Angels at work in New Castle |

Angels at work in New Castle

April E. ClarkGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Gwendolyn Kansas, left, reacts to seeing her new home Tuesday after giving a big hug to Angel Project volunteer Shannon Liddy. (Kelley Cox/Post Independent)

NEW CASTLE Moments before James and Gwendolyn Kansas and their three children arrived to see their new home in New Castle on Tuesday, two bald eagles circled overhead.A crew of volunteers adding the finishing touches to the latest Angel Project home renovation stopped and looked to the sky.”Well, there is a sign,” said Angel Project founder Donna Fell, a real estate agent. “This is all so good.”The birds – symbols of freedom in the United States – were appropriate icons for an emotional day when a family of five received a new house.

After bounding through the front door, scurrying over the welcome mat, the three children excitedly scattered to their new bedrooms. A mint-green princess dress awaited 6-year-old J-Lee in her bedroom closet. One red and one yellow chair pushed up to a child’s table sat empty, ready for 4-year-old Rusty and Roman Alexander, 2, to sit and play.”This is all about the kids,” Fell said. “Pure magic.”James Kansas took time from his construction job in Vail to see his new home for the first time.”This is all so amazing,” he said. “Everyone has worked so hard.”

Fell started the Angel Project three years ago to assist people in need – those battling poverty or illness, unemployment or tragedy – in the Roaring Fork Valley. Through the project, more than 50 volunteers in the community rallied over two weeks to transform the inhabitable trailer into a home – the valley’s own version of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.””This is so beautiful,” Gwendolyn said. “I have to sit down – my knees are weak.”In the hours before the Kansas family arrived, volunteers scrambled to finish any remaining work on the home. Fell closed her real estate office so staff could participate in the project’s final countdown.”It’s been a total transformation,” she said. “It’s just green compassion, everyone donating and participating.”A new lawn, appliances, towels, dishes, pots and pans, and clothes were donated or purchased for this family in need. Many people in the valley face unexpected hard times that can leave them homeless or destitute. The Angel Project was created to be there, to help in a crisis, Fell said.

“This is not an unusual situation – we have a lot of need in this valley,” she said. “That’s the power of this whole project. How, collectively, we can change so much in our own valley. We’ve had people here day and night. That’s what you call pure love.”Crying and hugging Fell, Gwendolyn felt the love.”Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said. “You are truly an angel. I want to be a part of all this. I want to help you with your Angel Projects. I want to give back.”There’s a powerful reason behind the name for the program, Fell said. “Always believe in angels,” she said. “They are always around us – they’re here right now.”