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“Autumn is the time of year when Mother Nature says, ‘Look how easy, how healthy, and how beautiful letting go can be.’”
– Toni Sorenson  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 9 September 2018  

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  Faces of Black Forest
  Gwen Burk: 60-plus years supporting BF
  By Breeanna Jent

   Longtime Black Forest, Colorado, resident Gwen Burk was born and raised in a culture of volunteerism — a practice she tirelessly continues.
   
   “My family always volunteered,” Burk said. Her mother was a founding member of the Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild (then called the Black Forest Arts Guild) and who, along with Burk’s father, helped found Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church.
   
   Her mother also designed the keys –- and her father the sheaths –- still used today in the annual Keeper of the Keys event, started in 1960 to honor longtime active Black Forest residents who have contributed to the betterment of the community.
   
   “I feel like we need to do things, or help others, and use our talents where we can. And I enjoy (volunteering),” Burk said.
   
   Burk is an Oklahoma native, but her family decided to move to the California desert when she was in third grade to alleviate her severe asthma. However, when the family stopped in Denver to visit a relative in Colorado, Burk recalled telling her parents, “I can breathe!”
   
   “We decided to stay here,” she said.
   
   The family first settled in Pueblo then moved throughout the state before establishing roots in Black Forest in 1956.
   
   In 1963, Burk married her husband, Charles and they raised their four children in Black Forest.
   She reminisced about the Black Forest of her youth, where the community relied heavily on resident volunteerism.
   
   “In those days, you volunteered. The Black Forest Fire Department was run entirely by volunteers and covered 200 square miles and protected 200 families,” Burk said. “When there was a fire, the men left work and the women learned to drive the trucks. ... I hope that Black Forest (continues) caring and helping, and keeps this attitude of community,” Burk said.
   
   She, like so many others, suffered the loss of her home during the 2013 devastating Black Forest Fire.
   
   “We lost a lot of material things, but we were very fortunate,” Burk said. “Every person was accounted for and we got all our horses, our dog and two of our kitties out.”
   
   She has since rebuilt her home on its original plot, almost in the same spot where it used to sit.
   
   “You’ve got a choice. You can sit and cry and do nothing, or you can be thankful for the memories and move on,” Burk said.
   
   Burk, who worked for many years as a bookkeeper before becoming a stay-at-home mom, continues to volunteer for her community. She actively works with several organizations: AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest; the Cover Girls at Edith Wolford Elementary School in Black Forest, where she helps young students staple, trim and laminate school books; and she is a volunteer bookkeeper for the Spring Valley Cemetery Association in Douglas County, Colorado.
   
   “Today, I trimmed cards for a teacher (at Wolford Elementary), and that allowed her to spend time doing something else with her students,” Burk said. “That is the importance of volunteerism. It is helpful, and it is beneficial.”
   
   In her spare time, Burk also enjoys spending time with her family. Currently, she is working on preserving her family’s stories and interesting anecdotes about their ancestors and other relatives.
   
   She said, “I wrote (a book of family memories) so people could add things to it. I hope that other (family) members will think about the stories they know and add them to this book. Memories are important.”
   
   Burk also answered a few fun questions.
   
   NFH: What’s the kindest thing anyone’s ever done for you?
   Burk: Throughout my life, if it’s been that I was having a rough time, there was always a friend or a neighbor willing to help. There has always been someone there. The fact that they’re willing to help has always meant so much.
   
   NFH: What is a hobby you’ve had for a long time?
   Burk: I’d say handiwork –- quilt-making, embroidery, crochet and things of that nature –- is kind of what I do. I was introduced to it by my mother. Some of it I learned from her, and some of it I learned from other family. I also love making an old-fashioned loaf of bread at Christmas for my family members.
   
   NFH: What was the most rewarding volunteer experience for you?
   Burk: There is a lot of memories I have of volunteering. One that comes to mind was during a Christmas play. A young boy asked what Mary and Joseph did with the gifts that the three wise men gave them. We actually wrote the Vatican. They answered back. It’s a memory I’ll always have.
   
