In an economy where everyone's pocketbooks are a little lighter than before, the "Girl's Night Out" fundraiser for the Women's Resource Center on Friday was a sellout plus.
Whether you credit that to the headline attraction, actor Wendie Malick of "Just Shoot Me" fame, to the gorgeous setting at David and Shirley Alford's Ridgewood Event Center at Blue Lake Ranch or just everyone's desire to get out and have a good time, it turned out to be a stellar evening. (Malick gets the bolding treatment as she has been here to perform in "The Guys," and frequently visits her former Topanga Canyon neighbor Christina Erteszek, who now lives here.)More than 200 women ranging in age from Malick's niece who is 8 to a lot of the women who helped raise the WRC off the ground 22 years ago helped the center raise more than $18,000. The hallmarks of the vening were lots of laughter and more than a few moist eyes when hearts were touched.
Sari Brown and her crew from The Yellow Carrot pulled out all the stops for a gourmet evening.
New WRC Executive Director Liz Mora and Director of Marketing and Development Deborah Uroda made their public débuts and were happy to welcome the boisterous crowd. Ever-ebullient Beth Warren, the executive director of KSUT-FM public radio, served as the mistress of ceremonies, with more than a few quips about the joys - and stages - of aging.
"When you're 20, you look at your bed and see a hot guy," she said. "In your 30s, it's a sleeping child. When you're 40, it's your husband, and you hope he's asleep. And in your 50s, it's 'Oh good, there are my reading glasses.'"
All were impressed by the grace (and limberness) of four beautiful young women, Erin Stephens, Julie Hudak, Chrissy Mosier, Erika Golightly and Jamie Pittman, from the upcoming Bare Bones Burlesque & the Salt Fire Circus.
Two of the most emotional moments came when 2009 Extraordinary Businesswoman Victoria Fitts-Milgrim and Extraordinary Woman Leader of 2009 Susan Lander were honored. A number of names were submitted by the WRC's volunteers, staff and board to Gretchen McComb, the president of the Women's Foundation of Colorado, who made the final selection. (The other finalists were also well-deserving, Karyn Gabaldon for the business award and Barbara Shore for leadership.)Warren called Lander's recognition a "welcome home," to the WRC's former executive director, who has been with Music in the Mountains since 2001. Amen, sister.
Malick did not disappoint. While her résumé in some ways parallels the utterly politically incorrect Nina Van Horne, she has lived a life of making a difference in causes that touch her heart. She recalled her early days on the red carpet, when reporters would ask her whose shoes she was wearing. She soon realized the microphone access allowed her to talk about the things that matter.
Building houses in Tijuana, supporting a clinic in the Congo and an orphanage in Mexico, lobbying to keep arts education in schools and encouraging all of us to live greener lives are just some of the ways she has made the world a better place.
The evening ended on a high note with a "girlfriend" auction, including a necklace-designing party at the home of jewelry designer Carol Salomon, massages, meals and every way one can imagine having fun with friends.
I cannot forget the few men who braved the "estrogen barrier," as WRC board members John Heavenrich and Richard Mason called it. Fort Lewis College President Brad Bartel helped them park cars, while Mora's husband, Roland, brother-in-law Edward Mora and their friend Ben Carlson graciously played the role of hunky bartenders.
A large contingent of the luncheon guests came from the communications sector, including Debra Mayeux of the Farmington Daily Times, Beth Warren of KSUT-FM public radio, Kim Emmanuel of Four Corners Broadcasting, Melanie Mazur of the Pine River Times and yours truly. Also on hand were author Katherine Leiner, Katherine Moller, a theater professor at Fort Lewis College, Linda Schott, the dean of the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at FLC, Lindsay Ellis, an FLC student who works at Colorquest Graphics and Tracy Korb from the Marketing Department at Mercury Payment Systems.
Cyprus Café owner Alison Dance, who co-sponsored the lunch, WRC Executive Director Liz Mora, WRC Director of Marketing and Development Deborah Uroda also joined us.
It was a chance to have a personal conversation with a woman who has made a life of service as important as a career of excellence.
One of her best stories was about walking door-to-door in Florida with Gloria Steinem on behalf of Planned Parenthood. At an event, Malick spoke first with the humor most people expect from her. Steinem spoke next, with an eloquent and touching presentation. Afterward, Malick told Steinem she wanted to be just like her.
Steinem's response? "Don't ever say that again."
One of Steinem's best friends was the late Rep. Bella Abzug, D-New York, who was equally adored and reviled. Through Abzug, Steinem had learned that each of us, male and female, has a unique voice and a unique contribution to make to the world. That was the lesson Steinem taught Malick, and that Malick wanted all of us to learn.
Malick now raises her niece during the school year, having gone, as she puts it, from Auntie Mame to Auntie Mom at the age of 55. That lesson, of being responsible for another human being, of the importance of being a role model for the little girl she loves so much, has also changed the direction of her life.
All of us went to meet Malick and to hear what she had to say. I think it's safe to say that all of us went away a little more committed to using our skills to make a difference.
Roberts said she owed a lot to her fellow officers of the year just past, including Vice President Uta Carleno, Secretary Angelia Cook, Assistant Secretary Christine O'Hara, Treasurer Diane Pollard and Immediate Past President Bob Thom.
Kiwanis is one of the many groups in town that doesn't get enough recognition for all of the good it does. In 2009, the Durango Chamber of Commerce made a point of recognizing just that with its Spirit of Durango Award.
One of Kiwanis' many efforts is raising money for its causes. The Kiwanis Relay for Life team raised $1,300, the club distributed more than $20,000 to support the children in La Plata County and Kiwaniians were among many area residents ringing the bell for Salvation Army.
Members also give of their time, contributing more than 1,200 hours in volunteer time, including processing more than 400 children in the club's Child ID program, sharing their skills at the Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County and helping at the Kid Safety Day at Santa Rita Park.
The club also distributed more than 250 books to students in Head Start and ran the annual Fourth of July Barbecue at Buckley Park, where Home Town Hero Awards were given.
Looking at the calendar, I realize how perfect the timing was for the Kiwanis Club of Durango's installation meeting, because it also kicked off the club's annual Pancake Day, which will take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Exhibit Hall at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
Bill Mashaw, who died in June, may have been best known for founding Big Brothers Big Sisters of La Plata County, but he was also a very active member of this club. After helping demolish the inside of a building for the new Head Start Center, the club planted a tree there in his honor and renamed its annual fundraising golf tournament after their friend and colleague.
This year, in addition to all kinds of goodies in the silent auction that will run throughout the Pancake Day, there will be one extremely special item available for bidding.
While no one has kept track of how many pancakes have been made or how many people have been fed at the 53 previous Pancake Days, the club is proud to say it is still flippin' away. Since children 12 and under eat free, it's an economical way to feed your family. And it's a way for the community to help Kiwanis in all of its projects.
The Pancake Day began the year I was born, and it has been a Butler family tradition ever since. I'll see you there.
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