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Un perfil de la comunidad: El nuevo editor para Sopris Sun está listo encargarse más contenido bilingüe e impulsado por la comunidad

Raleigh Burleigh (Raw-lee Burlay) es el nuevo editor del Sopris Sun y espera incluir más obras artísticas locales y una sección en español mientras forja un camino nuevo en el papel.

“(Yo estaré) tratando de ser tan representativo como sea posible. Dentro de este, pienso que hay un dinamismo importante tenerla un sección para el periodico en espanol, y no solo transducción de nuestro articulos de anglo-periodista en espanol pero contratara alguien específicamente a informa sobre de la comunidad … y luego transduce sus artículos en ingles asi no es un calle de sentido único,” Burleigh dijo.

Nacido y criado en Carbondale, Burleigh se encargó del editor del periodico sin fines de lucro ubicado en Carbondale en diciembre. El siguió al antiguo editor Will Grandbois, que anunció su salida en noviembre después de cuatro años en el papel.

Burleigh es bilingüe en más de un dialecto de español, debido a sus viajes que empezaron como un estudiante del cambio en Chile cuando tenía dieciséis años. Sus viajes se extendieron a más y más de Sudamérica cuando hizo viajes de regreso como se hizo mayor.

“Pienso que, en una manera … Teniendo tantas conexiones aquí abre ciertas puertas, y pienso que quedando aquí ha continuado abrir puertas … Puedo servir a esta comunidad donde mi corazón está muy invertido … Espero que me esté beneficiando también estoy beneficiando a la comunidad,” Burleigh dijo.

El tiempo de Burleigh en el extranjero mejoró sus habilidades de idioma y fortaleció su gratitud por comunidades como una entidad y los papeles diferentes dentro de ellos. Su familiaridad con el área de Carbondale ayudó a poner su pie en la puerta como un periodista de la comunidad, pero dijo que siempre hay más que aprender.

“He venido con el tiempo agradecer cuanto tiempo se necesita para conocer realmente una comunidad. Tengo todas estas puntas de referencia criando aquí … juntando a KDNK y entonces siendo un adulto joven y reunirse con otras personas jóvenes … participando en un nivel diferente encontró estas relaciones multiplicando y haciendo más profundo mi perspectiva,” Burleigh dijo.

La directora de noticias de la emisora de radio local KDNK, Amy Hadden Marsh, conoce a Burleigh cuando él vino a la emisora preguntando sobre la necesidad del equipo para un pasante. Su trabajo al principio fue dedicado a entrevistas en español y el transducción de articulos en ingles, pero dentro de meses él ascendió y movió a un papel de un director de programas en la emisora.

“Raleigh ha crecido mucho como periodista. Pienso que él es perfecto para el periodico … Pienso que la habilidad de Raleigh a describir cosas y ponerse en un momento es un talento que pocas personas tienen … Pienso que puede llegar al meollo de un asunto,” Marsh dijo.

Afuera de trabajando con Burleigh, Marsh dijo que ella se considera

él un querido amigo. Ella dijo que sus visitas al lodge de sudor en 13 Moons Ranch con él, algo Burleigh hizo cada mes, hicieron más profunda su conexión el uno con el otro.

Esta relación multifacética con Burleigh sería trabajando juntos un proceso aún más cohesivo y colaborativo, ella dijo.

“Es muy genial trabajar con alguien con quien has tenido este tipo de experiencia, Marsh dijo. “Hay una conexión muy diferente…hay todavía una conexión especial. Entonces cuando combinas este con una amistad y una relación de trabajo realmente se hace más profundo, y hace el respeto más profundo.”

El entendimiento de Burleigh de su papel y responsabilidad como el líder del Sopris Sun fue formado por su tiempo en el extranjero. El dijo tuvo un particular momento impactante conocido a la tribu de Mapuche en El Bolsón, un pueblo en Argentina, durante sus viajes. Dentro de la comunidad de la tribu es un papel se llama “longko,” y Burleigh dijo que podía identificar los paralelos este título tuvo con el trabajo él quería cultivar como un periodista.

“Esta persona, supongo que, podría ser traducido al cacique, pero pienso que es diferente de esto. Desde mi entendimiento es una persona que escucha y recibe, y entrega escuchando y recibiendo pueden hablar a la verdad común,” Burleigh dijo.

Parte de siendo una periodista responsable y veraz estar seguro de obtener el alcance entierro de la cuenta, Burleigh dijo. Él compartió una cita con su equipo de sus trabajadores por cuenta propia del libro, “Always Coming Home,” por Ursula Le Guin que él pensó encarnado como alguien debe aproximarse al periodismo.

Burleigh leyó la cita en voz alta, “Nosotros tenemos que aprender que podemos, pero permanecemos consciente que nuestro conocimiento no cierra el círculo … Lo que se ve con un ojo no tiene profundidad.’

“Pienso que es muy importante ahora que no consideramos el círculo cerrado que no sabemos la cuenta entera realmente alguna vez, y mantenido esta calidad de siempre buscando y el desconocido sin límites y teniendo este informa nuestro enfoque a periodismo es muy importante,” Burleigh dijo.

Marsh dijo que ella considera Burleigh ser una persona de confianza y un verdadero miembro de Carbondale. Ella también dijo que piensa él es la persona perfecta a encargarse este papel, alguien quien aumentará el trabajo hicieron por los editores delante de él en Sopris Sun.

“Es un gran entre los grandes y le deseo todo lo mejor,” Marsh dijo.

Burleigh dijo que él quería que la comunidad saber está agradecido por la oportunidad de trabajar como editor en que el dijo es un ecosistema de noticias saludable en el valle de Roaring Fork. El dijo que será tan representational tan posible de las personas que viven en Carbondale en los artículos del Sopris Sun creará. Para hacer esto, Burleigh dijo que él agradece los comentarios, las peticiones de los lectores y está preparado a escuchar y aprender con una mentalidad abierta.

“Estoy tomando el pecho de las responsabilidades tengo para ser justo y investigador y veraz,” Burleigh dijo.

