Neighbors Helping Neighbors
by Frank Lancaster – Estes Park Town Administrator
Estes Park is a miraculous place. I say this as a relative newcomer to Estes. As we all know, about a month ago the skies opened on us – to a disastrous extent. Well before the flood waters started to recede, many wonderful people in the Estes valley were calling our Town information hotline offering their assistance to others. In fact, as I mentioned at our community meetings, there were so many we did not know how we were going to manage them.
A few people stepped up, offering to help us by organizing and sending the volunteers where they were needed. These volunteer leaders had no special qualifications or background in this type of operation. They only had the desire to give their neighbors the help that they desperately needed; the help that hundreds of others were offering. The group met for the first time the Sunday after the flood, joined by others offering suggestions and resources. The Town gave them a space to work, computers to use and phones to answer. Less than one week after the flood, the Volunteer Clearinghouse opened its doors at the Estes Park Museum.
I could tell you of the many people and local businesses that received help — well over 100, or, the total number of volunteers that came forward to help their neighbors — well over 750. I could tell you the stories I heard from the Volunteer Clearinghouse volunteers, like . . .
• The couple from Kansas who came here to volunteer for their two-week vacation
• The newlyweds who came in to volunteer while on their honeymoon
• The construction workers from Aspen who drove in on their one day off to help our community
• The students from Colorado State
University who drove five hours each way and still helped for a full day
• The local couple who set aside their own recovery efforts at home to come in and help their neighbors
• The amazing people who would finish one job only to return for another and yet another all in the same day
• And so many, many more.
But what is most important to tell you is why I think we all live in such a wonderful place. There was a disaster. Many of our friends and neighbors suffered. Neighbors came together to help neighbors. All did so anonymously and without fanfare — the volunteer organizers as well as the hundreds of other volunteers. These people reaffirm why our Town is very special. It is our neighbors who make us great.
We can be very proud to live in Estes Park.