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KVNF honored for 'building bridges'

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Photo by Tamie Meck Surrounded by Kids' Pasta Project members, Ashley Krest accepts the KPP Building Bridges Service Award Monday night on behalf of KVNF Community Radio. The award was inspired by Martin Luther King's National Day of Service.

A 38-year-old nonprofit was honored on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for building bridges in the community.

KVNF Community Radio was honored Monday evening with the Kids' Pasta Project's Building Bridges Service Award. KVNF was one of nine North Fork area nonprofit organizations considered for the award, which was inspired by Martin Luther King's National Day of Service.

KVNF Community Radio was founded in Paonia in 1979 and currently serves a 10,000-square-mile area of Western Colorado. It's driven by a small staff, an army of more than 70 volunteer DJs, and support from its membership and the greater community.

KVNF Outreach Coordinator and volunteer DJ Ashley Crest accepted the award for the station and the KVNF board of directors, and read a letter from board president Pam Ellison.

In considering the three questions that award selection is based on -- how the organization strengthens community, empower individuals to serve the community, and serves to build bridges between different people and groups in the community, Ellison responded, "It occurred to me that the questions describe what KVNF is trying to accomplish is in our mission statement."

KVNF strives to strengthen community through shared love of music, regional news, and public service programming, she explained. It empowers people to serve the community because it is largely run by volunteers, and builds bridges by partnering with other groups and nonprofits and through connecting people with the KVNF Community Calendar.

Ellison called the questions "a blueprint for all of us nonprofits working together and creating community. Belonging to a group is something we all benefit from. It's a human need. And giving of ourselves is very satisfying."

KPP is a nonprofit that since 2009 has empowered youth to serve their community by preparing and selling fresh, healthy meals, and giving the profit to local causes, while gaining valuable life skills. A selection committee of nine KPP youth members researched each organization to learn how they meet the criteria posed in the three questions. "And boy, is this community just filled with people who do that," said Moni Slater, one of the founders of KPP.

Also considered for this year's award:

The Paonia Senior Center has been building bridges for years. The center serves seniors 60 and older and the disabled, offering nutritious meals at a low cost, meal delivery to the homebound, and social activities. They also welcome volunteers, and shuttle services are available.

In addition to being the only movie theatre in the North Fork Valley, the community-owned Paradise Theatre not only shows great movies, it is host to film festivals and live performances and provides a venue for music and art. The Paradise also empowers others to share their artistic talents.

Slow Food Western Slope is part of Slow Food USA and the global Slow Food network. It operates on the premise that food should be tasty, seasonal, local, fresh and wholesome, and that everyone deserves good nutrition in their diet. They invite others to make positive change in the world by making a change in their diet.

The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition is one of 21 designated creative districts in the state and serves to foster economic growth in the area through the creative industries. NFVCC and the Town of Paonia are collaborating with others in the Space to Create Initiative to create affordable live/work space for the creative and working sectors of the community.

Mountain Harvest Creative provides educational opportunities in arts and agriculture, help support the Arts for All after-school programs, empowers others to serve their community, and supports the mission of the annual Mountain Harvest Festival.

The Nature Connection connects youth from Delta County and Olathe to nature and makes it more affordable through its gear library of outdoor equipment available to them and their families. In 2017, volunteers helped 4,000 area youth to participate in outdoor sports and activities.

The Hotchkiss K-8 School's Helping Hands Food Bank is a volunteer-based organization providing foods to qualifying students for weekends and holidays. Each Friday, volunteers fill bags full of food for kids to take home for the weekend.

The Learning Council supports lifelong learning and education as a resource for everyone. They strive to provide educational opportunities to people of all ages and abilities through community-building and cultivating the classical arts, agriculture and practical arts.

The award dinner was held at ShadeScapes in Hotchkiss and was preceded by a five-course dinner featuring local foods, wines and donations from area businesses. The Strolling Scones provided music.

Jeff Schwartz, a KPP board member and co-owner of Big B's Juices, said he's proud to represent the business sector. He thanked the businesses that support the event, KPP, and the many nonprofits in the area, calling their contributions vital to the success of the community.

With so many nonprofits, businesses are often asked for donations of services, products and money, said Schwartz. "It is a real business decision." But if businesses don't give back to the community, events like the KPP dinners might go away.

If that happened, he said, "Our children's lives wouldn't be as spectacular as they are."

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North Fork
KVNF, Paonia
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