Blinging the night away for women’s center

There is a unique energy when women get together and let their hair down, an energy that is electric and warm, full of hugs and laughter.

That energy was sparkling Friday night at the Women’s Resource Center’s fifth annual Girls Night Out, which was held at a new venue, LePlatt’s Pond on the Pine River in Bayfield, thanks to co-presenting sponsor Durango Party Rental.

Rumor has it a lot of women elected not to make the trip to Bayfield because of the mistaken impression it was farther away than the previous destination, Blue Lake Ranch. It was a quick and easy drive, the pond added an extra dimension to the beautiful views, and the overwhelming consensus was that the site helped make this the best Girls Night Out ever.

The theme this year was “Rhinestone Cowgirls and Diamond Divas: It’s a Bling Thing,” and boy, did the ladies take them up on it. I practically needed sunglasses to prevent retina burn.

This is definitely an occasion where women dress up. Disc jockey Ashley Dickson from 99X-FM radio was resplendent in a 1960s vintage red gown Deborah Uroda had picked up in Austin, Texas. Uroda was told at the time that the gown had probably been worn to a gubernatorial inaugural ball. Swanky.

There were cowboy hats galore, full-length gowns, mini-dresses and sparkly jeans, rhinestone belt buckles and real diamonds. I guess there’s some truth to that old adage that “women don’t dress for men, they dress to impress each other.”

Color me impressed.

As is always the case at this event, it was a bit of a three-ring circus. In this corner, guests enjoyed a performance by Mataholla Moon Belly Dancers, with a few brave souls taking an impromptu lesson. In another, Leah Ilanah was reading tarot cards while Franci Stagi checked out the lifelines on a few palms.

Mary Kay consultant Erin Tanner informed a number of lucky guests what their lips said about them, while folks from Signature Spa and Crazy Horse Salon offered services ranging from hand and chair massages to makeup application and hair shimmer inserts.

Beads and Beyond offered beading and jewelry lessons, so some women who arrived without any bling went home loaded with it.

The 225 guests also had the opportunity to browse a plethora of cool silent auction items from the practical, such as a tire rotation, to beauty products, wine, stays at places ranging from Moab and Albuquerque to Ouray and Silverton and yes, more bling.

Five very special items were sold via live auction courtesy of auctioneers extraordinaire Calvin and Pat Story from Treasure Auction Services. They included a turquoise masterpiece by longtime Women’s Resource Center supporter Carol Salomon; a Mexican dinner with margaritas and salsa lessons by Erin Sinberg offered at El Dorado Ranch with hosts Ginny and Glen Segerlund, with delivery by Buckhorn Limousines, so no designated drivers needed; a personal portrait by Elizabeth Kinahan; a week’s stay for two at Colorado Trails Ranch; and, the hit of the evening, 16 hours of home maintenance with Rent-a-Man.

Notice how I subtly snuck in the home maintenance part in front of Rent-a-Man? I was heading you off at the pass. Although the way they promoted their donation was the high point of the evening – let’s just say tape measures were involved – I’m going to have to leave it at that. While nothing too untoward happened, this is a family newspaper! And maybe the better part of the show was watching Calvin Story’s face as he auctioned off their services.

Jimmy Nicholson of Durangourmet did a lovely job with the food. He created a savory menu that included an oyster bar with jalapeño salsa, sweet onion salsa and Matsuhisa salsa; jumbo shrimp cocktail; fresh figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto; fava bean and pecorino cheese crostini; empanadas with brisket marinaded in root beer and smoked; tuna beet tartare; brioche topped with duck foie gras with apple-chive gelée; skewered beef tenderloin au poivre with aioli; and smoked trout mousse served on a potato crisp.

To add a sweet touch, he included raspberry-almond tuiles topped with chocolate mousse; mini-blueberry cobblers; and a goat cheese-balsamic-pistachio caramel.

I regret to say that I was extremely late because of a two-engagement evening – life can get complicated for yours truly – so I got to sample only a few of those goodies, but I have it on good authority, also known as every single woman I talked to upon arrival, that the food was fabulous.

W.J. Doyle Wine and Spirits provided the wine and champagne, which was put to good use when Women’s Resource Center Executive Director Liz Mora raised a toast to all the wonderful women in our lives.

