Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Once a year the Mountain Forum for Peace has a members’ meeting, a picnic—a time to acknowledge accomplishments and funds raised and spent, and to enjoy each other’s cooking in a lavish pot luck picnic.
On Sunday the MFP members met at the Chipeta Park pavilion and while their meeting went on, the sound of children playing on the swings and slides was appropriate background music. Teens walked past and waved hello, some of them having been the beneficiaries of the MFP funding coffers.
The non-profit organization’s largest fund raiser is the annual yard sale, which brought in about $12,000, one of the largest amounts ever. The proceeds were warranted to the following causes: Naropa Peace Studies Scholarship, $1000; Nederland High School No Place for Hate, $1,000; HealthKind/Teso Safe Motherhood Project, Beverly Lyne Upgrade, $5000; Students for Education Empowerment and Development, Zambian Student Scholarship, $500; Together ACT NOW, Malawi Student, $710; Doctors Without Borders, Phillipines, $500, Peace Place, $450; Whole Foods Bread Pickup, $240; Neopali Hiker Search, Traci Ross, $200; Nederland Seniors, $200; Gilpin Seniors, $200; Nederland Food Bank, $200; Gilpin Food Bank, $200, Liz Caile Writing Award, TBO, NES CAP Program, $150. The total amount of donations is $6,358.00.
One of the recipients of MFP is the No Place For Hate organization. Project leader Lori Kinczel described some of the activities that NMSHS students were able to participate in, including bringing students from the city to the mountains, to have a look at a different way of daily living.
Kinczel took a group of NHS seniors to spend an afternoon in Chatauqua Park, most of them having never been there.
One of the speakers at the meeting was Dr. Jomar Suarez who said he was representing the 7 Healing Stars Oneness Center located at Charlie’s Ranch in Black Hawk. Dr. Suarez also launched operations at three contiguous buildings in downtown Black Hawk.
MFP board chairperson Teagen Blakey at 20 years old is the youngest person to take over the leadership of the group. She assumed the position after Dianne Fleming resigned last year.
Like so many mountain residents, Teagen Blakey loves outdoor activities from biking and hiking to kayaking and camping. She grew up in the mountains outside of Nederland. As a child she found great pleasure in helping in the garden and pulling up the fall beets.
She has always had a great affinity for animals and enjoyed visiting her neighbors’ dogs, horses, and cats and bringing them special treats. As she’s gotten older she’s taken on greater responsibility in taking care of them while their owners are away.
As an eight-year-old, Teagen began taking gymnastics classes. “Through the years it’s proven to be not just a physical exercise, but a mental exercise in overcoming my fears and persisting through months of frustration,” says Teagen. Today she is part of an advanced team and is working on skills she had never imagined she would have. In addition, she has also begun coaching young gymnasts.
In sixth grade, Teagen began homeschooling so that she could spend more time truly understanding what she was studying, as well as have more time to enjoy the other aspects of life outside of school. One year her father told her of a writing contest sponsored by the Mountain Forum for Peace, which she took up as a great writing opportunity for her school work. Over the next three years she continued entering the writing contest until she was asked to join the Mountain Forum for Peace Board as a teen member. After Dianne Fleming retired from the board last year, Teagen was elected as Chair, in large part due to her organizational skills and her attention to detail, something that has always been natural for her.
In the upcoming year, she plans to travel to other parts of the world seeking the new experiences that traveling could bring.
The MFP will continue its good works in the upcoming year and looks forward to receiving yard sale items as residents clean out closets throughout the year. It these funds that help the group help so many other organizations.