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Jeff Bear column: Life lessons learned through running cross-country

In a fraction of a second I went from a full sprint to skidding across the ground — pea-sized gravel gashing my knees and elbows, turning them into strawberry crisp.

It was just a few seconds into the high school cross-country race in Sterling, and I’d sprinted near the front of the pack of over 100 runners before being tripped from behind.

Lying on the ground, my immediate worry was not about the race, my team or my skinned knees and elbows; I worried about the hundred or so runners behind me with half-inch spikes trying to avoid stepping on me.

Luckily, they all avoided me, but when I finally stood up, I was in last place with the pack sprinting away from me. I chased after them, because it was all I could do, and ended up finishing well in the race, albeit with blood running down my shins and forearms.

I’ve been tripped, fallen down and left skin and blood on the ground many times since that day, both literally and figuratively, but I’ve always stood up and gotten back in the race. It was one of many life lessons I learned from running cross-country.

Most nonrunners think distance runners train exclusively by running long distances, but as every competitive runner knows, the best way to improve is with a series of sprints called intervals.

In high school we had a drill that we did on the track where the coach would divide our team into two groups. The first group sprinted around the track one time, and when they approached the finish, the second group started. When that group approached the finish, the first group went again, and so on, until coach thought we’d had enough.

Life is like that, too — a series of intense efforts broken up by recovery breaks.

From kindergarten through college, we strengthen our minds with a series of short, sustained efforts divided by summer recovery breaks.

Every working day feels like a sustained effort followed by down time with family, or some kind of recreation with friends.

Many large life events, like moving, getting married and even having a child, require bursts of intense effort to achieve, and the relief of completing the task always feels like a well-deserved break.

Cross-country courses, at least in my time, were generally pieced together on school grounds, in parks or on golf courses. We ran on grass, dirt, gravel, down sidewalks and even across parking lots. Courses were hilly or flat, and autumn weather in Colorado, as everyone knows, can be unpredictable.

Every course, every race, was different, so they required different approaches, different mindsets, different expectations.

What worked on a windy, Fort Morgan golf course wasn’t the same as what worked on a rainy day in a Fort Collins park.

Life is a series of chapters — school, marriage, new jobs, new homes — and like cross-country courses, each one has its own set of challenges that require different approaches.

Another problem with cross-country courses is they sometimes have rough transitions from one part of the course to another, including rough ground, long weeds and even the aforementioned parking lot.

The trick is to keep momentum through the rough transitions.

Life if full of transitions: from child to adult, single to married, becoming a parent, youth to old age. Transitions are hard, and some people get stuck in the weeds, but maintaining momentum through transitions requires less effort than slowing down or stopping.

Like any endurance sport — cycling, swimming, skinning — you’re going to suffer if you want to compete as a distance runner. Everyone’s tolerance for pain is different, but the ability to push through it is one factor in separating the good runners from the great ones.

Everyone experiences times of suffering in life, whether with a health issue, a loss of employment or grieving the loss of a loved one. Pushing through those times makes us stronger, wiser and better able to deal with the next challenge.

Not all runners on a cross-country team are fast, but even slower runners perform better when paced by faster runners. On my high school team, we always made a point of pairing slower runners with faster ones in our training. Because of the way cross-country meets are scored, it helps to have everyone perform their best.

Not everyone is equally gifted at everything in life, but using the gifts we have to help, encourage and lift up those who are struggling makes the entire team better.

Make no mistake, we are all on the same team, and running in the same race, no matter how we look, act or sound to each other.

My high school’s motto was “All for one, and one for all.” I learned a lot of life lessons running high school cross-country, but that may have been the most important one of all.

Jeff Bear is a copy editor and newspaper page designer for Colorado Mountain News Media, and a longtime journalist in Colorado.

Vidakovich column: Demons vs. Sailors, 1971; a hoops season to remember

I bumped into Jim Nadon a few weeks back, and even though we hadn’t seen each other in several years, he skipped completely the usual pleasantries that almost always go along with spotting a familiar face, and jokingly let me know that he continued to be in a state of disbelief that I had not written a column yet about the epic 1971 Glenwood Demon basketball season, and the four unforgettable games that year with the Steamboat Sailors.

Jim, who has been a successful businessman in Glenwood Springs for many years, was a senior on the ’71 installment of that Demon team that defeated the Sailors three out of the four times that they met. But with both teams advancing to the state tournament in Denver in the spring, the Demons were relegated to the consolation bracket after an opening night loss to Highland Ault, while Steamboat would string together three consecutive wins to capture the class AA state championship.

Glenwood left the big city that weekend with a championship also, but it was a fifth place finish as winners of the consolation bracket after wins over Center and Denver Christian following that first-round defeat. Even some 50 years later, Jim still shakes his head at the thought of Steamboat taking away the gold basketball trophy that he thought rightfully belonged to the Demons.

