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Mulcahy family’s purpose: Clean water is a necessity, not a luxury

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Africa Water Wells

There are multiple schools near the village of Sotik in Kenya that operate with no clean water, in addition to other tough conditions. The Mulcahy family wants to change that in 2020 by building four new water wells.
Courtesy Photo
How to Donate

The Mulcahys are collecting money to build four more water wells in Kenya in 2020. There are more schools in the region where they hope to build rain-catch and filtration systems for clean water, and they’re also collecting laptops to supply for the schools.

To donate, make checks payable to Grace Covenant Church and on the memo write “Africawaterwells.” Send to Grace Covenant Church, 3402 W I-20, Arlington, TX 76017 or donate online at Gracecovenantchurch.org. To donate a laptop, drop off at Christ Episcopal Church in Aspen.

Clean water is something Americans take for granted. We use freely to water our lawns, enjoy long showers, wash our cars and bathe our dogs.

But being witness to places in the world where clean water isn’t available is an experience that never left the minds of Sandy Mulcahy and her son, Lee Mulcahy.

An African safari in 2010 was meant to be a 50th anniversary vacation for Sandy and her late husband, Bud. But the relationships formed during their stay in Kenya led them to a much greater purpose.

Now, at 84 years old, Sandy is traveling back to Africa regularly with Lee, and each time it seems their purpose grows even larger.

From hosting annual women’s conferences that teach female villagers how to make a living, to distributing buckets with filters that provide clean water, the Mulcahys have their sights set on making a difference that lasts well beyond their lifetimes.

Setting the stage for future wells

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Sandy, who splits time between Arlington, Texas, and Aspen, Bud and Lee built their first well for Kenyan villagers near the town of Sotik in 2012. They added a water tower and tank in 2013.

After that project, for which Bud’s engineering background was instrumental, the village began thriving. With clean water available, the villagers gathered together to build a Christian school and named it after Bud — the Tili bei Bud Academy.

Moved by how their act of kindness could open the doors to new beginnings, they knew more had to be done. In 2017, Sandy and Lee led the construction of a rehabilitation and medical clinic. They brought a team of doctors and nurses in from Texas that were able to provide medications and exams, which was especially critical due to a national nurses’ strike in Kenya that year.

2019 fact-finding mission

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In 2019, the Mulcahy family set out on a fact-finding trip to the same African region to see if they could develop more clean water projects. What they found was beyond anything they could have imagined.

“We went to three school sites and let me tell you, it absolutely ripped my heart out to see there was no clean water,” Lee said.

The first school they visited, Kipnogsos, is a school for children with special needs. Sandy Mulcahy said the children often soil themselves during the school day and have no means to get cleaned up.

“The whole thing was just heartbreaking,” Sandy said.

At Kipsingei Secondary School, a highly ranked Kenyan school with motivated students, there is no water source. Sandy said some of the resident students were using filthy water for bathing.

“This water was like nothing you would ever consider using for anything,” she said.

At the third school they visited, Soimosiek Primary, the children approached Sandy and Lee and begged for clean water.

“One by one, they were asking us to be given clean water,” Sandy said. “To know that we have water here in the United States and turn it on and waste it — there’s no way you couldn’t be affected by that.”

Mulcahy family sets out on another clean water mission in Africa

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Africa Water Wells

After creating Africa Water Wells in 2010, Bud and Sandy Mulcahy celebrated their water well project in Kenya.
Courtesy Photo
A goal to build four more water wells

With no clean water for local schools near the town of Sotik, Kenya, Sandy and Lee Mulcahy are hoping to raise enough money to construct four more water wells in 2020.

These clean water projects were identified during a 2019 fact-finding mission in which the Mulcahys witnessed children across five schools struggle with a lack of access to clean water.

Make checks payable to Grace Covenant Church and on the memo write “Africawaterwells.” Send to Grace Covenant Church, 3402 W I-20, Arlington, TX 76017 or donate online with PayPal or a credit card at Gracecovenantchurch.org. (Choose “donate,” “Africa Water Wells,” contribution frequency “one time.”)

In 2010, an African safari led to a clean water project that essentially rescued an entire village, and in 2019, a fact-finding trip to the same region is leading to more projects that aim to leave life-saving impacts.

Sandy Mulcahy, who splits her time between Aspen and Arlington, Texas, traveled to Kenya in 2010 with her late husband, Bud, to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Their son Lee, of Aspen, had insisted they go on the trip for years, remembers Sandy, and little did they know that it would be the African people, not the wildlife, that would leave the most lasting impressions.

The Mulcahys struck a friendship with Yegon Richard, a waiter at their camp who told them about the dire conditions back in his village of Kapkesembe. With no clean water source or electricity, there were health hazards in simple daily tasks such as bathing and cooking, Sandy said.

The Mulcahys were moved and felt compelled to help.

“When we were flying from Naroibi (Kenya) to London, Bud said, ‘we’re going to build them a water well,’” Sandy said. “My husband was an engineer and one of his side businesses was irrigation, so he was very familiar with water.”

