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Judson Haims: Social distancing continues to add to loneliness, mental health concerns

The ramifications of COVID-19 are many. If the geopolitical and financial implications were not enough, the consequences of loneliness and mental health are growing exponentially.

Worry and stress over this pandemic are exacerbating mental illness, substance use disorders and anxiety. In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation article, researchers found that about 45% of U.S. adults are experiencing dramatic negative effects. With only 13% of people believing that the wort is behind us, the looming concern that the worst is yet to come, must be addressed.

Often called the bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a publication that defines and classifies mental disorders to improve diagnoses, treatment and research. Although it is published by the American Psychiatric Association, a leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U.S., “loneliness” and the repercussions have not been addressed in the most recent edition, the DSM-5 published in 2013. Perhaps, when a new edition is released, loneliness may be included.

When people think of the many factors that contribute to one’s health and well-being, loneliness is probably not within the top 10 or even top 20. Social isolation and loneliness have been studied extensively and research from Brigham Young University has found that the correlation to mortality to be 29% and 26% respectively. In a National Institute for Health Care Management webinar entitled The Health Impact of Loneliness: Emerging Evidence and Interventions, Director of Programing, Kathryn Santoro, stated that “Loneliness raises the risk of premature death as much as smoking or obesity.”

Managing one’s stress while socially isolating and/or being quarantined can be challenging. For many people, this is a paradoxical situation — the stress of not becoming exposed may cause the body’s immune system to be compromised and thus more like to become exposed. Unfortunately, stress and loneliness may change gene expression and cause a potentially lethal overreaction of immune system cells called leukocytes. When this happens, the productions of cytokines increase causing a greater risk for a phenomenon called a cytokine storm.

Poor quality of sleep, poor concentration and irritability also are associated with loneliness. In a recent International Journal of Behavioral Medicine article I learned that while the relation between loneliness and sleep is complex, there is evidence that “loneliness predicted subsequent sleep disturbance, which in turn predicted subsequent self-reported health.”

If sleep and its correlation to loneliness and social isolation is of interest to you, consider reading a 2018 article from Forbes titled, “What Is The Connection Between Sleep And Loneliness? New Research Reveals How One Affects The Other.” Another interesting article worth reading is, “Being Alone Together: The Social Pandemic of Loneliness during COVID-19.” The article, found at lifespeak.com, contains some great information and tips for addressing loneliness.

As our communities reopen, it will be important for all of us to be aware that loneliness and social distancing may lend itself to greater sensitivity to criticism and disagreements. It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy — lonely people often think the worst of situations.

If you or someone you know is feeling like the victim of unstable and changing circumstances, perhaps consider enhancing social support. If you wait around for others to reach out to you, chances are, you may end up feeling rejected when people don’t. You have to make an effort to connect with neighbors, friends, and family.

If you are feeling isolated and stressed because you don’t have anybody close to rely on and talk to, consider reaching out to a psychologist. Locally, Mind Springs Health (970-328-6969) and the Hope Center (970-945-3728) are available to assist.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale. He is an advocate for the elderly and is available to answer questions. He can be reached at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns and 970-328-5526.

Giving Thought: Summer youth programs ask, ‘Can we open and, if so, how?’

As we head into summer, parents throughout the region are wondering what to do with their kids, who are now on vacation for three months.

In the time of COVID-19, these are not easy questions to answer. The same health risks that shut down public schools and child care centers during the spring are now presenting summer camps and other youth programs with the same set of questions. First, these organizations are wondering, can we legally open our doors? And, if we receive the requisite government permissions, how do we open our doors in a manner that is safe for our employees, safe for the kids and safe for our bottom line?

The answers vary widely. Every town, city or county has its own set of rules for all the businesses and nonprofits within its borders. And every organization has its own distinct programs, procedures, staffing model, expense budget and revenue stream, and chances are that COVID-19 has altered some if not all of those variables. So, opening the doors is not a matter of returning to the same time-honored routines; it’s a matter of adapting those old routines to fit a drastically altered reality.

You cannot simply welcome the kids back into the Aspen Youth Center with a hug or handshake; you need to greet them in the parking lot and do a health check before they enter the building. Michaela Idhammar, executive director at AYC, learned May 26 that she is allowed to reopen, but there are hurdles to cross first.

