Mask project puts faces on community's caring


— A philanthropic effort to aid hospice and public health nurses is not the first time and likely won't be the last that the Steamboat community has demonstrated its commitment to caring for others.

"Beyond the Face" is a display of more than 50 unique masks, most crafted by local residents, that are available for purchase by silent auction. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to hospice and the Visiting Nurse Association of northwest Colorado.

A grand finale and reception for the silent auction will begin at 5:30 p.m., Friday at the Steamboat Pilot/Steamboat Today building. Refreshments and hors doeurves will be served. Masks will be awarded to the highest bidders at 7 p.m. For information call Georgia Taylor at 879-7373.

VNA Director Sue Birch said "Beyond the Mask" organizers encouraged people to use their creative energies.

"We sat down with local artists and invited 40 to 50 people in the community to take part," she said.

Response has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.

"We have masks made by all age groups children, Olympians, professionals, mechanics. It's really an eclectic group of masks, and it's a real fun exhibit. We really encourage people to come out and capture the spirit of caring," she said.

The masks are on display in the lobby and conference room of the Steamboat Pilot/Today, 1901 Curve Plaza. The newspapers are among the event's main corporate sponsors.

Former City Councilwoman Paula Cooper Black is just one of the many Steamboat residents who sat down to make a mask, and proved Birch right:

"We're all artists," she said. "We all have special, unique things within us. And this is helping to make the world a little better place; we can make differences."

Black made her mask based on the book, "When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple."

"I've always loved the idea of being a spunky old woman," Black said. "So I made my mask based on that, and on the thought of growing old in Steamboat."

Native Excavating owner Ed MacArthur and his family took a different tact in decorating their plaster mask.

"We covered the mask with dirt to show our love for the earth," the MacArthurs wrote. "Ed enjoys working with dirt, moving it and shaping it."

Bob Logan, owner of Bob's Downtown Conoco, mounted his mask on a hubcap, and decorated it with, among other things, car keys.

"The circle represents the community I belong to," he wrote about his mask. "My thoughts, dreams and efforts to achieve my goals are the key to my happiness. The gifts and talents that I have been given must be used to help other people."

Steamboat School District Superintendent Cyndy Simms, 6-and-a-half-year-old Hannah Barkey, President of the Regional Affordable Living Foundation Karen Beauvais, and Jim "Moose" Barrows are just a few more of the Steamboat locals who contributed their time and energy to the benefit.

"The community has come out again in support," Birch said. "We are so thankful that the community comes forward to help maintain our health services."

And it's not just individuals. Groups of friends and businesses have contributed masks and efforts as well.

"Suzanne (Schlicht) at the Pilot has been wonderful about taking the corporate lead. Steamboat Brewery, Strings, the Mixed Media group it's just phenomenal," Birch said.

Birch said that hospice and VNA can really use the financial help.

"The Balanced Budget Act has spun home care into some really tough times," she said. "Monies from the federal government just don't cover the costs of health care out here."

Hospice and VNA will use the funds raised they're hoping for at least $10,000 for operating expenses, so that they can help patients regardless of their ability to pay for health care.

"There are seniors who need help with drugs and services costs," Birch said. "And one-third of Steamboat's children have no health insurance."

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail


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