Last Friday, I wandered into Home Depot looking for half-inch staples and was greeted by shelves stuffed with pumpkins, leaves, turkeys – fall stuff.
This scene, fortified by a drive through the changing colors of the Animas Valley, made me think about my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, which is less than 40 days away.
As president of the board at the Durango Arts Center, I have a gazillion reasons for what popular culture calls an attitude of gratitude. The center couldn’t exist without lots of free help, and I am grateful to the many volunteers who donate thousands of hours for zero dollars, and often, insufficient recognition. Right off, I think of and thank Maureen May, who directed the successful Autumn Arts Festival. Mary Ellen Long should hear my gratitude for the current Dr. Seuss exhibit in our gallery, and with her, Vanna Hart Sutton, who is in charge of the Oct. 20 “DAC to the Future,” fundraising event.
Already, I see I’m in trouble. There are too many names to recognize them all. But certainly DAC director Sheri Rochford Figgs leads any thank-you list of mine. Far beyond stabilizing the solvency of the DAC, she’s made it an exciting and vital resource for our community. One reason for DAC’s resurgence is that the director is so giving, so creative and, dare I say, fun.
I’m appreciative of Bank of Colorado, Alpine Bank, First National Bank and the many local businesses that help DAC in so many ways including sponsoring events. That means donating money that pays for programs and staff, but it also pays to fix the photocopier, the roof leak and the clogged drain. Businesses such as The Durango Herald support DAC events in a variety of ways, including sending critics to report on our work. Judith Reynolds, for example, is an acclaimed, credentialed theater critic who pulls no punches. I’m thankful for her incisive evaluations as I am for Ann Butler’s “Neighbors” column that deliciously celebrates many DAC events.
DAC has raised more than $1 million in two years. Membership is the foundation of a healthy arts center, and I am so grateful that folks in Durango have joined together to support a resource that is unique and, without which, Durango, would be poorer, indeed. Timely donors who deserve a special “thank you” include: Don and Judy Hayes, Richard and Mary Lyn Ballantine, the Erteszek Foundation and Mercury Payment Systems. Together, they’ve donated nearly $100,000 since I became president.
Finally, I’m thankful for stories that end happily. For example, not too long ago, someone vandalized the DAC’s canvas awning in a misguided effort to make a political statement. When word got out, five different entities volunteered to pay for repairs. Another happy ending occurred after Sheri and I made a cold call on Mercury. We needed $5,000. CEO Matt Taylor graciously listened to our pitch, then explained that because most of Mercury’s clients were outside Durango, he was more interested in supporting the DAC in a way that would benefit his local employees – “Make them proud of us.” Ultimately, Mercury donated $15,000 and then did it again the next year.
There are dozens of stories like these, and I wish I could give a brand-new Subaru to every person who has pitched in. Thank you, Durango.
Terry Swan is president of the board of directors for the Durango Arts Center. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.