TELLURIDE, Colo. (January 5, 2022) – While the pandemic created unprecedented challenges, it also created a strong sense of community with neighbors helping each other overcome a myriad of obstacles, including health, financial, schooling, safety, and childcare. The Telluride Foundation’s Board of Directors was given the difficult task of selecting the 2021 Citizen of the Year, an award which honors such community volunteers, at its bi-annual meeting on December 29, 2021. The Foundation received nominations from the community for the award, with each one being deserving. The Foundation board named a team of mental health advocates, made up of Corinne Cavender, Lollie Lavercombe, and Cara Wilder, as the 2021 winner for their exemplary volunteerism in such an important topic plaguing many, especially through the pandemic. The Telluride Foundation will hold a community celebration in the spring.
“The Telluride Foundation created its Citizen of the Year award to honor individuals who unselfishly make extraordinary contributions to the region’s quality of life. This year’s recipients have worked hard to bring awareness, education, and prevention to a topic that needs support and champions in our community,” said Paul Major, President & CEO of the Telluride Foundation.
The mental health advocates team was nominated by their community and peers for exemplary service and volunteerism to the community. After all nominations are in, past recipients of the award are responsible for evaluating all the nominations and deciding on two finalists, with the Telluride Foundation board selecting the ultimate 2021 recipient.
“Thank you again for this incredible honor,” said Cara Wilder, one of the mental health advocates. “We are speechless and overwhelmed with gratitude. It has been amazing to see this community embrace the importance of mental health and suicide awareness and prevention, especially as we have collectively faced the stress of an ongoing pandemic, housing crisis, labor shortage, and the everyday struggles that come with being human. We live in a beautiful place, but that doesn’t invalidate struggle. To me, this means so much more than a title or recognition. It shows that Telluride is getting behind an invaluable cause. We are looking forward to continuing to build mental health resources to support this special community.”
Wilder has volunteered for the “Out of the Darkness Walk,” an organized annual walk to support suicide prevention, for five years and volunteered in various mental health aid roles. Last year she decided to go back to school to pursue her master’s in counseling. “We have so many incredible therapists in the area, but we need more. My goal is to support and give back to the community that has given so much to me. I am honored and grateful to share this with Lollie and Corinne. These two women are fierce advocates for mental health and inspire me every day. Above all else, we hope you always remember you are not alone, and you are loved,” said Wilder.
Lollie Lavercombe has lived in Telluride for over five years and has served on the suicide prevention walk committee since the first southwest Colorado walk in 2017. She is a big advocate for mental health education and services and for finding ways to intentionally check in on the people we love. “And on those we may not know as well too,” added Lavercombe. She hopes to continue engaging the local community in ways to support mental health advocacy and suicide prevention and encourages everyone to get educated about available resources. Alongside her involvement with the suicide prevention walk, Lavercombe is active in the Telluride community, working and volunteering for many businesses and organizations throughout her time here — most recently Mountainfilm, The Butcher and The Baker, Rainbow Rockies Preschool and After School Program, Telski lift operations, and Telluride Youth Club Soccer.
Corinne Cavender also assisted with the suicide prevention walk and volunteers for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). While not being honored for her professional work, Cavender is also the Behavioral Health Solutions Executive Assistant at Tri-County Health Network. Starting in June, she will begin her master’sof social work with an emphasis in mental health and trauma through the University of Denver. “I plan to pursue my degree while staying immersed in the mental health needs of San Miguel County,” said Cavender. “All of my work around behavioral health was inspired by the loss of my brother’s good friend, Maneet, to suicide. He is one of the guiding lights in everything I do.” Outside of the mental health world, Cavender coaches volleyball, currently for Telluride Volleyball Club.
As the 2021 Citizen of the Year, Cavender, Lavercombe, and Wilder will receive a commemorative plaque and a grant of $5,000 to be given in their name to the local nonprofit(s) of their choice. These individuals share this honor with Terry Tice (2003), Lissa Margetts (2004), John Micetic (2005), Bill Carstens (2006), John Pryor and Jane Hickcox (2007), Kathy Green (2008), Marilyn Branch (2009), Dan and Greer Garner and Andrea Benda (2010) and Billy “Senior” Mahoney (2011), Anne Brady (2012), Dean Rolley (2013), Kristin Holbrook (2014), Gary Freedman (2015), Elaine Fischer (2016), Wendy Brooks (2017), and Susan Rice (2018), and Barb Gross (2019), San Miguel County Search & Rescue (2020) and Ouray County Response Fund Founders: Lictenbelt’s & O’Leary’s (2020). The Telluride Foundation plans to hold a community celebration later this year.
The Telluride Foundation is committed to enriching the quality of life of the residents, workforce, and visitors of the Telluride region. It is a nonprofit, apolitical community foundation that makes grants and runs programs in arts, education, health and human services, community development, and social enterprises. The Foundation strives to achieve excellence for the community through its mission and core values of inclusion, self-reliance, and innovation. The Foundation’s work is funded through the generous support of hundreds of donors as well as grants from state and national foundations. Pease visit www.telluridefoundation.org.