One of my annual New Year’s resolutions is to make my friends and family a higher priority in my life.
The staff members at Sunshine Gardens West apparently agree with that goal, and they beat me to it, holding a surprise party for employee Brian Shafer to mark his 10-year anniversary with them in December. His mother, Mary, helped by getting the totally unsuspecting Man of the Hour there on schedule.
Shafer started his association with Sunshine Gardens by calling bingo and went on to become a vital part of the activity staff. He even helps out in the kitchen and dining room when needed.
In addition to the cake, streamers and hat, Shafer received the Star Performer Award for the fourth quarter.
Shafer is loved by staff and residents alike, as was evident on all their delighted faces when they surprised him.
Celebrating the last of the Capricorn birthdays and bringing in the “Age of Aquarius” are Connie Matthews, Dan Ammann, Kathy Szelag, Sweetie Marbury, Robert Simmons, Jim Bundy, Mary Alice Copeland, Julia Dodd, Maggie Condie, Karen Knudsen, Thomas Duft, Brigitte Cunningham, Luke Slater, Sherri Haldorson, Laura Shelton, Jack Whistler, Connie Zollinger, Marj Cornwell, Sarah Phelps and Eden Smith.
The December session of Leadership La Plata took a different approach for the business segment – it followed the money.
All of us have seen the Buy Local Buck and heard exhortations to spend our money with La Plata County businesses, but why does that matter so much?
Not only does it add to our tax coffers, helping provide funding for community services such as road repairs and snowplowing, spending here helps keep our friends and neighbors employed, and then they spend their money here, too.
Do you get where I’m going here?
The day began with the leadership-skills training portion of the day. LLP alumnus Kris Oyler, founder and CEO of Steamworks Brewing Co., presented the class with real-world local ethical issues and how area leaders handled them.
A roundtable discussion included Meredith Mapel, general manager of Durango-Farmington Coca-Cola; Mark Thompson, owner of Phoenix Recycling; Jerry Zink, founder of StoneAge Waterblast Tools and Sunnyside Meats; and the Herald’s former city editor, Katie Burford, owner of Cream Bean Berry.
They discussed everything from how and why their businesses were founded in Durango to what local challenges they face, how the Buy Local campaign affects their businesses and what they themselves do to support local businesses.
Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, wore a lot of hats during the day, including that of moderator. He helped tie the morning’s discussions together before the class broke to head over to El Moro Spirits and Tavern, where general manager Dave Woodruff supports local businesses by serving locally grown produce and protein. The restaurant’s kitchen team showed what that means in terms of flavor by serving the class lunch.
After lunch, class members ventured down Main Avenue to tour the Durango Welcome Center. (How many of you have actually gone in to check it out? It served more than 100,000 people in 2013.)
Durango Area Tourism Office Executive Director Patricia O’Brien, who has since left that position, explained the tourism sector of the local economy and what DATO does to promote tourism across the country and around the globe.
O’Brien also talked about how a small fish like Durango can make a bigger impression in the tourism market by collaborating with other entities, such as Fort Lewis College, the chamber and local businesses such as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort.
One fun fact was that Durango was promoted in Times Square in the Big Apple on New Year’s Eve.
The class then headed back to the Bank of Colorado, where the discussion continued with Laura Lewis Marchino, assistant director of the Region 9 Economic Development District; Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District; and Tim Wheeler, vice chairman of Local First and owner of the Durango Coffee Co. Oh, and Llewellyn both moderated the discussion and was a member of the panel. I guess that’s like directing yourself in a movie.
They talked more about buying local and trying to stop the “leakage” into other communities for goods and services not available in Durango. (Such as shopping at Target in Farmington, for example.)
Class members walked away with a greater understanding of the power of their spending habits and how important their financial leadership decisions are to the health of the community.
Carla Shuck and Meggin Roberts, alumnae of the LLP Class of 2012-13, organized the class.
This is where I put in my disclaimer. I was a member of the LLP Class of 1991-92, which I know sounds like ancient history. (At least it wasn’t the Anasazi Class, as it’s affectionately known within LLP, the guinea pig group that kicked it off in 1988-89.)
I found it immensely valuable, from making lifelong friends to learning how my community works and whom to call to get things done.
Applications for next year’s class will be due at the beginning of June. If you’ve read this column or previous items and thought it sounded interesting, make this the year you apply.
To learn more, visit www.leadershiplaplata.org.
Forgetting their January anniversary because it’s too much like spring are Mike and Donna Stone.
Special greetings go to one of my favorite couples on their big day, V.J. and Mackie Headrick.
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