One day in late 2003, Nora Heaton called Dora Hildebrand to ask if she would be interested in co-founding a Spellbinders Chapter in Fort Collins. Dora threw caution to the wind, and said, “Yes.”
Even though they had performed together telling stories with Northern Colorado Storytellers, neither one of them had a clue what they were getting into in this cooperative endeavor. Their first goal was to let Germaine Dietsch, Spellbinders founder, know about their intentions and to obtain all the support materials they needed to start the chapter. Knowing that it was important to be accepted in Poudre Valley School District (PSD) classrooms, they met with personnel at the PSD Volunteer Center who also graciously offered the Chapter space to hold introductory meetings. Their support was invaluable in becoming known throughout PSD.
Nora took on the role of trainer and storyteller extraordinaire; Dora chose to handle the administrative tasks and has sometimes referred to her role as the “glue that holds the group together.” They invited friends and others to attend an introductory session and trained eleven for their first class.
Ten years later five graduates of this class and four graduates of the second class were still active volunteer storytellers. These early members had no role models; no one to shadow. There were no Chapter resources or enewsletters from the SRC filled with a variety of tales ready to tell. These first volunteers set the standard for our group, benefitting all of those who followed.
In 2003-2004, 16 members shared their stories in 24 classrooms at 10 PSD elementary schools. They also shared stories at an all-school assembly at Moore Elementary School, celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday and participated in the Chapter’s first literacy night program at Beattie Elementary School, all before they were even well-established in their classrooms.
We have progressively grown in size and experience, and in 2013-2014, 60 trained volunteers told stories in 326 classrooms at 55 schools in Larimer and adjoining counties, reaching more than 7,300 children. Our greatest challenge in 2015 is keeping up with attrition due to family challenges, health issues and aging.