“Gov. (Jared) Polis did announce that youth programs can open again,” she said. “And my board of directors has approved us reopening — if we’re approved through the city (of Aspen) and Pitkin County. … Free and low-cost child care is going to be essential for people getting back to work.”

In Garfield County, youth programs were allowed to reopen in mid-May. Stepping Stones, a youth mentoring organization in Carbondale, has been back in business for two-and-a-half weeks, but procedures have changed. They’re spending a lot more on cleaning supplies and they’re simplifying things by curtailing all food preparation. Instead of the laid-back, drop-in visitation that used to characterize Stepping Stones, each adult mentor is now grouped with seven kids and each group is physically separate from the others.

“We’re operating now at about half our usual capacity,” said executive director Kyle Crawley, who was about to leave on a mountain bike ride with his group. “We had to change the furniture. There are no more couches where two people can sit together. There are individual chairs in taped-off sections.”

Other nonprofits simply cannot devise a safe, feasible way to provide their traditional services. In some cases, they don’t have enough physical space to host youngsters while keeping everyone 6 feet apart. Other organizations have staffing or budgetary constraints that make it unwise to open their doors; some are offering online classes or activities for children with access to a computer.

Summer Advantage, which provides summer learning to 550 children in the Roaring Fork School District, has canceled its 2020 program because of the public health risks.

“This was a difficult decision made in the interest of the health and safety of our students, staff and community,” Roaring Fork Schools Superintendent Rob Stein said.

But a substitute offering is in the works, according to Terri Caine, executive director of Summit 54, an Aspen-based nonprofit that supports the local Summer Advantage program. In partnership with Valley Settlement, Summit 54 is planning to provide free, small-group tutoring sessions with licensed teachers in math and literacy from June 22 to July 23.

“We anticipate many families will be eager for their children to participate in this free outdoor tutoring program to help their children make up for lost class time,” Caine said.

She encouraged interested families to contact Summit 54 or Valley Settlement as soon as possible.

This kind of creative collaboration may characterize many 2020 summer offerings for local youth. Like it or not, it’s going to be an unusual summer.

If you’re wondering whether your favorite camp or kids’ program will reopen this summer, check their website or give them a phone call. Recognize that traditional practices and procedures are often unsafe or impractical in the COVID-19 era. Be aware also that the rules and operational landscape are changing constantly.

“We are trying our best to open, and the city and county are doing their, best too,” Idhammar said. “We just need to do this safely, and then slowly return to what we did before. It may be frustrating at times, but everyone is really being helpful and trying to navigate this.”

Tamara Tormohlen is executive director of Aspen Community Foundation.

John Colson: A theory about our collective craziness

I’ve been watching and listening to news coverage of the ongoing protests in reaction to decades (centuries, really) of white oppression and killings of black Americans, and the images and stories have taken me right back to my younger days as an anti-establishment protester in the era of civil rights and the war in Vietnam.

I get that the specific issues underlying the present waves of protest are somewhat different than the issues that sent me into the streets of the Washington, D.C., area in the late 1960s.

This time, the rage was sparked by the death of one man, George Floyd of Minneapolis, who was strangled to death by a cop’s knee during what should have been a relatively minor encounter over allegations that he tried to use counterfeit money to buy a pack of cigarettes at a local store.

But the frustration and rage motivating most of today’s protesters have been fired up by the cases of numerous black citizens killed by police around the U.S. in recent years, and by anger over our society’s treatment of people of color in general (not to mention the poor, the elderly and other marginalized groups).

Before going on, I should note that I’m a pretty average older white guy, and I’ve been reading a fair amount lately about how a majority of us in the USA do not trust our own government to “do the right thing,” as filmmaker Spike Lee once urged. Essentially, many of us lack confidence that our government can or wants to ensure that we all have equal access to the promised “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” offered up in our founding national Constitution.

Along with these troubling conclusions, I have a vague feeling that the country, and maybe the world, is going nuts. We are turning away from the idea of humanistic and global cooperation in the face of world-threatening ecological or sociological developments, and shifting back toward tribalistic, militaristic behavior that history should have weaned us from a long time ago.

And as we globally revert to intense nationalism and racial intolerance, we find ourselves in endless wars, big and small, and we stop paying enough attention to looming worldwide social and environmental catastrophes waiting just around the next corner.

Leaving the global situation aside for the moment, and focusing solely on the United States, I believe this country is suffering from a collective form of deep and largely unacknowledged guilt that dates back to the 16th century, in the decades after white Europeans first invaded North and Central America in the late 1400s.

