Chapin: A Salute to America’s Heroes
Welcome back! It is so gratifying to see smiles on faces now that masks have become optional for so many of us. The simple pleasure of a stroll through the villages to meet up with friends and acquaintances has been a constant occurrence as we find ourselves comparing notes about the difficult times and our eagerness to put it all behind us.
But before we look too far ahead, I invite you to join me in honoring the hard work and sacrifice made by so many people over these many months. America’s Heroes is the theme of our Vail America Days activities this week, and there are so many we must thank.
We are grateful for the work of our military and health care workers who have protected us, our educators and spiritual leaders who have inspired us. Also deserving of recognition this Fourth of July is the steadfast work of the often-unsung heroes of the pandemic here in Vail: our front-line workers.
From bus drivers to ticket scanners, bartenders to housekeepers, your work has been pivotal in allowing our town and mountain to remain safe and open. These jobs are never easy, especially in peak season, but this winter added even greater complications to the task of interacting with guests from around the country.
We saw employees mentoring others in navigating the repetition needed to remind a guest to mask up or to convince a coworker to stay home when they were sick. And how the record visitation in the fall pushed directly into the winter season, giving workers little chance to catch their breath.
We witnessed the patience needed to communicate with guests behind both a mask and plexiglass. We felt the staffing challenges that were exacerbated by quarantines. The mental and physical challenges were great, and yet you pushed through.
When the time came to get vaccinated, our front-line workers stepped up yet again, joining with their neighbors to produce one of the highest vaccination rates in the state. For all this, we acknowledge and thank you.
Together, we have come a long way since those darkest of days and it was with a sense of relief and celebration that we kicked off Vail’s summer season with the GoPro Mountain Games. While adaptations to this summer’s activities and events are still being made to ensure the safety of our community and visitors, the sense of a return to normal has brought a revitalized sense of optimism for our future.
As we turn the corner on the pandemic, it is important to focus on the next crisis threatening the health of our community — the availability of homes for our local residents. In thanking our front-line workers for their invaluable efforts this winter, we must also acknowledge the shortage of long-term rental and home ownership opportunity in the Vail community that allows these very workers to call Vail home.
This issue has become a public crisis that will cause an exodus of our highly trained, experienced and valued workforce if we fail to act. For town government’s part, we have elevated our role by taking steps to finance construction of the Residences at Main Vail, which will become home to as many as 200 year-round and seasonal Vail residents upon completion in November 2022. But there is more work to be done.
More than anything, COVID-19 has made us humble and grateful for the things we once took for granted, including friends, family and having essential workers as our neighbors. Now is the time to invest in the very people that make Vail the premier international resort community you know and love.
I hope you will join us in supporting the town of Vail’s multi-faceted housing initiatives and partner with us to ensure a dynamic and vital future for every member of our community.
Dave Chapin is the mayor of Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.