By Mary Jo Coulehan | Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce
Every year, Pagosa residents and organizations are nominated for the community awards in the categories of Citizen, Volunteer, Non-Profit and Small Business of the Year. This year’s slate of candidates was outstanding — as it is every year due to the plethora of community superstars. The decision by the selection committee is a very hard process as everyone is deserving.
In the Non-Profit of the Year category, nominees The Nordic Club and Vets for Vets were represented by James Dickhoff and Rick Walker, respectively. Both organizations are completely run by volunteers and spend thousands of hours serving the community, whether grooming trails for people’s enjoyment or counseling our veterans. They produce events to work with our locals or attract people to our community. Both organizations build camaraderie and community.
The winner of the Non-Profit of the Year was Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County. Being in business for 28 years, this organization has built 28 homes in the community with the intent to build 15 more in just five years. Their renovation program has allowed people in this community to stay in their homes after repairs or renovations have taken place, often upgrading the property to accommodate accessible needs as the population of the home ages. Employing three year-round staff and three seasonal workers, and engaging thousands of volunteer hours, Habitat is striving to help contribute to the housing inventory of affordable homes in Archuleta County.
The Small Business of the Year nominees included Alpine Medical and Specialty Practice and Two Old Crows. Alpine Medical has filled a niche in this community by now offering a behavioral health consultant whose services are available same-day and who has attained the highest ranking for integrated behavioral health. They also include telehealth services and have expanded their clinic space. Two Old Crows, located on Lewis Street, has supported artists and supports numerous nonprofit organizations through their different programs. They, too, have expanded their services to include an adjacent gallery to their original space on Lewis Street and despite the pandemic pallor, had a most successful year, tripling their sales.
Winning the Small Business of the Year was First Southwest Bank, which is a small business but operates like a large corporation. First Southwest Bank is one of only two Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) banks in the state and the only one in the Four Corners region. Their participation throughout the COVID pandemic years was critical, assisting bank clients and others through their CDFI standing. They have created the First Southwest Community Fund, offering loans, grants and education to our community’s businesses. Their give-back to Archuleta County includes nonprofits such as a scholarship at the high school, Curtains Up Pagosa, Rise Above Violence, the Wolf Creek Ski Team, Pagosa Peak Open School and Aspire. They are also taking a lead position in the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library Foundation capital campaign.
The Volunteers of the Year nominees excel in their give-back to the community. Nominee Carol Sheets is most known for her work with the Ruby M. Sisson Library and the Library Foundation, working in the library, sitting on both boards and fundraising. She has also volunteered for Archuleta Seniors Inc. Nominee Nancy King is most known for her work with Vets for Vets, including coordinating its golf tournament and working at its monthly breakfasts and informational booths such as at the Park to Park Artisan Market. She also volunteers with Chimney Rock Interpretive Association.
The Volunteer of the Year winner has been a resident of Archuleta County for 42 years. Guiseppe Margiotta was volunteering for organizations before they had staff or a formal organization such as the fire department and grooming trails. Through his work with the Knights of Columbus, he has also taken a leadership role for many years in the organization as well as community activities such as the Lenten Fish Fries, the Duck Races, community picnics and recommending other community organizations to support such as Aspire, Build Pagosa and the San Juan Mountain School. He is currently the acting president of Archuleta Housing Corporation. His role is so much more than a board member as he is often on site at one of the facilities assessing capital improvement needs, regular maintenance and reviewing contracts in addition to board meeting requirements. The Volunteer of the Year award is not just for recent efforts. It is for time living in Pagosa and offering services when at one time, volunteerism was the only way to get a job done. Margiotta was one of those individuals.
The Citizens of the Year have impacted the community in their philanthropic and cultural efforts. Dan and Venita Burch certainly contribute to the community with their musical teaching efforts in the high school and privately. However, it is so much more. It is their passion and gifts to the youth in their pursuit of music. It is the Burch’s gifting lessons, time and transportation to students that may not be able to afford lessons or get to a competition. In addition to the “day jobs,” they are involved in almost every community musical event including those with Curtains Up Pagosa, the Community Choir, the Community Band, the Band-o-Rama event with the Community Band and the middle and high schools, music directors at Pagosa Bible Church and even caroling during the holidays with a quartet. And, remember, each of these activities consists of multiple concerts and performances and rehearsals. They, too, take on a leadership role in so many of the community’s musical and cultural activities. The community would like to acknowledge their efforts in Pagosa’s cultural environment by the awarding of Citizen of the Year.