Jim pointed out to me that the Sailors’ only losses that entire season came at the hands of Glenwood.

Glenwood had a talented group in 1971 with the likes of Kjell Mitchell, Kirk Lyons, Steve Hageman, John Courier, Jon Swartzendruber, Paul Samuelson, David Deane and Nadon leading the way. But Steamboat was no slouch, either. The Sailors had a solid backcourt trio, and a couple of giants up front in 6-foot-7 Chris Kearns and 6-foot-5 David Combs.

I was only in fourth grade that year, but with my brother Dick Vidakovich being a key reserve for the Demons, my parents towed me along to most every game and I was at each of the four Demon/Sailor collisions.

Three of those games were played in Glenwood, including a Monday night playoff to determine the Northwestern League champion, after both teams had beaten each other on their home court. The Demons won, and went on to win the district tournament the following weekend.

One telling point of those great games that I failed to point out to Jim was the fact that the three games played on the Demons’ home court were all down-to-the-wire affairs, while the Sailors, by a convincing count of 71-57, throttled Glenwood in Steamboat Springs. If they had played all four games on a neutral court that year, who knows what may have happened.

The Sailors got the final laugh, but one thing is for sure, those two teams in ’71 were two of the best I have ever seen around these parts, and the four games between the two rest in Demon lore as memorable to those who have been in Glenwood long enough to remember. They were both state championship caliber teams.

Thursday nights at the Glenwood Bowl

Jim Roy and his wife Dorlene will be leaving Glenwood in the coming months to retire in Florida. Jim’s parents, Walt and Bonnie Roy, were the owners of the old Glenwood Bowl located just south of town for many years.

I spent much of my childhood at the bowling alley watching my mom and dad on various leagues, especially my father’s Thursday night team of Don Miller, Corky Lyons, Marvin Meyers and Bob Jones.

Jim helped his parents run the bowling alley until its closure in the 1990s. An avid golfer, Jim has also been an integral part of the pro shop team at the Glenwood Golf Course for as long as I can remember. He will be missed by many.

Best of luck to you and Dorlene in your retirement, Jim. Thanks for the memories.

There will be a going away party for Jim and Dorlene this coming Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Glenwood Golf Course from 2-6 p.m.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.

Doctor’s Tip: Bad gut bacteria cause cardiovascular disease, severe COVID and more

Dr. Greg Feinsinger

The previous column in this series about the gut microbiome was about how good gut bacteria improve health. Today’s column is about how bad gut bacteria cause disease. The information in this column is based on a talk at the recent annual International Plant-Based Nutrition Conference by Kim Williams M.D., past president of the American College of Cardiology.

The gut microbiome is the current hot topic in medicine, with new discoveries being made daily about how the trillions of bacteria in our guts influence our health. “Dysbiosis” is the term for an abnormal, disease-causing gut microbiome. One way that dysbiosis contributes to health problems is that the bad bacteria crowd out the good, so there aren’t enough of the good bacteria around to keep us healthy.

However, bad gut bacteria also directly harm your health, and Dr. Williams cites the following examples:

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases. Certain gram-negative bacteria such as Klebsiella cause hypertension. Many cardiac risk factors including hypertension are often blamed on genetics. However, the problem is often the genes in our gut microbiome, rather than the genes in our own cells. Dr. Williams foresees a time in the not-so-distant future when instead of giving hypertensives pills that relax walls of blood vessels to lower blood pressure, doctors will prescribe specific bacteria to treat what caused the hypertension in the first place.

Fasting changes the gut microbiome for the better, causing high blood pressure to normalize.

Cholesterol is another cardiovascular risk factor, and some bad gut bacteria contribute to high cholesterol. Conversely, a gene present in some good microbes called ismA changes cholesterol into coprostanol, which doesn’t cause heart disease.

Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. Bad gut bacteria such as Fusobacterium synthesize compounds that contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.

Certain bad gut bacteria contribute to obesity, which is another cardiovascular risk factor.

TMAO is a toxin made by bad gut bacteria when they’re exposed to digested meat, seafood, dairy and eggs. This chemical contributes to heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease and all-cause mortality.

In his talk, Dr. Williams also presented studies showing a connection between bad gut bacteria and severe illness and death caused by COVID-19. First of all, high cholesterol, caused at least in part by dysbiosis, allows COVID-19 to enter cells more easily. Second, dysbiosis causes inflammation, which is the biggest player in severe COVID-19 illness and death. Third, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appeared that people of color were more apt to suffer severe illness and death from COVID-19. This was attributed to race, but that turned out not to be the case. Rather it’s due to risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease — which are more prevalent in black and brown communities due to economic circumstances, not race. (Being a member of the Association of Black Cardiologists, Dr. Williams has a special interest in this subject).

