There are some events that become a tradition much-anticipated, and one prime example is the Trails 2000 dinner and auction.
People start calling for tickets in October (in Durango, the we-refuse-to-plan-ahead town), even before they have gone on sale. And guests show up in high spirits, ready to have a good time, enjoy some fine dining and spend some money for their favorite cause.
Being as this is the organization’s 26th year and the event’s 25th year, spirits were particularly high this year.
The event was held at El Moro Spirits & Tavern, with the help of Kris Oyler and Dave Woodruff. Chef Sean Clark and his crew kept attendees well-fed, first with appetizers of wild Alaskan salmon rillette and arancini with prosciutto, mozzarella and Parmesan with pomodoro sauce, accompanied by a performance courtesy of Hello, Dollface.
As guests made their way to their seats, the evening officially kicked off to a performance by Dance in the Rockies. The entrée included coffee-and-Aleppo-chile braised Sunnyside Farms beef, bleu cheese mashers and grilled asparagus followed by a delish lemon-skillet pound cake with raspberry zabaglione. The dinner was also sponsored by Durango Liquors, Bread, April’s Garden and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
One of the great things about this auction is how both local and national businesses donate cool items that organizers then combine in interesting and mission-related live-auction packages. Among this year’s contributions were a community-supported agriculture share from Twin Buttes gardens, where Trails 2000 built 12 miles of trails and a bike-themed picnic basket with a handmade quilt complete with bike designs from Angie Wolgamott paired with wines donated by Dr. Douglas Orndorff.
Amazingly, two people, Mike Chapman and Steve McCormack, have attended every one of the 25 auctions, so they were asked to take a bow. Trails 2000 also honored Don Mapel for all of his behind-the-scenes support over the two and a half decades of the organization’s existence.
As is always the case for an event of this magnitude, it took a dedicated crew to pull it off. The auction committee was chaired by Shanan Orndorff, and included Connie Wian, Mary Oswald, Mary Orans, Deb Loy, Allie Burnett, Connie Gordon, Karen Rudolph and Andrea Litzow. As always, Trails 2000 Executive Director Mary Monroe Brown was a key player.
The contributions of this group continue to expand. In 2015, its dedicated volunteers built four new trails and maintained more than 40, from clearing downed trees on Missionary Ridge to building the new Flow Trail at Purgatory Resort. Local trails are multi-use, providing a path into our beautiful outdoors for hikers, runners, equestrians and mountain bikers.
Trails 2000’s work used to be seasonal – spring to fall – but now it’s year-round, as outdoor enthusiasts hit the trails on snowshoes, skate or classic skis and fat bikes.
What may be most amazing of all is the number of entities Trails 2000 collaborates with, including the city of Durango, La Plata County, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and private-property owners.
The work done on trails is obvious to everyone who enjoys them, but many people may not realize how much Brown does to represent the interests of trail users on issues ranging from the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area planning to Safe Routes to Schools designs.
Visit www.trails2000.org to learn more about current trail conditions, find maps of local trail systems and Trails 2000 itself.
It’s the “Age of Aquarius” for these birthday celebrants – Randy Puskas, Susan Marwin, Rebecca Bowers, Carey Vicati, Karen Overington, Neil McCleery, Soren Krischke, Mimi Hayduke, Kate Errett, Grace Jensen, Mary Kay Lambert, Robert Whitson, Eli Buck, Lon Erwin, Ricci Dawson, Marilyn Farley, Loretta Helms, Cindy Donelan, Bailey Carlson, Jane Carman, Dave Schank, Ann Lowe, Jane Steel, Wyatt Manson, Maggie Gardner and Kelly Winter.
When the Women’s Resource Center held its annual meeting in January at the Durango Community Recreation Center, it was a chance to share a year’s worth of accomplishments and honor a volunteer who has made a real difference in the organization.
Starting with the honoree first, Kristen Nielsen was named Volunteer of the Year. Involved with the WRC since 2008, she has been active in Girls to Women, Women to Girls in various roles, including workshop presenter. Nielsen has also served as secretary n the board of directors since 2013.
Executive Director Liz Mora said the center served 1,600 women in 2015 through nine different programs, an 8 percent increase over 2014. The Resource and Referral Program continues to be a cornerstone of its offerings, providing “a place for women to go when they don’t know where to go.” Visits to the WRC increased by 14 percent in 2015, with clients connected to 1,740 resources in the community.
The center held its final Women to Girls conference in 2015 for 250 eighth graders who were headed to high school. No, Women to Girls isn’t going away, it has proved so successful over the years that Durango School District 9-R has folded it into its Keys to High School Success program. Thanks to the ManKind Project, there’s now a similar program in Keys to Success for eighth grade boys making that transition.
The WRC’s Educational Opportunity Scholarship program has proven quite successful since it was started. In 2015, 23 women applied, and 21 received, more than $18,000 in funding to continue their education, whether it was to earn a certificate or college degree. Fifteen women who have received WRC help, whenever it was granted, completed their degrees. And 13 women have received another kind of education, professional coaching, since that program began in 2013. Several new clients signed up for coaching last year.
The Low Bono program saw the largest increase in 2015. In the program, women pay $20 for a one-hour consultation with a lawyer on divorce and custody matters. The requests for this assistance increased by 51 percent. And Womenade, which the resource center helps administer, raised and granted almost $21,000 to 45 women who needed help with an emergency expense.
Members thanked outgoing Board President Lesley Gannon Meiering and elected Jack Morrison as incoming president as well as electing new board members Dr. Kicki Searfus and Nancy Ottman.
When you think about American efforts during World War II, New Zealand may not be the first place that comes to mind. But the U.S. did have an important presence there, with several Army and Marine bases, including one at Camp McKay. In those early days after Pearl Harbor, when Japan’s forces were quickly taking over one island nation after another, the American military bases in New Zealand would have been the first line of defense for the Kiwis, and the bases also served as a jumping-off point for Marines headed into combat in the Pacific Theater.
I present this little history lesson because Durangoans Angie Gladson, her son and daughter-in-law, Dino and Marie Gladson, and daughter, Michele Gladson, visited Camp McKay (which is also spelled Mackay, just to confuse poor columnists) on a bit of a pilgrimage in 2015. (OK, Dino and Marie Gladson live in Austin, Texas, but he grew up in Durango, and that’s all it takes.) The camp is located in Queen Elizabeth Park on the country’s Kapiti Coast.
During the war, the late Lloyd Gladson, Angie’s husband, was stationed there, and he had always wanted to show her the country he came to love.
Angie Gladson wanted me to tell any World War II veterans who remember New Zealand that the people there still have a great deal of respect and love for the Yanks who came to help keep them safe in an extremely uncertain time.
Happy anniversary wishes go out to Clark Lagow and Sandy Newman.
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