Bargell: Thankful for Summit County’s great people
Hint. It starts with a P, and it absolutely, positively does not rhyme with hot.
A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to watch a bunch of determined girls take home an unheard-of seventh straight state rugby championship. Behind me on the grass sat a small, unassuming blond lady, just another fan for the home team. After the game I thanked her for coming. “Wouldn’t have missed it,” she smiled, noting her weekends seemed filled with trips to watch our high-schoolers excel. The preceding week she made the trip to her old stomping grounds, Colorado Springs, to cheer the soccer boys on their road to a phenomenal season.
A couple of weeks later I ran into her, happenstance, at a coffee shop. Grabbing a quick cup of tea between a stop at a local elementary school, a trip to the high school, and lunch with city officials before returning to her office to grapple with how Summit schools can continue to improve. The recent “Accredited with Distinction” recognition Summit Public Schools just received from the Colorado Board of Education is only a start. The press of these activities, however, did not stop her from spending her night off celebrating the stand-out individuals recognized at the Summit Foundation Philanthropy Awards last Friday evening. Energy does not seem in short supply for our local superintendent.
Speaking of rainbows and unicorns, the Summit Foundation event that honors folks who give back to our community always is awe-inspiring. One of our local teachers was in for a surprise, and a surfeit of tears, when her name was unexpectedly called. Her heartfelt words accompanied the waterworks, all genuine, as she had no time to prepare a speech, but only a moment to speak from her heart. When accepting the award, this Summit middle school teacher said she was the one honored — to have the chance to teach our kids. She lives in a place she calls positive town, where optimism, hard-work and commitment are contagious. A spot apparently frequented by unicorns, and adorned by rainbows — right here in Summit County.
Stories about amazing individuals unfolded throughout the Summit Foundation celebration. A ski area exec who devotes countless hours to conservation efforts, known to spend her time and energy, elbows deep, sorting compost, at local events. Scattered through the room were the men and women who run our local resorts, leading the way in giving back. In at least one case, a big boss was taking notes on how to do volunteerism from his wife, the volunteer of the year. There was not a parent present who could not recount when they first met this amazing woman, in each case it was when she was helping others.
What Summit’s got doesn’t stop there. Earlier this week I was stopped in my tracks by a gentleman who never fails to offer up a kind word. He commented on the recent article in the Summit Daily about a group of kids who delivered an international education presentation. His words gave me a lift, and I know he notices when any of our local kids excel. This guy knows a couple of things about success, building a publishing mammoth, and authoring no less than eight books himself. Still, he makes it a point to encourage others on their journey.
Of course, there was no chance of that any of the students would have had the opportunity to participate in the conference if their Spanish teacher (nearly since birth) had not taken the time to become educated on the event, apply for a slot, show up on a Sunday to give the kids direction and arrive early two nights of the school week to get everything set up. She then quietly took a back seat, allowing the students to shine.
There are countless more stories like the ones above, about folks who serve up meals on Tuesdays, the family that turns over their restaurant to give Thanksgiving back to the community, the individuals who mentor our kids, take care of our trails, the musicians who make sure our hills always are alive with the sound of music, the foundations and clubs that give scholarships and fund sports programs, and donate everything from dictionaries to diapers.
Summit is a resort community, but the real emphasis is on community where the beauty is astonishing. Summit has People with a capital P, so many fine ones that there are days it nearly brings me to tears. This is one of those days. Happy Thanksgiving Summit County.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her family. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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