   NFH: What are you looking forward to in 2018?
   Burk: More family, friends and volunteering!
  
Gwen Burk, a resident of Black Forest since 1956, poses with a piece of handiwork she is currently working on. Handiwork is one of Gwen’s oldest hobbies; she also spends much of her time volunteering. Photo by Breeanna Jent
 
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  Harley’s Hope fundraiser a success for pets and their owners
  By Breeanna Jent

   Harley’s Hope Foundation raised more than $2,000 at its Tea & Biscuits holiday fundraiser held at the Black Forest Community Center Dec. 9.
   
   All proceeds benefited the Black Forest-based organization in its mission to ensure that low-income pet owners and their pet companions or service animals remain together during tough times, said Cynthia Bullock, executive director who co-founded the organization in 2010 with her husband, David Bullock.
   
   “We wanted to make more people aware of what Harley’s Hope Foundation is and what it does,” Cynthia Bullock said of the holiday-themed event.
   
   The tea party event grew from Bullock’s own love of tea parties –- she provided the tea pots and china from her personal collection for the party.
   
   About 60 people registered for the event, and attendees were treated to black teas and Christmas blends alongside an array of sweets and finger foods. The Pikes Peak Jazz and Swing Society provided holiday music, and Santa Claus made a surprise visit.
   
   A silent auction that included car magnets, animal toys, mugs, water bottles, artwork, ornaments and catnip for both cats and dogs contributed to the total $2,026 raised.
   
   “Helping these animals is important, and it means so much to pet parents,” said Shelley Roach, the organization’s operations manager, who has volunteered with Harley’s Hope Foundation for almost two years.
   
   Following the loss of their dog, Harvey, to cancer, the Bullocks recognized the need to assist pet owners who might not have the financial means to properly care for their pets.“Six-and-a-half million pets are given up every year,” Bullock said. She has worked in animal welfare and rescue for 13 years in Colorado and California.
   
   “Of those 6.5 million, roughly 1 million are pets of families who are dealing with a crisis who think that their only option is to give up their animals, whether that means surrendering them or euthanizing them. The more animals we can provide with a fighting chance, the better.”
   
   The foundation provides services for pets and owners nationwide, including financial assistance for major emergencies or veterinary care; an assistance program for medical service and assistance dogs; a special services project that focuses on elderly and disabled pet owners with pets in need, as well as elderly and disabled animals; short-term foster care; and pet first aid/CPR training.
   
   Since its inception seven years ago, Harley’s Hope Foundation has assisted countless pets and their owners, like Annette Hergenroder, a homeless veteran who turned to the organization for help. The organization has provided foster care for her three cats: Esme, 13; Phoebe, 5; and Maia, 5. All three of them are certified emotional support animals, Hergenroder said.
   
   “Harley’s Hope Foundation takes really good care of my cats. They love animals and they’ve been absolutely wonderful,” said Hergenroder, who learned about the organization through her veterinarians. She visits her animals about three times a week, and when she can, she volunteers with Harley’s Hope.
   
   The foundation also participates in the Shelter Animals Count effort to accurately track animals helped throughout the country, according to its website. To track the effectiveness of its services, Harley’s Hope Foundation follows up with its clients at six- and 12-month intervals after assistance.
   
   According to the website, 92 percent of the client animals “are still alive and in their original homes” one year after receiving assistance.
   
   Statistics posted on the website show that in 2016, the foundation assisted 87 animals through its various programs; assisted in 70 major or emergency veterinary cases; provided short-term emergency foster care for 17 animals; and helped 170 animals receive preventive care at veterinary clinics.
   
   “If it weren’t for Harley’s Hope, I would have lost (my cats) back in June,” Hergenroder said. “I can’t imagine not having (my cats) for emotional support. Knowing they’re safe is helpful.”
   
   For more information on Harley’s Hope Foundation or to apply for assistance, visit http://harleys-hopefoundation.org.
  
Cynthia Bullock, Harley’s Hope Foundation executive director and co-founder, welcomed attendees to the 2017 Tea Party & Biscuits event held at the Black Forest Community Center Dec. 9. The event garnered $2,026.
 
