Beating the cold for Habitat

Lon Erwin, right, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County, talks with his board treasurer, Rich Kolb, during the Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors Christmas party benefitting Habitat on Dec. 14 at the Main Mall. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Lon Erwin, right, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of La Plata County, talks with his board treasurer, Rich Kolb, during the Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors Christmas party benefitting Habitat on Dec. 14 at the Main Mall.

It’s funny how, when we’re children, Christmas is mostly about getting, but when we become adults, we’re happiest giving.

That has certainly been the case this winter, as businesses are throwing their holiday parties while giving the proceeds to favorite causes. Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors held its holiday fête at the Main Mall, thanks to Ted Hermesman. It makes it easy, owner/broker Gina Piccoli said, because the mall is completely decked out so she doesn’t have to arrange for decorating on top of the catering. And there’s plenty of space.

While the weather from a much-prayed-for snowstorm kept attendance lighter than in previous years – about 210 braved the ice and snow, everyone who went had a great time and enjoyed being able to catch up without such a crush.

Norton’s Catering did its usual bang-up job with a menu of artichoke green-chile dip, spicy clam and spinach dip, a large platter of grilled vegetables (and thanks to all the caterers who have been including healthy items amid the richer goodies), grilled bratwursts with caramelized onions, meatball skewers, bruschetta and a carving station with pepper-crusted roast beef and herb-crusted turkey and pork loin. And let’s not forget Chuck Norton’s trademark bread pudding.

The 45 brokers, Realtors and real estate agents at Coldwell Banker voted at the beginning of the year to select Habitat for Humanity as its cause for the year, though, as Piccoli says, they tend to continue to support causes from previous years as well.

Habitat for Humanity was selected in honor of the late Kathy Hodges, who lost her battle with cancer in 2009. Hodges, a longtime Realtor with Coldwell Banker, was instrumental in launching Habitat in La Plata County.

Not only did Coldwell Banker dedicate the proceeds of its Christmas party, almost $1,800, to Habitat, about 25 members of the firm went out and worked on the build in for this year’s homes in Bayfield.

Habitat Executive Director Lon Erwin was on hand to greet the guests and thank them for supporting affordable housing for working families in La Plata County. In April 2013, the organization will begin the builds for its 39th and 40th homes, which will be in Bayfield’s Fox Farm Village. The hunt will be on for volunteers, so if you’re handy (and even if you’re not), call 382-2215.

Even in these recent lean real-estate years, Coldwell Banker has continued its tradition of throwing this great party to benefit local good causes. It’s a great demonstration of both holiday and community spirit.

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Nothing says happy birthday like candles glowing in the dark of winter for Carole Sheldon, Tom Caver Jr., Norm Stern, Nicki Massieon, Bonna Steinle, Mark Rahner, Grant Pierce, Beth Cugini, Trina Martin, Diane Pratt, Anne Putnam, Ashleigh TerMaat, Harper Hartman, Toby Ward, Julie Atkinson, Glennda Baumgardner, Bruce Mayer, Steve Nogarede, Paula Seay, David Lobato, Eric Speck, Reg Graham, Ryan Phelps, Jim Marentette, Lynne Mueller, Carol Connelly, Wendy Krull, Bob Kunkel, Mary Sieger, Ava Hobby, Maria Meyer, Estelle House, Ginna Harbison, Jane McLaughlin, T.J. Trump, Laurie Barker, Madison Hening, Claire Choate, Jenny Houle, Coleman Baird, Charlie Blalock, Diane Skinner, Joseph Burns, Kegan McCardell, Jan Newlin, Bob Patterson, Mina Willemin, Kelly Miller, Richard Smith, Danielle Erickson, Brody Smith, Susan Tait, Avery Blalock, Nancy Leach, Dan Goldman, Chris Berger, Bruce Carman, Carol Lyman, Gwen Cook, Vicki Calwell and Miranda Polsfut.

Special greetings go to my colleagues Chase Olivarius-McAllister and Patrick Armijo, who celebrated on Christmas Eve, and Daniel Morgenstern, who informs me he’s the other nice Jewish boy born Dec. 25.

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Coldwell Banker isn’t the only organization that made its holiday party about giving, but for the Tuesday Literary Club, the giving is fun, fun, fun.

Guests arrived at the home of Kathy Tonnessen to find it decorated to the nines. It was a potluck to beat all potlucks, because these women cook with the same passion they bring to reading. I don’t know what all the dishes were, but there were three shrimp offerings. For a seafood lover, that’s heaven.

