Local efforts promote best of human nature

Most Durangoans are pretty appreciative of what it means to live here, and the natural setting makes a grand statement in all of our lives, but Iím not sure we are always aware of the human efforts that make this place so special.

Recently, I spent a morning with a bright, inquisitive, respectful group of first-graders from Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School at Durango Nature Studies Center.

Their eager questions and observations were interrupted with squeals of delight as it started to snow.

Durango Nature Studies is run by a volunteer board, three very dedicated managers and more than 100 Durango residents who are the trained and enthusiastic hike leaders.

How many volunteers normally leave their community service with a such big smile and a genuine thanks for letting them donate their time?

I then raced over to Escalante Middle School, where my grandson was competing in the annual Special Olympics races.

Again, I was blown away not only by the amazing grace and determination of the young athletes, but by the kindness, enthusiasm and commitment of all the staff and volunteers who have made this event such a joyful celebration of life and community.

If this werenít enough, I ended my day at the senior dinner at the Native American Center at Fort Lewis College.

As I watched these young, and not so young, graduating Native Americans stand to honor their tribe, FLC and their own uphill battles, I was so proud that Durango has a college that offers such a unique and empowering opportunity to Native American students from around the country. We are not always aware of the accomplishments of this singular program and the many people who work to make it stronger and more accessible.

While the rest of the world is reeling from bombings in Boston, arguments on Capital Hill and seemingly endless wars around the world, it is a privilege to live in a town in which the best of human nature is allowed to flourish.

Carol W. Hotchkiss

Durango

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