Eagle County residents love to give back

Since the beginning of July, I have attended three community events, each of which has warmed my heart.

On Tuesday, July 10, I attended the Walking Mountains Science Center's A Taste of Nature annual event. I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people who not only have a passion for science and our environment, but who also hold a belief that supporting young environmental stewards is key to our natural resources preservation efforts. Before the night was over, it seemed that every bid paddle went up. What an incredible experience.

On Tuesday, July 17, my wife, Misa, and I attended the Vail Valley Foundation and YouthPower365's annual Star Dancing Gala at the Vail Valley Jet Center. The Shakespearean-themed event was attended by a variety of community members from up and down the state, and it was a pleasure meeting a diverse group of caring individuals and seeing talented dancers. It was like being at an episode of "Dancing with the Stars."

Misa and I offered to host a Tamalada (tamale-making party) at our home as an auction item. We were astonished that this auction item was well received and raised thousands of dollars.

Providing all students with wrap-around services and enrichment opportunities for young and working families, along with enhancing and sustaining the quality of life through leadership in the arts, athletics and education, is what the Vail Valley Foundation and YouthPower365 aim to do for all kids in our valley. Seeing this mission in action was simply amazing.

Finally, on Thursday, July 19, I participated in Habitat for Humanity's inaugural CEO Build Day. I met with the dedicated and caring Habitat for Humanity staff, a variety of local businesswomen and men and future homeowners. Working as a team, we made great progress on the building of a home for a local single mother of three.
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What I found most rewarding was spending time with volunteers from all walks of life and current and future Habitat for Humanity homeowners. I asked one seasoned volunteer why he keeps coming back to volunteer. He responded thoughtfully by saying that he was giving what he could with the time he has. This community gave so much to him as a young man with a family, he told me, and he wanted to do his part to give back.

And, he added with a chuckle, "This is the only place where you will see a staunch Republican and flaming liberal work side by side and get something done."

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of this event was when the homeowners' tours occurred. We visited new homeowners and their young families. Seeing the children run up their staircases with boundless excitement and enthusiasm to show their rooms was beyond heart-warming.

I asked one homeowner volunteer about his experience, and he said that what made him most proud was the fact that his small children, and all of the children in the neighborhood, got to see Mom and Dad, neighbor and neighbor, working and laughing together.

Even though I have only met and experienced but a few community-based organizations in our beautiful valley (so far), I can declare — like a landslide election result — that Eagle County citizens care deeply about all ofthe children in our schools. It's one more reason I am thrilled to be part of this dynamic community.


Carlos Ramirez, Ed.D., is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. He can be reached at carlos.ramirez@eagleschools.net.