High Altitude Society: Rio Nights supports Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society: Rio Nights supports Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center

Betty Ann Woodland
High Altitude Society

EDWARDS — On Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center, members of several congregations, including B'nail Vail, Covenant Presbyterian, Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and Mount of the Holy Cross, came together for Rio Nights to help fund the building and support the community.

The facility hosts dozens of groups critical to a lively and active community. The list of nonprofit organizations that use the building is comprehensive, with groups using the space for everything from fundraisers to annual meetings, from classes to therapy sessions and from community dinners to food banks. A sampling of these groups includes Boy Scouts of America, Habitat for Humanity, grief recovery, Eagle County Schools administrative meetings, Salvation Army, Vail Symposium and Trout Unlimited.

On this evening, the space was transformed to embrace the feeling of Rio Nights with bright colors, tropical plants and an Olympic city feel and celebration. Steve Baird, president of the Board of Directors of the Eagle Valley Religious Foundation, greeted the attendees and thanked them for being at the annual "Nights" fundraiser, which is crucial to continuing to provide the use of the facility to the community.

"Donations help keep the doors open and the lights on," Baird said.

Of course, this event would not have been possible without the hard-working committee who helped bring the evening together.

"They are tireless and faithful servants," Baird said and gave special thanks to honorary chairwoman Susan Washing, who worked closely with the committee. Praise was given to the event sponsors and especially Kay Chester, who truly made Rio Nights an evening to remember.

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Permanent members of the clergy were present, including Dr. Scott Beebe, Rev. Brooks Keith, Rabbi Joel Newman and Tim Wilbanks. Members of the Board of the Eagle Valley Religious Foundation were thanked for their generous contributions of time and talent. And, then, it was on to the evening's entertainment, with arias and musical numbers performed by soprano Jessica Medoff, soprano Leah Edwards, opera star Dimitri Pittas, tenor Donald Groves and pianist Michael Bunchman. Encore arias could be purchased to be sung as donations to the cause. A highlight was listening to "Habanera" from "Carmen," one of the most recognized and beautiful arias in history.

The lovely arias were stirring entertainment during a delightful dinner prepared by Chef Jason Harrison, executive chef and owner of Red Maple Catering, who has spent more than 20 years crafting his culinary skills at such prestigious locations as the Four Seasons, The Ritz-Carlton and Bellagio Vegas. Rio Nights' menu was appropriately Brazilian, with salt cod fritters, hearts of palm salad, New York strip loin, traditional rice and collard greens, roaming skewers of chicken and orange flan and caramel sauce.

Keith introduced the evening's honoree, Joan Francis, who "is directly responsible for the facility, programs and ministries we enjoy today. … We want to acknowledge and celebrate Joan's living legacy through this beautiful facility and the community it so effectively serves."

For more information, visit http://www.edwardsinterfaithchapel.org.

Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, local happenings and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at bettyannw6@gmail.com.