Of the times tragic fires have brought disaster to our community in recent years, it is always the shared effort of gracious people pooling their resources to help those in their time of need that keeps the spirit of human kindness shining so brightly in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The fund-raiser given for the Durrett and Ortiz families, which was held in the parking lot of the Bank of Colorado this past Thursday evening, was one of those times.
In a crowd of more than 750 people, one repeated wish from attendees was the desire to get the community together more often ” in happier circumstances.
While Ashton Durrett is a fourth-generation native of Glenwood who has many acquaintances, the Ortiz family of Satevo, a city in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico, has dealt with the misfortune of losing everything while living far from family and friends.
But when Alvaro Ortiz called Mexico with an update on his family’s situation, he had good news. “Please don’t worry about us; the community is taking care of us,” he told his family.
With the help of Hotel Colorado manager Larry McDonald, Jitter Nolen and Larry Robinson, the family closed on a trailer loan on Friday. Their new home is newer, a little bigger and in the same trailer park as before.
With the remaining donation money they hope to buy a new truck. “We’re going to go forward with our lives. Thank-you so much to all the people in the valley,” Ortiz said.
The Durretts plan to rebuild on their land on Blake Avenue and until then are renting a house on Colorado Avenue. “It’s perfect; it’s like we just walked in,” Stacie said.
Ashton continues to look at the good that has come from their tragedy. “I hope we can touch others as well. Maybe this is the seed for something to germinate,” he said.
And to put the idea into action, the Durretts plan to give part of their money to the Ortiz family.
And while donations are still coming in, the tally from Thursday’s event was about $20,000.
Since all of Ashton’s favorite classic Italian films were destroyed in the fire, John and Regina Buxman had initially planned a small fund-raiser at the Springs Theatre where they would present a special showing of the Godfather.
While the Godfather theme stuck, the little event turned into much more ” like a big zesty Italian get-together animated with the love of food, family and friends.
“We could do this every week!” Ashton said.
Normally a fund-raiser of this size could take half a year to plan, but with so much help from the community, they did it in 23 days.
“We started and the town took over,” said Regina Buxman.
John Buxman remembered several key individuals who worked behind the scenes.
Glenwood Springs city clerk Robin Unsworth went beyond her normal call of duty and made several calls to the state to push a special application permit through while Dave Armbruster at the Bank of Colorado cleared the security issues involved with having a major public event on bank property.
Richard and Leann Katchuk, along with Chris Spence and Chris Rush, who own Peak Party Rentals, donated the 3,200-square-foot heated tent.
“It was an extraordinary gift,” said John Buxman. One that translated to several thousands of dollars. But like the 41 restaurants who donated food, 20 volunteers and Jim Water who spent two days putting up lights, everyone just wanted to help.
“This is our hometown. We just wanted to support it,” said Leann Katchuk.
And for that, two local families are forever grateful and together, they expressed identical thoughts of appreciation to their community.
From the Ortiz families in Chihuahua and Colorado: “Muchas gracias!”
And from the Italians underground: “Grazie!”
From left, Sunny Wilson and Rebecca Murray, of Carbondale; Hattie Taylor, of Paonia; and Paula Chiarello, of Glenwood.
From left, Karla Torinus, of Basalt, is a special education teacher; Ben Fricke, of Basalt, is a retail salesman; and Cristi Whyte, of Aspen, is a retail manager.
From left, Carole O’Brien, of New Castle, manages the Book Train; Pam Brown, of Glenwood, is a bookkeeper for Easy Tap; and Cory Brown, 17, of Glenwood, is a junior at Glenwood Springs High School.
From left, Kenna Zilm, 5, is in kindergarten at Sopris Elementary; Nick Zilm, 11, is in sixth grade at Glenwood Springs Middle School; and Sarai Zilm, 10, is in fourth grade at Sopris Elementary.
From left, Jim Douglas is an electrical contractor; Sandy Douglas is a receptionist at Rocky Mountain Plastic Surgery; and Jim Walker works at Holy Cross Energy, all of Glenwood.
Cathy Feldman, left, and Barb Embry work at WestStar Bank and Bonnie Embry is an appraiser for Garfield County, all of Glenwood.
From left, Patrician Nolen, Barb Barnes and Shirley Bushong are all retired and live in Glenwood.
Event volunteers, from left, Robert Ballard, Joani Northrup, Sanya Polar and Micaela Johns, all of Glenwood.
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