In previous years, members brought an item or two to be sold in a silent auction or small raffle, with everything from chocolates and baked goods to hot pots and spa treatments. I remember with great fondness the late Laura Macchiarini Langdon’s pizzelles and the beautiful hand-beaded bag from Bali donated by Nicki Massieon I scored last year.

This year, the club decided to go back to an earlier tradition from the club’s 74-year-old history, an auction of Christmas ornaments. Each of the 25 attendees was asked to bring an ornament to donate, although many decided to bring more than one.

When I wrote about Tuesday Lit after its St. Patrick’s Day festivities, which included a book auction, I ran a photo of Suzanne Zerbe in a lively auction pose, which garnered her a great deal of affectionate teasing. She decided to make the most of it, offering her services as auctioneer for $5 a pop, and several guests took her up on the offer.

Co-hostess Elvira England would have made Vanna White jealous as she made sure everyone got a good look at the item on the block.

Where I wrote down the donor, I’ll share it, but it was a party, and I was having a blast, so my notes are a tad incomplete.

Many had purchased their ornaments from another nonprofit, including the Durango Arts Center (Julie Ward and Diane Gordon); slippers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (courtesy of Bee Atwood); a parasitical juniper mistletoe from Frosty Pines, which provides wilderness experience for children and adults (donated by Barb Colbert) ; and my Waterford bell purchased at the Durango Children’s Chorale’s silent auction two days earlier. I should be environmentally responsible here and mention that the parasitical juniper mistletoe buyer was exhorted to dispose of it carefully after the holidays so it doesn’t contribute to the invasion of our forests.

Someone donated a gorgeous crackled glass ornament with beads set in the glass that was made by women in Africa to benefit women and children affected by AIDS.

Others had done some special shopping, including Betsy Clark’s entry from the Santa Fe Christmas Market and Sue Griffith’s birdhouse made of all kinds of seeds for our feathered friends.

Some people made their contributions, including Grace Jensen, who always has something cool she’s created, and Laura Alsup donated a wreath created with the help of Teresa Jordan.

But the two highlights were Pat Emmett’s Nativity scene made out of olive wood she purchased in Bethlehem several years ago on a trip, and England’s handmade pysanky eggs, a Ukrainian Easter egg technique using a wax-resistant batik method that she has mastered. Her designs are intricate and beautiful, and the eggs represent both a significant commitment of time and a ton of talent.

All told, the group raised almost $790, which will be donated to the Women’s Health Coalition to be used to help people undergoing cancer treatment pay some of their nonmedical expenses.

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It may be belated, but here’s wishing my readers the happiest of holiday seasons!

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Getting couples’ massages for some relaxing closeness (and to recover from shoveling snow) for their anniversaries are Terry and Dinah Swan, Frank and Mary Ruth Bowman, Gordon and Marcia Heidenreich, Bill and Lillian Krause, Don and Nita Anderson, Wayne and Kathy Pratt, Robert and Marie Maple, Martin and Charlotte Pirnat, Dorman and Dottie McShan, Raymond and Sue Walker, Robert and Lillian Boe, Larry and Merrillie Hock, Dave and Lynn Mitzlaff, Peter and Judith Olson, Terry and Patrice Lindeman, Thomas and Ashley Creyer, Ted and Nancy Wiedmann, Delmar and Patricia Beard, Alan and Suzanne Washburn, Ed and Patti Zink, Jim and Donna Aubrey, Chris and Cheryl Bauer, Brian and Shana Zink, Bob and Jo Etta Galbraith and Jim and Barb Edmanson.

Very special greetings go out to Dwight and Katherine Burgess, who mark their ruby anniversary, also known as the 40th, on Friday.

More special greetings go to Ward and Rita Lee, who celebrated six decades together Thursday. In 1952, the devout Catholic and Baptist eloped to an interfaith wedding that scandalized their families. I think after 60 years, we can say they proved ’em wrong – it did last!

And megagreetings go out to Murray and Jean Pearthree, who just marked their 70th anniversary. Now that’s love – and persistence!

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Here’s how to reach me:; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items.

I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people. I need to know who’s who, left to right, and who to credit with the photo.

Gina Piccoli, the owner/broker of Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, hosts her company’s holiday party at the Main Mall. The party benefited Habitat for Humanity, which Coldwell Banker has supported all year. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Gina Piccoli, the owner/broker of Coldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors, hosts her company’s holiday party at the Main Mall. The party benefited Habitat for Humanity, which Coldwell Banker has supported all year.