By Don Moore
People from all over the country have come to the aid of Lyons, and they all have their own stories. Last month, seventeen college students from Missouri University of Science and Technology traded their spring break beach vacations for a week of doing good works for Coloradans still recovering from September’s
historic flood. Through Community Collaborations International, they called it Alternative Spring Break.
The students donated their time. All costs for travel, lodging and food were entirely funded out of their own pockets and on-campus fundraisers they had conducted during the school year.
During their week in Colorado the students worked on ongoing recovery efforts in Greeley, Lyons, and Big Elk Meadows. Projects included leveling dirt to lay sod, cleaning up community gardens, assessing driveway damage for repair, removing debris from around trees to stimulate growth, assisting in hanging drywall, and tearing down a house so the homeowner could build his replacement home.
“It was great to be a part of the Lyons recovery effort. We were deeply moved by the Lyons community and how kind they were to the volunteers, even though they didn’t know them,” said faculty advisor, Sara Lindeman, speaking on behalf of the brigade. Lindeman said each student, “gained exposure to new experiences, became more knowledgeable of the social and environmental impact, and developed further the significance of social responsibility and civic engagement.”
The seventeen students are Shelby McNeil, Destiny Battle-Hilacion, Jonathan Colgan, Taylor Copeland, Miranda Cory, Ian Denaro, Michelle Gibson, Nikki Gomez, Karim Griffin, Jasmin Hill, Olatunbosun Jegede, Yae Lin Lee, Lavetta Lewis, Karan Madra, Molly Moran, Shayan Sazdar, and Chawakorn Wichulada.
One of the projects the students took on was the back-breaking work of digging up and removing silt-encrusted sod in a parkway along 2nd Avenue, making way for new sod to be laid down. When Kelly Taylor Russell of Lyons Valley Village went out to meet this unexpected gift, tears welled up in her eyes.
“To think that they had come from Missouri on spring break, spending their vacation time to work for people they did not know, was almost more than I could take in,” Taylor Russell said. “What I witnessed that day was the very best of humanity. I felt humbled and grateful for our community to experience such kindness and willingness to do whatever we needed. It was very inspiring.”