A dream becomes reality

The Mulcahy’s fourth water well project in Africa, called Butik Center, was completed in 2019.
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Sandy said too often, people become inspired by a cause while traveling the world, only to return back home and slowly forget about it. She, Bud and Lee were determined to not let that happen.

“He could always see the possibilities in a project — that’s just the way his mind worked,” Sandy said of Bud, who died in 2015.

So with Bud’s engineering background — he worked at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory and in the aerospace industry — and tenacity, combined with his family’s collective philanthropic hearts, they got to work.

They created Africa Water Wells and began collecting donations through their church. For roughly $16,000, they were able to get a hydrologist, secure the proper permits, and hire a contractor to drill the well and install a hand pump, Lee said. In 2013, they added a water tower and tank to the initial well project.

“My father spent the first seven years of his life on a farm in South Texas, without electricity and without indoor plumbing,” Lee said. “Not a lot of people in the United States experience that. This project was especially meaningful for him.”

Bud recalled to The Aspen Times in 2013 that 200 local children were running behind the drilling trucks and cheering the day the drilling began. What was more astonishing, though, was what the well did for the village’s collective purpose and motivation.

Not even a year after the water well was built, Sandy Mulcahy said the village had constructed a primary school and hired teachers — and it was all thanks to the potential that a new, clean water source opened up.

“They named the school after my husband — the Clean Water Bud Academy,” Sandy said.

A holistic approach to athlete and character development

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Aspen Junior Hockey

Aspen Junior Hockey players have fun as they learn powerful lessons about self-motivation, hard work, empathy, trust, respect, accountability, humility and more.
Image courtesy of Aspen Junior Hockey
The Aspen Junior Hockey development model

Aspen Junior Hockey believes in a designed system of coaching that focuses on age-specific biological and psychosocial growth and development.

Below are the principles of the model, which are used to promote age-appropriate athlete development, health and safety, and sustained physical activity throughout life.

  1. Excellence takes time – develop age-appropriate facets of hockey performance — technical, tactical, physical and mental — while understanding these factors are deeply interdependent.
  2. Physical literacy and fundamentals – develop confidence and skills in a fun, engaging and progressively challenging atmosphere.
  3. Build athleticism – provide all youth with a range of training modes to enhance both health and related components of fitness to reduce the risk of injury.
  4. Specialization and early sampling – encourage an early sampling approach for youth that promotes and enhances a broad range of experiences in sports and physical activity.
  5. Growth and individualization – normal growth, maturation and development is critical to delivering a quality sport program.
  6. Periodization – allow for effective and efficient plans for a single practice or training session, as well as weekly, seasonal and yearly plans.
  7. Mental, cognitive and emotional development – engage in programs that promote both physical fitness and psychosocial well being.
  8. Quality coaching – the consistent application of integrated, inter- personal and intrapersonal knowledge to improve athletes’ competence, confidence, connection and character in specific coaching contexts.
  9. System alignment and integration – collaborate, align, and integrate in delivering the very best athlete development programs possible.
  10. Continuous improvement – seek continuous improvement by implementing new findings, innovations, and best practices from sports science, education and coaching.

Youth sports often focus on the skills and training required to develop successful athletes, but what about age-appropriate skills and training that aim to develop great human beings?

That’s the focus of Aspen Junior Hockey, which coaches its youth and young adult players using the USA Hockey’s American Development Model — a model that has produced successful results, both on and off the ice, since its inception 10 years ago.

“We have development plans that essentially define each of the skills that should be mastered at each age, and then build from there,” said Shaun Hathaway, Aspen Junior Hockey executive director. “We’re not just playing hockey, we’re building adults; we’re building great citizens.”

Age-appropriate ‘windows of trainability’

Overall athlete development involves not only sport-specific skills and an understanding of the game, but also general athleticism and fitness, fundamental movement skills, recovery, nutrition and mental skills.
Image courtesy of Aspen Junior Hockey

The American Development Model was partly influenced by studying how Swedish and Finnish youth hockey programs became such powerhouses with considerably less participants than other countries.

“They put training ahead of competition,” said Joe Bonnett, the American Development Model regional manager for the Rocky Mountain district. “In the U.S., we were concerned about wins and losses.”

After talking to sports science leaders from around the world, the ADM was developed to complement both biological and psychosocial growth and development.

Bonnett said the ADM’s goal is to develop more world-class athletes and more kids playing hockey for longer — who become fans of hockey, give back to hockey, and play adult league hockey.

In Aspen, Hathaway and other Aspen Junior Hockey coaches use the model to guide the culture of the entire program.

Aspen Junior Hockey coaches teach kids prescribed skills, while connecting the lessons learned playing the game with life lessons they’ll need to better navigate the world.

“The goal is when our kids leave, they are more intrinsically motivated and take more ownership for their sport and their studies, that they have character and they’re respectful of officials and adults,” Hathaway said.

Above all, kids are expected to have fun as they learn these powerful lessons about self-motivation, hard work, empathy, trust, respect, accountability, humility and more.

Kevin Freitas, an Aspen Junior Hockey parent and past volunteer coach, said the model isn’t like the tough-love hockey he grew up playing in Aspen, but he sees how it’s impacted his son’s development and wholeheartedly believes in the principles.

