Nonprofit – The Pagosa Springs SUN The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 23 Jan 2020 21:46:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 WinterFest kicking off Friday with myriad activities Thu, 23 Jan 2020 22:00:03 +0000

Photo courtesy Beth Tollefsen

By Mary Jo Coulehan
Special to The PREVIEW

Mother Nature was smiling on Pagosa Springs, depositing a little more snow in preparation for the 2020 WinterFest activities Jan. 24-26. Here’s what’s happening over the weekend.
On Friday, Jan. 24, the WinterFest Gala takes place at the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association (PLPOA) Clubhouse beginning at 6 p.m. You do not have to be a Chamber member to attend, but you do need to be ready to have a good time. Tim Sullivan will provide the entertainment for an evening of dancing. There will be scrumptious hors d’oeuvres to start the evening followed by an extensive pasta and salad bar, and then some decadent desserts will wrap up the weekend. There will be a cash beer and wine bar, a wine pull, a candy bar and other activities to add to the fun. The evening will also celebrate the community award winners for Citizen, Volunteer, Non-Profit and Small Business of the Year. You can purchase your tickets in advance online at or at the door.
Saturday, Jan. 25, is chock-full of events for the participant and spectator. The hot air balloon mass ascension will take place on the west side of town both days. Launching of almost 20 balloons will occur around the PLPOA Rec Center, CrossRoad Christian Fellowship Church, the PLPOA Clubhouse and other vacant and plowed areas. The pilot briefing begins at 7 a.m., with the launch starting around 7:45 a.m.
The Pagosa Nordic Club will host a Cross-Country Ski Clinic at Cloman Park beginning promptly at 10 a.m. The DUST2 Fat Tire Bike Race will be held at Yamaguchi Park with registration beginning at 8 a.m. and the race at 8:45. You can enjoy fresh crepes and hot drinks as you watch the racers or participate in the event.
The fifth annual Barkus Parade along the Riverwalk begins in Town Park at 11 a.m. Costumes (for humans and pets) are encouraged and a donation of $10 or more will also get you a cup of steaming gumbo. The top three best-dressed pets will win a prize.
Stay downtown and get your choice seat along the Riverwalk and watch the ever-hilarious Penguin Plunge that supports nonprofit agencies in Pagosa Springs. The hardy plungers will enter the frigid San Juan River in front of the Visitor Center at 1 p.m. with registration beginning at noon at the Chamber. Plungers raise money for their favorite nonprofit agency.
When the plunge is finished, walk over to Reservoir Hill, where you can watch the Sledz on Rez Sled Race. The Build Pagosa group sponsors this event and homemade sleds race down the hill for a multitude of prizes. Registration for this event begins at 2 p.m., with the races starting at 2:30 p.m.
The day isn’t finished yet. You can round out the day at Motel SOCO with the DUST2-sponsored party with the Brooks-I Band and drink specials.
On Sunday, the balloons will again take to the skies on the west side of town at approximately 7:45 a.m. Make sure your camera or phone is charged for some stellar photo opportunities.
Cross-country skiers will enjoy the BB Gun Biathlon held at Yamaguchi Park at 9:30 a.m. There will be a variety of course challenges for skiers of all ages, including youth. Match your skill with shooting and cross-country skiing — a great event for spectators and participants.
Occurring on both Saturday and Sunday will be the inaugural Skis and Saddles Skijoring event. This action-packed, fast-paced event will take place from approximately 9:45 a.m. until about 4 p.m. in the vacant lot along Hot Springs Boulevard south of the Bank of the San Juans. There will be activities at certain times for snowboarders, youth and beginners. Watch as expert horse handlers pull skiers along a timed obstacle course.
Teams should register on Friday evening at the Quality Inn or at 8 a.m. on Saturday, also at the Quality Inn.
Please note that Hot Springs Boulevard will be closed from the south side of the post office to Apache Street on Saturday and Sunday. Please use U.S. 160 to Hot Springs Boulevard south to access all the hot springs facilities and the post office. Access Apache Street to the south end of Hot Springs Boulevard to utilize the Ross Aragon Community Center. More information can be found at
Enjoy this wonderful winter season that we have in Pagosa with myriad activities to participate or spectate. A full schedule of events is found at Click on the WinterFest 2020 listing above the WinterFest poster for all the details.

