I’m writing to give you some fabulous news about the Chapel’s involvement in a wonderful new initiative! “Let’s start at the very beginning” as Julie Andrews would say……
About fifteen months ago, Robert and Charla began attending meetings with leaders of a broad base of valley organizations. (The term “broad-base” means that the membership includes businesses, churches, synagogues, non-profit organizations etc. – representing the full spectrum of our Roaring Fork Valley population.) These leaders gathered to found an organization committed to “creating a safe space to build relationships and trust to working together” on valley-wide social problems. The organization is called the Manaus Valley Project (MVP). It is the brainchild of George Stranahan, a local philanthropist, and Rabbi David Segal. Rabbi Segal has long been a very strong voice for open communication between all people – regardless of race, religion, age or any other seeming “difference”.
A week ago, a team of ten people from the Chapel attended the first Sponsors Assembly for MVP, held at The Orchard church in Carbondale. The entire program was presented in both English and Spanish – something I realized is mandatory down valley. Over two hundred people filled the hall, chatting in multiple languages. After a welcome and opening prayer, nine valley residents told personal stories representative of challenges faced by local families. The high cost of living was prominent – particularly the prohibitive cost of medical care. Immigration issues also plague families often required to spend years apart from loved ones in the path towards citizenship. The critical lack of sufficient expert psychiatric care was underscored. Transportation and domestic violence also came up. It was a heartful! One couldn’t help but be deeply touched by the variety and depth of challenges facing so many.
We then broke out into the groups with which we’d come. Participants were invited to brainstorm how they might engage their own constituents in conversation, particularly in hosting house-meetings to allow us to really hear each other’s stories. From there, we will reconvene in later summer to determine those areas where we might collectively be able to make real and lasting change. Suffice it to say, we cannot wait to begin to hear how this will unfold for us here at Snowmass Chapel and in the greater Roaring Fork Valley.
Each of the fifteen founding sponsors of the MVP has also contributed financially towards the project’s growth. The Chapel contributed $5K. All told, $55K has been invested from the founding sponsors. George Stranahan and the Manaus Fund generously offered to match all donated funds!
In closing, a well-deserved tribute to Rabbi Segal was offered by Father Bert Chilson (St. Stephen’s Church in Glenwood) and Charla. A huge round of applause followed and the meeting adjourned.
If you have an interest in being involved in breaking down cultural barriers and working together to SOLVE PROBLEMS please contact Charla at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, what a breath of fresh air!