“I think it’s groundbreaking and it’s going to be good for the big picture, from mites to high school,” Freitas said. “You have to look at the big picture when it comes to development.”

Sports skills translate into life skills

Aspen Junior Hockey believes in a designed system of coaching that focuses on age-specific biological and psychosocial growth and development.
Image Courtesy of Aspen Junior Hockey

According to the American Development Model, “overall athlete development involves not only sport-specific skills and an understanding of the game, but also understanding kids while developing general athleticism and fitness, fundamental movement skills, recovery, nutrition, and mental skills.”

Freitas said this model, and the sport of hockey in general, teaches an incredible amount of sportsmanship. Hockey is never a one-man game — you can’t win with just one good player on the team.

“It’s a full team sport,” he said. “The support you have to give to your team members on the ice carries over to school, the playground and into life.”

To learn more, visit www.aspenjuniorhockey.com. Registration for the 2019-20 season is currently open.

Give where you live: Nonprofits strengthen our community

Editor’s Note: This sponsored contest is brought to you by Mountain West Gives.

Join Mountain West Gives for a rally at the tree lighting ceremony in Carbondale during First Friday, Dec. 6, to drum up momentum for Colorado Gives Day (Dec. 10).
About Mountain West Gives

A group of nonprofit directors from the Roaring Fork Valley got together about 5 years ago to work on a regional campaign after seeing a need to direct Colorado Gives Day donations to local organizations. From Aspen to Parachute, there are 49 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.

To give to one of these organizations on Colorado Gives Day, visit www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives. You can also set up donations in advance of Colorado Gives Day, or even set up recurring donations.

With 49 local nonprofits participating in Colorado Gives Day, there are at least 49 ways you could make a significant community impact this holiday season.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, a regional effort called Mountain West Gives is working to drive Colorado Gives Day donations to local nonprofits. Colorado Gives Day, an annual statewide charitable giving drive, is Dec. 10.

“$100 here will do so much more than at the national or state level,” said Julie Olson, executive director of the Advocate Safehouse Project, and one of the coordinators for Mountain West Gives. “It gives soul to our community when we work together and collaborate.”

Olson said that it’s sometimes easy to forget about the work local nonprofits do, but when you look at the services they provide to everyone, it’s easy to see how the impacts are so vast. From environmental causes that affect all of us to English language learning services that contribute to a literate community, nonprofits help us more than we often realize.

“Nonprofits enrich our community,” Olson said. “They are a safety net in our community, and even if you might not need one of them today, you or your family might need our services in the future.”

From Aspen to Parachute, there are 49 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives this year. Contributing to these groups will help your money stay right here in the community, providing much-needed services for the people who live and work here in our valley.
Give Locally

All of the 49 nonprofits participating in Mountain West Gives have been fully vetted via a rigorous application process. If you’re thinking about making a donation on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 10, it can be hard to sift through all of the organizations to find the right cause for your dollars.

At www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives, you can read descriptions about each nonprofit and make your online donation quickly and easily. All of the money donated will go directly to these organizations thanks to a FirstBank contribution toward Colorado Gives Day that covers all administrative costs.

Join Mountain West Gives for a rally at the tree lighting ceremony in Carbondale during First Friday, Dec. 6, to drum up momentum for Colorado Gives Day (Dec. 10).

Helping our neighbors

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork Valley, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met. Blythe Chapman, executive director of River Bridge Regional Center and one of the coordinators of Mountain West Gives, said giving to these groups ensure funds stay in the community to help our neighbors.

“Nonprofit organizations are a bridge between the private and public sectors that help solve more problems to improve the world in which we live,” Chapman said. “In the past, a lot of people in our community were giving to these bigger statewide or nation-wide organizations and the money wasn’t staying here locally. … We’ve got to start with our community here if we’re going to expect any significant support and change for our entire larger community like the state or the nation.”

Nonprofits play a critical role in the Roaring Fork Valley, providing important services to meet local needs that wouldn’t otherwise be met.
Donation goal: $350,000

Donations to Garfield County organizations alone nearly doubled from $110,000 in 2014, when the Mountain West Gives effort began, to $210,000 in 2017.

In 2018, the local Colorado Gives Day effort raised $325,047 for 47 nonprofits in Garfield, Pitkin and (western) Eagle counties. The goal for 2019 is to raise $350,000 via 1,850 donations. Help Mountain West Gives reach its goal by making a donation at www.coloradogives.org/mountainwestgives.

Making it easy to donate online

Olson said the Mountain West Gives website makes it so easy to donate, which is especially helpful for the smaller organizations that wouldn’t typically be equipped to accept online donations.

If you go to the Colorado Gives Day website and search by county, that brings up a false list of organizations because it includes nonprofits that aren’t truly local. For example, national and statewide organizations that might conduct business in the county will appear on the list, but Olson said those funds aren’t necessarily guaranteed to remain in the community.

“They’re not here — they’re not the heart and soul of Garfield, Pitkin and Western Eagle Counties,” Olson said.