‘Fly Me to the Moon’ mystery box party to benefit Aspire Sun, 19 Jan 2020 12:00:26 +0000 By Marcy Mitchell
Special to The PREVIEW
Aspire Medical Services and Education invites the Pagosa Springs community to fill its Valentine’s Day with romance and mystery.
At 6 p.m. on Feb. 14, Aspire will host its inaugural “Fly Me to the Moon Valentine’s Night Mystery Box Party” at the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association Clubhouse on 230 Port Ave.
Each $75 ticket includes delicious and unique food stations, desserts, a drink ticket, dancing and live music by our own Pagosa crooner, Bob Hemenger. Tickets are on sale at:
As part of the evening fun, Aspire will also sell mystery boxes that contain a prize in each box. One of the boxes contains the ultimate golden ticket and if you are the lucky winner, you will get to choose one out of four paid trip selections which includes airfare, lodging at a luxury resort and more.:
• Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Four nights at a resort with airfare for two.
• Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada: Three nights at a luxury hotel with airfare for two.
• New York, New York: Three-night stay at a luxury hotel, Broadway tickets and airfare for two.
• Sonoma Coast/Napa Valley, Calif.: Four nights at two luxury retreats including private wine tasting and airfare for two.
Mystery boxes are $25/box or five for $100. In addition, several other amazing prizes will be in the boxes. Everyone will win something.
All proceeds from the event will benefit Aspire’s affordable prenatal care program and parenting classes. Aspire currently provides services to more than 80 percent of all pregnant women in Archuleta County which include pregnancy tests, early ultrasounds, prenatal care, prenatal and parenting education and STI/STD testing and treatment.
Over the past two years, our prenatal clinic has helped lower the preterm birth rate and low birth rate percentage in our area by allowing disadvantaged women to see a quality medical doctor for prenatal care up to 36 weeks. The rate of low birth weight for babies born to our prenatal care clients in the last 12 months is only at 5.8 percent compared to a state average of 8 percent.
In addition, Aspire offers free childbirth, prenatal and parenting education to all parents of children age zero to 3. Aspire’s goal is to help all children zero to 3 years of age thrive physically, emotionally and socially during the most pivotal stage of development.
For more information, visit, or contact Kristi Smith at or call 264-5963.

Fire and Ice WinterFest promises hot and cool events Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:00:34 +0000 By Mary Jo Coulehan
Special to The SUN
WinterFest will be held from Jan. 24-26. The theme for this year’s event is Fire and Ice.
We have over 15 hot air balloon pilots contributing to the fire side of the theme.
As for ice, we will again host the Penguin Plunge and heartily support the other “cool” events such as the fat tire bike race, the BB gun biathlon, the Sledz on Rez race and, new this year, the Skis and Saddles Skijoring event. What a weekend it will be.
Start planning now as well to build your sled for the Sledz on Rez race to be held the afternoon of Jan. 25.
If your organization has people plunging in the river for the Penguin Plunge — also to be held on Jan. 25 — plunge forms are online at the Chamber’s website,
Get your bikes tuned to enter the bike race on Saturday or tune up your cross-country skis for the BB Gun Biathlon.
If you are a skier or horse person and want to learn more about how you can participate in the exciting Skis and Saddles Skijoring event, visit This event will take place on Hot Springs Boulevard in the center of all that is happening downtown that weekend.
Remember that on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, the hot air balloon mass ascension will take place on the west side of town in the Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association area near the Rec Center. This time of year, with the snow-capped mountains, there are some stunning photos to be taken.
There is something for everyone over WinterFest weekend. To find out more, visit

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:00:45 +0000 2019 was a busy and interesting year in Pagosa Country. There was no want for good news, bad news, controversial issues, and no lack of interesting news events to keep SUN readers focused on local events, situations and personalities.
The SUN is taking a look back at some of those events, selected by SUN staff writers. This week, we look back at July, August and September.


• At a Future of Power Supply Information Series meeting held in Pagosa Springs on July 1, La Plata Electric Association representatives discussed the future of energy and a potential buyout of its existing power-supply contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Beyond Words International seeking volunteers Thu, 02 Jan 2020 22:00:47 +0000

Photo courtesy Casey Crow
Paula Miller and Casey Crow of Beyond Words International (BWI) serving dinner in Matamoros, Mexico, where 2,500 asylum seekers are currently living in a tent city while they await U.S. immigration processing. BWI is seeking volunteers to join its work of providing humanitarian aid, psychosocial support and healing art programming to survivors of trauma at home and abroad. A volunteer information session will be held on Saturday, Jan. 4.

