While jogging up the road just yesterday I glimpsed a man outside on his deck, camera aimed at the distant horizon. His attention was so focused that I paused to glimpse over my shoulder and caught the scene from his perspective. It was purple mountain majesty at its finest, with ethereal white clouds hovering over multi-layered peaks. It took my breath — what little I had remaining — away.
The sight reminded me, somewhat oddly, of a recent post by a friend of her daughter’s senior picture. She too is a beaut, and I fired off a quick comment that I knew she was beautiful both outside and within. Surely, the same can be said of our community. This place is easy on the eyes, but its exterior grandeur often is dwarfed by its interior radiance, abundantly demonstrated at the recent Summit Foundation Philanthropy awards. The event honors the intense hard work of locals, individuals and businesses alike, that dedicate time and talent to causes and organizations that in turn give back to the community. The folks honored generally are people who volunteer after giving it their all at equally demanding “day jobs.” This includes the countless individuals who “retire” to Summit only to immerse themselves in efforts to support our kids, our families and ultimately our community. I know them as the people who say “yes” when I am sure “no” would be the far easier, and less costly, alternative.
Most folks who attend the event come away inspired, often teary eyed, touched by these tireless efforts. Arriving on the late side for my annual dose of inspiration, I caught only the final few awards. It was worth the time, however, to hear the presentation of the Community Collaboration Award for the Pre-Collegiate Program. As the participating students filed onto the stage, director Molly Griffith briefly explained how the program supports kids who have not had the good fortune to have a string of relatives who attended college. These students have to be fearless in their efforts to excel in high school so that they can blaze a new path as the first in their family to attend college. Not so long ago, my family was in the same spot. My dad was part of the first generation on his side of the family to attend college, getting there on the GI Bill, a program that also recognized the benefits of an education.
The Summit Pre-Collegiate students, Molly explained, have only one option, and that is to succeed. As the room quieted so the students could tell their stories, I found myself spellbound by a tall well-spoken young man grinning sheepishly at the large audience. Who wouldn’t be just a bit nervous in front of this crowd? Joel Gomez spoke of hard work and his new understanding of community service, and he expressed sincere appreciation to everyone who made the effort to believe in him. His mature sentiments, eloquently voiced in his second language, made me realize what a terrible shame it would be if he had not been encouraged on his path. As a result of the program the water level is going up in Summit County, and all of the boats are rising.
I was disappointed to have just missed the outstanding student award, recognizing Davis Gidney. Just hearing about a kid who can navigate the DP program with over a 4.0 GPA, co-captain a sport and serve as class president made me wonder what they put into the water at the Gidney household. And, selfishly, where I could get some. As coincidence would have it, I ran into Davis’ mom the very next day. Although we had not previously met officially, that didn’t stop my personal interrogation about what to expect from Summit High, and how the Gidneys managed to raise such a great kid. Davis’ mom, gracious as well, shrugged off her role, and really didn’t dwell on daughter’s numerous achievements. Instead, she smiled and surprised me, explaining what makes mom proud is the fact Davis has “a really kind heart.” Then, her mom shifted gears, saying she and her husband both were touched by the pre-collegiate presentation, so much so her husband wanted to sign on up on the spot to help out in some fashion. I pondered what these responses might say about where Davis gets her inspiration. Davis’ mom also shared that Davis was equally elated for her classmates, waving across the chairs to Joel, giving him a thumbs-up on rising to meet his particular challenges. Support begets support, something we all can be proud of. Thanks, too, to the Summit Foundation for profoundly reminding our community of this fact for the last 23 years.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and a mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She welcomes your comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.