“También (estoy) invitado a personas para contactar a mi y házmelo saber si piensan que los aspectos enteros de una cuenta no estaba considerado, o si tienen una pista de una cuenta, o un idea para el periodico, o un talento a contribuir.”

jpeterson@postindependent.com

Community profile: New editor for Sopris Sun ready to take on more bilingual, community-driven content

New Sopris Sun editor, Raleigh Burleigh looks through the latest edition of the newspaper in his office in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Raleigh Burleigh (Raw-lee Bur-lay) is the new Sopris Sun editor and hopes to include more local artwork and a Spanish section as he forges a new path in the role.

“(I will be) trying to be as representational as possible. Within that, I think there is a major drive to have a section for the newspaper in Spanish, and not only translating our Anglo-journalist pieces into Spanish but hiring somebody to specifically report from the community … and then translating their work in English so that it’s not a one-way street,” Burleigh said.

Born and raised in Carbondale, Burleigh, 27, took over as editor of the nonprofit newspaper based in Carbondale in December. He succeeds former editor Will Grandbois, who announced his departure in November after four years at the helm.

Burleigh is bilingual in more than one dialect of Spanish, thanks to all his travels which began as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Chile when he was 16. His travels spread to more and more of South America when he made return trips as he got older.

“I think that, in a way … having so many ties here I think opens certain doors, and I think staying has just continued to open doors. I get to service this community where my heart is very invested … I hope as it’s benefitting me I’m also benefiting the community,” Burleigh said.

Burleigh’s time abroad improved his language abilities and strengthened his appreciation for communities as an entity and the different roles within them. His familiarity with the Carbondale area helped him get his foot in the door as a community journalist, but he said he realizes there is always more to learn.

“I have come over time to appreciate how long it takes to really get to know a community. I have all these points of reference from growing up … joining KDNK and then being a young adult and meeting other young people … just engaging in a different level I found these relationships multiplying and deepening my perspective,” Burleigh said.

Radio roots

Local radio station KDNK’s news director, Amy Hadden Marsh, met Burleigh when he first came to the station inquiring about the team’s need for an intern. His work at first was mostly dedicated to interviews in Spanish and translating English stories, but within months he was promoted and moved to a more directorial programming role at the station.

New Sopris Sun editor, Raleigh Burleigh, refills a newspaper box outside of the Third Street Center in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

“Raleigh’s grown a lot as a journalist. I think he’s perfect for the newspaper,” Marsh said. “I think Raleigh’s ability to describe things and put you right there in the moment is a talent that few people have … I think he can get to the heart of the issue.”

Outside of working with Burleigh, Marsh said she considers him to be a dear friend. She said her visits to the sweat lodge at 13 Moons Ranch with him, something Burleigh does on a monthly basis, deepened their connection to one another.

This multifaceted relationship with Burleigh made working together an even more cohesive, collaborative process, she said.

“It’s really neat to work with someone with whom you had that kind of experience, Marsh said. “There’s just a connection that’s different…there’s still that special connection. So when you combine that with a friendship and a working relationship it really deepens that, and it deepens the respect.”

Burleigh’s understanding of his role and responsibility as the head of the Sopris Sun was shaped by his time abroad. He said he had a particularly impactful moment getting to know the Mapuche tribe in El Bolsón, a town in Argentina, during his travels.

New Sopris Sun editor, Raleigh Burleigh draws out the add layout in the latest edition of the paper in his office in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Within the tribe’s community is a role called “longko,” and Burleigh said he was able to identify the parallels this title had with the work he wanted to cultivate as a journalist.

“That person, I guess, could be translated to chief, but I think it’s different than that. From my understanding, it’s a person that listens and receives and through listening and receiving they’re able to speak the communal truth,” Burleigh said.

Open circle

Part of being a responsible and truthful journalist is being sure to get the full scope of the story, Burleigh said. He shared a quote with his team of freelancers from the book, “Always Coming Home,” by Ursula Le Guin that he said he thought embodied how one should approach journalism.

Burleigh read the quote aloud, “‘We have to learn what we can, but remain mindful that our knowledge not close the circle … What is seen with one eye has no depth.’

“I think it’s so important right now that we not consider the circle closed that we don’t know the full story really ever, and maintaining that quality of always searching and kind of that boundless unknown and having that inform our approach to journalism is really important,” Burleigh said.

Marsh said she considers Burleigh to be a trustworthy person and a true community member of Carbondale. She also said she thinks he is the perfect person to take on this role, someone who will add to the work done by editors before him at the Sopris Sun.

“He’s a great among greats and I wish him all the best,” Marsh said.

 

Burleigh said he wants the community to know he is grateful for the opportunity to work as editor in what he said is a healthy news ecosystem in the Roaring Fork Valley. He said he wants to be as representative as possible of the people who live in Carbondale in the content the Sopris Sun will curate.

In order to do this, Burleigh said he welcomes feedback, requests from readers and is ready to continue to listen and learn with an open mind.

“I take it to heart the responsibilities that I have to be fair and investigative and truthful,” Burleigh said.

“(I’m) also inviting people to reach out to me and let me know if they think that maybe the full scope of a story wasn’t considered, or if they have a lead on a story, or an idea for the paper, or a talent to contribute.”

jpeterson@postindependent.com

Downtown Rifle’s Whistle Pig Coffee Stop & Cafe up for sale

Samm Young, owner of Whistle Pig Coffee Shop, inside the downtown Rifle cafe.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Out-of-town hunters descend in droves upon Rifle every year to navigate the rugged, Western Slope terrain as they try to bag their share of trophy elk.

In the meantime, some stop at Whistle Pig Coffee Stop & Cafe, a quaint downtown hot spot on Third Street that serves gourmet coffee, breakfast and lunch fare.

“We have a family from Georgia that comes in every hunting season, and we connected with them the first year,” owner Samm Young said. “Every year they come back to us. They follow us on Facebook and comment on all our stuff.”

After more than five years of catering to both locals and hunter-orange visitors, however, Young has decided to put the Whistle Pig up for sale. The reason: Young’s having a baby with her boyfriend, David Garcia.

