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Storytelling is based on the word, being an honorable person of integrity is based on your word.
– Jesse Williams  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 8 August 2020  

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  Faces of Black Forest
  Artisans donating skills to make masks
  By Leslie Sheley

   The Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild spring show may have been cancelled because of COVID-19, but Bobbi Nielsen has instead used her creative energies to make masks for the prevention of the virus.
   
   Nielsen is the president of the guild, and had to make the hard decision to cancel the show.
   
   So, she rallied 35 people to make masks: 33 women and two men. Nielsen said to this date, they have donated 12,000 masks with several hundred ready to donate; she has made 2,157 so far.
   
   It all started with a mom and daughter who made masks for nursing homes and 1,100 more for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Nielsen said. She took over the project, and invited the Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild, the Grace Community Church sewing group and her crochet and knitting group, Stitch’in and Ditch’in, to help.
   
   Nielsen said they made 500 masks for Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care, over 1,000 for Penrose Hospital non-patient contact workers, 200 for the Ft. Carson Fire Department and 450 for The Villas at Sunny Acres in Thornton, Colorado, with plans to make 450 more for the latter. She said they had orders from Peterson Air Force Base and the Navajo nation.
   
   “We’ve mailed masks to about 30 different states,” Nielsen said. “It’s all been by word of mouth and people in our group who have relatives or medical contacts.” She said they try not to compete with people who are selling them, and they use donations to buy more supplies and postage.
   
   Nielsen has been involved in the guild for 10 years. She said this year has been challenging as president. “There have been some silver linings, though, as I finally have time to sew,” she said. “I’m also getting to know the people in the guild better, as we actually have time to talk one-on-one these days; most of the time we’re too busy getting ready for and doing the shows. Making the masks has been a blessing to me; it’s kept me busy during this time.”
   
   Nielsen is a Colorado native who grew up in Boulder. She married Lance Nielsen, the boy next door, and they were married 35 years. He joined the US Air Force; and, as an A-10 mechanic, they were stationed at Travis AFB in California, in Germany for seven years and in Tucson, Arizona, where he retired in 1997.
   
   They moved back to Colorado after he retired to be near her parents, but her parents ended up retiring in Arizona, where her brother lives. “We could have just stayed in Arizona,” Nielsen said. “We all laugh about it now, but it wasn’t funny at the time.” She has lived in Falcon for 25 years; her husband passed away three years ago. “We didn’t have any children, but lots of children are in my life; I have nieces and nephews and some are coming soon to visit and hang out with their crazy ole’ aunt,” she said.
   
   Nielsen said she spent 25 years as an executive in Fortune 500 companies. She ran corporate call centers with more than 2,500 employees. She also spent a year as an executive chef for a golf club. Nielsen is semi-retired, working part time at Grace Community Church as the finance manager. She said she hopes to retire in the next few years.
   
   “I have always been a crafter; and, after being laid off 10 years ago, I decided I finally had time to join (the guild), Nielsen said. “I had gone to the shows for years and always enjoyed them.” She makes fabric microwave bowl protectors, spices with no MSG or fillers; dip mixes, cinnamon rolls, mulling spices and flavored pretzels. She said making spices is her main craft.
   
   “I love to cook; I catered for 40 years and still do private catering,” Nielsen said. She is involved in Vacation Bible School at Grace Community Church and heads up the food truck rallies, which are held in the church parking lot every summer. Nielsen said her big project for the church is the Touch a Truck event in September, where kids can climb on the fire trucks and other big equipment. She is also involved with the Eastern Plains Chamber of Commerce.
   
   Nielsen said they meet at her church, and she started out being a host, catering their breakfasts; and eventually became a part of the group.
   
   She is excited the guild will have six to eight booths every week at the Backyard Farmers Market, which starts in Black Forest May 23 and runs through Oct. 10. “It’s been great for the guild members because they have an outlet since the show was cancelled,” Nielsen said.
   
   “I’ve been creative my entire life. I like to live outside the box, take a chance on something new and travel. My family is the most important part of my life.”
  
Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild had to cancel their spring show because of the coronavirus, but president Bobbi Nielsen rallied artists and crafters to make masks they donated nationwide. Photo submitted
 
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  COVID-19 warriors
  By Stanley Beckner

   Bee’s Book Club has reinvented itself from a traditional book club into a dynamic producer of the widely needed quality face masks designed to mitigate the spread of coronavirus –- COVID-19. They still have their traditional monthly book club meeting sessions, but since early April they have been efficiently manufacturing and distributing high quality face masks at a rate of 1,000 per week! The beneficiaries of this effort to date have been first responders, doctors, nurses, seniors, prison guards and members of veterans’ groups. AARP Chapter 1100 in Black Forest is one of the recipients. The masks are made of donated 100 percent cotton cloth and one-fourth inch elastic. Every mask is washable and reusable. Each mask takes about 15 minutes of individual effort to produce. 
            
   The team of volunteers practices social distancing during the manufacturing process by each working at home yet still functioning as a production line — some members cut the cloth to size, some sew and others assemble. As master coordinator, Adria Lopour, founder and president of the book club, coordinates the incremental making and distributing of mask elements by shuttling incomplete items from worker to worker. She also obtains the materials and coordinates the delivery of finished masks. The group currently has prepared numerous packets of 10 masks available for a donation.
           
   The book club has a 15-year history of helping charitable organizations, especially around the Christmas holidays. Their activities include providing toys and other useful items to needy children. The book club membership consists of 23 working, retired, and senior ladies.
          
   Bee’s Book Club is a self-funded group, but will accept donations. Their particular need at this time is for the materials to make additional masks. Remnants of 100 percent cotton cloth are acceptable as they can be sewn together. Contact Adria at 719-351-1286 if you have questions.
  
Bee's Book Club Warriors, maker of face masks, are assembled in this photo. A “husband helper” is also present. They are adhering to safe practices by wearing yellow face masks with bee appliques. The photo was taken May 7, the first time they have met as a group in several weeks: back row — Denise Coffey, Brenda Darnall, Jeanne Wilbur, Audrey Matheny, Lili Perez, Dani Lopour, Alex Lopour, Adria Lopour, Janette Haver — front row: Kristi Hilligrass, Gary, Sue Hilligrass, Leslie Carroll, Elin Vaet
 
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  AARP Black Forest
  By Stanley Beckner

   All Black Forest AARP Chapter 1100 activities are canceled through the end of June. What this means is no chapter meetings, no senior socials and no shredding event, scheduled for June. https://aarpchapter1100blackforest.weebly.com for more information on the chapter.   
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  No fee senior social — canceled through June

   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 Black Forest Women’s Club will not meet until further notice, pending the status of the coronavirus.
   
   The Black Forest Women’s Club meets every second Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Road. Coffee and refreshments will be served at 9:30 a.m., and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. Parking is in the back; use the ramp and go in the first door on the right. Visitors and guests are always welcome. For more information, contact Carol at 719-640-2893.
  
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