No matter what cause they're volunteering for, most people do it to make a difference in their community.
That's certainly the case for volunteers at Habitat for Humanity, which helps people who are productive members of
society own homes in this pricey real estate market and in other towns around the world.
On Nov. 6, Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County held its 11th annual Wine Tasting Gala and Silent Auction at the
DoubleTree Ballroom. This year's event was almost a sellout, with more than 300 people enjoying wines organized by
and Sherri Wertz at Liquor World. The DoubleTree Hotel and Alpine Bank were the other two major sponsors.
More than a few guests were out-of-town visitors who were staying at the hotel and thought the wine tasting sounded
Organizers have this event down to a science. As guests arrive, they're handed a wine glass and a plate, which has a
convenient slot to hold the wine glass so partygoers have a hand free. The center of the room holds a rectangle of
several tables where
the wine is being poured, so one is never too far away from a taste of the grape. More than 200 wines were available
for sampling this year.
Around the edges of the ballroom, tables demonstrated the continuing generosity of local businesses with a wide
variety of silent-auction items. In a stroke of organizational genius, appetizers from restaurants around the area
were interspersed with th
e silent auction items, keeping guests moving around the room to check out the goodies. Members of the Rotaract Club
from Fort Lewis College took on the task of keeping the food trays refreshed.
I didn't have too long to nosh, but was blown away by the smoked salmon topped with fresh berries and figs from
Kennebec Café and apple tarts from Cosmopolitan. Everyone from Cairo Café and Christina's Grille & Bar to Dalton
Ranch Swing, Himalayan Kitchen, Mutu's and Sweeney's provided food. Cocina Linda's turkey mole tamales flew out the
door, and the chocolate fountain provided by Fuzziwigg's Candy Factory was a dramatic sweet touch. More than 20
purveyors of local foodstuffs provided a tasty accompa
niment to the wine.
The planning committee was Leanna Jaworsky, Nadine C. Orantes, Jen
Nail, Barbara Fleming, KylaElise, Michelle
Uhland Rich Kolb.
The Jeff SolonJazz Band provided a suitable ambiance to the evening, and Uhl showed off her vocal
talents during the evening as well. After a live auction, which featured a few select items, Habitat volunteers were
delighted to report a fundraising total of $18,000
for the evening.
This was a big year for Habitat locally, because the organization completed its 30th home. The latest two homeowners
are single mothers who are delighted to plant deeper roots here. Permits have been granted to build another duplex at
Fox Farm Village i
n Bayfield, with families and individuals approved through the 2011 build. (Those interested in qualifying for a home
are encouraged to start the application process, because it takes time. Homeowners are required to put in between 350
and 500 hours of sweat equity.)
The Habitat for Humanity Wine Tasting Gala and Silent Auction on Nov. 6 was also the first public appearance of the
organization's new executive director, Tracy Cornutt.
Cornutt, who started Oct. 1, took over from Nadine Chaney-Orantes.
A native of Central California, Cornutt began her nonprofit life after several years in the business world with
companies such as Dole Fruit and Nut Inc., a match for her degree in international business from Fresno State
University. Her studies include
d time living in Denmark and Poland.
"If I'm going to work this hard," she remembers thinking more than a decade ago, "I want it to matter at the end of
That epiphany led to a shift to Special Olympics, and the task of establishing the Central California regional office
for the organization. She said it was a first-rate place to learn about nonprofit management. It was also where she
learned the value of volunteers, because working with 2,700 athletes in 21 sports year round with just three paid
staff members would be impossible without them.
(Volunteers are just as important at Habitat. More than 210 individual volunteers contributed 4,086 hours of
construction labor, which is worth almost $88,000.)
Then Cornutt's husband, Don, was transferred to Colorado, and she went to work in Fort Collins for
Partners Mentoring Youth, an organization similar to Big Brothers Big Sisters. A decision that they wanted to live in
a small mountain town and a fateful business trip to Southwest Colorado, et voilÃ ! An experienced nonprofit
director was available just when Habitat needed her.
In her spare time, Cornutt and her husband are building a home south of Durango, where they live with three horses
and two dogs. If they're not working on their house, they're out enjoying the area on horseback or riding
Habitat has been affected by the economy, just like every other nonprofit. It lost a big chunk of the funding it uses
to carry mortgages after the Colorado Housing and Financing Authority was essentially eliminated because of budget
shortfalls. So it ne
eds to raise $320,000 by next summer for the next build.
