Vail Daily letter: Our generous community
As all of us enter into 2017 there are a lot of uncertainties in the coming year. But one thing we can always count on in this valley is the kindness and generosity of many organizations and individual citizens when our friends and neighbors fall on hard times.
We have some of the wealthiest enclaves in the country in Eagle County: Vail, Beaver Creek, Cordillera. But we also have patches of less than standard housing that is the home of many of the people who clean the hotel rooms, build the big houses and shovel the snow. Many of these are artisans in their own right and without whom this resort area would cease to function.
While most residents here live in safe housing and carry insurance policies to repair and replace lost or damaged property, many of these local citizens live paycheck-to-paycheck and cannot afford to protect or upgrade their circumstances.
Recently, the Reyes family, longtime residents and contributors to the area, suffered a small but devastating fire in their mobile home in Edwards. Their children were born in this country and attended local schools and the parents have labored long and hard to make a better life for future generations. They work in the schools and labor at construction sites and give their time and efforts to local soccer clubs and charitable organizations.
While the Fire Department was still extinguishing the fire, dispatch called Tsu Wolin-Brown at the Salvation Army who in turn contacted the Red Cross. Before the fire engines left the scene caseworkers were on sight and had already found overnight accommodations for the family. The Best Western in Eagle made a very favorable rate available despite the fact that the fire occurred a week before Christmas. Within hours the family was in safe house and fundraising had begun.
At the same time the Salvation Army sought more long-term housing. By the following Tuesday the students and staff of Battle Mountain High School had contributed over $4,000 in cash plus food, clothing and household goods.
The Red Cross paid for three nights of lodging and money for food and clothing. That same week the Krueger family, a compassionate family for generations in this area, offered a large duplex at a rate that was a tiny fraction of what it could bring on the open market. Another individual made a condo in Homestead available without charge for a matter of weeks. Other agencies (Vail Valley Charitable Fund, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, too many to name) and businesses including Slifer Designs offered to help unselfishly despite being in their busiest time of the entire year.
Ascentia, the managers of the Eagle River mobile home park, agreed to waive lot payments for up to four months and provided a Visa gift card to help their clients.
But their struggle continue. The family was confident they could effect repairs in a few weeks but were overly optimistic. Now they again face midwinter homelessness and the home has been deemed uninhabitable and will have to be demolished, along with many of their dreams and at a high cost to the Reyes family. But this community is strong and resilient and the Reyes family will rise above these hardships and be stronger in the future, once they have permanent housing.
Beneath the surface of Eagle County beats a heart of organizations who devote considerable time and money to help all our neighbors in need. And this is not an isolated incident. These circumstances are repeated week in and week out throughout the calendar.
They, and their clients, make this a viable, generous, hard-working community that provides the labor and services that make this such a special place to live and visit. We all must realize that this web of even the poorest and least educated people in the area, along with the organizations who support and aid them, without regard to national origin, are an irreplaceable foundation for the county and are deserving of appreciation.
Yours very sincerely,
Vail Valley Salvation Army
Eagle Valley Red Cross