Kudos and Kindness

It’s never too late to be a Big Buddy

As the first month of our new year winds down, so does National Mentoring Month. I just wanted to take a moment to remind my peers here in the Roaring Fork Valley what a tremendous need there is for positive leadership for young people in our various communities.

I’ve been a mentor in Aspen for the Buddy Program for a little over six years now and have had the opportunity to watch my Buddy grow from an 11-year-old boy contemplating the daily pressures of middle school into a bright, productive young man who is about to graduate from high school and enter adulthood full of confidence and excitement. Along the way, I also have learned how truly fulfilling it is to be a positive influence on the younger sibling I never had.

However, I should point out that I was fully aware of the Buddy Program upon moving to the valley. I had every intention of someday volunteering my time, yet it took me about 16 years to actually make that commitment to the program. With the numerous activities that we all get involved with here in the mountains, coupled with our regular responsibilities, it’s easy to get sidetracked or to simply think we don’t have enough time to commit to one of the many programs that exist locally. The reality, though, is that the rewards of mentoring a young person and the effect that your time has on that boy or girl’s life, as well as your own, makes it worth every second.

Our Buddy Program has a waiting list of children who would love to have an older friend to mentor them as they navigate young adulthood. The amazing staff has so much knowledge and so many tools to help you out as you discover what it’s like to become an important role model in someone’s life. Please consider giving some of your time to a such a valuable organization. It’s one of the best ways I can think of to give back to our wonderful community.

Rodney Hill


YouthEntity serves a great cause

I’m writing to highlight the impact that YouthEntity, a local nonprofit, has in our schools. While not described as a vocational option, YouthEntity does provide practical, technical opportunities that add to what our local schools offer.

Harvard Professor Howard Gardner identified eight intelligences: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intra-personal and naturalistic. Unless schools specialize in one of those areas, the intelligences that children possess are often neglected to give way to more “valued” skills. The bias against vocational training has cost us since many of those skills are needed for the 21st century. Students should be encouraged to explore their own aptitudes and not be locked into an academic plan without room for alternatives. We want our students to graduate ready to succeed in a diverse world that needs artists and veterinarians, chefs and engineers, counselors and musicians.

YouthEntity branched out from an organization focused on teaching kids how to retrofit old computers into providing hands-on learning experiences for children. Last academic year they served 2,700 students with their job-ready, career-ready, life-ready programs, including 1,800 kids who completed a personal financial literacy workshop. A fifth-grader from our Two Rivers Community School said, “YouthEntity helped me prepare for my future financially by teaching me how to spend and save correctly.” Three-hundred and 91 students received career development experience and a chance to participate in a variety of internships. YouthEntity’s ProStart team competed against high schools, including Aspen and Vail, to place first at the state competition and place eighth in the nation, earning $250,000 in scholarships. Over 300 children participated in Lemonade Day that teaches entrepreneurship and financial literacy, including students at Aspen Elementary, Crystal River, Basalt Middle, Carbondale Middle, Glenwood Springs Middle and Two Rivers Community School.

Lastly, their Design Team, coached by world-renowned architect Gino Rossetti, developed plans for a rooftop garden at Valley View Hospital’s Cancer Center.

These accomplishments were possible by engaging the community and the work of over 40 mission-driven volunteers. I’m proud to serve on the board of this fine organization and encourage you to support us by visiting or calling 970-963-4055.

Adriana Ayala-Hire, Ed.D

Glenwood Springs

Thrift Shop boosts Aspen Hope Center

On behalf of the Aspen Hope Center and board, I would like to thank the Thrift Shop of Aspen for their generous donation to the Aspen Hope Center this month. Having this support and vote of confidence in what we do is deeply appreciated. It allows us to continue providing the vital services and outreach and education to those who are struggling in this valley.

The Thrift Shop of Aspen continues to support many nonprofits and because of their hard work and generosity many benefit. Again, many thanks and we are extremely grateful.

Sandy Iglehart

Board president, Aspen Hope Center