Summit County Women’s Center workshops’ popularity is growing |

Summit County Women’s Center workshops’ popularity is growing

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County Women’s Center workshops started with a high turnout when they began in February, and their popularity has only increased since then.

“It’s been surprising that it has taken off so quickly and with so much community enthusiasm,” said the center’s director, Terri Tobey. “Not just from the audiences, but from local business sponsors. It’s a tribute to the community, that it wants to be involved.”

Each workshop has attracted an average of 50 women, their ages ranging from teens to retirees – two facts Tobey said have surprised her. Topics such as backcountry travel, which Tobey expected would attract a younger audience, attracted women into their 60s. Conversely, she expected older women to attend the workshop on career counseling, but several mothers brought their teenage daughters.

Wednesday’s workshop, on high-altitude gardening, attracted more than 100 women, with even a few men scattered throughout.

It was the first of the women’s workshops Silverthorne resident Suzi Mirus had attended.

“I think it’s great that they have it just for women, because a lot of subject matter men approach differently than women,” she said.

“I think it’s a great idea to have the women’s workshops because we tend to be a very male-dominated county and sometimes, it’s hard to connect with other women,” said Patricia McNeelege of Wildernest.

Judy Rae Anderson, who recently moved from the Front Range to Leadville, agreed. She said the workshops presented a forum for women to meet and network.

Though several of the women the Summit Daily News interviewed said they would attend the workshops regardless if they were solely for women, Breckenridge resident Nancy Khanna said she liked that the workshops were presented by women for women.

“I don’t know why, but I think that was appealing,” she said.

After three months of twice-monthly workshops, Tobey is both encouraged and perhaps a little overwhelmed by their popularity.

“The numbers, I think, are a direct acknowledgement of the demand and the need for these services,” she said. “I’m actually learning the process of fulfilling the needs of our audience and how to keep our organization growing and functional.”

In addition to the evening workshops at Borders Books Cafe in Dillon, this summer the women’s center will host more in-depth, twice-weekly workshops at Frisco’s former community center. The topics will include emotional well-being, beauty from the inside out and the arts.

Tobey wants to expand the women’s center’s offerings to include other events. She has scheduled a financial expo for Aug. 23 and is hoping to host a women’s health symposium and a women’s film festival later this year, she said.

Eventually, Tobey hopes the center will have its own venue where women can meet and network and where local female artists can exhibit their work, but that will be dependent on finances.

Right now, none of the nonprofit’s staff is paid – including Tobey.

“That’s how grassroots we are – we don’t have paid staff,” she said.

As the popularity of the center’s offerings grows, so do the expenses. Tobey recently received grants for the nonprofit from Wal-Mart and the Summit Garden Club, but said the women’s center is at a point where it is dependent on volunteers, grants and donations for its continued success. Tobey and volunteer coordinator Theresa Ashton are looking for volunteers to assist them with everything from fundraising, to designing fliers and a Web site, to helping with the workshops and events.

For information, call Ashton at (970) 485-2194.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

Summit County Women’s Center

– For more information about workshops and events, call Terri Tobey at (970) 389-1502

– To volunteer, call Theresa Ashton at (970) 485-2194

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