Rays of sunshine in the darkness

Talking to Michael Marchitelli Tuesday morning, I guessed he would go through maybe 20 or 25 bags of food for people in need. He was prepping 40. It wasn’t enough. As the line formed at 4 o’clock he ran back in the freezer and got some lasagna to substitute for the pasta dish he had prepared. It was all gone by the time I saw him again at 4:30 and he was heartbroken he had to turn some people away empty-handed. He plans to prepare a lot more food next Tuesday. Thank you.

Volunteers keep offering their services to the county. For weeks now, literally hundreds of people have signed up to answer phones, sew masks or drive food to people who shouldn’t leave their homes. People from all over the valley are rising to the occasion. It is awesome to see the outpouring of energy people in this community have for one another. Thank you.

Pam Montgomery at the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley said it has been phenomenal that so many people have stepped up to make donations to the organization. People know that the money they give there will make its way to other non-profits in the valley that need the help. The Foundation has simplified the application process and uses a community advisory committee to help dole out the contributions. And the contributions are going out fast because people and local non-profits need the money now to survive. There is money coming in to help those in need of rent, to help buy more food for those in need, to help with supplies for those on the front line of this weird crisis. Thank you.

The Gunnison Country Food pantry is collaborating with Oh Be Joyful Church in Crested Butte on Thursday afternoons to offer food to hungry individuals and families dealing with this crisis. The first one was last Thursday and it served about twice as many people as had shown up the previous time. More are expected to come this Thursday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the church building, located on Maroon Avenue. Anyone in need is welcome. No one should be dealing with food insecurity during this unprecedented time. Thank you.

Local teachers are learning how to teach our children outside of the classrooms. They are learning, like all of us, how to adjust to a new reality. Whether a student is in kindergarten or high school, the local teachers and administrators are keeping relationships alive and keeping students engaged. Both are important in this small school of ours. Thank you.

Of course social media is blowing up…because it is social. Memes are great (and there are some really great ones out there) and Lord knows Zooms are the rage but new substantive ideas like the Local Love website and the CB Tip Jar page are giant virtual hugs for the entire community. And they are working to help build a bridge for some people in a tough time. Thank you.

And thank you to the people who came out and clapped Saturday evening throughout the valley for the people on the front lines—the doctors, nurses, clerks, cops and myriad others who are still working. Thank you to the people who put up hearts in their windows as a sign of appreciation and respect for those actively dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. It isn’t easy. It isn’t what we should be doing during what normally would be the final days of the ski season. But it is where we are. And we are so fortunate to see people of the community stepping up unselfishly to help their friends and neighbors during strange times. Thank you.

These dark days will not go on forever and those in charge in the county are starting to formulate the best ways to pull back safely when the time is appropriate. Now is not that time but they are looking ahead. In the meantime, because of who we are and what we stand for, there continue to be giant rays of sunshine in the darkness. Thank you.

—Mark Reaman

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