Dysbiosis causes multiple other health problems as well — too numerous to mention here. An example is cancer. In his book “Eat to Beat Disease,” Dr. William Li says, “Cancer, especially in the organs in the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, colon and rectum) is associated with microbiome disturbances. When beneficial bacteria are absent, the immune system’s ability to detect and fight cancer cells is disarmed. The wrong bacterial residents interfere with the body’s ability to defend itself.”

Next week’s column will be about steps you can take to develop and maintain a health-promoting microbiome.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Personal Finance column: Principled giving this holiday season

The season of gratefulness and generosity is upon us. Do you want to do your financial gift giving with intention for optimal impact? Motivations around giving are very personal. Your financial generosity combined with relational resolve makes local and global change POSSIBLE. What are your charitable catalysts?

P – Passion for a cause or concern

O – Opportunity to change lives

S – Simplicity: “I have enough, and giving helps simplify my life”

S – Satisfaction: “It give me great joy to give of my resources”

I – Impact: “I want to make a big difference”

B – Beliefs: “I want to live in alignment with my religious or spiritual beliefs”

L – Love: “I love my family and want to express it financially”

E – Equity: “I want to share what I have with the world”

To optimize your giving outcomes, search your heart and scrutinize your thoughts. Sad to say, financial giving can do more harm than good. Whether you give to family members, or to nonprofit organizations, take time to do the heart work and homework.

Here are four questions to ask yourself as you consider financial gifts to loved ones.

What type of life opportunities or difficulties do you want to address? Is a family member going to school or starting a business venture that you want to invest in? Are there health complications that you can assist with? COVID-19 has thrown a new curve ball at us and makes this more difficult. Discern between a financial lifeline or umbilical cord. Caution abounds if you answer this one with, “I want my kids to have it easier than I did”; or “They have become accustomed to a standard of living, so they need my support.”

What will truly be helpful — not hurtful or enabling? You want to foster a mindset of empowerment, a “hand up” to the gift recipient. In the words of Warren Buffet, “Give them enough so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing.” Too many times, financial gifts create an “entitlement” mindset. This is dangerous territory, as self-worth is confused with net worth, and future expectations become entrenched. A financial gift can be seen as “found money” and treated differently (more readily spent thoughtlessly) than money that was earned through personal efforts.

How do you love family members equally yet treat them uniquely given their circumstances? You may have one family member who has chosen a financially lucrative field, whereas another equally diligent and hardworking member chose a less profitable career. Would different financial gifts be appropriate? How do you communicate your decisions?

How will you communicate, but not dictate what your hopes are for them in receiving or participating in this gift? Financial gifts are profound opportunities to create the ties that bind families together. Unwittingly, though, they can also tear families apart. How will you feel or react if a gift is not used in a way you wanted? Are you OK letting them experience failure and the ensuing learning experience? A tough question: Is this gift about them or about you?

Here are three questions to ask when deciding which community charities to give to.

This time of year, I open my e-mail and post box to a pile of local and international appeals for end of year contributions. I watched a documentary several years ago, “Poverty, Inc.,” and it got me thinking about charitable giving in new ways. I really want to make sure my dollars are helping, not hurting. The Latin root of charity is caritas — love for all. Charity is intrinsically, foundationally relational, not monetary. You can’t truly be charitable simply by writing a check.

Is there a way to get personally involved with this organization above and beyond a financial contribution?

Is the organization’s leadership rooted in the community and developing fruitful relationships?

Are you willing to make a long-term commitment to this organization?

Profound joy is inherent in generosity, and once you discern your intentions, you can optimize the financial tools you use to facilitate your giving plan. For family members, giving appreciated stock if they are in a lower tax bracket can open a variety of doors. Using tools like 529 plans have unique opportunities and benefits. For organizations utilizing donor advised funds, charitable remainder or lead trusts, beneficiary designations, qualified charitable distributions, donating appreciated stock holdings or complex gift giving are all powerful tools above and beyond writing a check. There are taxation benefits, tax efficient income streams and family legacy planning components that will leverage your giving for maximum impact.

With financial gift giving, the stakes are high. Emotional implications and tax ramifications are just a couple of the factors to be considered. It will mean more to you and to the receiver if you take the time and get input from your trusted advisors to make the most out of your heartfelt, deliberate gift this holiday season.

Danielle Howard is a CFP® and CKA® with Wealth By Design LLC in Basalt. Check out her retirement podcasts and blogs at DanielleHoward4u.com.

Valley Life for All column: October is Disability Employment Awareness Month

Amy Schuster and Debbie Wilde
Annie Uyehara/Courtesy

Editor’s note: the Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, continues a monthly series of profiles to increase awareness of the value of people of all abilities.

Amy Schuster is a whirlwind of vivacity and laughter. It’s only when she mentions she may move slower than others when she works that one notices she has two prosthetic legs and that she looks a bit different.

Schuster has Moebius syndrome, a rare congenital condition that results from underdevelopment of the facial nerves that control some of the eye movements and facial expressions. The condition can also affect the nerves responsible for speech.