By Paula Miller and Casey Crow
Special to The SUN
Beyond Words International (BWI), a locally based nonprofit, is seeking volunteers to join its work of providing humanitarian aid, psychosocial support and healing art programming to survivors of trauma at home and abroad.
A volunteer information session will be held on Saturday, Jan. 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council.
We welcome anyone with an interest to be involved to join us as we share our mission, goals and upcoming projects for 2020. If you are not yet familiar with BWI, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, take a moment to read about our work.
Our story
BWI’s founder and president, Casey Crow, spent much of the last decade working and studying in refugee camps from Jordan to Kenya to Greece.
While her work helped refugees navigate the complexities of displacement, she noticed a startling lack of programs to help with the severe psychological trauma that comes with being forced from your home. This lack of psychosocial support inspired Crow to merge her education in international development and humanitarian emergencies with her passion for dance and service in the form of an organization that would provide both humanitarian and art healing services for those suffering from extreme trauma.
In September 2018, Crow approached Paula Jo Miller, a former nonprofit consultant and abstract artist, to help her create the organization. Miller agreed and joined the board as secretary and treasurer. Ten weeks later, on Dec. 14, 2018, BWI was born.
Global, national
and local reach
BWI’s mission is to provide healing arts and humanitarian assistance for trauma survivors around the globe, across the nation and in our local community. With that, our first project was to teach in a Syrian refugee camp in Greece for five weeks. At the camp, our volunteers taught English, math and art healing activities alongside our partner organization, Happy Caravan.
Crow, a dancer and instructor, broke down cultural barriers and encouraged self-expression through dance. It was absolutely amazing to watch the walls fall away while boys, girls and children from opposing cultures danced together in pure joy. Miller facilitated powerful art-based therapy projects where students were given an outlet to express their feelings in a safe, supportive environment.
In the last two weeks of our stay in the Thermopylae Refugee Camp, Miller worked closely with teens and women, in particular, a woman, “B.” University educated, “B” wanted to work on her English skills to help prepare her for the future. Each day, for several hours, “B” shared with Miller her stories of a wonderful life in Syria that she and her family were forced to leave. She loved her life — running a family business and owning several homes with her husband, an engineer. When the war started in 2011, they fled the violence and brutality to protect their children. They gave up everything. They took nothing with them. For eight years, they have been moved from camp to camp — not allowed to work, and with little hope for a new life. To help her trauma and grief, Miller introduced creative writing and poetry to their daily meetings. The meetings allowed both women to form a strong friendship and gave “B” an outlet to process her experience through the written word.
When we returned from the camp in Greece, we immediately scheduled a trip to Matamoros, Mexico, where 2,500 asylum seekers are currently living in a tent city while they await U.S. immigration processing. There, we taught school on Sundays, drew and made sidewalk art with the kids, purchased $2,500 in emergency supplies, and transported and served healthy hot meals to those in the camp every night. After dinner, we walked deep into the camp to hand out warm clothes, bottled water and toys for the kids.
We are currently working with our partner on the ground, Team Brownsville, on a project to support the education program in Matamoros. Crow and BWI volunteer Michael Morgan recently returned from a follow-up trip to begin formulating a plan. Our hope is to support Team Brownsville in establishing a safe space for children and help provide daily English, math and arts programming through a trauma-informed curriculum.
After our initial 10 days in Matamoros, we returned to Pagosa and soon met with local organization, Rise Above Violence, to create a project where we can provide our art healing services to survivors of interpersonal violence in our community. We are thrilled to begin our collaboration with Rise in 2020.
Thank you
We are amazed and humbled by your support during our first year. Because of your generosity, we were able to reach thousands of families stranded and without hope. We want to thank each and everyone of you for your love, kindness and support. We absolutely could not have done our work without you. We are so very grateful.
If you would like to be involved, attend our volunteer information session this Saturday, Jan. 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council located at 197 Navajo Trail Drive.
If you’d like to support our future efforts, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. You can do so through our PayPal below, or mail a check to BWI at P.O. Box 5203, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season and fabulous 2020.
Please donate to BWI:

CHFA recognizes local nonprofit with $10,000 Direct Effect Award Fri, 27 Dec 2019 12:00:07 +0000 By Megan Herrera
Special to The SUN
The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) is proud to announce the 2019 Corporate Giving Direct Effect Award winners.
CHFA’s Direct Effect Awards recognized 15 Colorado nonprofit organizations whose missions align with CHFA’s work to strengthen Colorado by investing in affordable housing and community development.
Rising Stars of Pagosa Springs – Pagosa Play Place was awarded $10,000.
CHFA received 126 Direct Effect Award applications. All eligible entries were judged by a panel comprised of CHFA staff and board members. Award winners were selected based on the organization’s alignment with CHFA’s mission and proposed use of funds to further their work in the communities they serve.
Top consideration was given to organizations that are supporting rural communities; serving special needs populations such as homeless, veterans, seniors or those living with disabilities; and advancing innovation in construction practices, service delivery, community collaboration and partnerships, or other kinds of change-making endeavors that support housing stability and/or economic prosperity.
The following organization description for Rising Stars was provided by CHFA:
“Rising Stars of Pagosa Springs is a 501(c)3 nonprofit doing business as Pagosa Play Place. The Pagosa Play Place is the response of Rising Stars of Pagosa Springs to the lack of a stimulating, safe, clean, and climate-controlled play area/activity center for children age 0-10 in the community. In operation since March 2018, their facility provides engaging indoor play equipment; infant toys for motor development; and music, art, story time, and science discovery classes supported by the community, sponsors, and their membership families. The Pagosa Play Place also serves as a critical space for parents to meet, connect, and share their experiences. The incorporated workspace supports stay-at-home parents, remote workers, and online learners.
“Rising Stars recently began a collaboration with Rise Above Violence of Archuleta County, a nonprofit helping victims of domestic violence, through a multifamily membership sponsored by Sohum Global Foundation. The Play Place is also partnered with two other nonprofits in Pagosa Springs—Friends of the San Juan River (whose mission closely aligns with the importance of safe play), and Thingamajig Theater (who shares opportunities for supporting the arts).
“Rising Stars will use their Direct Effect Award in the following ways: Fifty percent will be allocated towards expanding facility use, allowing parents more freedom and giving the Pagosa Play Place more opportunities for community development and nonprofit collaborations; thirty percent will go towards work space improvements and tech accessibility; and twenty percent will fill material needs and the cost of occasional professionals for a season of creative learning through project-based discovery, storytelling and literacy opportunities, exploring art, and cherished instrument exposure and musical movement.”
About CHFA
CHFA strengthens Colorado by investing in affordable housing and community development. Created in 1973, CHFA invests in loans to low- and moderate-income homebuyers through a network of participating lenders, and makes loans to affordable multifamily rental housing developers and small- and medium-sized businesses.
CHFA also provides education and technical assistance about affordable housing and economic development. CHFA is a self-sustaining public enterprise. CHFA issued debt is not the obligation of the state.
For more information about CHFA, please visit, call its Denver office at (800) 877-chfa (2432), or its Western Slope office at (800) 877-8450.

Festival of Trees Sat, 14 Dec 2019 12:00:40 +0000

SUN photos/Chris Mannara

During the 14th annual Festival of Trees on Dec. 6 at the Ross Aragon Community Center, locals were able to enjoy the various decorations and styles of trees that were auctioned off to benefit local nonprofits the next evening. Youngsters didn’t miss out on the fun, either, as they were able to meet Santa and enjoy cookies and hot cocoa while admiring the trees.

Town of Pagosa Springs receives $15,200 GOCO grant to improve Centennial Park GGP facilities Thu, 12 Dec 2019 22:00:31 +0000 By Rosemary Dempsey
Special to The SUN
This week, the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded a $15,200 grant to the Town of Pagosa Springs Parks and Recreation Department to hire a Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) crew to make improvements to Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership (GGP) public education facilities in Centennial Park.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

Mountain View Homemakers presents donations to five Archuleta County nonprofits Sun, 08 Dec 2019 12:00:42 +0000

Photo courtesy Mountain View Homemakers
The Mountain View Homemakers presented donations to five Archuleta County nonprofits during the group’s Nov. 14 Day of Thanksgiving luncheon meeting.