Back then, according to some estimates, there were between about 60 million or so Native American tribal members living in North America generally.

Within a couple of centuries, that number had dwindled to an estimated 7 million “Indians,” as native populations were decimated by disease, war and other depredations, including slavery.

Ignorance, ethnocentrism, racial intolerance and sheer greed were the guiding principles behind the catastrophic genocide throughout North America, and in the nation that became the United States of America those results have been clearly and unequivocally documented.

Concurrently, as the invading, conquering Europeans killed off most of the natives who were found here, the invaders soon concluded that they needed a source of slave labor to do the field work in our largely agrarian society. The African continent proved to be a handy, easily conquered source of the slave labor we needed. By the middle 1500s, according to historians, black slavery was an established fact in the English colonies of North America.

Thus it was that our white-majority nation was founded on two hideous periods of genocide and piracy, and I firmly believe the guilt arising from this fact is at least partly to blame for our national mental malaise.

Somewhere, deep inside us, we collectively suffer from a kind of moral poverty and degeneracy that regularly blossoms into otherwise baffling acts of mass violence and self-destructive political behavior.

The mass violence, of course, was first put on full display in the Indian wars that lasted into the 19th century.

And the self-destructive socio-political arrangements underlying slavery, along with the violence against the slave population, guaranteed that our nation would long have to deal with a simmering undercurrent of discontent, rebellion and political upheaval, such as what is happening today.

Is our lamentable past making us crazy in the present?

I believe it is, and my theory is rooted in my belief that white America has tried, and failed miserably, to match its Constitutional rhetoric (“all men are created equal”) with our societal realities (viewing blacks and other non-whites as subhuman, and thereby tailor-made for slavery and other mistreatment).

Additionally, white Americans are realizing we are losing numerical superiority, and many fear the reprisals that our historical actions might bring.

That fear feeds a strong, irrational undercurrent of racism in this country, which has been a big part of what got Donald Trump elected and is fueling his reelection campaign.

Put simply, America knows what it has done, and many are desperate to ward off the day of reckoning that may be coming.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.

Local help is available; please take it

Local help is available, please take it

As someone who has seen the vastness of the need arising in our local community for help coping through COVID-19’s economic reality, and generally being aware of the amount of aid distributed to my friends, neighbors, and community members through the city, county, and the federal government, I wanted to write this note.

Not many of us are used to receiving such help.

The vast majority of us are used to working hard and balancing our quality of life desires with the demands of family, financial obligations, career, friends, and many other spokes of the wheel that make up life. Because of this, receiving aid graciously may be hard and may feel like you are swallowing your pride, or could be increasing your worries for the future of our country and community. Please do not feel this way.

For those who find receiving the money hard, I would instead like to gently encourage you to consider contemplating (or better, journaling) a constructive way to handle this. I offer this prompt only if it helps you find dignity, meaningfulness, and to emotionally acknowledge receiving may be hard for you. I do not suggest this out of any moral judgments on fairness and equitability; obligations to the government; and certainly not to place further demands on my friends during these hard times – even if you may consider them valid reasons. I came to the thought of writing this in the course of reading an article on happiness and behavioral science, and from wishing everyone a happy, healthy way to sail through these rough waters together, and to help build long-term goodwill within our special, local community.

So here’s the prompt:

What are some ways you can “pay it forward” or “give back” to the community later? Why would that be better for you personally, than doing nothing?

Misheel Chuluun

Aspen

Use your season pass powers to donate

Use your season pass power to donate

When we passholders got the note from Aspen Skiing Co. that refunds were coming for the shortened season, I had just skinned and skied Snowmass, thanks in part to Skico continuing to groom all four mountains. The letter explained how admirably the staff pivoted to community work while they hoped to reopen.

In response to the refund notice, I wrote to Mike Kaplan and Jim Crown suggesting they offer a way for we who wish to instead donate the refund (said to be $150 to $250) to local health services organizations. They both loved it, embraced the idea of an outsider, decided to match what it raised, and implemented it all within 48 hours, demonstrating their exceptional leadership!

Checkbook philanthropy may be seen as the easy way out. But it too is needed. And while we all can’t physically help each other right now, this is a means to contribute to the enormous need.