On the Mountain West Gives landing page, you can type in the services for which you’re interested in, such as animal-related services or health and human services. It’ll then display the local organizations participating in Mountain West Gives, including descriptions about the causes they support. This helps donors focus their dollars since it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to give.

“Around here, neighbors are really important. Living in rural Colorado, people recognize that we’re supported by each other,” Chapman said. “Local giving is so important — give where you live.”

The energy-efficient home

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Holy Cross Energy

The Tvarkunas family converted all gas appliances to electric and they’re generating their own electricity with solar panels. They also own an electric car and take advantage of Holy Cross Energy rebates.
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Energy-saving measures
  • Operate heat tape only during daytime hours when melting is occurring and turn it off at night. Sun also helps melt ice dams.
  • Use a timer to control heat tape automatically. HCE offers rebates for heat tape timers (50 percent of the cost up to $100).
  • Make sure to turn your heat tape off at the breakers when there is no snow on the roof.
  • Use smart or programmable thermostats to control heating and cooling systems.
  • Don’t heat or cool your home more than necessary when you’re not home (50 degrees is sufficient in most homes to prevent pipes from freezing).
  • Remember to turn off crawl space and garage heaters in the summer months.
  • LED bulbs use 75 to 90 percent less energy than incandescent or halogen bulbs.
  • HCE’s new online store has instant rebates on LED bulbs, thermostat, water saving devices and more.

The Tvarkunas family’s efforts to live a more energy efficient lifestyle might sound impressive, but the family believes this is the lifestyle of the future.

Patrick and Lucila Tvarkunas moved into their Eagle home about five years ago and they knew they wanted to make important changes to improve the home’s energy efficiency. After energy assessments from both Energy Smart Colorado and Holy Cross Energy (HCE), the Tvarkunases invested in insulation, LED lighting, air sealing, programmable thermostats, super efficient heat pumps and more. All of these measures have resulted in a net zero home, meaning the home’s solar panels produce more energy annually than the family uses.

“The Tvarkunas family is a perfect example of an HCE member wanting to be carbon neutral, converting all gas appliances to electric and generating their own electricity with solar panels,” said Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for HCE.

Learning how to become more efficient

Seventy70Thirty, 70 percent clean by 2030

HCE aims to achieve 70 percent clean energy by 2030 by increasing clean and renewable resources and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The path to 70 percent clean energy requires a reduction in coal-fired power generation, improved energy efficiency of buildings, vehicles and businesses, and accelerated investment in new renewable energy resources connected to the electric distribution grid.

The first step in making any home or building more energy efficient is an energy audit.

“HCE provides one complimentary residential energy audit within a 5-year period for the same member at the same location,” said Eileen Wysocki, distributed resource program manager at HCE.

“It’s important to understand what’s using energy in your home and how to reduce usage from those items. People have many misconceptions about what’s using the most energy in their homes, and are often surprised when they see the breakdown of their home’s energy use,” Wysocki said. “Having an audit can also help identify areas of heat loss through the use of an infrared camera. Audits can also help prioritize what projects should be tackled first based on the needs of the residents and the greatest energy savings.”

Those savings can reach 50 percent or more depending on the upgrades. Wysocki said the average home sees about 10 to 20 percent in annual energy savings after making more efficient upgrades, but savings aren’t the only reason to seek more efficiency.

“Upgrades can make your home more comfortable,” Wysocki said. “And a more energy efficient home may have higher resale value.”

Patrick said his family’s home is much more comfortable now thanks to increased insulation and the elimination of drafts.

Small steps for greater impacts

The Tvarkunases use HCE’s energy assessments to guide them toward ways to maximize their efficiency upgrade investments.

“From simple things like switching to LED lights that use 80 percent less power than a normal light bulb, all the way to using rebates for our solar panels and having an electric car charger installed, HCE has been a great partner in helping us both save money on our monthly bills and reduce our environmental footprint,” Patrick said. “Energy Smart Colorado has also been awesome with their own efficiency rebates which have allowed us to invest more with their matching funds.”

The Tvarkunases are committed to doing their part by being more efficient and creating locally produced energy. It saves the family money, but it also contributes to the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the local electricity grid, Patrick said.

The family has even purchased a Nissan Leaf electric car, saving them more than 500 gallons of gasoline per year, or roughly $1,500 in annual fuel and maintenance savings. They’re also composting their organic waste to use in their small garden, and they of course always take the time to recycle.

“Each small step gets us closer to a sustainable future where we all invest locally instead of sending our dollars to huge mega businesses, which definitely do not have our local interests in mind,” he said. “Overall, there haven’t been any drawbacks — we save money and have a more comfortable house while reducing our footprint and being more self-sufficient.”

Energy Efficient Products and Rebates

HCEstore.com is HCE’s new online resource for members looking to give their home an energy efficiency makeover. Members can save up to $400 a year with upgrades such as air filters, advanced power strips, smart thermostats, LED lighting and water devices.

Visit HCEstore.com to learn more.

