Van Beek: The magic of the season

It’s that special time of year, kicked off by Thanksgiving and running through New Year’s Day, where we focus on the importance of relationships and gratitude for the life we live. Our amazing environment offers nature at its best, from the mountains to the rivers, to the remarkable changing of the seasons. Everywhere we look, we are reminded of the beauty of life in all of its forms. 

During the holiday season, people arrive from around the world just to experience a brief taste of life in the miraculous snow globe that we call home. 

Not only do our surroundings remind us of the magic of the holidays, but our neighbors and friends could be right out of a Hallmark movie … smiles, laughter and genuine warmth that carries us through the entire winter season and beyond. 

In law enforcement, we are privileged to witness the best of humanity, yet also deal with some of the tragedies and challenges that are inherent in all human interactions. 

We find that while inspiration and hope can be portrayed in holiday films and songs, they can also highlight a sense of lacking and insecurity in some. It can appear as though everyone else is happy except us. This is particularly evident on social media platforms, where curated photos can misrepresent reality. Heightened expectations can trigger unanticipated reactions, which may lead to unfortunate and even illegal occurrences. As neighbors and friends, we must be sensitive to others, as we don’t know what people are going through in their lives.

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Overcoming circumstances can be challenging, but focusing on what we have, rather than what we lack can lift us above current adversity. Gratitude and joy are the themes of the season, and it is for a reason: We feel better when we focus on helping others and bringing happiness to those who have less. 

Life’s challenges may not cease, but we must remember that we have tackled difficult times before and not only survived but flourished. Over the past few years, as we were hit by a massive pandemic, we came to truly appreciate all that we may have previously taken for granted. For some, this is the first “normal” holiday season that we have experienced in several years. 

In addition, war, famine and terror, in countries around the globe, have local implications. Unexpected stress is coming from increased energy prices and food shortages. We also face a rising cost of living, making home insecurity a reality for an increasing number of our neighbors. 

Even in “Happy Valley” there are families suffering. The combination of holiday expectations and economic hardships can prompt an emotional imbalance that may lead to mental health or substance abuse issues. We must remain vigilant of our own health and aware of others. 

Joining in that endeavor, we have many local nonprofits.  We all know people who go through hardships but tell no one because they don’t want to burden anyone or may simply be embarrassed by their circumstances. It is these nonprofits to which they turn, to aid them in crisis and maintain privacy. 

Below is a list of organizations that could use your support, as they continue their year-round mission. If money is tight, remember that volunteering is not only welcomed but vital to their survival and success. While donations are greatly appreciated, a caring volunteer is priceless. There are also many faith-based and private resources. 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, and it begins with you.

Eagle County Sheriff’s Office Victim’s Advocates

This program was created to provide support during crisis situations to reduce physical and emotional suffering. Contact the Sheriff’s Office 24/7 or volunteer at 970-328-8500. 

Bright Future Foundation

This is Eagle County’s only 24/7 crisis hotline. Its goal is to empower those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. For more information, go to

Eagle River Youth Coalition

Eagle River Youth works with youth leaders, parents, schools, and organizations to help young people build self-esteem, feel connected and develop healthy choices. For more information, go to

Your Hope Center

The Hope Center’s mission is to raise awareness of mental health concerns and provide vital resources. The HopeLine is open 24/7 at 970-306-4673. For more information, go to

SpeakUp ReachOut

SpeakUp, ReachOut is dedicated to providing suicide prevention, intervention and loss support services.  Contact 970-632-3858 or email

Golden Eagle Senior Center

Often, seniors live at a distance, and remaining connected to the community becomes challenging. Here, seniors play games, watch movies and are around people who care, avoiding detrimental loneliness. For more information, go to

Salvation Army

Unexpected trauma can throw a family into chaos. The Salvation Army provides food and essentials to help people regain their lives. Contact 970-748-0704

American Red Cross

The Red Cross helps everywhere that tragedy strikes, offering shelter, food and comfort. Most services are conducted by volunteers. Contact

Vail Mountain Rescue Group

Vail Mountain Rescue is a group of unpaid volunteers, performing backcountry search and rescue activities in Eagle County. For more information, go to

4-Eagle Ranch

The ranch has multiple programs, helping men who suffer from military trauma and combat stress. Contact Mike Berry at 970-926-3372 or Email

Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shops

Created to support the area’s nonprofits, Vail Valley Cares Thrifty Shops has donated over $5.4M to area organizations since 2000. Call 970-926-7134 or email

James van Beek is the Eagle County sheriff. You can reach him at

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