By Tozi Rubin
Special to The PREVIEW
Five Archuleta County nonprofit organizations ­— which benefit the county’s men, women and children — received donations from the Mountain View Homemakers during their 2019 Day of Thanksgiving luncheon meeting, held Nov. 14 at the Community United Methodist Church.
Cathy Ashford, 2019 charity chair, introduced each Mountain View Homemakers Board of Directors presenter. Kathy Pfister, board member, presented a club donation to Loaves and Fishes of Archuleta County, represented by Gwen Bartley; Lorna Fox, vice president, congratulated donation recipient Southwest Colorado Respite Resources, represented by Musetta Wollenweber; Tozi Rubin, publicity chair, presented Thingamajig Theatre Company’s donation to Laura Moore and Amy Harper; Renee Gentry, co-president, congratulated Upper San Juan Search and Rescue and its representatives Donna Wynn and Mike Le Roux; and Jane Baker, treasurer, presented a donation to Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta County, represented by Tom Zilhaver and Larry Jelinek.
Funds for these donations were raised throughout the year from the club’s activities, and donation recipients were selected by membership vote at the September meeting.
Mountain View Homemakers congratulates this year’s donation recipients and is thankful for the many contributions of all of our county’s nonprofit organizations to our communities.

Support local children’s education programs on Colorado Gives Day Fri, 06 Dec 2019 12:00:24 +0000 By Nadia Werby
Special to The SUN
What is Colorado Gives Day and how can you continue to help support Chimney Rock Interpretive Association’s (CRIA) and Sonlight Christian Camp’s missions?
Colorado Gives Day is more than just a day. It’s a movement that inspires and unites thousands of donors to give where they live and support Colorado nonprofits.
CRIA and Sonlight Christian Camp have joined forces with 70 other nonprofits in southwest Colorado to highlight our region on the statewide giving day of Dec. 10. These two Archuleta County nonprofits share the common goal of creating educational programs that benefit future generations.
For over 20 years, CRIA and its volunteers have shared the story of the ancestral Puebloan people with thousands of visitors through tours and special programs at Chimney Rock National Monument. Historic places like Chimney Rock reflect the past while enriching our future, but without public support, CRIA would be unable to provide the interpretive program that keeps Chimney Rock’s history alive for future generations.
Chimney Rock offers free programs that were developed for families. In 2017, CRIA introduced “School Week at Chimney Rock” in which students from across the Four Corners and beyond enjoy hands-on cultural activities and a tour of Chimney Rock preseason, at no cost. In 2019, CRIA provided this free program to 14 classroom groups, totaling 475 students.
CRIA’s Education Committee, a group of experienced educators, has developed special projects and an outreach mobile classroom kit.
Life at Chimney Rock is a free two-day festival where families can shop at a Native American marketplace and participate in cultural interactive activities that give them a glimpse of the daily life of the ancestral Puebloans 1,000 years ago. Both of these programs enhance the experience for these young people so that they may value sites such as Chimney Rock and preserve cultural heritage for future generations.
To support the free programs at Chimney Rock, CRIA is participating in Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Please help CRIA reach its goal of $3,000 this year on Colorado’s largest day of giving.
For more information about CRIA and Chimney Rock National Monument, please go to
Sonlight Camp
For 40 years, Sonlight Camp has provided summer resident camps, backpack trips and retreat space for southwest Colorado groups. Sonlight Camp offers mountains, programming that intentionally creates community and a place for kids to be who God created them to be.
The camp is supported financially in three ways: Camp and retreat fees provide the operating budget. Donations allow Sonlight to provide scholarships to make camp affordable to all, and to go above and beyond its operating budget to keep programs and program equipment relevant and well maintained. Sonlight also maintains an endowment to ensure that the camp will be available to future generations.
One comment received from a 2019 camper parent: “Your excellent training and your desire to help young people know the love of God is what made my son’s week so special and successful. You all should be so very proud about the work you do at Sonlight.”
Sonlight Camp participates in Colorado Gives Day to support all three of these areas: camp scholarships, program excellence and the future of Sonlight Camp. Join Sonlight and Give Sonlight to Kids Today (scholarships and program excellence) or Give Sonlight to the Next Generation (the endowment).
These are some of the reasons why is it important that the greater community support these local nonprofits with donations. Give where you live and support local Archuleta County nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day by going to Gifts can be scheduled now for Dec. 10.
You can find more information about Sonlight Christian Camp by visiting its website at