Social interaction and purpose are essential to longevity

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Aspen Valley Hospital

Director Maggie Gerardi enjoys individual time with each resident. Pictured with Maggie is Sharon Prior, a long-time Aspen local.
Courtesy Image
Whitcomb Terrace Open House

The public is welcome to visit Whitcomb Terrace for cookies, cocoa and coffee during Aspen Valley Hospital’s Senior Health Fair, Friday, Nov. 1, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Whitcomb Terrace is located at 275 Castle Creek Road (right next to the Senior Center).

There’s often a myth that assisted living somehow equates to a loss of independence, but residents often find more time to add healthy, meaningful activities into their daily lives when household chores are eliminated.

In Aspen, senior living at Whitcomb Terrace focuses on enhancing residents’ quality of life by providing an environment that is stimulating, nurturing, active and fun. 

“More and more evidence-based research suggests there are a number of benefits to senior-living residences versus remaining at home,“ said Dr. Joshua Seymour, medical director at Whitcomb Terrace in Aspen. “The programming at Whitcomb Terrace provides the optimal structure — from routine meals, regular exercise and memory stimulating activities, that lifts mood, lowers anxiety and improves memory.”

The not-for-profit community, owned by Aspen Valley Hospital, has just 15 total residences, providing a family-like atmosphere that feels warm and welcoming for residents yet offers privacy and autonomy for those who want it. 

Whitcomb’s current openings present a singular opportunity for Aspen Valley locals “to claim a rare spot at Aspen’s premiere place to age well,” said Whitcomb’s Director Maggie Gerardi, who has worked at the community for more than 18 years.

Timing is everything

Seniors and their loved ones often wait until daily chores and tasks become impossible before making the decision to move to an assisted living environment, but the time when seniors and their loved ones should start considering a senior living community is long before they think they “need” it.

“So often people move in, and love it so much that they wish they had made the transition years before,” Gerardi said. “People don’t realize the negative impact loneliness and isolation have on one’s quality of life.”

Meredith Daniel, activities coordinator at Whitcomb Terrace and a former, long-time performer at The Crystal Palace, said determining when this transition is an appropriate choice for a family member or loved one, or even for yourself, is understandably hard.

“However, we’ve observed there are benefits derived from giving the responsibilities of daily life over to a qualified and loving team,” Daniel said. “Quality of life is naturally enhanced by social interaction, activity stimulation, and the relaxation that comes with having your daily needs met.”

Your life, only better

The brain is just like a muscle that needs exercise — when it’s not utilized, signs of depression and dementia can worsen, Dr. Seymour said. The National Institute on Aging reports that social isolation and loneliness are linked to higher risks of physical and mental conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

“Living in a communal environment with others — it just makes people happier,” he said, referencing both medical research and personal observations as medical director at Whitcomb Terrace. “Many mild types of depression and dementia can be lifted.”

While this type of living environment has been shown to lead to longevity, it’s never forced upon residents at Whitcomb Terrace. Not all residents want to participate in all of the activities or programs and that’s OK — residents can maintain their personal freedom and privacy while also taking advantage of the services and amenities provided, Gerardi said.

Grateful relatives

“In 1960, mom came to ski bum in Aspen and worked for Drs. Whitcomb, Oden and Gould,” said daughter Lisa Prior, who returned home to Aspen when it was time for her mother, Sharon, to relinquish some of the burdens of living independently. “‘Dr. Whit’ was our family doctor so it’s really wonderful to feel his care living on in this way. Because Whitcomb Terrace is a small community, mom knitted right in with the other residents. The quality of care is so personal, everyone there has different aging issues, and the incredible staff are very responsive. There’s really nothing like it. Having mom at Whitcomb has erased the eldercare anxiety my sister, Bailey, and I have been living with for a few years now. And the icing on the cake is that our time with mom is not taken up with chores — we hang out or head out to experience all the things we love about the Roaring Fork Valley.”

An engaged community

Positive energy permeates through the community, where residents encourage each other to attend art shows, go for walks outside, head to the theater or to any other activity that piques their interests.

“Residents get together daily to enjoy their shared interests, whether it’s through art, puzzles, bridge, Scrabble, movies, walking, music — they’re often creating their own experiences together,” Gerardi said.

With just 15 residents at maximum capacity, it really does create a family atmosphere — staff included. Residents have their private apartments, and they also have the ability to go out as often as they like, participating in the same activities they did before moving in.

“We provide a variety of opportunities for enrichment to encourage residents to remain active,” Gerardi said. “We have amazing meals and staff who cares for residents like family. We also acknowledge some residents choose to keep the same routines and independence they had prior to moving in. We treat each resident as an individual.”

The best care and the best value in the valley

Whitcomb Terrace’s 15 senior living apartments have been recently renovated, and the cost is more affordable than people might expect. There are four apartment styles, ranging from small studios to large one-bedroom units, ranging from $3,500 to $6,000 per month. The price is all-inclusive of services, meals, salon services and more.

Whitcomb Terrace has several rare openings right now. For more information about the community’s services and amenities, visit aspenvalleyhospital.org/Whitcomb-Terrace-Assisted-Living

To learn more about becoming a resident, contact Maggie Gerardi at 970-544-1530, or mgerardi@aspenhospital.org.