The Habitat Re-Store brings in about $100,000 of that annually. (By the way, the store is having a winter blowout
sale. It's a good time to check out the offerings.)
If you would like to help these aspiring homeowners and support keeping a community that is diverse, donations may be
sent to Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County, 3001 north Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301.
Here's wishing these birthday celebrants the coziest of birthdays in what looks to be our first big snowstorm of the
season - Brian Epp, Heather Phillips, Cory Gillespie, Gay
Smith, Mike Stone, Taylor Peterson
, MattHert, Caleb Dearey, Everett Hoyt, Geneva Heiman, Alice Schmidt, Blaine Thompson, Norene
Smith, Marie Davis, Dharma Gauthier, Jean Bruscia, Dale Warren, Jessica Hill, Harry Goff, Sierra
Lillard, ZacharySchmidt, Patrick McBrayer, Daniel
Latham, Wesley May, Terry Polsfut, Mike Johnson, Tamra Lavengood, Alma Wolf, Jackie Manning, Elizabeth
Oetter, Donovan Schardt, Mary Ruth Bowman, RobertNewby, Tom Hahl, Ryan Overington, Matt Pattonand Patrick McBrayer.
Belated greetings go to Michelle Rabouin, Gayle Brown, Peeb Lupia, Julie Marble-White, Richard Cox, Stacy Sullwold, Meghan
Youngblood, Steve Ashburn, Charles Black, Mike Parsons, John Cooley, CarolGordon, Gerilyn Hoyt, Lydia Townsend, Danya Eggleston, Stella Welcher, Carol
Godlin, Laura Yale, BillFlintand Susan
The jive was jumpin' at
Katy Freiberger's home in The Ranch on Nov. 6. She and fellow hosts
Lizand PaulCahill, Joand Ron
Davisand Jill Wardhad created a bit of a jazz-club atmosphere for a concert by Actual Proof
Small tables with black tablecloths were topped by wine glasses used as candle holders to create the ambiance. The
hosts had cooked their hearts out, and everyone was raving about the appetizers, which included cheese fondue, and
desserts. One creative hostess had baked cookies shaped like musical notes to keep the theme going.
For libations, guests could choose from wine, champagne and cosmopolitans. The martini glasses the cosmopolitans were
served in made everyone look rather swanky.
The quartet - Lee Bartleyon piano, Bob Newnamon horn, Brad
Tarpleyon drums and Chad MacCluskeyon bass guitar - have been playing together for about
six years, and it shows. The most frequently overheard comment was "Can you believe there's talent like this in
Part of the fun was having the musicians telling stories about the music and their influences. Before playing
"Remembrance" by Irving Berlin and mentioning that a lot of jazz is a reimagining of Broadway and popular music
themes, Tarpley talked about his grandfather, who had a tremendous collection of classical and show-tune albums, but
virtually no jazz. When asked why, his grandfather said, "I can see where jazz musicians have fun doing that, but to
me it's just noisy musicians ruining some of my favorite songs!"
He might have had something different to say about jazz had he heard his grandson's quartet. They closed on one of my
all-time favorites, "Black Orpheus," which will be on my request list at future performances.
The event was a fundraiser for Music in the Mountains. Durango's classical-music festival is also its most expensive
event to mount each year. Every dollar raised makes a real difference.
Coming up on Nov. 20-22, at its next fundraiser, Music in the Mountains is hosting a sale of gently used, high
quality women's clothes ranging from casual to holiday and party attire. The First Call Party, which will be from 5
to 7 p.m. Nov. 20, is $10
per person, $5 for students with identification. From 7 to 9 p.m. that day, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 21 and
22, admission is free, and the shopping will be fine and fun. The event will be in the Community Room at Animas
Cliffs Condominiums at 1700 County Road 203, just north of Sweeney's Restaurant. There's plenty of parking.
The clothes are courtesy of Irene Mylan and her store the Clothes Circuit in Dallas. Music in the Mountains President
Florence "Foxie" Masonis a long-term client of Mylan's and used her connection to bring some big
city duds to ever more elegant La Plata County.
Music, wine and a reflection on the loving times of the last year will be part of the anniversary celebrations for
Wallaceand Amy Kleindienst, Pauland Bev
Dittmerand Donand Mary Southworth.
For information about upcoming events and fundraisers, check Local Briefs.
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