Community demonstrates its defining attribute: a huge heart

Craig Hall

If there’s one thing I can count on to do my heart good in the midst of all the world, politics and our government throws at my life, it’s this: I live in one of the most giving, caring and loving communities on the planet. And it’s because of the people. Not, well, you know. 

This is one of the easiest columns to write every year for two reasons. The topic has myriad great stories at my fingertips. It’s uplifting for me personally and highlights the goodness in our community. It also happens to be on my heart every year around Grand Junction Lions Club Carnival time, which means my mind has been on it since raffle ticket sales began. 

This year, the Grand Junction Lions faced an especially daunting task in raising funding for non-profit capital projects in Mesa County. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken over our lives. Folks aren’t working, and government-imposed restrictions have hit their homes and businesses. Add to that the concern Lions were going to have limited contact to sell their ticket allotments. Then put the cherry on top with a record number of funding requests — over three times the annual average —  during this most difficult of times. 

Normally this would raise the question of what to do. The Grand Junction Lions didn’t bother to ask. We got our ticket book inventory and went to work to meet our goals. More than a few Lions asked for more tickets since they knew what I know: You can count on this community when things are tough. We took out more ticket books knowing we’d be asking for more from our buyers. 

Our buyers didn’t let us down. I can’t remember where I first heard the phrase, “It’s yours for the asking” — and I’d do well to keep that in mind for Business Times sales calls. But it was as simple as taking the time to ask to be reminded of the heartfelt goodness of the wonderful people of Mesa County. 

Every buyer I’ve had over the years confirmed they’d take their annual buy. Quite a few came back and said, “I’ll take more.” Why? Because they understood the need in the community. Lion after Lion can tell the same story whether selling in person, through emails or at one of the live locations we staffed during ticket selling season. Lions heard the same thing: “We’d love to help and thank you for what you’re doing in our community.” 

Tell me how that doesn’t do one’s heart good? 

I can do you one better. Lions also absorbed the one-two punch of no Main Street parade or carnival due to Mesa County imposed regulations regarding large gatherings. (Well, on some gatherings, it’s kinda biased — but that’s for a future column.) Lions made the difficult decision to scrap these events the community and Lions hold dear. But once again, Lions didn’t sulk. The community didn’t disappoint. 

 I sent a text to my good buddy, Butch Miller, at Warehouse 2565 asking if he had anything going on the afternoon of Feb. 20. Keep in mind, the good folks at the Warehouse were hoping and praying and in desperate need for live music (Remember the biased regulations?) to come back to make life better for owners and staff. Butch’s answer? “We’d love to have you guys!” 

Contingency plans went into effect, and I can’t see how the Lions could have had a better event. That’s not to mention the best after party we’ve had in years upstairs watching my other buddy, Clark Jensen, and his band rock — well, country — the night away. 

The Lions had a better event than the original contingent plan. No carnival meant no extra earnings for Lions on raffle day. Well, one confident Lion — who happens to be typing right now — suggested a silent auction to raise a few more bucks. Naturally, the one who opened his mouth first was declared the chairman of said auction. The usual winner for such high placement results from NOT being in the room. But these are interesting times. 

 You know what? Our community responded with incredible generosity Business owners who had little inventory of what they would normally donate said, “Hey, I’ve got a bunch of these instead and it’s worth more and it’s yours.” Or the small businesses from Palisade, Fruita and Main Street coming together (in some cases RECRUITING) to create wonderful gift baskets. We even had booth sponsors that would normally give us hundreds of products instead substitute bigger items to make the raffle a success. And as Mesa County folks always do, they thanked the Lions. 

In spite of already writing so many, I’ll never have sufficient words to express how grateful I am to be part of such a wonderful, caring and giving community.