In our world, if something is good, it’s awesome, great, fabulous, wonderful, cool ... But when the Women’s Resource Center honors three “Extraordinary Women” at its luncheon to kick off Women’s History Month, the adjective is always hyperbole-free.
This year’s honorees were selected for their contributions in public service and government, affecting not only our country but our nation, and their families came out in full force to support the ladies of the hour.
It’s been said that no man makes it to the top of the military profession without a supportive wife who fulfills the hostessing duties that are part of the ladder of success. Miss Jane Fogleman, whose husband is Gen. Ronald Fogleman, former chief of staff of the Air Force, wasn’t content to just be “the general’s wife.”
Her service to military families over the three decades the Foglemans were a military family resulted in her receiving her own awards for distinguished civilian service. Since the Foglemans moved to Durango after the general’s retirement in 1997, she has been a key player in the Mesa Verde Foundation’s purchase of the land at the entrance to the national park, which was donated for the construction of the new visitor center.
Fogleman, who is also active in running the family businesses, now sits on the Mercy Health Foundation Board of Directors. She is a force of nature but seems surprised when anyone tells her that.
Susan Lander, former executive director of the WRC and Music in the Mountains, introduced Fogleman, mentioning that attending the Foglemans’ annual Christmas party has allowed Lander to join them in an important philanthropy – instead of a hostess gift, Miss Jane asks that guests bring gift cards for essential human needs.
Joanne Spina, who has been one of yours truly’s friends since we were members of the now-defunct Women in Communications organization back in the day, has worked for La Plata County for almost 30 years, first with the Sheriff’s Office, but for more than two decades as the assistant La Plata County manager. As if she weren’t impactful enough in her day job, from setting a tone of professionalism and helping make taxpayers’ dollars go further to developing an ethics policy at the county, Spina is also the founder of Journey of Hope.
Created with her late husband, Rob Freeman, in honor of her mother who died of breast cancer, Journey of Hope has raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide free mammograms for hundreds of women who are uninsured or underinsured. Spina’s concern for the wellbeing of our community is such that she has served 16 years on the Mercy Regional Medical Center Board of Directors, where she is currently vice chair.
Spina was introduced by current WRC Board President Jack Morrison.
Just like Fogleman, Linda Campbell became a force in her own right as her husband, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, climbed the political ladder, becoming a member of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate before his retirement. Not only did Campbell keep the ranch and her teaching career – math through Title I, no less – going through all that, she has had a hand in raising significant money for several important institutions in the area. They include Fort Lewis College and Mercy Regional Medical Center. In what seemed to be another theme, Campbell was a key player in the Breast Care Center at, you guessed it, Mercy.
Beth Drum, senior vice president of Alpine Bank, introduced her by saying she can be knee-deep in a ditch in the afternoon and be glammed up for a special event that night.
The event actually kicked off with a keynote address by Liz Ross, the new director of the Small Business Development Center, who shared her experience of community in both her home state of Alaska, where she grew up in a remote Native village, and her new home in Durango.
Many people, both male and female, who generally don’t go to fundraisers, have made this event a must-go because they feel, as I do, it’s one of the most energizing and positive events of the year.
Executive Director Liz Mora and her staff do amazing work every day – an average of five to six women get assistance each day with resource and referral support; low bono legal assistance for women dealing with custody, divorce and housing issues; professional coaching for life changes; and scholarships for bachelor’s degrees and professional certification classes that increase a woman’s ability to be self-sufficient economically. (More than $60,000 has helped almost 70 women since its founding in 2011.)
To learn more about the Women’s Resource Center and its programs, visit www.wrcdurango.org.
The sun is shining for the last of the Pisces and the first of the Aries birthday celebrants – Meredith Rolfe, David Tabar, Elena Breed, Emmett Stottlemyer, Richard Gjere, Dale Rodebaugh, Mary Shaw, Pat Boots, Missy Rodey, Kelly McCrea, Maria Root, Dennis Rolfe, Julia Gallagher, Kicki Searfus, Vi Kessell, Ardis Ellingson, Joyce Erickson, Dottie Robinson, Conor Nelson, Tamara Volz, Loretta Beam, Annemarie Nobman, Greg Winter, Josh Magyar, Lynn Mitzlaff, Naomi Verow, Shaun Stanley, Stephen Bowers and Christine Rachlin.
It’s always fun to see a new fundraiser that’s unique, interesting and provides support for one of our most critical nonprofits.
Such is the case for the Durango Voice, which is a new fundraiser for Manna Soup Kitchen. Sixteen singers performed for four judges and an audience that could “vote” by putting money for Manna in envelopes or boxes for each contestant. Because in this contest, the best performers will win awards and so will the highest money-raisers.
Four singers were eliminated, and the four judges, three voice coaches and a longtime concert promoter tried to recruit each of the remaining 12 to their teams for a month of voice and performance lessons before they return for the finals.
The group showcased just how talented Durangoans are, ranging in age from 13 to, shall I say, mature, singing everything from blues to country, show tunes to the Beatles. The judges encouraged those who were eliminated to work on the areas they identified as weaknesses and come back next year.
The judges are concert promoter Gary Penington – I’ve heard a bit from behind the scenes on his singers, so I can’t wait to see their evolution – and voice coaches and performers Jill Holly, Kevin Bell and Linda Brice.
The finalists are Alyssa Gomez, Anna Fenberg, Bob Thom, Bridgett Averill, Cara Keyser, Curtis Storm, Jade Robbins, Josh Hoffman, Kiersten Langford, Lisa Govreau, Sophie Hughes and Tilly Leeder.
Winners will receive prizes and confirmed singing gigs at establishments in town.
The good news for my readers is that even though you may have missed the semifinals - which were held March 4 – you can still get a ticket for the finals, which will be held at 7 p.m. April 2 at the Henry Strater Theatre. Tickets are on sale at www.henrystratertheatre.tix.com. So I don’t want to hear any complaining about how fun it sounded and how you would have gone if you’d only known about it!
Manna, of course, helps the most fragile in our community. To have fun and support the soup kitchen is a win-win for everyone.
I have never written about Spring Creek Horse Rescue, which has been rescuing abused and neglected horses for 40 years, so this is long overdue.
From 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, March 20, the first day of spring (get it?), the Red Snapper is holding a fundraiser for the organization. Three cocktails will be created (The Hi-o, Silver, anybody?), and the proceeds of those cocktails will go to Spring Creek. Volunteers will be on hand to accept donations and tell folks about their work. Once a horse is restored to weight, it costs $400 a month to feed it, and that doesn’t count all the health care and attention it takes to get them there.
Visit www.springcreekhorserescue.org to learn more, and I hope you’ll join me at the Snapper on Sunday to support their work while enjoying a libation or two (with a designated driver, of course).
The crocuses – or croci, if you want to go Latin – are blooming for the anniversaries of Roy and Suzy Horvath, Paul and Jigger Staby, Roger and Rena Cole and Blake and Pat Chatfield.
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