Much as she would prefer the story not be about her, Durangoans took the opportunity to honor Margie Deane Gray twice in the space of a couple of weeks this month.
Fort Lewis College held a “retirement” party for her Jan. 6. She was a key player at the school for nine years, first as executive director and then senior gift officer of the college’s foundation. FLC staff and faculty, trustee and board members and community supporters turned out in, well not droves, but in numbers to say thank you to the woman who raised more than $6 million for the school, including significant donations for the Student Union remodel and numerous scholarships.
Even as she was stepping down, Deane Gray was inadvertently continuing to raise money. Gene Bradley, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors, announced the board had created a fund at the foundation to support FLC’s theater program, and it already had $18,000 thanks to the trustees. Deane Gray, an avid theater enthusiast, will meet with folks in the department to determine the priorities for the funds.
The cake made me think about Deane Gray’s prowess as a baker. She often donates a popular dessert-a-month gift to nonprofits for auctions, and, upon occasion, her staff has been heard to equally praise and bemoan (the calories, you know) her frequent additions to office snacks.
I suggested that perhaps her retirement gift should be a gym membership for her husband, Will Gray, since all that baking will be staying home now. No worries, he said, he’s not that much of a dessert person.
I put retirement in quotes because Deane Gray actually is just shifting focus. She began as executive director for the Mesa Verde Foundation on Jan. 1, and she literally was working that day, national holiday be darned. The good news is that she can work in her jammies if she feels like it, because she’ll be based in her home office and can skip the 45-minute drive (each way) she was making from her home in the far western side of La Plata County. (She can see Mesa Verde from her house, so how perfect is that?)
While her husband foresees a continuation of her 12-hour days, it will be for a cause she strongly believes in.
“It is so important to this community to have a national park so close,” she said, “and the only cultural national park, too. The government doesn’t have the dollars needed to fix it – we’re still working on shoring up Cliff Palace – and I’d like to raise money so schools can rent buses and come up and visit. It will open a whole new world for many of them.”
Another project on the list is that a number of historic trails have been overgrown, and money is needed to make them accessible.
“There’s such history to them, and we want to make them accessible to everyone,” she said.
She’s planning two events to start raising that money.
If you would like to thank Deane Gray for her career at one of our most important institutions, donations may be made to the Theatre Fund in Margie Deane Gray’s honor, Fort Lewis College Foundation, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301.
Celebrating some of the warmest and sunniest January birthdays in recent memory are Connie Matthews, Dan Ammann, Kathy Szelag, Mayor Sweetie Marbury, Lee Campbell, Wynn Berven, Mary Jo James, John Yancy, Mary Alice Copeland, Julia Dodd, Darren Wales, Wynn Hammond, Hanah Pilmack, Barbara Washburn, Steve Lavengood, Maggie Condie, Karen Knudsen, Thomas Duft, Brigitte Cunningham, Trudy Mickel, Thomas Boness, Barb Conn, Gracie Swanson, Lucinda Jacobs and Barry Hillmer.
Special greetings to one of my favorite ladies, Susie Ammann, on a, well, let’s just say a significant birthday.
On Jan. 14, Margie Deane Gray was named Volunteer of the Year by the Women’s Resource Center at the organization’s Annual Meeting at the Durango Public Library.
She had served as president from 2012-2013, helping to establish the resource center’s scholarships in 2012. Two of the scholarships are to Fort Lewis College, one to a nontraditional student and one to a first-generation college student from La Plata County. They also give one to students seeking advanced certification or training in a field.
Since then, the organization has awarded $50,726 to 57 women. Five of those have increased their income by 25 percent since increasing their skills.
Deane Gray also has worked tirelessly on Women’s History Month and Girls Night Out and now has agreed to continue on Women’s History Month and serve on the Advisory Committee, a group of wise women who have been active at the resource center over the years. And to top it off, when Bev Wells, 2013-2014 president, moved out of state, Deane Gray agreed to finish off her term. I need a nap.
The meeting also was a time for Executive Director Liz Mora to reflect on a year of achievement for the Women’s Resource Center.
Resource and referral, which connects women and girls to community resources needed immediately, continued to grow, up to 1,100 clients, a 16 percent increase over 2013. More than 260 clients used the center’s office equipment, primarily for job searches and résumé creation, for a total of 648 hours.
About 220 eighth grade girls from all La Plata County school districts prepared to transition into high school at Girls to Women, Women to Girls at Fort Lewis College. Olympians Tracy and Lanny Barnes were the keynote speakers. And this year, for the first time, all of La Plata County’s eighth grade boys will have sessions of their own.
Get Your Girl Power is a new program that helps fifth graders prepare for middle school with a pilot program of 55 girls in Bayfield.
The resource center still is partnering with Enid Brodsky and the Small Business Development Center to offer four one-hour small business consultations monthly. In 2014, 15 clients were served.
Low bono legal aid, professional coaching programs, Womenade, which has provided more than $117,000 in emergency aid to women and their families since 2002 and Women’s History Month round out the center’s major activities.
The center received a donation of $25,000 from Animas Surgical Hospital after partnering with the hospital to put on the Durango Double, and the annual campaign brought in $37,000, $10,000 more than the target.
Mark your calendars now for March 6, when Women’s History Month will kick off with the Extraordinary Women Luncheon. Tekla Miller is the keynote speaker, and having heard her before, I can assure you that it’s not to be missed.
These folks celebrating their anniversaries now and Valentine’s Day in a month – a lot of romance early in the year – are Macky and Virgil Headrick and Stephen and Donna Bowles.