#HopeBuildersCO: Summit County stories of hope
The many colors of love
Rainbows, and that pot of gold you might hope to find, symbolize many things: The joys of finding happiness, love and connection. Discovering a sense of gratitude. The belief that good things come in many colors, shades and hues. As local Summit County businesses begin to open to more customers, Nichole Shepherd of DonLo Mercantile in Breckenridge wanted to share these ideas with the community.
She commissioned artist Devon Sharon to offer local business owners the opportunity to spread the visual message of a rainbow on their store windows, honoring frontline workers and recognizing the sacrifices all of us have made to get through the coronavirus pandemic and stay safe as a community.
“We are painting the town with color and showing the world that we love our community, appreciate all the front-line workers and that we are all in this together,” Shepherd said.
Helping Summit County seniors at home
These past few months have been a difficult time for elderly Summit County residents in need of help with basic home repairs.
“We initiated a free Benevolence Program for Summit County seniors, those who are struggling to rectify basic repairs to their homes because of financial hardship,” said Alexandria Nicole of Majestic Mountain Tile & Stone.
These repairs include making sure hot and cold running water and heating are working, dealing with toilet and shower operational problems and assisting with light cleaning. These free services will be available beginning June 1 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ve had several applications already as well as several people interested in donating materials and time,” Nicole said. “We are very happy to serve our elders in this way.”
Helping others process grief
Processing tragedy at any time is difficult and challenging. When two local Summit County teens died by suicide, volunteers Elizabeth Sheaffer and Megan Matza from Club Forget Me Not jumped in with other volunteers to help support those hit hardest by this tragedy.
Club Forget Me Not has a special focus on assisting children and families who have experienced the death of a family member. Find more information at ClubForgetMeNot.org.
Cheering those with birthday blues
How to celebrate birthdays in Summit County when COVID-19 has forced us all to social distance? Some people called the sheriff!
Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons reports that during these past weeks and months of the stay-at-home order, public safety officials has been participating on a regular basis in birthday parades for community members.
“Depending on jurisdiction, the Sheriff’s Office, town police departments and fire district have been conducting these parades upon request,” FitzSimons said.
He was pleased to note the numerous “thank-you” emails for these birthday parades.
“They were incredible!” he said.
We’re taking care of each other
One of the important ways members of Summit County are helping each other is by donating time, money and food to the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. With community support, the nonprofit went from serving 200 people a week before the COVID-19 crisis to 2,000 people a week. This includes providing nearly 100,000 pounds of food to those in need, helping with rental relief, offering parenting support and helping individuals access mental health services in partnership with groups like Building Hope.
Puzzles for positive mental health
It all started when Peak-A-Boo Toys in Breckenridge began sharing a “puzzle of the day” on social media. As fear of coronavirus intensified, sales of puzzles went up.
When the store could no longer allow customers on the premises, curbside pickup of puzzles became the norm. Then customers began sharing stories of their puzzling success on the Peak-A-Book Facebook page. Some were getting hooked on puzzles and asking the store to curate a virtual selection with different subjects and difficulty levels. A favorite: the 1,000-piece Eurographics puzzles.
“We figured that puzzles were good for mental health,” said Jenny, who works for Peak-A-Boo and manages their social media. “So the store has stayed open for pickup orders.”
Books, family board games and children’s workbooks are also for sale. Recently, the store opened for business on the premises, one customer at a time by appointment.
“We can also help with personal shopping over the phone,” Jenny said.
Spending time with feathered friends
Sometimes it’s our wild neighbors who offer us hope and good cheer in difficult times. A silver lining to being stuck at home is having more opportunities to get to know the local birds who live in our backyards.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, while it may be too soon to tell if the recent global shutdown forced by coronavirus has led to an increase in bird activity, what is certain is that birdwatchers report actually hearing more birds.
The spring return of hummingbirds, robins, wrens, bluebirds and other migratory birds brings tremendous joy to so many of us. If these tiny creatures (the ruby throated humming bird weights 0.11 ounces) can survive the challenges of flying hundreds of miles to their favorite summer haunts, that’s a good reason for hope.
Cornell is offering multiple online bird activities for free, including games for kids, a live peek into nests and nest boxes through bird cams, and an opportunity to help provide important data about bird activity from your own backyard. Learn more at Birds.cornell.edu/home.
Bookstore works with community, schools to keep business afloat
Staff at Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco were thrilled when it was determined that, during the COVID-19 outbreak, books are still “essential” to residents of Summit County. But how to get those books to eager readers when residents are being advised to keep out-of-home activity to a minimum? Consultations over the phone allow Next Page staff to recommend selections to customers, and purchases are packed up and placed outside for store pickup. Volunteers from the bookstore’s monthly reading groups have even taken the initiative to make local deliveries of book orders to those worried about leaving home or unable to go out.
Now the Summit County School district has teamed up with Next Page, using some remaining end-of-year funds to allow students to order two books for personal reading. These books will eventually be donated to the school libraries.
Breckenridge restaurant offers surprise gift
How many weeks has it been, now, that we’ve had to mostly stay at home, eating our usual repertoire of breakfasts, lunches and dinners? Too many! Fortunately Summit County has so many wonderful restaurants willing to provide us with gourmet meals, even if we can’t enjoy them in the restaurant setting.
One pair of lucky diners ordered takeout from Aurum Restaurant in Breckenridge — and as a special gift, the staff at Aurum secretly tucked into the bag a “Golden Ticket,” offering these guests the gift of a second dinner, at no charge.
“I wish I had a picture of our ‘Charlie-and-the-Chocolate-Factory’ dance,” said this happy customer.
Unexpected help for a muddy bike
Former Mayor and family dentist Dr. John Warner was taking advantage of the warming spring weather to ride his mountain bike around Lake Dillon. His bike was covered in mud from a weekend ride, so Warner proceeded first to the Frisco Car wash. While waiting in line, he was approached by a stranger who asked if he’d like her to spray wash his bike so he wouldn’t have to wait.
Once his bicycle was washed clean of mud, Warner asked if he could pay the woman for the time he had used up.
“Don’t worry about it. Have a nice ride,” the stranger replied.
Warner rode off, surprised and cheered by this simple and unexpected act of kindness.
Time to get off the couch, potato!
When the Breckenridge Recreation Center had to close its doors to workout enthusiasts in March due to coronavirus, it became tempting for some of us to spend a little too much time at home on the couch.
Then rec center instructor Kelly Gerken decided to shake things up, offering a six-week online fitness program. While the remote classes were initially meant for members only, the response was so great that Gerken is able to provide the virtual workouts at no cost, for now. Gerken highlights that the program is meant to be progressive over time, so newcomers should jump in soon. Now, couch potatoes, we have no excuse. Time to start moving. To find out more, email email@example.com.
Women who don’t give up
Summit Women’s Recovery helps women achieve addiction-free living and embodies the idea of women who don’t give up. In the spirit of that philosophy, the organization is providing food and funding for Advocates for Victims of Assault in Summit County.
Like many safety-net organizations in our community, Advocates is seeing a tenfold increase in requests for help. These needs include food, safe shelter and financial assistance for women and children faced with dangerous living situations.
Until May 15, food donations can be dropped off at Summit Women’s Recovery, 330 Fiedler Ave., Suite 103, in Dillon. Financial donations can be made directly to SummitAdvocates.org.
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