“It’s been a crazy, crazy journey,” Young said.

The Whistle Pig has called downtown Rifle home since officially opening its doors in July 2015. And, how it came to be involved a bit of serendipity.

Young had just moved in 2014 to Rifle from Loveland and couldn’t find a job to save her life. She said she put out applications everywhere but results kept coming up short.

Meanwhile, one fortuitous night Young was having dinner with her brother in Rifle when the two started joking over the concept of her owning a cafe.

“A good place always has a mascot,” she’d tell her brother. “You have to have a mascot — mascots just make things more fun.”

Little did Young know the wisecracks would eventually translate into a downtown Rifle staple. Out of work but full of inspiration, Young nabbed herself a vacant storefront on Third Street using a small-business loan.

Before bringing her business plan to fruition, however, Young had to apply a little elbow grease to the storefront’s interior, which had sat vacant for the past two years, she said.

“The building was very much in need of some love,” Young said. “We spent three-and-a-half, four months cleaning and renovating it. Long story short, I had a list from the fire department and the health department on stuff that had to be done before it could be opened.”

But Young kept at it, and the building had begun taking the form of what she had imagined on the drawing board.

“I wanted a place for people to be able to meet, hang out and have a cup of coffee with their friends. I really wanted the coffee shop feel, but I also wanted it to be a little cafe,” she said. “I grew up going to some small cafes. I love being able to sit there hang out and chat and get to know the owners and really get to be able to be part of the community.”

The downtown cafe really became a reflection of the community itself.

The term “Whistle Pig” comes from the yellow bellied marmot, a husky type of ground squirrel that roams the Rocky Mountains, including Garfield County. The “Maxfield,” the joint’s most popular sandwich, is named after Rifle town founder Abram W. Maxfield.

Maxfield’s legend is delectably summed up via turkey, avocado, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and chipotle mayo sandwiched in a ciabatta roll.

Beyond the fare, the Whistle Pig has always acted as a local information center, equipped with maps and guides available for patrons. Young said she also gives people suggestions on what cool local spots to visit.

“Rifle Falls is one of my favorite places around here, so anybody looking for anything to do, we always try to send them up there to see Rifle Falls, because it’s such a crazy, awesome area,” Young said.

Just like neighboring downtown storefronts, the Whistle Pig had to endure a battle with COVID-19. From March 17 to June 3, 2020, the downtown cafe had to temporarily shutter.

“Last year was kind of sad because we didn’t get to see the normal people that normally come through,” Young said. “But, otherwise, every other year has been amazing. So many people come through our doors, it’s incredible.”

Young said, however, the help of the federal government’s 2020 Paycheck Protection Program helped her small business stay afloat. Meanwhile, so did community support.

“Since we opened back up June 3, we have been steadily busier than I anticipated — not normal sales but not bad sales,” Young said. “So we’re really lucky that people have supported us throughout this time, because it’s a weird time.”

Though businesses continue to open and close as they attempt to conform to ever-changing COVID-19 dial metrics implemented by the state, Whistle Pig continues to sell an average 30-40 sandwiches every lunch hour, said Young.

The business is still strong and viable enough that, after Young posted on Facebook that she was selling Whistle Pig for $45,000, she’s already ended up with 12 prospective buyers.

“We built a really awesome business and I’m really hopeful that somebody will take it on,” Young said. “We want it to stay Whistle Pig, we want it to continue, I want to help the owners as much as I can, but it’s time for me to move on.”

With that, Young was asked what she’s going to miss about running her haven of freshly-brewed coffee and gourmet cuisine.

“I will very much miss my employees. I will miss being able to talk to the community all the time,” she said. “I’ve made many friendships and relationships through being there, but I’m very excited to be able to just go and enjoy it soon.”

rerku@postindependent.com

Bessie Minor Swift Foundation now accepting grant applications from Garfield County

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation announced in early January that it is accepting grant applications from nonprofit organizations in Garfield County.

Grants will be awarded to selected nonprofits that promote literacy, reading and writing skills and programs in the languages, sciences and interdisciplinary areas. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 15, and recipients will be announced on May 1.

The Fund will consider applications requesting a minimum of $500 and a maximum of $3,000.

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation considers grants to organizations that provide direct service to help with the implementation or expansion of literacy programs for children who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading, and also to develop reading and writing skills at all age levels.

The Foundation supports STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) as well. The Foundation also occasionally supports programs for adults.

More than $700,000 in grant money has been awarded since 2008. The Foundation prefers to consider support for programs rather than grants for the purchase of technology. The Foundation also favors organizations that do not have access to large fundraising budgets and are local in nature. Grants are made only to nonprofit organizations certified as tax exempt.

More information and the application form is available on the Foundation website.

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation was formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, the company that owns and operates the Glenwood Springs Post Independent [postindependent.com] and the Citizen Telegram in Rifle.

Bessie Minor Swift was the mother of Philip Swift, the founder of Swift Communications. She was born in Onaga, Kansas on June 29, 1887, raised in Kansas City, Missouri, then moved to Blackburn, Missouri where she taught school in a one-room schoolhouse.

Phil Swift recalled that the importance of education was reinforced throughout his upbringing, not so much through statements or concrete expectations, but through the example of his mother’s interest in English, reading, history and music.

Phil Swift passed away in November 2019.

Nonprofit organizations in the area are encouraged to apply.

Valley Life for All column: Book honors Eva, who won’t let cerebral palsy stop her from dancing

Author Nancy Bo Flood with her children’s book, “I Will Dance.”
Provided

Editor’s note: The Post Independent, in conjunction with Valley Life for All, continues a monthly series of profiles to increase the understanding and power of true inclusion.

“Let me try it.”

These words are the embodiment of who Eva is to Nancy Bo Flood, a local author who has written a book about Eva called “I Will Dance.” Eva, the main character in Flood’s children’s book, has cerebral palsy and is unable to move most of her muscles.

Flood was introduced to Eva through her daughter-in-law, Gretchen, the director of Young Dance, an all-inclusive dance company. Flood watched one of the classes and immediately noticed Eva among all the dancers.

