To celebrate almost five years of existence, along with a one-year anniversary of being an independent non-profit organization, Pine River Shares decided it was time to throw a party.
On Sunday, the community group held its first Appreciation Celebration to thank volunteers and donors for their support.
Hosted by LePlatt's Pond Wedding and Events, the event included hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and live music by Wild Country.
Pam Wilhoite, the director and founder of Pine River Shares, thanked everyone for attending and recounted five years of achievements by the group.
Pine River Shares covers 725 square miles, two nations, two towns, seven communities, including the county's largest subdivision, and 13,500 people, she said, from Vallecito to the north to Arboles in the south.
"If everybody shares, nobody goes without" is the group's motto. Wilhoite, the sole employee, and volunteers have met every week for four and a half years to put that into action.
The issues the group faces can seem insurmountable: low wages, lack of jobs, lack of transportation, geographic isolation, and more access to fresh, affordable, healthy food.
One of the first events organized by Pine River Shares was a monthly community dinner. It not only provides a meal to folks, but helps build a sense of community.
Bayfield Kids for Kids provided 2,500 food backpacks to Bayfield students in 2017 and about 5,000 packs since the program's inception. Pine River Shares collects donated food, and volunteers stuff backpacks on Thursdays for children to take home over the weekend so their families have something to eat.
About 1,000 people have collected free bags of groceries from the group, and in the summer that includes fresh produce from local gardens.
The group also provides firewood, medical equipment, appliances and transportation to Durango when needed.
Other programs are "Break the Chains," which helps people with addictions get to meetings, court, and drug testing, along with "Kids in the Wild," a summer outdoor program.
The group has mapped food resources and health providers in the valley. Cooking classes focus on using fresh produce to create healthy meals, and a partnership with the Pine River Garden Club helps provide families with produce. There's a healthy eating class for local pre-school students, and a youth leadership program in Ignacio is one of the group's newest programs, she added.
The group uses consensus decision making, "because it's all of us," Wilhoite said.
Sherman Beye, chairmen of the group, also thanked the donors and volunteers in attendance.
LePlatt's Pond hosted the event, waiving its usual fees in order to help Pine River Shares.
"We are open to community groups coming to use our facility," said Paul Black, who has managed the venue with his wife, Krii, for the past 10 years. The property's original owners, Jack and Jewell LePlatt, and their son, Herb, want to continue the family tradition of supporting local groups in the Pine River Valley, he said.
Donations and discounts also were provided by Wild Country, who donated their music, Coca-Cola of Durango, Hiedi Lewis of Floral Expressions, Back Porch Barbecue and Bayfield Liquors.