Grabbing cash for a good cause

Marcia Baxter keeps an eye on the cash coming her way as she tries to grab the bills of larger denominations for Durango Friends of the Arts at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort’s Nonprofit Money Booth. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Barb Washburn

Marcia Baxter keeps an eye on the cash coming her way as she tries to grab the bills of larger denominations for Durango Friends of the Arts at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort’s Nonprofit Money Booth.

It was a flash of kicking, grabbing and swirling cash! For 15 lucky nonprofits, Sky Ute Casino and Resort’s annual Nonprofit Money Booth resulted in some very appreciated money added to their bank accounts.

Since 1999, the casino has invited a group of nonprofits every year to gather cash for causes. Since then, the casino, or, in other words, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, has donated more than $250,000 through this one event alone.

Applicants come from across Southwest Colorado and Northwest New Mexico, and this year there were a record number of groups vying for a spot in the booth.

Charley Flagg, Sky Ute Casino’s general manager, told the nonprofits, “The fact that you were selected means we believe your organization truly does make a positive impact in the lives of others.”

Everyone gathered for a reception before gearing up for those all important 45 seconds in the booth. It’s a madhouse when it gets going, with the designated money grabbers pushing bills through the tiny slot as fast as they can. All the nonprofits started the event with a check for $500 before the craziness began.

Durango Friends of the Arts, which was invited to participate this year for the first time, went all out. Members sporting boas, crowns – they’re the ultimate divas, after all – and lots of glitz came prepared to cheer on their woman in the booth, Marcia Baxter. (She wore a crown, too.)

The totals raised, which included the $500 seed money, by the organizations from Southwest Colorado were: Durango Friends of the Arts, $2,320; Durango Food Bank, $2,175; Tri-County Head Start, $710; Community Connections, $2,535; La Plata Youth Services, $1,710; the Violence Prevention Coalition of Southwest Colorado, $2,445; The Adult Learning Center and Pine River Community Learning Center, $1,470; St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church’s Food Pantry, $2,295; Mountain Middle School, $1,670; the Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners, $1,415; and Invent Now Inc., $1,585. Four northern New Mexico charities raised $6,370 between them.

Organizations are eligible only every other year, so next year the group will look completely different – it may be completely boa-less – but the money will still go to good causes.

While I’m thinking about the Friends of the Arts, I should remind all those artists out there that applications for its Artists Market, which will be held June 21 at the Edgemont Picnic Grounds, are due by Friday.

There is a limit of 50 spaces, and the fee for non-DFA members is $35. Artists are welcome to share a space, but an application is needed for each artist. (How can they promote you if they don’t know you’re coming?)

This is not a juried show, and all artists in all media are welcome. It’s going to be a lively day, with entertainment and food and beverages available. It sounds like a lovely way to spend a Saturday, and I have it on my calender.

Participants at this inaugural event will be given priority for space next year.

Applications are available on the group’s website, or at the Art Supply House, 24A in Town Plaza.

Money raised will go into the Friends of the Arts Grants Fund, which supports local artists and arts organizations, including a lot of programs in the schools. So this event meets the DFA’s mission in two ways, because giving artists a place to sell their work is important, too.

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Happy spring birthday wishes go out to Gloria Augustine, Amelia Metz, Chris Chambers, Susanne Loucks, the Rev. Bob Seney, Ashley Hening, Evelyn Black, Ron Huth, Brianna Sandhaus, Donald Yale, Molly Black, Harold Young, Beth Barnhardt, David Bulen, Duane Heidenreich, PaulSheppard, Riley Wanzek, Sarah Leavitt, Shep Shepherd, Lucas Hoffman, Pat James, Richard Byrd, Shelley Hatfield, Joyce Fontana, John “J.T.” Zink, Luke Meyer, Kendall Millward, Edde Lyons, Chris Serwe, NatalieSilver, Judy Olson, Robert Manning, Anna Kidd, Carol Simmons, Joan Spicer, Rose Bartol, Janet May, Kristi Ramsey, Elsa Caudle, Jan Emmanuel, Josh Van Blarcum and Diane Shaline.

And very happy birthday greetings go out to Sage Remington, who turned 70 on Tuesday, and one of my favorite people, Patty Hain, who celebrates her special day Friday.

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People ride in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic for lots of reasons – because they like to compete, to prove they can or so they can say they’ve done it, to mention just a few.

Joe Bishop is racing to benefit two of his favorite causes: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado and SOS Outreach, which gets young people involved in the community and works with them on life skills such as courage, integrity, compassion and wisdom. (Bishop is the regional program director of SOS Outreach, which will make him even more committed to ride the 50 miles and climb the almost 7,000 feet on the way to Silverton.)

Bishop dusted off his road bike for the first time since the 1970s and started training in mid-December.

He’s ready to go and is now collecting pledges. He’ll split the proceeds between the two organizations, which both make a profound difference in kids’ lives.

To pledge, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 247-3720, and to learn more, visit or

This way, you can say you participated in the Iron Horse without riding a mile.

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When the League of Women Voters held its annual meeting Thursday in the lobby of the Rochester Hotel, members were looking forward to hearing from guest speaker Pat Pascoe, a former senator in the Colorado General Assembly and the author of Helen Ring Robinson: Colorado Senator and Suffragist.

Little did they know seven-time Emmy Award winner Ed Asner was staying at the hotel while here to perform his one-man show on Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “FDR.”

As he was passing through the lobby, he announced his longtime support of the league, pulled out his wallet and paid dues to become a member. Asner commented that he wished men had the “gumption” to form a League of Men Voters – but they don’t need to, because men are quite welcome in the league these days.

Then, during his performance at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College that evening, he informed the crowd that he had just become a member of the League of Women Voters. You can’t buy endorsements like Asner’s.

Thanks to Jill Patton for sending me the scoop. How fun was that?

Oh, and Pascoe didn’t let his “upstaging” deter her from giving a delightful talk.

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Going for an after anniversary dinner stroll on these lovely evenings are Paul and Pat Wainwright, Roy and Gwen Cook, George and Susan Rambo, Jim and Ruth Micikas, Bob and Beth Barnhardt, Bob and Marion Wengler and Phil and Ellen Patterson.

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