Increased access to quality healthcare arrives in the midvalley

Editor’s Note: Sponsored Content brought to you by Aspen Valley Hospital

Karen Locke, MD, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital
Aspen Valley Primary Care

Aspen Valley Primary care has four physicians in the midvalley serving everyone from babies to elderly adults. The practice, located at 1460 East Valley Rd., Suite 102, in Basalt, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To schedule an appointment with Aspen Valley Primary Care, call 970-279-4111. For more information about the new practice, visit aspenvalleyhospital.org/aspen-valley-primary-care.

Positive health outcomes for the entire community become possible when every person in the community has convenient access to high-quality healthcare.

Aspen Valley Hospital has been recruiting more primary care physicians to the Roaring Fork Valley for this exact purpose, which is commonly referred to in the medical world as “population health.”

“As primary care physicians, we make our impact on health by focusing on the patient and our panels as a whole,” said Dr. Michael Plachta, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care in Basalt. “‘Population health’ occurs when physicians and systems collaborate to focus on the bigger picture, in this case the eternity of the Roaring Fork Valley community.”

Aspen Valley Primary Care opened July 15, next to the Midvalley Imaging Center, to provide comprehensive medical care for children and adults in the midvalley. Alyssa Franklin, AVH’s Director of Primary Care, said that primary physicians can not only treat patients’ immediate medical needs, they also can screen for cancer, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and more.

“When caught early, these health issues can be treated or managed before they become more serious problems,” she said, “and this keeps our community healthier as a whole.”

Four full-time physicians

Kelly Locke, MD, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital
Services offered at Aspen Valley Primary Care
  • Annual physicals
  • Chronic health management
  • Post-hospital care coordination
  • Medicare wellness visits
  • Immunizations
  • Acute and urgent care
  • Pediatric care
  • Well-woman exams
  • Skin cancer screenings
  • Acupuncture
  • Laser skin treatments
  • DOT physicals

Dr. Plachta joined Drs. Karen and Kelly Locke, who previously had their own family medicine practice in Basalt for the last 20 years, to form Aspen Valley Primary Care. Dr. Edward Wiese, an internist, will join the practice in October.

With Aspen Valley Hospital’s wide network of resources and administration efficiencies, these midvalley physicians can focus on what’s most important: patients.

“Building trust with patients is what family medicine is all about,” Dr. Karen Locke said. “Our style is to be good listeners. Some people may feel rushed when at a doctor’s office. But we will sit down with our patients and listen to their concerns and then address them.”

A Q&A with Dr. Michael Plachta

Michael Plachta, MD, family medicine physician at Aspen Valley Primary Care.
Courtesy of Aspen Valley Hospital

Why did AVH determine this new family medicine practice was needed in the midvalley? Are there specific midvalley healthcare needs the practice aims to meet?

Dr. Michael Plachta: Our community makeup is changing in that it is both aging and increasing in size. Our community of physicians is changing as well. Some are close to retirement age or considering concierge medicine or alternative practice styles. Looking forward, AVH is covering those potential shortages in care in the valley before they become a problem.

Please describe the importance of preventative care to overall health and wellness. What are some consequences of ignoring preventative care?

MP: We all know that problems in life are much more manageable if we don’t let them grow. We use words of wisdom like “nip it in the bud” and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and healthcare is no different. For example, a heart attack can cost a patient close to $1 million dollars over their lifetime, not to mention non-financial costs. It’s much cheaper to manage risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol before the heart attack even becomes a problem. Even better, focusing on good diet, regular exercise and overall wellness can prevent those underlying risk factors from even developing.

How is AVH Primary Care aiming to lower costs for patients?

MP: Cost lowering requires a multi-pronged approach. Our team includes a care coordinator, who will help us identify gaps in preventative care and coordinate care access. Further, we will establish a “transitional care clinic,” which will manage the scary time when patients get discharged from the hospital and make their way back into the community. In addition, we will work to have outpatient clinics available for emergency room patients that may be more outpatient appropriate. Of course, we provide health fairs, which provide recommended screenings at an affordable cost.

What else would you like the community to know about AVH Primary Care in Basalt?

MP: I am really impressed with the team-based care model AVH is implementing. In addition to our four primary-care physicians, our clinic is staffed with a clinical pharmacist, behavioral health worker, social worker, diabetes educator, and a dietitian. Furthermore, our inpatient and outpatient services will be fully integrated, improving physician-to-physician communication and reducing redundant testing. I think our patients will be best served with his approach.

Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation celebrates a great summer

Editor’s Note: This sponsored content was brought to you by Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation

Left to Right: AVH Foundation Board Chair, John Sarpa; AVH CEO, Dave Ressler; AVHF President and CEO, Deborah Breen; and AVH cardiologists Dr. Joseph Schuller and Dr. Gordon Gerson attend AVHF’s annual donor appreciation event, The Summer Soirée on July 9.
Courtesy of AVHF

Summer Soirée showcases cardiology services

AVHF presented an informative summer cocktail party at the Little Nell with long-time community cardiologist, Dr. Gordon Gerson, and his new partner, cardiovascular disease specialist and cardiac electrophysiologist, Dr. Joseph Schuller, as keynote speakers. With a crowd of over 150 donors and special friends on hand, the dynamic duo discussed the cardiology services currently available at AVH and unveiled new interventional cardiology services now managed by Dr. Schuller.  Both Dr. Schuller and Dr. Gerson are seeing patients at the Hospital campus, as well as in Basalt at 234 E. Cody Lane. Appointments can be made by calling 970.544.7388.