“It was the joy on her face,” Flood recalls. “In that class, I saw all kinds of disabilities, invisible and visible. I thought, ’They really mean it when they say they’re an inclusive community of dancers.’ All were valued for who they were and what they could contribute.”

But it was Eva’s tenacity and joy that captured Flood, an award-winning author, and Eva’s journey of becoming a dancer turned into a children’s book about inclusion for those who are disabled and have dreams. “I Will Dance” was published this year.

“Eva had something of value to contribute, unique to Eva: a person first, then Eva, a person in a powered wheelchair,” says Flood from her mountain home.

“I Will Dance” is a vibrant book depicting Eva’s desire to dance. Eva sees able-bodied dancers but also those with challenges. She’s wary but persevered, eventually dancing in her wheelchair before an audience.

“’Let me try,’ that’s what I see in Eva,” says Flood. “She’d do it on her terms, and with each try, she’d risk a little bit more. The result was not only moving around the dance floor, but that she was not alone, it was not pretend, it was not imagine.”

Flood recalls her first time really taking note of a child with a disability.

“In my son’s elementary class, there was a boy in a wheelchair who had no movement and no language. Every morning, the teacher would let a student tell this boy a joke, and he would laugh. I thought, oh, he wants to be a part of this class just as much as any kid does. That’s what Eva wanted, too: to be a part of the community. Isn’t that what we all want? To do what we love and be a part of our community?”

Nancy Jo Flood’s book “I Will Dance” can be found at The Bookworm in Edwards, Glenwood Toys and Gifts in Glenwood Springs, Sawyer’s Closet in Carbondale and on Amazon.

Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. Request a training or join the conversation at www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all. Help us redefine the perception of challenge.

Kight column: Glenwood ’History Hero’ award recipients acknowledged

The Glenwood Springs Historical Society’s board of directors has selected individuals and businesses for our “History Hero” award for 2020. With the award, we recognize people who have been actively helping to preserve our region’s deep and fascinating history.

To be nominated for an award means a person or an organization has demonstrated a commitment to our local history by performing some action, or actions, that merit public recognition. This year we are giving three categories of awards: individual, nonprofit organization and for-profit business.

The first category for outstanding individual achievement goes to Carleton “Hub” Hubbard for his lifetime of caring about, and stewarding, our local history. He has rightfully earned the title of Glenwood’s Historian.

Hub’s accomplishments within the Glenwood community are legendary. He was recognized as “a walking encyclopedia of the history of Glenwood Springs,” by Tillie Fischer when she presented him with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Citizen of the Year award in 2010.

For most of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society’s existence, Hub has supported us. More specifically, he donated his Buick in the name of the Carleton Hubbard family to the society when he quit driving; the proceeds from its sale helped keep the doors of the Frontier Museum open this past year.

He and his wife Miriam “Mim” also contributed their unique collection of documents and photos that Hub had gathered over the years during his title insurance career.

The next award, in the nonprofit category, goes to Christopher Tribble of Versatile Productions and his nonprofit the True Media Foundation, for filming and producing the 2020 Ghostwalk.

Dragging the ton of equipment up and down the Linwood Cemetery to film our “ghost” actors over the years was a feat, as was all the work that went into producing the alternative COVID-appropriate live-streaming event at the historic Hotel Colorado last fall. (We will only mention in passing the crew’s additional stress of having to work under the watchful eyes of the resident ghosts!)

Through his True Media Foundation, Chris has helped many youths make history come alive by using video to capture stories of some of the area’s pioneers which included Northern Ute elder Clifford Duncan. The kids’ interviews resulted in the Making History video about how we all make history in our own way. It’s preserved in the Frontier Museum’s archival collection.

Last, but certainly not least, are Ed and Jennifer Johnson, owners of Vision Security. In 2017, when we placed Doc’s Collection in the lower level of Bullocks where the old Hotel Glenwood once stood, the Johnson’s installed a state-of-the-art security system at no cost to the historical society.

Since that time, Ed and Jennifer’s hard working crews have maintained the equipment that keeps the collection safe and secure at no charge. That was no easy task during the Grand Avenue Bridge construction. Technicians from Vision Security had to make many trips to adjust the sensitive equipment that keeps the derringer alarm from going off due to vibrations from construction.

What motivates and inspires these History Heroes? They want to make a difference in their community by helping to preserve the past, contributing their time, treasure, talent, services and more.

To make a difference yourself, it isn’t a requirement to have the same level of passion for history as these awardees. It’s more about the difference between talking about and caring about history, and then taking action to help preserve history.

It’s about whether you only consider becoming a member of the historical society, and actually becoming a member. We’ve made it easy on our new website, GlenwoodHistory.com, with a click on Membership. Or, if you want to donate without becoming a member, that option is available too.

It’s about taking time and making the effort to recognize the value of history, and the fact that it belongs to all of us.

Bill Kight is the executive director of the Glenwood Springs Historical Society and writes a monthly column about history. He can be reached at 970-945-4448.

Community profile: Lori Mueller reflects on 30-plus years working to better the lives of area youth

YouthZone Executive Director Lori Mueller speaks with student board member Magdalena Palomaras at the downtown YouthZone office.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A recent encounter with one of the many area teenagers YouthZone has taken under its wing was affirmation for Lori Mueller that, 44 years strong, the youth services organization she has led for the past nine years has an impact.

“I was in the Rifle office just before Christmas, and there was a young man in the corner on his laptop doing his homework,” Mueller recalled. “He said, ‘this is the best place I can go, because I know I can get help if I need it. And, you have internet.’”

It was one of those “ah-ha” moments that come every so often working with youth, she said.

“Here’s someone who knew he’d be welcome here, where all he had to do was walk down the hallway if he needed some help … we were doing tutoring without doing formal tutoring. It was just a safe place for him to hang out and do his homework.”

It’s those moments that reassure Mueller that her work with at-risk and troubled youth over the past three decades with YouthZone has made a difference.

And that, after 15 straight years in a leadership role with the organization — nine as executive director and six as program director — it’s time to move on.