She is quick to say, “My disability isn’t all of who I am.”

The demystification of what “disability” is — Schuster’s goal — is highlighted in October, which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The focus is inclusion in the workplace.

Inclusion is what nonprofit Valley Life For All is all about. Executive Director Debbie Wilde emphasizes the need to exclude no one in the workforce. Inclusion is vocabulary that VLFA introduced in its Inclusion Campaign, which began in 2017. The campaign appears through telling local stories to attract and educate people, Wilde said. “We also came up with Redefining the Perception of Challenge — to change the language in a positive way with the stereotypes and perceptions of disability, including the connection with employment.”
 Schuster was the first person in VLFA’s inclusion campaign stories.

“What I saw in Amy was someone with confidence,” Wilde said. “It’s important that those with challenges know their skills are needed, that they’re valuable and worth getting paid at a job.”

“I was excited to jump on the wagon,” Schuster said. She began working as an intern at VLFA in 2011 and is now its secretary of the board of directors. “A friend needed someone to take her spot there. I thought, ‘this is a nonprofit for the disabled?’ This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ll be at VLFA ’til the day I die,” she grins. “The inclusion campaign is so beautiful. There’s so many different stories to tell — people with TBI, cerebral palsy, rare disorders like Turner’s sydrome — and none of these stories end on a negative note; there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.”

Schuster’s employers have had various responses to her Moebius syndrome. “I’m happy to answer any questions they have. But I want to emphasize what I can do at the job. I can tell them I’ve faced more adversity in my life, I’m more inclusive and have more empathy because of that, and I’ll make sure that this workforce is inclusive.”

She currently works at a library and loves it. “There are employers who know that those who are marginalized enriches their workforce. I think it makes people gravitate towards their business.”

Learn more about Amy Schuster and VLFA on Facebook or ValleyLifeForAll.org.

Local nonprofit Valley Life For All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. More information is available at ValleyLifeForAll.org or on Facebook.

Whiting column: Reinforcement facilitates personal responsibility

Life provides continual opportunity to reinforce personal responsibility.

My age 10 occasion was in last month’s column. It relayed how I had the opportunity to enjoy a sparrow lunch because I had forgotten we didn’t kill for sport; only for food or protection of ourselves and our animals.

I had long admired “Chester” — Grandpa’s old Winchester 30-06 he had given to Dad. Occasionally, I was allowed to shoot it at targets. After my freshman year, Dad asked me to go get Chester’s scabbard out of the tack shed. When I attempted to hand it to him, he said, “Keep it, and here’s a rifle to go in it.”

Chester and I successfully harvested antelope, deer and one cow elk, always accompanied by Dad.

September and most of October of my senior year found Dad busy with the new barn and I with high school activities. Consequently, an elk didn’t grace our freezer. But Dad said we were hunting this weekend. Friday night, neighbor Mel called and needed help hauling cattle, necessitating Dad’s presence and our stock truck.

“Sorry, we’ll go next weekend,” was Dad’s answer to my inquiry. Trying to sound confident and mature, I responded, “I can go myself.” After a long pause, his “I suppose it’s time” was followed by the same fatherly stare I encountered years before.

I was a slow learner.

Saturday found me on Monument Hill, thinking a few elk might have started migrating. I scoured Rattlesnake Plateau and Pat O’Hara, but they contained only deer. We needed a fat spike or barren cow. At lunchtime, I decided to drive the mile to the red rocks of Chugwater Point. There I could glass into the very steep, rocky and deep canyon we called the Narrows.

Midway through one of Mom’s roast beef sandwiches, the first cow emerged at the head of the narrows. She was followed by more cows and two spikes as they casually grazed along the creek. The herd bull had long abandoned the herd — not that I would have shot it. Even in my youth, I knew an old bull, ground down by the rut, didn’t make great dinner fare. Four miles farther, the migrators would end up in Two Dot Ranch fields.

We never hunted the narrows because of its very nature. Temptation was too much. It took 30 minutes to scramble down and set up along the trail. Shortly thereafter, the procession began. At 50 yards, the shot was anticlimactic. I knew Dad would be proud that I had secured a fat spike for winter meat and done it on my own.

My second error in judgment didn’t hit me until I had cut out one of the backstraps. In my urgency, I hadn’t brought my backpack. It was in the Jeep. But I was a tough 18-year-old “man.” I could carry the backstrap up the canyon and bring my pack down for the rest. I propped the carcass open with a stick and headed up. An hour later, I was gulping down equal portions of water and sandwich trying to recover.

Another hour later, the second backstrap, loins, liver and heart were in the backpack. It was late afternoon as the scramble back up began. The heavier load made the canyon steeper. It was just dark as I collapsed at the top. It took a few minutes to gather the energy to throw the meat in the cooler I had thought to bring. The 60-minute trip home was occupied with thinking about how best to get the rest of the elk. River a half mile north prevented the 4-wheel drive alternative; miles of old fire deadfalls upstream made walking impractical.

