Dena Creaser
A security guard guided by kindness

As shopping center owners, we understand that security is one of the toughest roles on the property. While most interactions involve tenants and customers, there are instances where guards engage with individuals experiencing homelessness, grappling with drug and alcohol abuse, and feeling forgotten by society.

Dena Creaser, a security guard at Fort Collins Marketplace in Colorado, stands out as an extraordinary individual and a valued member of the NewMark Merrill team. She serves as an exemplar of compassion, heart, and fairness in carrying out her responsibilities.

What distinguishes Dena is her unique approach to processing these profound interactions: through sketching and art. Dena uses sketching to align her beliefs with her duties as a security guard, allowing her to bridge the gap between her empathetic nature and professional responsibilities. Initially kept somewhat private, her sketches have gradually found a wider audience. She began by sharing them with tenants and NewMark Merrill, the owners of Fort Collins Marketplace, and has now compiled her sketches into a book, available on Amazon to raise funds for organizations who often support those she meets.

Homeless veteran sitting on sidewalk next to a bicycle

A passion for creative expression

Dena Creaser is a remarkable individual whose life has been intertwined with art and music from a young age. Growing up in a household where both parents were music teachers, Dena’s world was filled with the creative expressions of melody and visual arts. Spending cherished moments drawing and painting alongside her father, she developed a deep appreciation for the power of art to connect and communicate.

Dena’s passion for creative expression eventually led her to become a music teacher, a role she fulfilled for most of her adult life. However, about two years ago, she embarked on an extraordinary journey by accepting the challenge of becoming a security guard at Fort Collins Marketplace in Fort Collins, Colorado. Her decision to transition into this new profession was driven by a desire to connect with people, to be out in the world, and to genuinely meet and understand others.

Dena soon encountered the harsh realities and struggles that people face in their daily lives during her patrols. She would return home from work and share these experiences with her family, but merely recounting the stories didn’t provide enough solace to process the hardships she witnessed.

In her search for peace, she found an outlet in drawing, one of her childhood passions. Every day, she began sketching those she encountered at the property. Through this artistic practice, she connected with their stories and struggles, allowing her to better comprehend their experiences.

Dena’s approach to her role as a security guard took a unique turn. Firm and fair in her duties, she decided early on to treat everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their circumstances. This genuine compassion earned her a reputation in the community as someone who not only did her job diligently but also treated others with kindness and understanding.

Dena’s compassion and concern extended beyond her work hours. In her own time, she took it upon herself to find public resources to recommend to those she encountered in need. Thanks to donations from former classmates and Sisters from her high school alma mater, she was able to purchase guitars to distribute to those who could benefit from music therapy. Additionally, she generously used her own money to buy essential items for those struggling in the community.

Inspired by the lives of those she met, Dena compiled an incredible series of sketches and stories that told their poignant narratives. She firmly believes that knowing and understanding someone’s struggles fosters greater kindness and empathy towards them.

In the face of adversity, Dena Creaser exemplifies the transformative power of art and compassion. Through her profound artistic expression and genuine care for others, she has become a beacon of hope and empathy in the community, reminding us all of the value of treating every individual with dignity and respect.

Dena Creaser

Dena Creaser

Dena Creaser

NewMark Merrill Companies recognizes the extraordinary impact of Dena Creaser’s actions and is proud to honor her in a meaningful way.

To celebrate her compassion and dedication, we have commissioned a series of murals at three properties within our portfolio, paying tribute to her inspiring journey and the people she has touched.

Moreover, we understand the importance of supporting Dena in her mission to aid those in need. Thus, the Security Office at Fort Collins Marketplace has been thoughtfully stocked with essential items that she can distribute during her shifts, ensuring that her kindness extends even further.

Kindness at Village at the Peaks

Village at the Peaks
Longmont, CO

Arstist Angie Nordstrum was selected to create a fitting background to Dena’s sketch.

Kind Words

Marketplace 99
Elk Grove, CA

“My hope is when people pass by this mural they feel inspired by the bright colors, large florals and positive messaging.”

Kind Words designed by Dena Creaser, painted by Haley Titus.


Mission Marketplace
Oceanside, CA

“I instantly felt a connection (to the sketch) that’s how you can tell good art from great art.”

Connections designed by Dena Creaser, painted by Anna Pearson.

Support Dena’s Favorite Charities

If Dena’s story has touched your heart, we invite you to contribute to one of the charities that she holds dear, Outreach Fort Collins or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Your generous donations will empower her to continue making a difference in the lives of others.

Outreach Fort Collins

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Homeward Alliance

Purchase Out of the Shadows

Out of the Shadows book cover

Dena has documented her remarkable journey and encounters in a book filled with her touching sketches and stories. By purchasing her book, you not only get to experience the power of her art but also the proceeds from the sales will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

To obtain her book and support her mission, click on the link below.

View on Amazon

Inspired by Dena’s example, let us embrace the spirit of compassion and join together to make a positive impact in the lives of those in need.

Your support and generosity will help create a brighter and more caring world for everyone. Thank you for being a part of this meaningful endeavor.