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Photo of CMC volunteers at Habitat for Humanity house.

As part of Colorado Mountain College’s 50th anniversary celebration, college staff, faculty and friends volunteered at the Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity home construction project in Nathrop. From left are Trey Shelton, Rich Utech, Harrison Miller, Chris McCarty, Kendra Rhodes, Rachel Pokrandt, Kristin Colon, Holly Bevan, Amy Dennis, Kristen Voegtle, Veronica Dawson and Mark Jenkins.

A group of Colorado Mountain College staff, faculty and friends left their classrooms and computers for the day to volunteer at a Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity house that’s currently under construction in Nathrop.

“This is Colorado Mountain College’s 50th anniversary year,” said Kristin Colon, Colorado Mountain College vice president for advancement and CMC Foundation CEO. Colon happily traveled from her Glenwood Springs office Aug. 16 to get her hands dirty, climbing scaffolding and running a cordless drill.

“Our celebrations this year are focused on saying thank you and giving back to the communities we serve,” she said. “Working here with Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity was one small way we thought we could show our appreciation for this region.”

‘Transformational impacts’

Volunteers working at Habitat.

From left, clockwise, Holly Bevan, Candy Elkind and Kristin Voegtle at Colorado Mountain College’s volunteer build day at the Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity home construction project in Nathrop. In celebrating CMC’s 50th anniversary this year, the college is giving back to the communities it serves through events and outreach projects.

Although many CMC employees spend their days tapping on keyboards or teaching, not everyone who volunteered was unfamiliar with construction work. Trey Shelton from Colorado Mountain College Leadville is the outdoor studies program manager, and both Chris McCarty and Mark Jenkins are mechanics and groundskeepers, also at CMC Leadville.

Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity is an affiliate of the nonprofit organization, Habitat for Humanity International, which – among other supportive civic-based activities – builds affordable homes for community members. Habitat for Humanity relies on volunteers, many with no prior experience, to help build homes, which reduces the organization’s operating costs.

“We know lives are transformed through education and we also know that is true when someone has home stability,” said Colon. “It was great fun to spend the day together as colleagues and partners and imagine the transformational impact that this house was going to have.”

CMC serving Chaffee County

Colorado Mountain College consolidated Chaffee County’s numerous classroom meeting sites into a main location when the CMC Chaffee County was completed in 2005. Photo Colorado Mountain College archives

Colorado Mountain College has locations in 11 communities throughout the state’s north-central mountains. The college’s Chaffee County Academic Center provides educational opportunities to residents of Buena Vista, Salida, Poncha Springs and more.

Chaffee County was not among the six counties that voted to be included in Colorado Mountain College’s district. However, since the college was established in 1967, classes were held throughout the county, in storefronts, churches, restaurants and offices. Chaffee County graduates have received 318 associate degrees, eight bachelor’s degrees and 323 certificates of completion since 1985.

Friends of the college led by Charles Forster, then-CMC Foundation Board chairman, launched a campaign to construct an academic building in Buena Vista. On land donated by Ron Southard and Carol Perrin, the CMC Chaffee County Academic Center opened in 2005.

For information about Chaffee County Habitat for Humanity, call 719-395-0482 or visit chaffeehabitat.org. For information about Colorado Mountain College Chaffee County, call 719-395-8419 or go to coloradomtn.edu/campuses/buena_vista/.