Summer Polo benefit tops $600,000 in proceeds!

Thanks to a sold-out crowd and a generous group of sponsors, the Summer Polo benefit on August 11th hosted by Aspen Valley Polo Club to benefit Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation raised over $600,000! Heartfelt thanks to Melissa & Marc Ganzi, Aspen Valley Polo Club, and to all who sponsored this wonderful event!

Courtesy of AVHF

The lavish field-side event included an elegant tent with both Chukker Lounge and VIP seating. Food was exquisitely prepared and presented by Caribou Club Catering of Aspen, and guests also enjoyed a roving Beverly Hills Caviar cart with Piper Heidsieck Champagne, Woody Creek Mint Juleps and Whispering Angel Rosé flowing throughout the day. “What a great day here at the Club,” Marc Ganzi said about the event. “It looks like we raised a lot of money for a great cause. This is what it’s all about.”

Chukkers, Champagne and Caviar is Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation’s signature fundraising event, which has raised over $1.6 million in the past three years to fund priority projects and programs at Aspen Valley Hospital.

Fresh & Healthy Picnic welcomes friends from across the valley

The community turned out for a family-friendly celebration at Aspen Valley Hospital’s Midvalley campus on Sunday, September 8. Bringing visibility to AVH’s Midvalley Primary Care Clinic, OrthoAspen Offices, Midvalley Imaging and Surgery Center, and other services available at this campus, the fresh and healthy barbecue was well received by friends and neighbors!

Doug Pearson; AVH Foundation Development Officer, Emily Kay; Dr. Leelee von Stade; and Dr. Chris Roseberry enjoy the picnic.
Courtesy of AVHF

The delicious menu was prepared by AVH’s award-winning nutritional team, and entertainment was provided by local bluegrass favorite, Timbermill. Dr. Chris Roseberry, AVH’s Trauma Director, was on hand to provide education on the use of helmets. Dr. Leelee von Stade, orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Karen Locke and Dr. Michael Plachta, two of AVH’s new primary care physicians, were also on hand to meet and greet community members.

Clearly, it was a very busy summer and all of us at AVH Foundation remain honored and humbled by the overwhelming support shown to us by our community. Be sure to save the date for our next big shindig – December 5th from 3-5pm at Limelight Hotel Snowmass as we celebrate the opening of our new Snowmass Clinic at Base Village!

For anyone who has experienced stress, therapy might not be enough

Editor’s note: This sponsored content was brought to you Brought to you by All Points North.

All Points North Lodge, the upscale personal development and human performance center in Edwards
Courtesy of All Points North Lodge

The experience of trauma happens in many ways and forms, with varying levels of severity, but every person in the world has personal traumas that can cause stress later in life.

Trauma could be defined as a major life event such as divorce, illness or the death of a loved one, or it could be defined as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from abuse, an accident or seeing combat in war.

“While not everyone identifies with having experienced trauma, most people have experienced stress in their lives, said Ryan Soave, director of the Accelerator Program at All Points North Lodge. “A maladaptive relationship to our history can cause this type of stress.”

All Points North Lodge, the upscale personal development and human performance center in Edwards at the former Cordillera Resort & Spa, is set to open its residential program in early 2020, but it’s hosting monthly week-long therapy workshops beginning with the RISE Workshop Sept. 22-27. The workshops are intended to help anyone who might not qualify for or need a longer residential treatment program, but for those who could benefit from something outside of regular therapy sessions.

“Trauma includes the different wounds and difficult times that shaped us in our formative years,” Soave said. “When we’re reacting to things in our adult lives that are an overwhelming response to something, it points to something that happened earlier. These workshops intend to change our relationships with those events.”

All Points North Lodge will be hosting week-long workshops that are intended to help anyone who might not qualify for or need a longer residential treatment program, but for those who could benefit from something outside of regular therapy sessions.
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Immersive workshop setting

The workshop setting — which consists of five days of uninterrupted work — is an effective way to treat trauma and stress, Soave said. Weekly therapy sessions often fall short because patients often sit in the chair with other things on their minds such as cooking tonight’s dinner or tomorrow’s work deadlines.

In an immersive workshop, Soave said facilitators are able to work through trauma, stress, codependency, people who feel stuck in life or other challenges, in a more efficient and powerful way.

“We want to help people discover the things that have shaped their lives,” he said. “We help make connections for people so they can understand what has filled up their stress bucket.”

Ryan Soave, director of the Accelerator Program at All Points North.
Courtesy of All Points North Lodge

Clinically based

Through Soave’s own process of healing, he changed his entire career and got a masters in counseling at the age of 32. His workshops are therapeutic in nature, with the benefits of his strong clinical background.