If you want to find a simple way to help our community, this is it. When you buy your new pass on the SkiCo website there is a place to make a donation. Let’s all do something! The Crown family, facing all sorts of corporate challenges, never the less will match dollar for dollar. Thank you for reading to the end of this, and for your participation in this community collaboration.

https://shop.aspensnowmass.com/#/donations/p/covid-19-community-relief-donation

Warmly,

Mike Hundert

Snowmass Village

Paul Andersen: Dazzled by a spring ski on Mount Sopris

The pitch dark of 4 a.m. is brightened by an excitement that cuts through all grogginess. A mug of inky espresso kickstarts the morning.

While stowing pack, skis and poles, a glance skyward shows the Big Dipper pouring out the Milky Way across the universe. The air holds a hint of ice and snow. There is no wind and only the faint murmur of the Fryingpan River in the valley below.

We gather at the Emma Schoolhouse at first light. My son, Tait, and I note an uptick in traffic on Highway 82. Humanity is coming back. Workers are beginning to break out of quarantine with an upvalley pulse.

In two cars, our small party snakes up East Sopris Creek Road past hay fields where bands of glistening crystals mark the spray of overnight sprinklers. Ice clings to the grasses, and we know the snowpack will be firm.

We brake for a herd of 30 elk lingering in regal nonchalance along the road. Their deep brown coats contrast with buff-colored rumps as they gaze at us with casual disinterest. One steps easily over a barbed wire fence as the herd spreads to graze on lush spring verdure.

The summit of Sopris catches the first direct rays of sun with a pale orange glow. Stars have disappeared as the sun crests the long and ragged eastern horizon with low-streaming rays. Morning in the mountains revs our collective stoke as the trailhead nears.

I snag Graeme’s pack from the car and feel the weight. What have you got in here, a cooler of beer? Graeme grunts as he slings the bulk onto his back, his skis jutting skyward, and sets off up the trail at a fast clip. Graeme is still a brute at 73.

We’re not alone at the parking lot. Trailheads have become quarantine camps, and a dozen vehicles show that other skiers have been waiting for a cold night to set up the snow in the high cirque.

First comes the long slog to Thomas Lakes, the weight of our ski gear bending our backs. I strip off layers in the warming sun and let the others push ahead, happy to walk quietly while listening to bird song and sniffing the cool, crisp air. The earth is green with biodiversity that’s budding everywhere.

At the top of the first big meadow we are greeted by Pasqueflowers, also called Windflower, Easter Flower, and Wild Crocus. This low-lying, exotic bloom follows the line of melting snow and is one of the first wildflowers of spring in a niche dictated by altitude, aspect and soil content.

At the lakes, the trail is blocked by deep snowbanks hardened to ice and easy to walk over. A scattering of hike skiers are ant-like specks on the snowfields reaching toward the summit ridge at almost 13,000 feet.

Skinning up the steep, softening snowpack with precarious kick turns makes for an intense hour before cresting a notch in the cornice. At the ridge we scan a vast mountain vista from the Flattops to the Gore, Sawatch, Collegiate and Elk ranges. The sun is still low and an icy breeze chills.

There is brilliant clarity to the atmosphere in the purified air of the pandemic lockdown. Distant ridges of white-capped spines and craggy spires feel near. Below, the spreading forests are bright with lime-green aspens. An updraft wafts the fragrance of life from the verdant valley floor. Oh, to be alive amid the scope and scale of an astounding panorama, gained with legs, hearts and lungs!

The sun has softened an inch of granular corn snow, so our turns are creamy smooth, tight on the steeps and sweeping arcs on lower angles. In the cirque, our human scale is dwarfed by the immensity of sheer rock walls and brow-like cornices crenellating the ridgelines.

Down at the lakes, we change back into hiking gear with satisfied smiles all around. Our bodies are tired. Our spirits soar. Our minds are playful with laughter.

Mount Sopris is framed in deep blue punctuated by white powder puff clouds and an aura of tranquility. We look up in awe and gratitude.

Paul Andersen’s column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at andersen@rof.net.

Media willfully ignorant of Minnesota politics

Offending police, looters are all culpable

Mike Littwin: Colorado’s legislature is where you’ll find the real unmasking scandal

It should come as no surprise that the decision to reopen the country — responsibly in the case of some governors, Brian Kemp-like in the case of others — has somehow become less a health issue than a political issue. Nothing, including the approach of 100,000 Americans dead of COVID-19, changes that.