Mueller announced this past fall that she will be leaving YouthZone in the coming year, after a new executive director is found and trained to take over; ideally, by summer, she said.

“One of my main goals as executive director was to transition us into this building,” Mueller said of the converted former library building at Ninth and Blake in downtown Glenwood Springs that now serves as the YouthZone headquarters and primary program space.

After an extensive capital campaign and renovation project, the new facility opened in March 2019. It greatly expanded YouthZone’s ability to conduct its various youth and family counseling, restorative justice and substance abuse sessions, without the scheduling challenges of the past.

YouthZone Director Lori Mueller embraces two young advocates, Jessica Lee and Eli Sweeterman, at the 2019 ground-breaking ceremony for the new YouthZone building at the old Glenwood Springs library.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent file

And, it was a place the youth and parents who find themselves needing to rely on YouthZone’s services could call home.

“It just feels so good for people to walk in these doors — like there really is hope,” Mueller said. “It’s a place where they can feel like they’re being honored and respected, and that there is hope for them.”

That in turn gives Mueller the confidence that the time is right to pass the baton to someone new.

“I feel like I’ve done what I set out to do with YouthZone, and it’s always good to have new blood, new thinking and new energy,” she said. “We have an incredible team of committed, passionate people here who are doing such an amazing job. It’s more than just a youth program … it’s really changing the lives of families.”

‘Growing up’ at YouthZone

YouthZone Executive Director Lori Mueller speaks during the grand opening celebration at the new location in March 2019.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent file

Mueller’s time and efforts with YouthZone far exceed her most recent job titles.

She and her husband, Joe, moved to Garfield County in 1986, and at the age of 23 she immediately began working in the Pals mentoring program for what then was known as Garfield Youth Services.

Mueller worked with the organization’s first drug prevention program, called Project Charlie, out of the Rifle office, has been a case manager and taught parenting classes for several years.

The obligations of raising a family — the Muellers have three now-grown children, Rachel, Keith and Kimberly — meant she wasn’t always working full time. But when she did, “I’ve always come back to YouthZone,” she said.

When the previous longtime executive director, Debbie Wilde, moved on to new endeavors after 22 years in the position in 2012, Mueller moved up from her program director role to take the helm.

At the time, YouthZone was beginning to seriously look for a permanent home to replace the school district-owned facility they had been operating out of near Glenwood Springs Elementary School.

A major capital campaign made the project to move into the former library building a reality.

“That was a big undertaking that needed to get completed and took a lot of our time and energy,” Mueller said.

The result? “I just love seeing kids succeed, and parents being able to take a deep breath and know that things are going to be OK.”

These past several years have also helped Mueller grow, both personally and professionally.

“I grew up at YouthZone,” she said. “I owe a lot to YouthZone because YouthZone has given back to me professionally — my understanding of how to build culture and collaborate with other organizations, and how to work with a board — and because of what YouthZone has given to the community.”

She describes her eventual separation from the daily ins and outs of the organization as “a little bit like Velcro — I know it’s time for me to move on and do something different, but it’s bittersweet, for sure.”

Finding someone to fill Mueller’s shoes will be a challenge, said longtime YouthZone board member Martha Robinson.

“I appreciate what she wants to do, but it will be a tremendous loss,” Robinson said. “Lori has built a strong base of employees who have the skill, passion and compassion for the job — all qualities Lori has.”

Added YouthZone Clinical Director Tina Olson, “Having a strong leader to be able to steer everybody in the same direction is really important.

“Lori is a one-of-kind leader, and she will be sorely missed,” Olson said. “But we’re all really happy for her at same time. She has put a lot of things in place that will secure the continued success for YouthZone, and our job is to continue with the many things she started.”

Adapting during pandemic

YouthZone Executive Director Lori Mueller speaks with student board member Magdalena Palomaras at the downtown YouthZone office.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Like every other nonprofit organization and business, YouthZone found itself scrambling to continue to provide its critical services when the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020.

“Right off the bat, our staff kicked into gear and didn’t miss a beat in adapting to reach our kids,” Mueller said.

Counseling sessions and parenting classes switched to an online format. And, YouthZone began offering a series of webinars and free parent consultations recognizing that the need for youth crisis prevention and intervention would be even greater.

“What has changed is that kids have higher needs right now, and their situations have grown much more complex,” she explained.

Not only are there new stresses for youth with the impacts on schools, extracurricular activities and social events, even the juvenile justice system now has a huge backlog of cases to deal with.

“One result is that there is a lot more work being done directly for the families that we are working with,” Mueller said.

But, that conversation with the teenager in Rifle was encouraging, she said.

“One of the things I asked him was how things were going for him with COVID,” Mueller said. “He just said, it is what it is and that it’s all going to be fine, and we just need to put our masks on and get on with things. For me, it was really great to hear him say that.”

Resilient youth

It also became apparent that kids are coping, but are nonetheless greatly impacted by the world around them, during YouthZone’s recent YZ Ascent fundraiser, which this year featured a youth film festival.

Participating youth produced short films about everything from COVID to the past year’s social unrest around racial equity and inclusion, and how that’s impacted their lives.

“Those films just spoke to the isolation and the sadness that they feel for not being able to see their friends, and not having that school community, and how valuable that is now that it’s not as available,” Mueller said.

There is also a lot of concern about how that will manifest itself in the months and years to come.

“For sure, we are all very concerned that there are students who are falling through the cracks,” Mueller said. “Schools, law enforcement, parents … we’re all worried about that.”

Alcohol use by teenagers is up. Mental health concerns are real. And, students are falling behind academically and in their social and emotional development, she acknowledged.

In addition to the free parent consultations, YouthZone has also empowered its two youth board members, Magdalena Palomaras and Anna Vasquez, to help identify some of the problems and potential solutions to reach youth.

“One of their jobs is to go back to their schools and talk to the counselors and to students, and to make a video letting their peers know they can come to us for help,” Mueller said.

