Last week, two of the finest humans on the planet passed on. Chris Chacos and Thich Nhat Hanh were my mentors, teachers and inspiration. Please reflect a moment upon their lives and resolve along with me to try and live gentler, more peaceful lives. The world is a better place because of them.
Buddy Program benefits
What have I learned during these hard times? I have learned to lean on my community and that community really matters. We have so many opportunities in the Roaring Fork Valley, so how do you choose one? I recommend the Buddy Program where you can make a direct impact on one person’s life.
Three years ago, I wanted to give my time to an organization that REALLY makes a difference. I chose the Buddy Program. I wanted to help a young person see all the good things I see and help them develop into a well-rounded individual. Little did I realize that all that would be turned around on me! My Little Buddy has taught me about accepting myself, patience and unconditional love. I have also gained a whole new family and so many life experiences. My Little Buddy and her family are now a constant in my life and I can’t wait to see where the future takes us and the best part is that I know we will all do it together!
So did the Buddy Program make an impact on one person’s life? Nope, it has impacted many lives. Most notably mine!
Please give your time to this great nonprofit. The team at the Buddy Program is very supportive and cares very deeply about this program. They will help you succeed in this Mentorship. From free experiences to monthly newsletters and great case managers, Big Buddies always have the support they need. Go to www.buddyprogram.org and check out all that the Buddy Program has done in 49 years of mentoring! Find your way to join or support this great program.
A thanks from our birds
Roaring Fork Audubon (RFA) extends a big thanks to RJ Paddywacks for supporting RFA with its annual bird seed fundraiser.
Locally-owned RJ Paddywacks donated a portion of its sales towards this important fundraiser, helping our all volunteer board bring awareness to local conservation issues facing our native animals — especially the birds. Our hope is that awareness and education transfer to protection. Please join us in supporting RJ Paddywacks! Thanks!
President Roaring Fork Audubon
After a sunny walk along the path at Crown Mountain park with hundreds of other walkers and their numerous pet dogs these past few weeks, I want to say thank you, from myself and everyone in the Valley to the Crown Mountain Park staff.
The cement path is almost totally dry and we all sure do enjoy the ability to be outside without the worry of slick and icy walkways. The staff has worked diligently to get a few trouble ice spots all cleared this year.
A special thank you to Becky, Nate and their staff. We all sure appreciate this special winter walkway. Wow! Also, don’t we all love the new ice skate rink! Thanks to all involved.
Happy winter walks and chats with neighbors and friends.
A matter of public health
As I observe the myriad of controversies and confusion around the COVID-19 pandemic, I am saddened by the misinformation and manipulation being perpetrated and how it largely ignores the most fragile and important part of our population: children. I became a pediatrician because I believe that the future of our world depends on the optimal health and development of children. There are so many variables from genes to environment that can influence how that happens, but the most important and influential is being nurtured and protected by a consistent parental figure.
Decades of research have identified a phenomenon called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which are derived from environmental, social and interpersonal adversity. The short and long-term impact of ACEs have clearly been associated with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, suicide, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, violence, obesity, reduced educational achievement and the early onset of a long list of chronic diseases that shorten lives and dramatically increase medical costs. There are many sources of ACEs in childhood and their impact varies with setting and age, but one of the most consistent and harmful causes is the loss of a parent or primary caregiver.
In the first year of the pandemic alone, studies have estimated that nearly 145,000 children lost a parent or custodial grandparent due to the virus. With better care, medical interventions and effective vaccination that number is lower for the second year, but is still devastating. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight as we see mutations causing new strains that quickly spread through the population.
A child may observe suffering, witness death, carry the guilt of being the source, or imagined source, of a parent’s illness, or fear they themselves could get sick or die from this stealth virus that has a dramatic and potentially devastating impact on their lives. And not many of us consider the confusion, embarrassment or anger a child may feel when their parent denies the disease exists and/or they refuse to respect public health recommendations or mandates and, therefore, the health and safety of others. It is nothing short of confounding for children to see their parents refuse to be vaccinated nor let them receive the vaccine themselves.
No one has experienced a world-wide pandemic even close to this in over a century. The U.S. toll is about 64,000,000 cases, 845,000 deaths, and 4,000,000 hospitalizations. Without vaccination, it is estimated that there would be three to five times more deaths and hospitalizations, and a more severe disease with more complications and long-term disabilities.
Masks work; bandanas and lip covers do not. They are not magic. They are helpful and an important measure to reduce spread when people are in confined spaces. Vaccines are not magic, but they reduce the burden of illness and death. If you are not masking, refusing the vaccine or ignoring other public health measures, you are doing more harm than good.
It is not mask mandates, vaccination, social distancing, or virtual learning that are causing the most irreparable harm to our children. It is the real impact of the disease causing death, disability, observed suffering and guilt.
It also has the indirect impact of the politicization of our public health.