Dad came out of the house as I unloaded. My statement of success was met with a “Good job, proud of you.” A less positive question followed: “Where’s the rest of it?” His expression wasn’t one of pleasure as I explained the details, which included the word “narrows.”

“Dad, I’m already beat. I don’t think I can make four more trips tomorrow.” “Let’s let the bears have it.” “Son, that’s not an alternative. We don’t kill for sport, we …”

I stopped him with an “OK” before he repeated what he had taught me eight years prior. “Get some dinner and go to bed. You have hauling tomorrow.”

The next morning, soreness meant longer to get down the rocks. It was noon before three quarters were hung up in the shade and the fourth in my backpack. My legs were screaming, and I must have fallen five times before making it to the top. Meat in the cooler, and it was time to head back down. My watch negated the thought of a nap.

Beyond tired, I slid down on my butt as much as I used my feet. By the time I rested, ate and loaded quarter No. 2, dusk had arrived. With the flashlight in my mouth, I looked up at the canyon that seemed steeper and taller. Familiarity with the route didn’t make it shorter. After several pauses, it was past 10 p.m., when I was greeted at the top by Dad’s helping hand. “It was getting late. Thought I should check on you.”

My eyelids were closed before my head hit the pillow. Dad’s “Up-and-at-’em, breakfast is on the table” seemed to come seconds rather than eight hours later. My whole body ached as I crawled up the stairs. I was formulating my case when Dad beat me to the punch. “You’re getting the rest of the elk out. If it’s spoiled, it’s spoiled.” Before I could protest, he provided an option.

“I know two trips up the narrows isn’t an easy thing, and you’ve had plenty of time to beat yourself up about not thinking before you shot. Here’s an alternative. I called Scott at Two Dot last night, and he gave permission to drive across the fields and walk the trail the 4 miles to your elk.” Literate in math, it only took a second for me to calculate the two necessary round trips.

“Dad, that’s 16 miles.” “I guess you better get started, or you can do the canyon twice. It’s your choice.” Sixteen miles on a relatively level trail was better than the canyon, but it was like deciding whether to do 100 pushups or 200 sit-ups. Dad dropped me off and said he’d be back at day’s end.

I completed the first 4-mile interval, shouldered my load and was 50 yards down the trail when a voice broke the silence: “Wait up.” My father walked past me to the remaining quarter. He hadn’t gone home. In short order his pack was full. “Let’s go, storm’s coming. Mom’s expecting us for dinner, and we’ll need to cut up these two quarters tonight. They’ve aged long enough.”

My father’s unexpected appearance made me smile and gave me extra energy. The 4 miles flew by as we walked out together.

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of nonpartisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: bwpersonalresponsibility@gmail.com.

YouthZone column: Local collaboration key to providing a network of youth support

YouthZone’s recent efforts to strengthen collaboration with a strong network of community partners to share resources and funding will mean increased and positive outcomes for youth, families and communities.

Increasing access and decreasing barriers through these partnerships provides a broader network of support at an earlier stage to decrease the possibility of delinquent behaviors resulting in involvement in the juvenile justice system.

By increasing access to interventions with districts, school leaders, SROs, family resource centers and mental health organizations, the heightened visibility of available services will sustain a path of prevention as opposed to future offenses that may have resulted in a ticket and referral to the court.

Our local schools, family resource centers and Hope Center provide critical resources and interventions for youth and families. Collaborative outreach increases access to intensive needs for youth and families. These strong partnerships from Parachute to Aspen form a community tapestry that allows each entity to bring its specialty to the table to form a comprehensive plan of support for youth and families.

Each of our organizations provides unique services in creating the best plan to work collectively. YouthZone’s current diversion model, with 98% recidivism effectiveness, increases our capacity to intervene earlier with help and referrals from our partners. YouthZone will continue to provide substance use groups and one-on-one counseling, mental health counseling, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, court services, crisis support for youth in detention for the 9th Judicial District, family consultation, youth coaching, restorative justice and community education.

Self-harming behavior, increased trauma and suicide ideation require an immediate response. Partnerships with Mind Springs, Hope Center and Mountain Family will pull in professional resources with increased systems for ease of access and expertise needed for our youth and families who may need a broader team.

In Glenwood, shared agreements are underway with Glenwood Springs Middle School, Glenwood Springs High School and Riverview School (through RFSD leadership), Yampah Mountain High School and Two Rivers Community School to create a lens of shared responsibility that involves the schools, parents, youth and YouthZone. With shared goals, services become more individualized, intervention plans are collaborative, accountability exists with shared expectations in all settings, and communication and feedback become predictable and routine.

In order to increase accessibility, YouthZone staff are mobilizing to meet families and youth where they feel safe and comfortable, whether that is inside or outside the school environment. Bilingual and bicultural staff have been hired to respond to intakes, and youth and families can access needed funding when they are referred through the school for incidents that occur during the school day.

