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The Salvation Army
I’m happy to report that all the good people on Cabin Creek and Big Owl Road now have private telephone lines, well before the spring thaw. I hereby congratulate U.S. West.
’Tis the season when we’re all reminded to put our loose change into the kettles of those devoted Salvation Army bell ringers.
You might have seen an article in the Boulder Daily Camera on November 5, Section B, page 1, designed to tug at both your heart and purse strings, about the Boulder Salvation Army. It said the Boulder Army was $40,000 in debt, that donations are down 15 to 20 percent, that they won’t be able to provide bus tokens or $20 clothing vouchers. It also quoted Brenda Smith, who, along with her husband, Gary, leads the Army in Boulder: “Educating the community is first and foremost before our services. We are a church. Our goal is to bring people into the church and tell them about God. Everything else kind of follows.” She also said, “People have to learn how to become a family, and it’s getting back to basics.” And Gary said, “[The Salvation Army is] such a practical way to apply your faith. Everything you do is from your faith and yet it’s so practical. You’re right there on the front line of helping people.”
When my grandfather came to this valley in the summer of 1917 he stayed at one of the two excellent hostels in Tahosa valley, the Columbine Lodge. The great and near great (but mostly people with money and leisure time) came to the valley to escape the unairconditioned heat and humidity of the plains and take the mountain air. Edna Ferber stayed at the finest and best known retreat in the valley, Longs Peak Inn, and claimed in her autobiography that our rarefied atmosphere caused her to write very different stories.
Both of these prime pieces of resort real estate, with a total of about 120 acres and numerous buildings, have been purchased by the apparently debt-ridden Salvation Army, where, we are to believe, they continue to be on the front line of helping people in an ever so practical way. (The Columbine Lodge became the Double JK Ranch and is now High Peaks Camp) In the past few years the Army not only acquired both of these resorts, but it received approval in 1993 from Larimer County for substantial expansion in terms of building and other improvements, including a $700,000 dining room, despite the objections of environmentalists who believe the land is presently overburdened. And, lest we forget, they pay no taxes, either for what they have, or what they will build.
All this depresses me. At a time when Jerry Falwell sells vitamins and the heads of the United Way and the NAACP are caught riding in limousines and misusing funds, it’s disappointing to find what I thought was the last bastion of genuine charity—those good folks who supposedly had no other motive than trying to save souls with a drum, a tambourine and a trumpet—saving the best for themselves, just like all those others.
I’m sure the Salvation Army has excellent rationalizations for this strange ownership: a necessary retreat for the weary savers of souls perhaps, or a need to bring sinners to the mountains to commune with God and nature. The high road to salvation? Nearer my God to Thee?
Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m the only one who wonders, every time I drive by, what the Salvation Army is doing, owning these places and at the same time begging for nickels and dimes at the doors of supermarkets and whining about a debt?
One thing, however, is certain. If the Salvation Army can afford to buy and build on these two properties, they sure don’t need my money in their kettles. As for that crushing debt Gary and Brenda are so worried about, I know where they can raise a couple of million bucks, fast.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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