Sweet playhouse to aid Big Brothers Big Sisters

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Durango High School seniors Alex Rodriguez, left, and Jose Carrasco set up the two-level playhouse for the Home & Ranch Show. Construction of the playhouse was made possible through the generosity of many local donors and Shaun Smith at DHS, who teaches construction skills.

In my day, a playhouse was a few boards nailed up in a tree or blankets draped over some chairs. But some lucky Durango kids have gotten bona fide playhouses thanks to supporters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado.

And now one more family is going to have a custom-designed playhouse in its backyard.

Raffle tickets for the 2013 entry in Homes with Heart are now for sale for $5 each.

The house invests in our community’s young people in two ways, the first of which is that Durango High School students, under the direction of Shaun Smith, learned important construction skills while building the playhouse. Carpentry, metal-working and computer-aided design classes were all involved in building the playhouse.

Troy Dyer, whose firm ClassiqueBilt Development and Construction LLC served as the general contractor, was involved in making sure this was a quality project.

Of course, credit must also go to the many donors of materials, including Alpine Lumber, Pro-Build, 4 Corners Roofing and Sheet Metal LLC, Modern Renovations Inc., Monarch Iron Works and Residential Vaults, Precision Painting, M. Leeder Construction and Commercial Flooring Services.

The house features contemporary architecture with two levels, lots of windows (11 tempered glass and two that open), a pitched roof, a covered deck on the second level with an 11-foot slide and ladder access, hardwood floors, a steel handrail custom-fabricated by the DHS metal shop, two custom doors, interior drywall and exterior stucco finishes, along with silver metal siding and roof.

Words can’t do it justice. You can check it out near the entrance to the fish hatchery at about Main Avenue and 16th Street.

To purchase raffle tickets out in Bodo Park, give BBBS a call at 247-3720 or stop by the office at 72 Suttle Drive during business hours. If you’d rather pick yours up downtown, call Jonathan Donnaway at 946-9021. Or like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado’s Facebook page for information about when it will be selling tickets.

The drawing will be held at 3 p.m. June 15 at Daddy Fest. You do not need to be present to win, but because Daddy Fest is a blast and supports another great cause, Durango Discovery Museum, you might as well be there to hear the good news.

Big Brothers Big Sisters helps us be the village in the African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

BBBS needs two things to succeed – money and mentors. And yes, the mentors are all volunteers, but as we have seen in recent child-abuse cases, you can’t play it too safely when it comes to kids’ well-being. So the money for ongoing match support, background checks and monitoring is just as important.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has a program called Study Connection, a school-based program in which adults agree to spend one hour a week to help students with homework and life.

The longest running match in Study Connection is coming to an end, because, after nine years, the Little’s family is moving to Arizona. Families moving for economic reasons is one of the main reasons matches are coming to an end at BBBS.

That length is a testament to the kinds of relationships these matches build. (Although let me hasten to add that only a one-year commitment is needed to volunteer as a Big.) I have no doubt the Big and Little will remain in contact, and that the Little will continue to thrive after all those years of one-on-one attention.

If you don’t need or want a playhouse, you could always just write a check to BBBS, P.O. Box 2154, Durango, CO 81302.

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Enjoying the gift of some much needed moisture for their birthdays are Ayden Gulon, Janelle Meyer, Ray Wilson, Jim Davis, the stylin’ Diane Welle, Roger Folk, Ace Hall, Jim Lewin, Don Mapel, Susie Robertson, Jane Marentette, Paul Duft, Diane Estes, Betsy Morris, John Loftis, Jack Llewellyn, Diana Longwell, Winston Marugg, Greg Sparks, Mark Dickmann, Kris Ryall, Karen Mordi, Leigh Morris and Violet Trujillo.

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Many congratulations go out to Louise White, who was honored as Volunteer of the Month for April by the national Bowlers to Veterans Link.

White first became aware of the organization when her late husband, Clint, was hospitalized at the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a brain tumor. (He was a veteran of World War II.) Both Whites were avid bowlers, and Clint White was thrilled to be taken bowling, albeit in a wheelchair.

Once White saw how much joy the excursions to a bowling alley brought to him and his fellow vets, she became determined to raise money so the activity could continue. Since 1985, she has led the BVL committee for various incarnations of what is now the La Plata County United States Bowling Congress for many of the last 28 years, even when we didn’t have a bowling alley.

In fact, White led the way on all kinds of fundraising activities, from bowling tournaments to garage and bake sales, which at one time led to her receiving a plaque on behalf of the local association at the national tournament in Tulsa for most money raised per capita. From her idol, Helen Duval, no less.

An octogenarian who has been league bowling for more than 50 years, White is still raising money for BVL. At the La Plata County USBC’s annual meeting in May, it will present a check for $2,000 to the Grand Junction VA hospital. In total, White has helped the group raise more than $20,000.

Thanks to Jane Silver for the heads up.

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In a clarification from Saturday’s Neighbors, booths at the Durango Friends of the Arts’ Artist Market in June are free for DFA members and $35 for nonmembers. And because membership for individuals is $35, it can be a sweet two-fer. Email Membership Chairwoman Carol Treat at caroltreat@durango.net to become a member, and visit www.durangofriends.org to book your booth for the market, which will be held June 22 at Santa Rita Park.

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The spring anniversaries continue with these celebratin’ couples – Jim and Ann Ruetschle, John and Jenny Hill, Vance and Carrie Thurman, Tom and Karla Sluis, Paul and Monica Broderick and Duane and Mary Mykra.

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