YouthZone and the Roaring Fork School District have received support for this collaborative project work in Glenwood Springs this past spring. YouthZone is combining this with other funding to increase interventions in Glenwood, our highest referral community, to initiate and increase substance and mental health related issues:

  • Increased human resource allocated to the Glenwood Springs youth who are referred for substance (nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, vaping and other);
  • Establishing weekly groups at Glenwood Springsand Yampah Mountain high schools for peer support groups around substance;
  • Increased evidence-based curriculum and professional development for substance interventions and group facilitation (including marijuana, vaping and smoking cessation);
  • Increased human resources allocated in Glenwood Springs for youth advocates and substance specialists.

Through monthly data points measuring our indicators of success tied to positive community outcomes, YouthZone is able to course adjust and flex services between communities, depending on the need. We are formalizing outcomes with educational partners to develop a feedback tool that assists us in adjusting and flexing based on our quality indicators as well as feedback from our school partners.

Additional funding is being sought to expand staff so robust prevention programming is accessible in all communities that YouthZone serves. Work is already in progress with other schools in the Roaring Fork School District, Aspen School District, Garfield Re-2 and District 16 in Parachute, and Youthzone is seeking funding to support all private, homeschool and charter school partners as well as all other community referral sources. We are here and ready to help.

Stefanie Maurice is YouthZone’s grants and data manager. She has spent her professional career working in health care administration. She recently obtained her MBA and also has a degree in health care administration and management from Colorado State University.

Chacos column: The real meaning of Halloween

Enough already with bathing suits and tank tops where one must bare bellies and flabby upper arms that were never adequately toned over summer. October, a wholly underrated month, ushers in auburn hues, hoodies and Halloween.

There’s nothing that encourages me to embrace the irreverent more than haunted houses, skeletons and waxed candy corn. Especially after the crap we’ve had to deal with all year.

Some claim September starts the festive, epic holiday season with crisp leaves and crockpots bubbling with chili. There’s cool mornings and afternoon football, the start of school and homework hell. For heaven’s sake, some stores even put up their Christmas displays before the autumnal equinox. However, when I simply try to roll in bins of Halloween decorations mid-September, all hell breaks loose.

This year, my family of guerillas universally declared, “Give it a rest already. Nothing ghoulish until the end of October!” I imagine they weren’t ready to suspend reality and give into some make-believe as they just started a sobering school year.

I snorted and retaliated by spending September tapping into some childlike behavior instead. I scouted where the Spirit Halloween store would pop up this year. I cataloged seasonal decorations I didn’t currently own. I vetted costume ideas in casual conversation gauging the temperature and wanting to know if I’d be the only quadragenarian dressed up as a “Karen” with nowhere to go. I had a very busy month preparing for October.

I also ordered a charming, and, in my opinion, very tasteful Halloween wreath. Yes, that’s a thing easily found online late at night. Unfortunately, when the package arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago, I was not the one to receive it. The box was opened, the wreath went missing, and my little anarchists scurried for cover.

All month my children insisted September was too early to get into the Halloween spirit and said they wouldn’t set foot in the house if I purchased the stuffed vulture sitting in my shopping cart. They spoke from a teenager’s perspective about the importance of conforming to the season’s rules.

I argued that September only boasts Labor Day and is labeled “Attendance Awareness Month” in some very small circles. In my opinion, the month could balance itself with some levity, but teens don’t know how to compartmentalize sobering current events with their emotions yet.

Finally, October arrived, and I was able to usher in decorative pumpkins and play a little with my family. An afternoon snack of skulls now sits at the dining table, and tasteful tombstones adorn my frost-filled garden. I insist we watch “The Exorcist,” and there’s a life-size skeleton and a trio of his minions roaming our halls. They’ve been hired as detectives to find the missing Halloween wreath. Hopefully the bones will entice some interactive wit from the self-proclaimed “realists” that live with me.

This month really is scary for many with frightening news headlines and depressing statistics. But with a little humor and forbidden candy bars, I choose to wade through the world we face with my children close behind. I hope one day they see the holiday for what it could really mean, too.

Mulhall column: An outcome worth watching

If you hold an opinion about abortion or gun control, you may want to pay attention to the upcoming Supreme Court session.

Among the cases the court agreed to hear include Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization and New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

The case that will undoubtedly garner the most media attention is Dobbs, simply because it threatens not only Roe v. Wade but also Planned Parenthood v. Casey — the case that re-framed the timeline of fetal viability in terms of weeks instead of trimesters.

Dobbs involves a challenge to a 2018 Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, seven weeks earlier than state laws that have withstood judicial scrutiny.

The central question in Dobbs is this: Are all laws prohibiting elective abortions before fetal viability unconstitutional (violations of the right to privacy)?

The Biden administration’s position on this case makes it even more interesting.

