Community Award winners announced


By Mary Jo Coulehan | Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce

Every year, the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce accepts nominations from the public to honor people and organizations in our town that bring so much to the success and vibrancy of our community. Successful businesses and nonprofit agencies add economic value and services that our community depends on. 

The Volunteer of the Year and Citizen of the Year nominees and award winners contribute countless hours of time and often financial support to the betterment of the lives and services offered to county residents. Following are the nominees in each category and the winners. Just to be nominated is an honor and all are winners in the eyes of those who are on the receiving end of their contributions. 

The Non-profit of the Year nominees were Aspen House and Aspen Services and Vets for Vets, with the nonprofit winner chosen being Vets for Vets. Aspen House has been in service seven years and was created to help people with developmental disabilities obtain a valuable job with wages to help become independent. They manage two subsidiary businesses: PS Froyo and The Truffle Company. Winning the Non-profit of the Year was Archuleta County Vets for Vets. This organization was started in 2010 with 12 members to help tackle the problem of suicide prevention and bring mental health services to veterans here in Archuleta County. Now with more than 220 members, its provides direct aid to veterans for a wide range of services. This completely volunteer organization helps pay for services for veterans including utilities, car repairs, rents or mortgages, medical services, prescriptions and much more. The group also acts as an outreach group which contacts shut-in and veterans living in remote areas on a regular basis, assisting in prescriptions and groceries and transportation services to medical appointments locally and regionally. Its weekly meetings also provide a forum for participants to share and connect, and the monthly breakfast is often one of the times vets feel they can connect with others. Vets for Vets also partners with other agencies such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, American Legion, food banks, churches and many other organizations.

The Small Business of the Year nominees were Two Old Crows and Rosie’s Pizzeria. Two Old Crows has grown the business from one gallery to two and is a major supporter of so many organizations in the community. The gallery not only has a beautiful and creative artistic space, but it strives to promote Pagosa Springs as an art community and destination and supports local artists. Under the ownership of Evelyn Tennyson, Two Old Crows has fostered artists and supported employees through myriad benefits and wage scale. Winning the Small Business of the Year was Rosie’s Pizzeria. Having bought the business almost four years ago, Rosie’s has doubled its size and expanded to provide a larger seating area and better takeout and waiting areas while supporting local artists in their decor. Rosie’s was the first business to purchase an outdoor eating tent and work through the challenges of keeping it clear of snow during the COVID times. This 100 percent family-owned business by Kirk and Audrey Bliss focuses on employee retainment, offering above-the curve wages, flexible schedules and benefits that run “outside the box.” They created, with the Ruby M. Sisson Library Foundation, the Pagosa Restaurant Week, bringing attention to local restaurants and developing creative fare for this event while helping nonprofit organizations, which should rotate in the upcoming years. Constantly supporting the community with their sponsorship outreach, there are few organizations that have not benefited from their generosity nor people that have benefited from their consistent, high-quality, delicious food. 

Barbara Swindlehurst

The Volunteer of the Year nominees all give of their time and talents unselfishly. Spearheading or working at fundraisers, attending meetings, connecting community and so much more is the norm for all the nominees. These nominees include Shelley Low, whose work with Archuleta Seniors Inc. is bringing much needed attention to the needs of our senior population. If you have a child in school, then the name of Aubrie Limebrook is one that is spoken with great reverence. From serving on the Seeds of Learning board to working on the Booster Club for more than 10 years to being a leader with Partners in Education (PIE), Limebrook is a powerhouse working with youth and parents alike. This year’s winner is Barbara Swindlehurst, whose volunteering contributions seems boundless. She has sat or currently sits on multiple boards, including the Board of Realtors, where she spearheads the Bucks for Bikes program; Habitat for Humanity; the new Main Street Program and Women Helping in Pagosa (WHIPS). Programs through her church such as Trunk or Treat and the first responder celebrations are the recipients of her generosity and hard work. Pine Ridge Extended Care Center, the Geothermal Greenhouse Partnership and Relay for Life have also benefited from her outreach and contributions of time and money. One nomination form said it best: “Decades of service wherever she is needed.”

Lisa Scott

The Citizen of the Year has a small but distinctive difference from Volunteer of the Year. The person must have made a contribution to the community in one of the following ways: economic, cultural, philanthropic or lifestyle. This year’s nominees include Veronica Medina and Shelley Low, who are no strangers to giving of their time and energy. The winner of this year’s Citizen of the Year award is Lisa Scott, who has been a resident of Pagosa for almost 25 years. She was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award in 2004. Not resting on those laurels, Scott has enmeshed herself with the community on so many levels. The boards she has served on are almost too lengthy for this article; however, some include the Western Heritage Event Center, Healthy Archuleta, Rotary, the El Pomar Foundation representing Archuleta County and she is a 4-H leader. Some of her former boards include the Mary Fisher Medical Foundation, the Archuleta County Fair Board, Archuleta County Education Center, United Way and many, many more. Not only has Scott given of her time, she has been a philanthropist supporting many organizations, leading fundraisers and important community issues as well as using her financial background to help organizations obtain their 501(c)(3) status. Another box that can be checked off is her contribution to the lifestyle of Archuleta County through her support and work with 4-H, the Western Heritage Event Center and the Archuleta County Fair and the livestock auction. Pagosa Springs has also been home to many international Rotary exchange students, and we can thank Scott for enriching and expanding these students’ lives as she has headed up the Rotary Youth Foreign Exchange Program in Pagosa for 15 years. 

As if she does not have enough to do in Pagosa, Scott is also the current national president for the Pi Beta Phi sorority and founded the local chapter in 2000. 

Scott has given to this community philanthropically, culturally and through her constancy of protecting the western heritage lifestyle of this area. 

All of this year’s nominees — as every year — are deserving and should be recognized for their efforts. As difficult as the decision is, a winner is chosen in each category. Please join us in congratulating this year’s winners and nominees and extending our thanks to them for all of their service and selfless commitments.