Showing Up

A spotlight on a Colorado non-profit that shows up:

Valley Settlement

children playing with clay in a bus
Kids on El Busesito is one of many amazing Valley Settlement programs.

We are surrounded by invitations to be present, to be mindful, and to pay it forward. Which is a good thing. That said, sometimes I feel paralyzed by all these invocations to do better, be better — it’s another way to feel inadequate. But then I hit on a simpler mantra — just show up. We all know how to show up. When someone we love or admire is struggling with tragedy or illness, we don’t need to be asked what to do. We turn up with a meal, we take over the carpool, we check in regularly by text or phone call, or we run errands for those whose lives have been upended. In short, we give. 

“We are not our brother’s keeper; we are our brother and we are our sister. We must look past complexion and see community.”

Maya Angelou 

The pandemic showed us how well communities can show up.  Locally, our down-valley non-profits got the funding and visibility they deserved. Many more full-time and part-time residents understood that this whole valley only thrives as one community, not when it is divided town by town, by north or south, or by net worth. As we transition into the long-awaited endemic chapter, we need to keep showing up. 

woman wearing a tapir silk scarf
Maria Rodman in our tapir scarf. Maria leads Valley Settlement with poise and vision. Our studio is trying to think of innovative ways to show up. We try to use role models from the community in our photoshoots and continue to work with the non-profit community. To date, we work with Conservation International, Ventana Wildlife Society, English in Action, and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

This is a giving community. This valley hosts hundreds of non-profits, and hundreds more good causes to choose from. The Roaring Fork’s Valley Settlement (VS) is one of them. It’s an easy mission to fall in love with: 

“Valley Settlement works with immigrant families in the Roaring Fork Valley to promote early childhood development, advance opportunity, and reduce barriers to accessing vital community resources.” Valley Settlement works directly with families in the Latino community to understand their dreams and aspirations. They work together to harness families’ assets and strengths and chart a successful course for the future.

kids posing with penguin crafts
Kids and their penguins on El Busesito.

After two years of seeing very few people outside of my small business and family — I crave connection and authenticity more than ever. I am less interested in transactions or rushing from task to task.  From now on, I want to work with organizations as collaborators. Maria Tarajano Rodman is the kind of leader who welcomes this approach. In her words:

“We are not a service or a resource; we are a community. And each member of our community is critical to its success. From participants who create change within their families and neighborhoods, to the wonderful staff who pour their hearts and souls into their work, to supporters who understand the value of our Latina and Latino community here in this valley. Together, we strive for a valley where all families feel included, settled, and hopeful for the future.”

These past two years pushed all of us into dark places in varying degrees, and most of us are irrevocably changed. The best antidote to feeling helpless and hopeless is to give and give more. Giving doesn’t require a huge check or being a celebrity, or an equally huge time commitment. There are many ways to invest in your community. Giving can be as simple as donating expertise or time or growing extra food in your garden or setting aside a modest amount in your monthly budget to give to the community. It all adds up. 

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