Mandy Miller Winn of Celebrations handled the glamorous decorations, which included over-the-top floral arrangements by April’s Garden that added even more bling to the festivities.

In addition to Winn and Mora, the members of the organizing committee included Krii Black, Victoria FittsMilgrim, Tami Graham (who kept the soundtrack going), Margie Deane Gray, Pamela Hasterok, Beverly Wells and Ginny Segerlund. And of course, the ultimate rhinestone cowgirl, Uroda, who is leaving the Women’s Resource Center after four successful years as its marketing and development director.

Hmm, maybe it was more like a 10-ring circus.

The guests helped raise more than $30,000, so the Women’s Resource Center can help the women and girls of La Plata County be empowered and attain financial sustainability. It achieves that goal through girl-power conferences such as Girls to Women, Women to Girls; scholarships to both Fort Lewis College and for other training programs; business programs such as the Southwest Colorado Women’s Small Business Conference; providing legal consultations for women going through divorce; cause advocacy, including a wide variety of activities for Women’s History Month; and Womenade, a fundraising effort that allows everyday women to become philanthropists by joining their monies together to help other women and families through one-time financial crises.

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Hail the first Virgo birthdays of the year for Ralph Kehle, Beth McMacken, Annie Simonson, Bob Mueller, Mike Ollier, Jane Norton, Jeron Plotnik, John Awe, Matt Mulligan, Melodie Addington, Melanie Taylor, Ron Holligan, Danette Jackson, Richard Pratt, Linda Russell and Pat Russell.

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Students come up with all kinds of ideas for how to spend their summer vacations. Jobs, trips, outdoors adventures ... most pick one or all as they look at those blessed weeks of freedom.

Parker Buccowich decided to fix something he saw that was a problem. While dropping off his sister, Brooke, at Mountain Middle School en route to his own classes at Durango High School, he saw that the play area was in rough shape. Brooke also told him stories about “cheese grater” elbows and knees from mishaps on the surface, including one trip for stitches.

This wasn’t a do-it-yourself project. Parker had to draft a proposal to sell the idea to the Mountain Middle School Board of Directors, including convincing them that a 16-year-old could spearhead the project.

To raise money, he held fundraisers, including manning a table at the Sunday Flea Market. He went out and got quotes, eventually honing his persuasive skills to get Tom Crabb of AAP Asphalt to discount his time and labor costs. And, of course, there were countless telephone calls, emails and other coordinating functions to bring it all to pass.

The project had a pretty firm deadline, too, because the start of school, Aug. 19, was rapidly approaching. And Parker came pretty close, lacking only the final painting to finish it off.

Why did Parker take on this project? “Maybe he just wanted to make the area safer and more fun for kids,” said his mother, Cindy Buccowich. She also thought he might have been inspired by Mr. Big Weld from the movie “Robots,” whose catch phrase is “See a need, fill a need.” Parker’s dad is Jon Buccowich.

Parker said he thinks while that is certainly so, he was also inspired by Rotary International’s motto, “Service Above Self.” He’s pretty into Rotary right now as he prepares to spend his school year in Germany as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange.

“It’s amazing what I got by giving,” he said. “Not only the sense of satisfaction, but also in terms of self-confidence and selflessness. Additionally, I developed many entrepreneurial skills.”

Parker could use a little help to put the final touches on the project. He needs to finish the painting on the playground – it’s already looking pretty cool – and a little more funding to pay for the last of the expenses before he heads across the pond.

To volunteer, give him a call at 749-7643. To provide some financial support, make your tax-deductible check out to Mountain Middle School and send it to 108 W. 31st St., Durango, CO 81301, and put playground on the memo line.

And stop by and check out the playground sometime. It’s pretty sweet.

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Congratulations to the Anasazi Heritage Center, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as the headquarters of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

The center marked the occasion with several special lectures, a luncheon hosted by the new Southwest Colorado Canyons Association and some free days to invite visitors in. I’m sorry to say that the center is often under the radar for me – just a little out of my coverage area, as it’s near Dolores – but it’s another gem in our area’s crown.

Happy birthday!

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Marking another year of connubial bliss together are Sandy and Phyllis Max, Floyd and Laura Jaramillo and Ron and Jeanie Lephart.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people. I need to know who’s who, left to right, and who to credit with the photo.

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