Kincade: Remembering who we are: A valley where there is no place for hate (column) | VailDaily.com

Kincade: Remembering who we are: A valley where there is no place for hate (column)

Susie Kincade
Valley Voices

Susie Kincade

When I first moved to Vail nearly 40 years ago, we all called it Happy Valley, but it's true now as it was then that it's not always happy for everyone. Like any community, we have our challenges. What I love about ours is that, generally, we're not afraid to face those challenges and work hard to turn them into opportunities.

Through hundreds of nonprofit organizations serving every aspect of our lives from cradle to grave, we generously give back to our community and beyond. Perhaps we do this out of love and gratitude for the good fortune of having landed here in the first place.

I've witnessed over and again the generosity of individuals, churches, schools and many civic and nonprofit organizations. I've seen people bake bread for a family stranded in a blizzard, offer their home as sanctuary to a teen in crisis, donate tens of thousands of canned goods and toys to the less-fortunate, stop to help other motorists, adopt homeless animals and feed and nurture homeless people.

We are, after all, a resort community that welcomes the world with open arms, so we naturally tend toward embracing people first, without judgment. Generally, we trust one another, rather than fear one another. We embrace diversity, value all people and engage in civil, constructive dialog about our differences.

We're not perfect, but we are a tolerant, fun-loving, adventurous, hard-working community. And when life gets us down, we have the most spectacular back yard to turn to. These mountains sustain us, even when we're not aware of their constant embrace. All we ever need do is look out our window or take a walk outside and we are blessed with nature's miraculous ability to rejuvenate the spirit.

This is one reason so many people choose to visit here — it nurtures their soul. Our community, born from the love of the mountains, is happy to share the grace and joy we've found in living here.

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This year, we saw Olympic athletes born and raised here receive the highest accolades for doing the things they love the most. Happy Valley stood unified and proud. These young people showed the world what joy and accomplishment growing up here could bring. Yes, that is one face of our community.

Another face is demonstrated by a group of Eagle Valley Middle School students who accomplished miraculous things this year, too. Without fanfare and with deep love and concern in their hearts, they responded with compassion to school shootings and an increase in bullying at their school that resulted in a suicide.

They started a club called No Place 4 Hate. The club initiated several weeks of "random acts of kindness" and other positive events such as locker decorating, opening doors for one another and giving kindness compliments.

The students witnessed the culture of their school change dramatically. Where before there had been separation and cliques, now there were inclusion and common ground. Students were kinder, more tolerant and accepting of each other. New friendships emerged, and bridges were built that dissolved socioeconomic, race and gender biases. Students were less stressed and far happier.

These are our children, the upcoming generation that will build our future community. They come from a culture that loves its home and serves one another and the greater good. They have already faced threats to their Happy Valley and discovered powerfully positive ways to alleviate them. I've never been more proud and grateful to be part of this community where there is no place for hate.

Susie Kincade is an Eagle resident.