Donna Bellows (right) from Colorado Springs is a volunteer with a dog rescue organization. She and her friend Jeannette Ortiz enjoy tea and sweets at the Dec. 9 fundraiser for Harley’s Hope Foundation.
 
Christofer Qureshi, age 5, reads off his Christmas wish list to Santa Claus at the Dec. 9 Tea & Biscuits event hosted by Harley’s Hope Foundation of Black Forest.
 
Ameera Qureshi, age 3, accepts a candy cane from Santa Claus as she, too, makes her Christmas requests during the Tea & Biscuits fundraising event. Photos by Breeanna Jent
 
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  AARP Black Forest
  Submitted by Stanley Beckner

   The December meeting of the Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 was a Yule to remember and a special observance, complete with Christmas decorations, food and music for all to enjoy; along with surprise gifts for many. 
            
   Christmas music provided by the Fermatas Recorder Group of Colorado Springs greeted attendees at the Dec. 13 meeting. An extensive catered lunch of turkey, ham, dressing with all the trimmings plus a large array of salad and festive desserts, delighted the 60-plus members and guests who attended.
            
   The highlight of the business meeting was the election of chapter officers for 2018. Jeremiah Mora, the AARP Colorado Associate State Director-Community Outreach, will install the newly elected chapter officers in a ceremony at the Jan. 10 meeting. 
            
   In addition to the installation of officers, the program for the January chapter meeting will feature the topic of caregiving for family members and friends. Members were also reminded to consider attending the monthly Senior Social at the Black Forest Lutheran Church the afternoon of Jan. 24. The Senior Social is open to everyone — attendees do not have to be members of the Black Forest AARP Chapter.
            
   Several chapter volunteers were recognized for their community service supporting the Colorado Springs Senior Resource Council annual holiday dinner dance at the civic auditorium in the Springs. Chapter members volunteering for events such as this contribute to the welfare of the community, reflect well on chapter 1100, and support the chapter’s active role in the community.
            
   Last, but not least, a drawing took place at the Dec. 13 meeting for the numerous gaily wrapped Christmas presents, donated by chapter members. Many pleasant surprises were unwrapped and taken home as happy reminders of the day.
            
   Individuals interested in doing community service, while having some fun, social activities and lots of great food, should consider joining Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100. The annual dues are only $10, and all ages are welcome. For more information, call Stan at 719-596-6787 or visit the chapter website at https://aarpchapter1100blackforest.weebly.com.
  
The Fermatas Recorder Group entertained the AARP attendees with a program of Christmas carols. Photo submitted
 
The Fermatas, (left to right) Jeannine Bramwell, Phil Goulding, Dick Wood, Electa Beckner, Marsha Brower, Mary Jane Ray and Faye Padgett pose with Santa at the Dec. 13 meeting of the Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100. Photo submitted
 
Chapter President Charles Karlstrum addressed the attendees at the Dec. 13 AARP Christmas party at the Black Forest Lutheran Church. Photo submitted
 
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  No fee senior social

   A monthly informal occasion for seniors is the no fee event. They meet in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road in Black Forest.
   
   Seniors are welcome at the Black Forest AARP and Black Forest Lutheran Church monthly informal gathering, held at the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall at 12455 Black Forest Road. The social is from 1 to 4 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of each month, and all are invited to socialize, play games, work on hobbies or to simply sit and talk about “whatever.”  Light refreshments are available. For more information, contact Lavonne at 719-494-1276.
  
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  Black Forest Women’s Club

   The next meeting of the Black Forest Women’s Club is Jan. 11 at the Black Forest Lutheran Church. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m., and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. The January program is “Let’s get the new year started right.”
   
   Last month, the club had their Christmas luncheon at the Wedgewood in Black Forest. We all enjoyed good food, socializing, and joyously singing Christmas carols. The members donated Christmas gift cards for Wolford Elementary School needy children.
    
   Visitors and guests are always welcome. Any questions, call 719-495-3846.
  
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