That’s the world Jared Polis enters every time he decides to liberalize the rules in reopening businesses.

On Monday, Polis announced the reopening of in-room dining for restaurants — with strict guidelines, of course — while rejecting the opening of bars and also while forcing breweries, if they want to be open to customers, to change their food-service model. It’s a tightrope, and the science — as The Washington Post noted — is not always as helpful as one would hope, even for a data-driven governor like Polis.

Brian Nosek, a University of Virginia professor who specializes in making scientific data trustworthy and reliable, told The Post that “the pandemic has exposed the messiness of science. … We all want answers today, and science is not going to give them. Science is uncertainty. And the pace of uncertainty reduction in science is way slower than the pace of a pandemic.”

According to all the polls, most Americans trust science more than their leaders, who continue to expose their own “messiness,” which also can mean unforgivable lapses in judgment. And, of course, we saw photos from around the country of Memorial Day partying with people packed tightly, which is not what most governors had in mind. I didn’t see Donald Trump tweet even once about it.

In fact, after going maskless in a couple of golf outings earlier in the weekend, Trump was, of course, maskless, along with the first lady, while laying a wreath at Arlington Cemetery on Monday. And he was maskless as he moved to Baltimore to make a speech at Fort McHenry, where the words for the National Anthem were penned during the War of 1812 — which was not, as it turned out, one of our best wars.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden left his self-imposed quarantine for the first time since March, making an unannounced visit, alongside his wife, Jill, to a Delaware veterans’ cemetery to lay a wreath. Both Bidens wore masks.

And because it’s Twitter and because the country isn’t divided enough and because mask-shaming is now a thing, FoxNews commentator Brit Hume tweeted a photo of Biden in a black mask, saying, “This might help explain why Trump doesn’t like to wear a mask in public.”

When Trump wasn’t spending his time tweeting about pulling the Republican National Convention from North Carolina or baselessly accusing Joe Scarborough of murder or slamming — who else? — Barack Obama, he naturally retweeted Hume’s tweet. And there it was — Trump making the case that wearing a mask is for wimps, not for manly, if short-fingered, presidents.

And as the Colorado General Assembly reopened — where masks were mandated for visitors but not for legislators or their staff, because, you know, freedom — you could see the same divide playing out with the same level of selfishness displayed by the usual Trumpian suspects. According to reporters at the scene, all House Democrats were wearing masks and maybe less than half of Republicans. Those choosing not to wear masks are making a mockery of the governor’s policies — Polis is, of course, the poster-governor for mask-wearing — while sending the exact wrong message to people who actually pay attention to these guys.

Matt Soper, a Republican from Delta, explained his decision not to wear a mask in telling The Denver Post, “My district doesn’t really buy the whole mask thing.”

Imagine.

Let’s give thanks to North Dakota’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, who in a speech Friday asked North Dakotans not to mask-shame and to instead “dial up your empathy and understanding.”

Twitter, as you might imagine, was exploding, which is all in another day in the life.

I got a small taste of that Monday when writing a fairly inoffensive tweet about the reopening of Colorado restaurants for in-room dining, noting that while the Colorado Restaurant Association is understandably worried that the 50% capacity guidelines seemed too strict for restaurants to make a profit, many of us still worried that it wasn’t strict enough.

And I got slammed for it, which is nothing unusual. It comes with the gig. And more people, in fact, approved of the tweet than disapproved. But it was the anger at my apparent temerity in expressing concern that more people might become infected that struck me.

I was called a sissy who lived in a bubble and was trying to scare everyone and wasn’t a real man, and if I was needlessly afraid, couldn’t I just keep my mouth shut. Questioning the risk factor in reopening any part of the economy is apparently a trigger for the Trumpian right, the poor things.

The reopening of restaurants — even with strict guidelines — is a hugely symbolic moment in the course of the pandemic, a big step toward normalcy, not to mention a step toward saving some restaurants from closing altogether. It also, of course, comes with risk attached, as Polis agreed. He also said with outdoor dining, many restaurants could seat far more than 50%.

Thirty states now have some form of in-room dining. It was inevitable, just as the relaxing of stay-at-home rules was inevitable. Just as in some states — but not in Colorado — the reopening of bars, even more concerning, is inevitable.