What’s new with YouthZone

• Settled into its new Glenwood Springs home at the old Glenwood library location;

• Working on a collaborative agreement with BATT (Battlement to Bells Anti-Trafficking Taskforce) for use of the basement space in the Glenwood building to provide resources for victims of sexual trafficking;

• Seen an increased success rate for young people moving out of the criminal justice system, as reflected in their evaluation process;

• Just recently, YouthZone has set up a Safe Space for LGBTQ teens through its Restorative Justice program.

Source: YouthZone

YouthZone is also looking to hire another youth advocate position to help handle the expected increase in referrals, she said.

Financially, the organization also came through the past year on solid ground, Mueller said.

When a couple of grants were lost, donors stepped up to go above and beyond, she said. The Ascent fundraiser was a success, and YouthZone exceeded its Colorado Gives year-end goal by $55,000.

A goal with the new facility has also been to be able to lease out the basement portion of the building to another organization. Although things were stalled this past year with the pandemic, YouthZone is working out details for the Battlement to the Bells Anti-Trafficking Task Force (BATT) to take over that space.

“This will eventually help YouthZone to be very sustainable financially, and it’s a great partnership,” Mueller said.

Mueller said her decision to leave YouthZone is definitely not retirement.

“I want to continue being involved, and making a difference,” she said.

What that will be remains to be seen, she said.

“But I’ll always be involved with YouthZone in some way,” Mueller said.

The YouthZone board is currently conducting a national search to find a new executive director, and expects to be doing interviews soon.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Immigrant Stories: Elizabeth Velasco

Intro: For the past seven years, Elizabeth Velasco has been providing medical translation for Spanish-speaking patients and their medical providers in Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties.

When the pandemic hit in March, Elizabeth helped establish Voces Unidas, a Latino-led advocacy organization serving Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties. Because of her experience in medical translation and her understanding of the medical community, Elizabeth became Voces Unidas’ first promotora.

Gallacher: Would you start by explaining what a promotora is and what the job entails?

Velasco: A promotora is not a new concept. It’s been around since the ’80s.

It’s a community navigator or outreach person. The name came from when promotoras were hired to educate people about diabetes. They were out in the community going door-to-door sharing information that was easy to understand and easy to digest in culturally relevant ways.

My job as a promotora is with Voces Unidas, a Latino-led advocacy organization that serves Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties. We have a three-pronged approach. First, we share information about the COVID virus and how to stay safe. Second, we help make people aware of the community resources and we show them how to access them. A lot of our clients have never needed any assistance and right now they’re struggling. Many of them are out of work or they have COVID symptoms and they need assistance.

The third part of our program is advocacy. We work hard to make sure that our clients civil rights are protected. If they qualify for a program, we make sure that they receive the help that they are entitled to.

Gallacher: What is the demographic breakdown of the COVID cases in Garfield County?

Velasco: The last time I checked we were 52% of the cases. We are only 30% of the population. (Editor’s note: the percentage has dropped to 42% of cases since this interview was conducted.)

Gallacher: What are the circumstances that create that imbalance?

Velasco: I don’t think it has to do with the color of our skin or where we come from, but I do feel our way of life just makes it easier for the spread. For example, people who have to carpool to go to work. Many of them have to carpool from Parachute or Rifle all the way to Aspen. That means they’re in the car for over an hour with as many as 10 other people. Many immigrant families live in multi-generational households where a lot of people come and go.

Gallacher: Close-knit communities are a good thing in normal times but the COVID virus has made that a challenge.

Velasco: Yes, and many of our Spanish speakers are essential workers who can’t work remotely. They have to be at their jobs in person, so that creates another risk.

Gallacher: Of the 52%, there are Latinos, what’s the demographic?

Velasco: They’re mostly from 20 to 40 years old.

Gallacher: So, the prime working age.

Gallacher: How long have you been working as a promotora?

Velasco: I volunteered with Voces Unidas in March, when COVID started. We were calling people one by one to make sure that they were connected to resources. We made over 200 calls as an organization.

Now, I am working part-time, helping develop work processes and build the program’s infrastructure. We’re working in Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties and networking with a lot of the local non-profits. They’ve been doing a good job for many years, so we’re just trying to fill in the gaps.

Gallacher: So, basically, you are working to create better networks between Anglo and Latino segments of our communities. What are some of the problems that Latinos are having? Can you share a story that illustrates some of the issues?

Velasco: When COVID started in March, we were dealing with people who were losing their jobs when businesses were shutting down. They needed food for their families and rent assistance. Now that the virus has grown, we are helping people determine if they have COVID, and get the test they need. A lot of doctors are using telehealth to consult with patients, but many of our clients don’t have good internet connection. Some don’t even have computers.

Most of the clinics are super accommodating; they’re doing Face Time appointments, they’re developing other creative ways of seeing people virtually which we appreciate, but then there’s also the cost of the appointment. The test is free now because of the state assistance, but we used to have to pay for the appointment, so that’s a barrier. Some testing centers do a drive- through, but what do you do if you don’t have a car?

Gallacher: So, many of these systems have been set up with some major assumptions. People have cars, people have a doctor, people have internet. Are leaders in the three counties realizing that there are some gaps?

Velasco: Yes, I know that other nonprofits in the three counties are working on their own promotoras models, because the model works. We know that people tend to trust you more when you speak to them in their native language, in a way that’s culturally relevant. They trust that we understand their situations.

Gallacher: You are trying to assure people that things are going to be better but often you’re working with clients whose circumstances are pretty bleak. How do you manage that emotionally?

Velasco: Well, it’s been really difficult for my mental health. I feel like there’s so much that needs to be done, but we have limited resources. For example, there was a dad who lost his job, he’s a single dad, and has two young teenagers. He’s staying with his brother and the brother can only give them a couch. So sometimes the dad has to sleep outside because he wants to give his kids some privacy. He was having trouble getting a COVID test so he could go back to work.

That breaks my heart. I wish everybody had a place to sleep, a place where they feel safe, a place where their kids are comfortable and I’m sure that must be super hard for the dad to not be able to work and provide for his kids.

Gallacher: You said that you are trying to reassure people and gain their trust but that must be hard given the level of fear that has been fostered toward immigrant communities.