Soave incorporates experiential practices into his work — such as yoga, meditation, breathwork and mindfulness — to help people get out of feeling stuck.

“We use these powerful tools that can release stress from the nervous system and help people start to understand what triggers them and puts them in that state,” Soave said. “It allows you to begin the work of healing and to build the capacity to deal with the difficult stuff so you’re more available for the great stuff.”

Emptying the stress bucket

The workshops start with some psychoeducation to help participants understand what trauma is, what stress is and how it impacts not only our physical bodies via our nervous system, but also how it drives the decisions we make throughout the day.

In this group setting of up to 12 people, from which smaller groups also break out, Soave said people can really begin the work of understanding what has shaped them.

“People don’t need to remember everything they’ve ever been through in order to heal. In fact, the stuff you do remember is often inaccurate,” he said.“We’ll help you identify the symptoms and figure out how to treat them so you can release some of the stress from your body.”

Sustainable living isn’t just about the environment, it’s about smart consumerism

When Alin Turcea and Antonia Pitica recognized the significance of plastic products in their everyday lives, they felt compelled to do something about it. 

Bags for produce, groceries, to-go cups, toothbrushes, water bottles — these items are a part of our everyday lives, and they’re almost always plastic. 

What if they could create these products for people who cared about living more sustainably for the sake of our planet, while also educating consumers everywhere about the importance of our individual actions? 

“We had a lightbulb moment, and we began reading about climate change to see what we could do to develop habits that were better for the environment,” Alin said. “We started EcoRoots when we realized how much of an impact consumerism was having on our lives and the lives of those around us.”

By creating this minimalist, earth-conscious brand, Alin and Antonia aim to encourage an economy that considers the future. They want consumers to have the power to choose, through the products they buy and use, what kind of world they want to live in.

“As we did our research, we realized that we had been making many of our choices out of convenience, without considering the consequences,” Antonia said. “We knew that, in order to ask other people to change, we needed to change first. So, the first step we took toward our new lifestyle was simply refusing what we didn’t really need.” 

Here are some of the reasons that making these small steps can not only change the way you live your life for the better, but also positively impact the environment..

Future generations

Alin and Antonia feel personally responsible to do their part to address pollution and climate change for future generations. Climate change is one of the most significant issues we’ll face in our lifetime, Antonia said.

“We have to consider how devastating the effects of plastic consumption are on our already fragile environment, including our oceans and marine life, but also our own health and well-being, too,” he said. “We can all make changes to ensure that our children and grandchildren aren’t left to clean up the mess we’ve made.”

Small steps are easy

Activities such as brushing your teeth or shopping at a grocery store are habits for most people. We do these things without thinking much about them, but what if the products you used didn’t end up harming marine life or clogging up landfills? What if you could use products as a consumer that actually meant something?

“It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re trying to change habits that you’ve had your whole life, but the key is being patient, and knowing that real change won’t happen overnight,” Alin said. “There are many small steps that you can take if you’re just starting out on this journey, and these small habits will become second-nature overtime.”

Alin and Antonia started their sustainably living journey by bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. From there, they began to avoid plastic-wrapped produce, switched to biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes, began using reusable water bottles and switched to a reusable razor instead of single-use disposable razors.

Becoming more conscious overall

By making these small changes, Alin and Antonia became more conscious consumers everywhere they went. They checked packaging when they went shopping to avoid plastic whenever possible. They realized that while it’s not always possible to avoid plastic entirely, they could use a lot of substitute products such as reusable or recyclable packaging including glass, stainless steel or cardboard to ultimately have less of an impact on the environment.

“After you’ve made changes like composting, packing reusable bags for shopping trips, looking for products that come in recyclable, non-plastic packaging, look around your home and see what other products can be replaced by a sustainable alternative,” Alin said. “Using sustainable products will save you money in the long run.”

Steps that ALL consumers can take

Here are some of the ways Alin and Antonia make changes in their lives by using EcoRoots products. They believe this is a good starting off point for anyone interested in living more sustainably. Visit ecoroots.us for product options.

  • Buy fresh produce rather than produce wrapped in plastic. Check out your local farmers market or another grocery store if yours doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
  •  Unless medically necessary, skip the plastic straws. Because they’re not accepted by most recycling centers, many larger companies are beginning to ban them anyway, so this is one of the easiest to implement. 
  • Call your local recycling center if you’re not sure if something is recyclable, don’t just throw it out.
  • Compost your food leftovers. 
  • Bring reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping so you don’t have to take home any plastic bags.
  • Use a reusable coffee cup and water bottle so you can skip the paper and plastic.
  • Walk, use public transportation, car-pool, or ride your bike to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Eat locally. You’ll know exactly where your food is coming from, and you’ll get to support local businesses and farmers. This is especially easy in the summertime when most towns have weekly farmers markets.
  • Consume consciously. Buy things out of necessity, not boredom, and when you do need to buy something, try to find ethically sourced clothes and other products. 
  • Support small, local businesses.
  • Use alternatives to plastic whenever possible in products for the home, kitchen, health and beauty.