In response to the Supreme Court’s acceptance of Dobbs last May, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “The president is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade, regardless of the outcome [of Dobbs].”

In other words, Ms. Psaki — perhaps as a nod to the “no uterus no opinion” crowd — says the president prefers to pass a federal law on abortion.

If the president were somehow able to codify Roe v. Wade in federal law (assuming congressional assistance, since writing law is not within a president’s power), that law would preempt state laws and any variations among them.

Before Roe v. Wade, abortion and fetal viability were state issues, ostensibly decided by states’ voters. The Biden administration would rather replace voter discretion with a Hobson’s choice — you can have your pick of any horse, as long as it’s the one by the door.

Were the Supreme Court unaware of the Biden administration’s druthers, it surely knows now. If the conservative justices view the idea of a federal abortion law unfavorably, perhaps the court will rule in Dobbs to return more discretion to the states.

Oral arguments on Dobbs are set for Dec. 1.

The other potentially historic case on the docket is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

In 2008, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that affirmed the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms.

At a time of rhetorical brevity guided by Twitter and sound bites, it’s astonishing that we need a Supreme Court ruling to understand a 27-word amendment.

Yet, since Heller, the courts have ruled that numerous state laws restricting gun ownership, concealed carry and ammunition do not trump the right to bear arms. States with major urban areas have written most of these laws.

Bruen involves a New York law that restricts who can obtain a concealed-carry permit. Under this law, an individual must be “of good moral character” and show “proper cause” to get one.

A brief filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the Biden administration says, “Congress has disarmed felons and others who may be dangerous or irresponsible. It has forbidden the carrying of arms in sensitive places, such as courthouses and school zones. … All those regulations pass constitutional muster.”

The DOJ’s use of the verb “disarm” is nothing if not honest.

Worth noting, too, is the DOJ’s reference to “school zones.” In November 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed S. 3266, aka the “Crime Control Act of 1990.” This 80,000-word bill introduced by then-Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., imposed criminal penalties for possessing or discharging a firearm in a school zone. Since the advent of gun-free school zones, school shootings have become almost as commonplace as completed homework.

As with Dobbs, the conservative justices on the court are probably aware of the president’s views on Bruen. Hence, they may see in Bruen another opportunity to reinforce existing decisions on Second Amendment protections.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Nov. 3.

If the court rulings in these and other cases oppose the president’s views, look for President Biden to pack the Supreme Court with more liberal justices sooner rather than later, taking “guidance,” of course, from the commission he established last April to study the idea.

Should President Biden elect to pack the court, he will again demonstrate a guiding philosophy of lifelong politicians: Advancing your political goals justifies any act.

Mitch Mulhall is a husband, father and longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.

Immigrant Stories: Chinese make a life in ‘gold mountain’

Calvin Lee

Intro: Calvin Lee came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1980 to work for the Colorado Public Defender’s Office. In 1984, he opened his own office and practiced law for another 28 years. Today, he lives in Denver and pursues his other passions: art and the great outdoors.

Lee: My parents were both born in the southern part of China. They lived 30 miles apart. They didn’t know each other. When they were 12 years old, they both came over to the United States, again not knowing each other.

At that time, the United States was known as “Gam Saan,” or gold mountain. The Chinese believed that, if you came to America, you’d pick gold off the streets, become wealthy and send money back to the family in China, and eventually also return to China. The Chinese were the first immigrants the United States government imposed a quota on. The government was afraid of the “yellow peril.” And so, only those people who had a permit could come over.

It was the 1920s, and my father’s family didn’t have a permit. So they paid a family who had one $1,500 so my father could pretend to be their son. That family’s last name was Lee. My real last name is not Lee. It’s the last name of the family my father pretended to be the son of. My real last name is Yee, Y-E-E. So my father became a “paper son” — a son on paper only, not a real son.

Before my father left for the United States, the paper family wrote a 10-page family biography in a little notebook that my father studied, so he could answer questions when he went through customs on Angel Island off the coast of San Francisco. He was held in a barracks on the island for three months, where he was questioned repeatedly by the immigration officials. He was eventually released and allowed to enter the United States.

My mother came over legally. She was 12 years old. She also was held on Angel Island and questioned. They both vividly remember being there as little kids for several months before they were allowed into San Francisco.

Instead of picking gold off the streets, my father worked in a shipyard during World War II building battleships for the Navy. My mother worked in a hardware store. When they were in their early 20s, they met, and got married, and had me and my brother.

Gallacher: Did your parents eventually become naturalized citizens?

Lee: Yes. There was a time when the government offered amnesty to immigrants who would confess that you came here illegally. My father didn’t trust the U.S. government, so he never went in to confess.

Gallacher: You grew up in Arizona. When did your family move from San Francisco?

Lee: In 1951, when I was 4 years old, I had bad allergies, bad asthma. The doctor told my parents we had to move. So I grew up in Arizona from the time I was 4 until I graduated from college in 1969.