Velasco: There’s a lot of distrust of the government because of things like ICE. People are afraid to talk to contact tracers or county officials. The officials are asking, “Do you have a Social Security number? Do you have this and that?” People are scared. They want to protect their families.

That is one of the strengths of the promotoras program. The promotoras are from their community, so there’s already trust. People know that we’re not from the government. They know we’re not going to share their immigration status. I know the counties have said that they’re not sharing that information but there’s still mistrust.

Gallacher: How has the pandemic affected the Latinas in our communities?

Velasco: In the Latinx community, women run the household. I feel like the moms are really working extra time. They’re the ones trying to set up virtual school for their kids, they’re trying to set up their house to keep everybody safe and keep everybody fed.

Gallacher: Well, it was true of you. When you were a child, your dad had to leave and find work in the United States, right? How did your mom manage?

Velasco: My mom had a lot of help from my grandma. My grandma used to watch us and take us to school and stay with us because my mom was working overnight as a nurse. So, I’ve always been around very strong women that just make it happen. They do what they need to, to keep the family going.

Gallacher: So, do you get to spend time with your mom?

Velasco: That’s been really hard. My mom came to visit with us for a couple months but then she went back to Mexico. I had a trip planned to Mexico to see my grandma. That’s been hard for me because I am really close with her.

Gallacher: Does your grandma do Zoom?

Velasco: We tried FaceTime, but the internet signal hasn’t been great over there. So, I haven’t been able to do much on the computer.

Gallacher: The pandemic has really messed with social interaction in a way that makes us feel less human. That has been really difficult. What are your hopes for the new year?

Velasco: I’m really hopeful that the vaccine will be available and that we can get enough good information that will enable people to trust the vaccine. Latinos are super social. We really enjoy going to dances and going out to concerts. People are missing that release of having a day off and grilling with friends.

In the coming year, I really hope that we have time to reflect on the things that we’ve learned about the barriers in our communities, barriers that have always been there but maybe weren’t as evident before as they are now. We’re always going to have emergencies, whether it’s a fire or a flood or another health crisis. My hope is that we can all work together so that we are better prepared for next time.

Mountain ‘bluebells’ bloom again this Christmas

Alyce Meredith plays a song with a set of hand bells belonging to longtime Carbondale bell choir director Rosemary Clark at the Marble Community Church.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Call it a Christmas resurrection story. Or, maybe the miracle of mountain wildflowers blooming in late December.

However the story gets played, it’s a special one to close out a year that has seemed especially void of feel-good stories.

It was spring 2016 when longtime Carbondale hand bell and chime choir director Rosemary Clark was unable to continue bringing music to the western Colorado valleys, due to declining health.

For more than 25 years, she and husband Dave Clark shared their hand bell and chime set with community members who volunteered to play in the choir.

“They invited all who were interested to share in the process of learning to play the bells and chimes,” recalled choir member Sherry Herrington in a March 2016 article written for the Carbondale Community United Methodist Church newsletter.

The “Mertensia Bell Choir” was named after the alpine wildflower — also known as the “Chiming Bell,” she explained.

Under Rosemary’s direction and with Dave handling the low octaves, the Mertensia Choir rehearsed, performed and gave workshops from Basalt to Grand Junction.

“Hand bell music was showcased in schools, churches, care centers and meetings of benevolent groups,” Herrington wrote. “The choir experienced the thrill and satisfaction of playing complex music with hundreds of other ringers and professional musicians at hand bell festivals throughout Colorado.”

The set of hand bells belonging to retired Carbondale bell choir director Rosemary Clark.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Rosemary had purchased the three-octave hand bell set in the late 1980s with money from an inheritance. Later, Dave bought a set of hand chimes for her as a Christmas gift.

Herrington described the Clarks as “lifelong learners” of music, among other things, having played recorders and crumhorns over the years.

The couple met while folk dancing in Ohio before they came to Colorado, and both went on to become science and math teachers at the primary/secondary and college levels.

Dave Clark taught many different courses at Colorado Mountain College before his retirement.

Both were also avid birders, often leading the local Audubon Society chapter’s Christmas Bird Count field trips.

BRINGING THE BELLS BACK

The Marble Community Church.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Fast forward to this fall, when Redstone resident Alyce Meredith went looking for the bells she remembered hearing at the Carbondale Methodist Church many years ago.

Now regulars at the Marble Community Church, Meredith, who had directed several hand bell choirs herself over the years, wanted to put together a few bell carols for their church’s Christmas Eve service.

“I started making some phone calls to see where they were and if they were being used,” she said.

Those phone calls led her to Dave and Rosemary’s son, Tom Clark, who is now their live-in caregiver. Tom asked his mother, and she was happy to loan the bells out for a Christmas rebirth.

“The bells and Christmas are just such a good combination,” Meredith said. “I’ve directed a lot of bell choirs, and there’s just a very special quality about it.

WATCH:

https://youtu.be/8EGiSPSU4JQ

“It’s a lot harder than people realize, and it takes someone who can read music, and count,” she said.

She and her husband, Larry, had been frequent visitors to the Roaring Fork and Crystal river valleys over the years, skiing and visiting family here.

After three decades living in Emporia, Kansas, they moved to Gunnison in 2006, where Larry had gotten a job with Western Colorado University. Three years ago, they retired and moved to Redstone and began attending the Marble church.

Earlier this year, Meredith got to talking with longtime church members and musicians Peter and Becky Bone about putting together the bell carols for Christmas Eve.

Alyce Meredith plays a song with a set of hand bells belonging to longtime Carbondale bell choir director Rosemary Clark, at the Marble Community Church.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

So, for the first time in many years, the modest Christmas Eve gathering at the Marble Church (limited by the coronavirus restrictions) got to hear those special bells come back to life.

“Every Christmas Eve since we’ve been here, the church has had a presentation around one character in the Christmas story,” Meredith said. “So, we decided to weave our music around that, with the bells, guitar and piano.”

She is hoping it might lead to more hand bell performances in the future, though the size of the Marble church is limited and can only accommodate so many of the larger set of bells.

