Four Corners Community Voices

Apr 27, 2020

Personal stories from the Coronavirus Pandemic submitted by KSUT listeners.

KSUT is seeking local stories about personal experiences during the Coronavirus Pandemic. We're broadening our initial request for "positive stories" to include more personal stories.  

What's your story? How do you remain connected? What worries you? What are you grateful for? How do you spend your days? We've posted a few submissions to start, and hope you'll consider sharing yours here

From Lori Smith, a teacher at Sunnyside Elementary: I wanted to share a positive covid story. I know most people realize that the Durango 9R School District is delivering food to kids around the county. I'm not sure that people really understand how hard our lunch ladies and bus drivers are working to keep this program going. I'm a teacher at Sunnyside and I am really proud of Miss Mooney and Mr. Dave Mooney.  I believe they have another lunch lady from Big Picture High School, Lisa, who's cooking lunches for even more children who don't attend our school. I hope that you can give a shout out to my co-workers at Sunnyside and to all schools in Durango who are working hard to keep our families fed.

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From Richard Carpenter with Ultrasteam: As a company, we donated hundreds of N-95 and KN-95 masks so far (as well as some surgical ones) to local healthcare and first responders including Durango Police, Ignacio Police, La Plata County Sheriffs department and firefighters, as well as Mercy and Animas Surgical. We've also donated gloves and hand sanitizers to those folks, and we have been contributing monetarily to LPCHS, the Food Bank and the local restaurant initiative that makes meals for doctors and nurses, as well as dog food for the TARA project.

I personally received a container of soup and a loaf of fresh bread from the "Soup Angel", delivered by a friend of mine...and aside from how delicious the soup was I can't describe how that made my day. 

And of course as an essential small business we're trying to navigate this new landscape, same as everyone else, and it's challenging, but we'll get through it.

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From Ann Marie McCarthy: As a nurse practitioner with the Indian Health Service and an EMT with a volunteer fire department in New Mexico, I am working at my full time job and as a volunteer. Therefore, I am spending a fair amount of time outside of my home at a time when I would like to be home. However, I have learned to appreciate the time I do have home with my husband and my four legged friends (two dogs and a cat). Prior to Covid-19, I took for granted time at home with family, now I cherish it ever so much. '

I also have developed a new appreciation of my son, a young adult, who is now completing his last semester at Fort Lewis College, as a theater major. Prior to Covid-19 he was facing the challenge of his last semester, with a classic case of "senioritis." After Covid-19, he wonderfully tackled the transition to all online classes, including cancellation of his senior seminar plays (which was to be his capstone experience as a sound designer). I am so proud of how he tackled the challenge of this "plot twist." 

Essentially, my positive story is a simple one of appreciation for my family and my home.

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From Deb Nielson, a Durango School Teacher:  Durango Educational Support Personnel Association (DESPA) organized a food drive for the Take Home Backpack program Manna Soup Kitchen runs each week for families, so they have food over the weekend when the school district is not serving school lunches. Hundreds of pounds of food were donated by the community at 3 different school sites on Thursday, which DESPA members picked up and delivered to Manna on Friday.  Find more on the good work being done to support Manna's programs here

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From Donna Mae Baukat with Community Compassion Outreach: Our organization has been sharing food with people experiencing homelessness & those with food insecurity. Since 12/1/2018, we take our homemade foods, fast-foods, snacks, desserts and cases of bottled water to Schneider Park (rain, snow, and sunshine). During the COVID-19 social distancing, we changed our way of sharing foods. Instead of setting up tables of casseroles, our volunteers have brought individualized packaged foods to add to a plastic grocery bag. We moved our serving time from 12:30pm to 3:00pm, since Manna provides meals to go between 9am-11am. Our later schedule is an option or a second meal of the day. We take leftover meals to Purple Cliffs, even if there are only 5 filled bags. No food goes to waste. People who learn about our food sharing have dropped off dozens of prepared boxes of meals. 

The Good Food Collective has provided us with fresh foods and individualized restaurant meals that we pickup and deliver to Purple Cliffs. 

Our organization has helped people experiencing homelessness, but during this time of health concerns we’ve add rental assistance for undocumented and United States citizens when we receive donations intended for that purpose. I’ve been sewing cloth masks for friends, healthcare providers, and the homeless with a 3M HVAC filter as a third or fourth layer. 

A resident donated (unsolicited) four (4) heavy duty canvas tarps that we took to the Purple Cliffs. The camp leader and others built a frame to create a kitchen. Another gentleman on Facebook learned that we needed to help charge cell phones, so he loan us a portable generator. Unfortunately, my husband had difficulty transporting the generator in the back of our SUV. Salvation Army later donated ten single-use cell phone chargers that we handed out to some of our clients. 

While there has been only one thermometer at the Purple Cliffs, Centura Health donated digital thermometers to us so we could take a several to the encampment. We have some on hand for the Saturday crowd. 

One of our regular clients returned from the West Coast about three weeks ago, and he hadn’t had a shower in a long spell. With the help of a donation from a faith base person, we booked one night for him to enjoy a shower and he used the tub to wash his clothes. He had been on a 30 hour train ride after a failed attempt to catch a flight from Washington State via the hot zones of the Coronavirus in Northern California and Oregon. 

All of these opportunities have been because of Durangoans and people wanting to remain anonymous. It’s wonderful to be the go-between in times like these!

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From Marissa Hunt, with Manna - The Durango Soup Kitchen: Due to the health crisis, we had to close our dining room in mid-March. Since then, we have been serving free, individually packed grab-and-go meals from 9 - 11 daily. We don't limit or monitor how many meals people take with them and encourage to grab enough to feed their families, neighbors, or loved ones who could use this service as well. 

In the past month and a half, we have seen our daily meal numbers rise dramatically. In the past, we would generally serve around 150 meals a day, whereas now we serve anywhere between 400 - 700. This is a combination of our daily grab-and-go's, sack lunches we distribute to other organizations and The Purple Cliffs, and bulk meals we send out with partner organizations who distribute them to local neighborhoods. Additionally, we are supporting local students with weekly bags of food through our Take-Home Backpack Program, which has continued through the help of our partners at Durango School District 9-R and the Boys and Girls Club of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. When school operates normally, we usually distribute between 150-200 of these bags to students on free/reduced lunch programs each week. We are now preparing 480 bags for weekly distribution.

Though the collective need that our community has been thrust into may not be a positive, we have seen a lot of grassroots community building grow around it. For instance, there is a single mother who comes by a few times a week and picks up 11 meals to distribute to her neighbors. There is a man from Allison, Colorado who we have coordinated bulk meal pick ups with - he distributes this food to 18 families in his area. Just yesterday we coordinated with a lady who picked up 10 meals and delivered them to essential employees working at a construction site so they could enjoy lunch together. Lastly, we coordinated with a local woman who picked up a large amount of single-serving food, set it up for pickup outside her house, and was able to distribute it among 75 people.

There is no denying that we are facing a collective hardship right now. But that doesn't stop people from helping, supporting, and spreading love in their communities. Manna is so grateful to be a landing house for these instances of generosity and kindness. 

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Share your story here.