The first year that we were there, my parents leased and ran a grocery store in the Mexican barrio of Tucson. And then they found a store to buy in the suburbs. At that time, there were only 40,000 people. There were no 7-11s, no Safeways, or King Supers. And so my father was the butcher shop and grocery store for the neighborhood. My parents did very well. They paid off the mortgage in two years and ran the store for 30 years.

They were open 365 days a year, including Christmas. We opened from 8 in the morning until 9 at night. On Christmas, we opened at 11 in the morning, so we could open Christmas gifts.

Gallacher: What are your memories of that time?

Lee: I don’t have any recollection of San Francisco. My first recollection is arriving in Tucson. My aunt had a grocery store there in the Black downtown neighborhood of Tucson. Her family had had that store since the 1920s. I remember dirt streets, pool halls and prostitutes hanging out in doors.

My aunt had several rentals behind the grocery store. My first memory, as a child, was being in that little apartment with a mud floor and mosquito netting over the bed. It was a rough neighborhood. They had a crowbar and a gun behind the counter in case someone tried to steal some Gallo sherry. Gallo was the liquor du jour of people who didn’t have a lot of money to get drunk on.

Gallacher: What did you learn from that experience?

Lee: I learned to value hard work. We lived behind the grocery store. Our living room door opened up into the grocery store. When you opened the living room door, there was the cash register and the counter where we served the customers. My parents were always around and always working. That gave my brother and me the values of hard work and stability.

Gallacher: Did you experience prejudice growing up?

Lee: Yes. I recall, in sixth grade, the entire sixth grade class was asked to this private dance studio to allow children to experience a dance class. I was the only one who was not invited. I recall riding my bike to a junior high class, and these little kids were running behind my bicycle yelling, “Ching-a-ling.”

But it was mixed. When we moved to the suburbs from the Mexican barrio, there were not a whole lot of Chinese in Tucson. There were maybe 10 families, and they were all spread out. All our neighbors were Anglo kids, and they were my best friends. All the neighbors that we had really liked my parents. We had barbecues and were pretty much accepted in the neighborhood.

I experienced some prejudice as a young man. When one of my girlfriends told her parents and grandparents that she had a Chinese boyfriend, they wouldn’t speak to her for a month. But then they warmed up to me.

Gallacher: Did your father and mother, experience prejudice when they first came?

Lee: They told me that, during World War II in San Francisco Chinatown, they had to wear yellow arm bands that identified them as Chinese, so that they wouldn’t be mistaken for Japanese and assaulted or killed. They weren’t really allowed to leave Chinatown or venture into Anglo neighborhoods like Market Street.

Gallacher: Did they miss China?

Lee: No. They didn’t miss China. What my mother really missed, when they moved to Tucson, was San Francisco, because there were virtually no Chinese in Tucson in the 1950s. They were about to go back to San Francisco after two years when my father found this grocery store that he wanted to buy. And, without really consulting with my mother, he bought it. They almost got divorced over that, because my mother was so unhappy being in Tucson.

My father tried for years to get his mother into the United States. She was in China when Mao and the communists took over. She had two houses and was considered wealthy. The communists held public trials and tortured wealthy people. When it was my grandmother’s turn to have her public trial, the poor people said that although she was rich, she was always kind to them. So she wasn’t tortured or made to crawl on her hands and knees through broken glass. But they did take away her two houses.

Three years later, they allowed her to go to Hong Kong. She lived there for 10 years in a one-room apartment with three other people. She had to stay 10 years because it took us that long to prove that she was my father’s mother because she had a different last name than my father. By the time she arrived, I was in high school. She was in her 60s, and she lived with us until she died. She never did learn English.

Gallacher: Have you been back to the villages where your parents came from?

Lee: In 1990, my brother and his family, and my parents and I, went to China and found each of the houses my parents were born and grew up in until they were 12. In fact, when we were walking around, a man rode by on a bicycle, and he and my father recognized each other as being classmates back when they were little kids. That was interesting.

Gallacher: What was it like for you to watch your parents reconnect with their pasts?

Lee: Oh, it was something. The beam on my father’s face when he saw the house that he grew up in was very special. He just lit up and had all these memories. My mother also. My mother’s house was just an empty lot. It had been destroyed. But she started telling stories about her memories of being in that village.

I had this thought as I watched a group of little kids, they were maybe 2 or 3 years old, running around this remote farming village. I thought, “What if my parents had met here in this village when they were in their 20s and never came to America? I would have been born here.” The stark contrast between being a little raggedy kid in this rural agricultural village and being a kid riding the gondola on Aspen Mountain was very stark.

About Immigrant Stories

Immigrant Stories is a transcription of radio broadcasts by Walter Gallacher, a photojournalist and independent radio producer. Anyone with an immigrant story to tell about themselves or relatives is invited to email wjgallacher@gmail.com. To read past Immigrant Stories, visit ImmigrantColorado.blogspot.com.