Trends in Colorado seem to be pointing down. There doesn’t seem to have been any rebound — at least not yet — from easing stay-at-home restrictions. Testing, though, is still far below where it needs to be. Contact tracing is still far below where it needs to be. And as Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver, tweeted me, “We’re 2nd to last in testing per 1MM, top 13 in deaths per 1MM, and a recent study suggested we’re 4th in contagion per person.”

And it should be noted that in 18 states, trends are going up, and a resurgence anywhere is certainly possible. Meanwhile, the medical scientists — remember Dr. Anthony Fauci? — say we should expect a return of the virus with a vengeance in the fall, maybe not too long after many schools reopen. The World Health Organization is warning against the assumption “that just because the disease is on the way down now that it’s going to stay down.”

What comes of all this may someday seem to have been inevitable, but at this point it’s still very much unknown. From the latest University of Colorado School of Public Health modeling comes the warning that unless those 60 or older maintain strict social distancing — which doesn’t mean going to restaurants — the state could face a hospital bed crisis in the fall.

In his news briefing Tuesday, Polis said he didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself with model warnings, but he agreed that seniors need to be 75% to 85% compliant in social distancing. He said as many as 90% of the deaths in Colorado have been seniors and that they are many more times likely to need hospitalization than someone, say, 40 years old.

Here’s what I do know — according to the polls, many people are not yet ready to embrace reopening. Many consumers won’t return until they feel safe. Fewer than half the country says it’s prepared to visit a restaurant. And it’s worth noting that the restaurant business was taking a huge hit before many states closed them for in-room dining.

Clearly the economy is now in deep recession, with as many as 40 million jobs having been lost. And yet, even as states reopen, the economic recovery, we’re told, will be slow. Nothing will be normal, in fact, until the virus is contained. And if we listen to science — still my first option — that must mean more testing and more contact tracing.

Meanwhile, the president hides his failures by continuing to insist that, instead of a massive federal response, the states — according to the 81-page COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan — should be in charge of testing, contact tracing, finding those who are asymptomatic and having hospitals prepared in case of a resurgence.

It’s a shame-faced abdication of duty by Trump. And yet it’s Biden who wears the mask.

Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported news organization dedicated to covering the people, places and policies that matter in Colorado. Read more, sign up for free newsletters and subscribe at coloradosun.com.

Kudos and Kindness from Aspen Times readers (May 31, 2020)

Roaring Fork Conservancy thanks cleanup volunteers

Roaring Fork Conservancy was only a year old when we hosted the first Fryingpan River Cleanup. Twenty-two years later we are excited and humbled that so many from the community joined us for a different kind of cleanup this year. What normally takes place in one morning, starting with a free, hot breakfast was impossible to replicate this year. Instead we asked you all to take a week to help us pick up trash along rivers throughout the Roaring Fork Watershed, and you did!

Thank you to all the volunteers that picked up many bags of trash and to our sponsors: A2 Associates, Athen Builders, Eagle County, Jean Moore, Odell Brewing, town of Basalt and Waste Management.

The 22nd Annual Fryingpan and Beyond River Cleanup was only able to happen because of each of you. Thank you for valuing and protecting our rivers.

Rick Lofaro

Executive director, Roaring Fork Conservancy

Four wonderful decades of Bloomingbirds

For the past 40 years I have owned Bloomingbirds and have always looked forward to opening the doors each day and welcoming customers, both local and out-of-towners.

I want to thank everyone. I especially want to thank the group of amazing women who have worked with me over the years. With them I have enjoyed success and very special relationships. We are more like a large family, and without them there is no way that I could have had the business that I have built today. I want to thank my husband Paul for his hard work behind the scenes with little recognition. I have learned so much over the years and have thoroughly appreciated getting to know each and every one of you. Whether it has been sitting on the couch listening to many a life story, rushing to help you look perfect for that special event, or simply having you share a hug with Archie, it has all been wonderful. These have been the best and most rewarding years and for that I say thank you. It also is an honor to have been part of the Aspen retail community for the past four decades. The coming summer and winter seasons will be bittersweet, as we will be closing our doors now and we are off to new adventures. Once again, thank you for all your support. I will miss you all!

Patty Patterson

Aspen

Homeless group grateful for the support

From myself and many at the encampmemt:

Thank you to all who have helped (city, county, donors and more). We are very thankful and appreciate everything. We are making the best of a bad situation and we are so blessed thanks to you.

Thank you.

Vince Thomas and family

Aspen