.

How you can help us help Beki more: At age 81 and coming off two major surgeries, Beki’s financial situation is at best, uncertain. If you would like to direct a specific donation to help give her some financial breathing room, simply mail checks in any amount made out to Denver Actors Fund (with Beki Pineda’s name written in the topic field), to P.O. Box 11182, Denver, CO, 80211. Or use this donation link. If you use the online option, be sure to designate that your donation is a targeted donation for Beki Pineda. (She will receive 100 percent of your donation.) Otherwise, your donation will be applied to the replenishment of The Denver Actors Fund’s general fund.

Words of thanks for Dr. Kelly: “A dentist’s appointment to an old-schooler like me conjures up memories of needles, that horrible noise the drills used to make, spitting out enamel … and pain. Imagine my surprise to enter the 21st Century of dentistry on recent visits to the offices of Dr. Brian Kelly, a bright angel of The DAF. All those years of gig work in order to do theatre had led to neglect of my dental health compounded by being born with extended canines, which had earned me the nickname ‘Bucky’ at an early age. Dr. Kelly listened to my tale, heard my fear and responded in the gentlest voice possible – ‘Let’s get you a smile you can share.’ He has done just that. On the big day of ‘old teeth out – new teeth in,’ he loaned me his personal ear buds, turned on some Broadway tunes and sang to me as he went to work. By efficiently and painlessly removing the bad teeth, he was able to create a set of new teeth for me that makes me smile in the mirror every time I see them. All in one day. I didn’t have to walk around toothless for a month. in ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven,’ Mitch Albom proposes that in Heaven you will meet five people who have had a significant impact on your life. I’m lucky enough to know that I don’t have to wait till I get to Heaven to meet one of them.”

The Denver Actors Fund has now made more than $606,000 available to Colorado artists in medical need.

Read testimonials from other Denver Actors Fund beneficiaries here

Note: At The Denver Actors Fund, anonymity of aid recipients is presumed and fully protected, unless and until the recipient chooses to have their story told.



The Denver Actors Fund is a modest source of immediate, situational relief when members of the local theater community find themselves in medical need. In addition to $606,000 in financial relief, a team of more than 60 Denver Actors Fund volunteers have offered good neighborly assistance to more than 100 beneficiaries including meal prep and delivery, child care, transportation, errands, construction, pet-sitting and more. For more information, visit our web site at DenverActorsFund.Org.


To apply for Denver Actors Fund aid: Fill out this brief online form here


The Denver Actors Fund has announced a major new collaboration with the Maria Droste Counseling Center of Colorado to provide affordable, professional health care to any qualifying Colorado theatre artist who needs it. CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION

GET INSTANT, FREE MEDICAL ADVICE: The Denver Actors Fund has launch of a major new FREE medical service for qualified Colorado theatre artists: We are partnering with Hippo Health to provide access to emergency medical evaluations via video conferencing with a Board-certified physician. Click to read more about this wonderful, innovative new partnership that will further improve the lives of artists!



Go to our online giving site at: ColoradoGives.Org


Send checks made out to The Denver Actors Fund to:
P.O. Box 11182
Denver, CO 80211


Ever thought about taking a more active role in The Denver Actors Fund? Click here for more information


Sign up for King Soopers’ Community Rewards Program and raise money for The DAF just by shopping for your groceries – and it doesn’t cost you an extra penny. It’s like the Amazon Smile Program. To sign up, simply go here and designate The DAF as your preferred non-profit. Each quarter, King Soopers sends us a donation based on how much our supporters have spent. Thanks to all of you who are shopping for The DAF.


Click here to see how you can buy DAF products such as T-shirts, key chains, puzzles and much more.

By John Moore

Award-winning arts journalist John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the United States by American Theatre Magazine during has 12 years at The Denver Post. Hen then created a groundbreaking new media outlet covering Colorado arts an culture as an in-house, multimedia journalist for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He also founded The Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that has raised more than $600,000 for theatre artists in medical need. He is now a journalist for hire as the founder of Moore Media Colorado. You can find samples of his work at MooreJohn.Com. Contact him at