Lots of sipping and a little slurping filled the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds as Soup for the Soul
celebrated its fifth year with gallons of superb soups and 400 people filled the hall with happy chatter.
(Not only did it sell out, they had to turn away at least 40 people who had hoped to score a ticket at the door.)
The event has become one of the most enjoyable fundraisers in Durango. It benefits Hospice of Mercy. Totals are still
being calculated for Thursday's event, but Karen Midkiff, chief development officer of the Mercy Health
Foundation, thinks it will come in around $60,000. That means that since 2005, about $300,000 has been raised to
support hospice and the work it does. (See more in the next item.) The money is used to support services not covered
by the Medicare Hospice Benefit as well as spiritual care and charity care.
First, some items from the menu. As willing as I am to partake of every dish to describe to readers, there was simply
too much and too many items with mushrooms (I'm allergic) for me to achieve that feat.
The soups ranged from comfort to exotic to gourmet. In a Southwest vein, Brickhouse Café brought pork green chili;
Carver Brewing Co. prepared chicken green chili; Christina's Grill & Bar had cooked up a delectable
carne-asada-and-bean soup; the Ore House had stirred up a chicken-mole soup; Mercy Regional Medical Center's kitchens
cooked up an Albóndigas, or Mexican meatball, soup; and Season's Rotisserie and Grill donated its red-chile-pork
In the exotic mode were Carver's Hungarian mushroom soup, Cosmopolitan's Jerusalem artichokes with a shrimp garnish
and Cyprus Café's Hungarian lentil soup. Durangourmet's pumpkin-coconut-cream soup with fried curried-fish cakes was
a crowd favorite, as was the Glacier Club's Tasmanian sweet-crab bisque; Ken & Sue's cream of asparagus soup with
shiitake mushrooms and crème fraîche; and Mahogany Grill's mushroom sumet with garlic fritter. The Cosmopolitan's
spring-asparagus soup and Mutu's smoked chicken with cannellini beans as well as Digs Market Café's spicy clam
chowder added to the offerings.
Soup for the Soul is not solely about soup. Christina's Southwest wontons, Cyprus Café's spanakopita, Digs'
Spanish-chorizo skewer, Glacier Club's shrimp-and-salmon terrine with sauce gribiche, Ken & Sue's
three-cheese-and-herb risotto balls, Mahogany Grille's duck tamal with poblano rajas and Mutu's crostini with fig, prosciutto and chives added a little solid fare to the repast.
The sweet teeth (tooths? Webster is silent) were not ignored. Brickhouse Café made cheesecake with chocolate and
caramel drizzle, and the Ore House provided a flourless dark-chocolate-espresso cake with toasted almonds and caramel
that was to die for, as they say. The DoubleTree Hotel sponsored the dessert table, which included dozens of its
justly famous chocolate-chip cookies.
Kirk James donated his talent to provide music for the evening.
All kinds of generous folks donated items for a silent auction, including a number of Mercy Regional Medical Center
employees, who are artists in their spare time. The people organizing the event came up with clever Campbell's
soup-like cans with flavors" referencing packages they had put together. Cheryl Folwell inspired 43 generous
people to donate the centerpieces, each one with a unique and distinctive appeal. They were for sale at the end of
The Exhibit Hall is not the most glamorous venue in town, but Durango Party Rental suggested chandeliers (yes, chandeliers), and they emitted just the right amount of light.
During the evening, one guest told foundation chairman Scott Matthes he would donate $300 to hospice if 10
other guests would match him. The money was to be in honor of the Fort Lewis College Skyhawks' women's basketball
team, who were suiting up to play in the NCAA Division II basketball finals. The young women have been very supported
of Mercy's Regional Breast Care Center. Matthes did, people anted up, and I hope those good wishes will support them
This event also gives the best party favor. I cherish every mug I have gotten at these events, and this year's is no
exception. They are a convenient way to down soup the rest of the year. The mug was sponsored by the Durango Cancer
Chevron was the presenting sponsor, CH2MHILL Trigon, Inc. was the appetizer-plate sponsor, Alpine Bank sponsored
aprons and Hood Mortuary sponsored the silent auction. A number of other people and organizations donated time, money
or talent, including Steamworks beer and Stan Crapo and Star Liquors for the wine.
Whether it's snowing, raining or sunny, here's wishing these folks a happy birthday - Linda Dunaway, Christopher Van Dyke, David Golub, Peter Rudolph, Katie Kloepfer, Matthew
Lavengood, Alex Salter, Andy Schaaf, Dave Pye, Billie Mae Vance, Lauren
Reimers, Marty Sheppard, Barry Latham, Jacob Bourdon, Olivia Desso, Richard
Pene, Claudia Patterson, Patti Baranowski, Brian Daves, Rick Kniffin, Ben
Roberts, Chip White, Paul Wainwright, Vicki Armstrong, Sheila Casey, Sue
Cowan, Niki Moore, Martha Simpson, Chris Aaland, Wanda Caldwell, Mary
Foreman, Irene Short, Emrys Tyler and Marty Knickerbocker.
As one speaker said Thursday at Soup for the Soul for Hospice of Mercy, there are many differences that separate us
as people, but we all die, and we all feel pain when our loved ones undertake their final journeys.
Hospice of Mercy believes everyone deserves to face death with dignity and respect, regardless of ability to pay.
They treat mind, body and spirit and help families deal with the loss.
As the obituary writer at The Durango Herald, I hear every day from families how grateful they are to the
volunteers and professionals of Hospice of Mercy for taking care of both the dying person and the family, too. The
biggest regret is that they should have signed up for hospice care much earlier. I know that was the case for my dad, Charlie Butler, who only had hospice care for 10 days before his death. I am so grateful they were there for
Last fiscal year, Hospice of Mercy provided 9,950 days of care to 197 hospice patients. The team traveled 98,000
miles last year over Archuleta, La Plata and Montezuma counties to provide compassionate care.
This year is hospice's 30th anniversary in Southwest Colorado. It was the brainchild of the late Myron T.
Father Mike" Darmour, and has grown from an all-volunteer organization called San Juan Hospice to becoming a
part of Mercy Regional Medical Center in 1986.
Some people die quickly, but for those who do not, hospice is a true godsend. To support the organization in its
work, send donations to Hospice of Mercy, 1 Mercado St., Suite 270, Durango CO 81303.
Did you attend Durango High School between 1982 and 1987? Do you have stories to tell? I wrote earlier about the
school's yearbook, the Toltec, celebrating its centennial this year, and yearbook staff is looking for a story
from every single year. You, dear '80s grads, haven't come up with any yet.
Jade Miller is gathering anecdotes for those years, and she can be contacted at email@example.com.
As we say farewell to March, here's wishing these people a happy anniversary - Bob and Scattie McGrath, Kermit and Karen Knudsen, Jack and Laurie Kloepfer, and Sandy and Terry
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