“Two octaves is perfect for this little church,” she said.

The Marble Community Church.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Herrington said she is happy to see the bells make their beautiful music again.

“The opportunity to play the bells and experience the music has blessed us all,” she said. “Rosemary always maintained that the bells were a gift to be shared. How appropriate for them to be used in this season.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

 

Para escuchar y guiar

Porque no se fueron?

Julie Olsen, Directora Ejecutiva del Proyecto del Advocate Safehouse Project (ASP), dijo que esta es una pregunta que ella escucha frecuentemente de personas afuera de una relación abusiva que está mirando dentro. Pero cuando un sobreviviendo decide a salir es actualmente cuando está al máximo peligroso.

“Pues, no es tan simple. Este no es un extraño. Este es alguien donde hay un patrón e historia de táctico para obtener fuerza y control del (sobreviviente),” Olsen dijo.

El Advocate Safehouse Project es una organización sin fines de lucro está sirviendo a sobrevivientes de abuso doméstico en la región de la ladera occidental. Recursos como su línea de ayuda 24 horas (que accedes con dos números de teléfono diferentes, 970-945-4439 & 970-285-0209) han operado remotamente desde 1987. La organización también empezaba ofreciendo recursos bilingües y biculturales en 1996 y sirve inmigrantes sin documentos también.

Olsen dijo que la pandemia de COVID-19 no ha afectado el trabajo de su personal mucho pero de abril entre a septiembre había un aumento de 48% en llamadas de sobrevivientes que estaban extendiendo la mano al Advocate Safehouse Project.

“Es posible que las personas dicen pues que el estrés de covid y estrés financiero causan la violencia doméstica. No, solo le agregaron. Había una armazón para una relación abusiva,” ella dijo.

Mary Ann, un alias para un sobreviviente quien no dio su nombre porque su caso está en desarrollo, dijo que no fue hasta que ella extendió un mano al Advocate Safehouse Project que ella realizó que hay tipos de abuso diferente de físico.

“Una cosa que pienso muchas víctimas de violencia doméstica sienten es el facto que muchas de ellas no son abusadas fisicamentes. (Un miembro del personal) ella me sentó y atravesó la rueda del abuso doméstico que muestra tu sentimientos y como sientes y como el autor hacerte sentir,” Mary Ann dijo.

Olsen también dejó claro que una relación volátil no es algo que empezaba con daño físico pero en lugar de eso es una invasión lentamente a límites entre del autor y sobreviviente. Este puede incluir jalando alguien desde su sistema de apoyo tan la distancia en el relación causa a ella sentarse menos cómodo a pedir la ayuda.

“Hay mucha violencia doméstica que no se considera un crimen como abuso de verbal, abuso de sentimientos … Muchas personas a veces piensan que violencia doméstica es solo cosas alguien puede ser arrestado,” Olsen dijo.

Cuando los sobrevivientes extienden una mano al Advocate Safehouse Project Olsen y su personal abogan por ellas y les educaron en qué opciones tienen ahora. Muchas veces este es la guía a otras organizaciones sin fines de lucros en el área muy cerca que tienen recursos que adaptarse a sus necesidades.

“Sabemos que un tamaño no encaja todas y esta es la realidad de los servicios que nosotras proveer,” Olsen dijo.

Mary Ann es la madre de dos hijos y desde esta trabajada con el Advocate Safehouse Project pudo mudarse a la nueva área donde ella y su familia se sienten seguras.

“Pienso que mujeres que son madres y tienen hijos necesitan saber que no es seguro aunque si sus autores no son físicos, el abuso va a continuar y eventualmente afectará sus hijos, así que consigue ayuda,” Mary Ann dijo.

La independencia financiera es algo que puede desempeñar un papel en el razón que un sobreviviente no sale de la situación, pero el Advocate Safehouse Project puede ayudar con el costo del alquilar y vivir hasta mujeres hasta que vuelvan a ponerse de pie. Este es como Mary Ann podía trasladar con éxito.

“(El Advocate Safehouse Project) me ha ayudado con alquilar para poder obtener servicios de terapia para mi mismo y mis hijos y citas cuando nos necesitamos. Ellas se sentaban en el tribunal para mí cuando no podía ir o sentía miedo a ir para ser mis ojos y orejas. Ellas se sentaron conmigo para conocer abogados para asegurar mi voz fue escuchada,” Mary Ann escribió en un correo electrónico.

Mary Ann también dijo que los sobrevivientes deben extender un mano aunque no se siente como ninguna persona está escuchando.

“Por favor, por favor extender un mano. Extiende tu mano. Yo se es muy difícil para hacerlo … por favor hay alguien que va a escucharte. Tienes que continuar tratando de tratar a alguien a escucharte porque eventualmente alguien escucha. Sigue adelante. Estaba en muchas situaciones donde no sentía cómo recibir ayuda de la policía así que seguiría llamando y eventualmente yo recibiría apoyo y ahora tengo una sistema de apoyo maravilloso,” Mary Ann dijo.

Según el Centro para Control de Enfermedades y Prevención, 1 en 4 mujeres y 1 en 7 hombres van a experimentar abuso doméstico durante algún momento en su vida. Olsen dijo que si conoces alguien que pueda estar pasando por esto es importante escuchar, ofrecer ayuda donde puedas y permitir al sobreviviente a decidir que sus próximos pasos serán para contactar a recursos o buscar al consejo.

“No nos rescatan personas — nos ayudan. Los sobrevivientes tienen que hacer lo mismo. Es su viaje, no es nuestra.”

*Factos*

Como contactar al Advocate Safehouse Project o devolver

-Buscar ayuda del Advocate Safehouse Project por una visita a su sitio web aquí, una llamada al 970-945-4439 o un correo electrónico a office@advocatesafehouse.org.

-Accesar la línea de ayuda 24 horas por una llamada a los números de teléfono 970-945-4439 o 970-285-0209. Los dos conectarán con los mismos recursos.

-Haga clic aquí para donar al Advocate Safehouse Project y apoyar la ayuda que ellas proveen a la comunidad.

jpeterson@postindependent.com