Mesa County Spellbinders was founded on a spirit that came from several different points of light to create something that has proven to be extremely special for so many children and so many Tellers.
One point of light came from a chance meeting I had with Germaine at the El Pomar Foundation meeting where I was representing another non-profit organization and I knew nothing about Spellbinders. Germaine gave me inspiration to try and form a chapter and a vision for all the other lights to focus.
Another point of light came when Germaine introduced me to Norma Roscoe and John Wagner who had done Storytelling and knew about Spellbinders and immediately agreed to train with Germaine to become “trainers” for future Storytellers and went on to train dozens of classes of interested people and inspire them to “tell”!
Another point of light came from the School District in Mesa County. The volunteer coordinator for the school district, Judy Jepson, embraced the program – facilitated getting it into the schools and agreed to set on the board of directors.
Still another point of light came from Bob Spears, a retired attorney who was interested in Storytelling. Bob donated his time and talents to set up the chapter as a 501C3. To set up the books, set up the board of directors and bylaws, and took care of all of the “paperwork” needed to have an organization. Plus he became just a terrific teller himself.
Another light shown in from Horizon Sunrise Rotary club. The club embraced Spellbinders in Mesa County covering 100% of the financial needs of the organization allowing everyone associated with Spellbinders to focus on training tellers and serving the children. The club also hosted (and still does) graduation ceremonies for newly trained tellers where they received recognition for the time they spent getting ready to tell and were given a venue to actually tell a story to an audience.
A big light came from the Mesa County Library. Lois Becker mustered the support of the entire library for the chapter – giving us a place to hold Board meetings and training classes – giving us a place to store supplies and receive mail – and having a representative sit on the Board of Directors.
There are so many more points of light that shown in on the founding of the Mesa County Chapter – dynamic Tellers like Mary Ann Jenson, Ray Schuster, Laurie Kollach and Ingrid BiLeland to name but a very few – who were not only great Tellers but served on the Board of Directors doing important tasks to make the organization work. Members such as Ruth Mary Allison stepping up to lead the monthly training get together that were/are so important to keeping the Tellers connected and organized.
I don’t remember there being a biggest challenge to getting the chapter started. It seemed that whenever we needed something another light shined bright to address the need. The keys were: financing was taken care of; the school district was in total support; the library providing the infrastructure; and finding lots of great people.
While I can’t speak to the biggest changes or challenges over time as I have not been a member of the chapter for several years, my thought would be in the coordination of the Tellers and the schools. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep those things in sync.
I don’t have anything that I wish the national office had done in addition to all they did. Germaine was wonderful with us, making several trips to help with training the original class and our trainers. She knew people in the community that had an interest in storytelling and we recruited from that list. National provided all the training materials we needed. It was just a wonderful relationship.
What I would say in conclusion is that Mesa County was blessed to have all of the points of light come together in a focused way. We were honored to have the people and resources recognize the benefit that Spellbinders provides and come together to make a good thing happen for our community. And the real proof of all of that effort are the thousands upon thousands of children who hear the stories every year and the wonderful Tellers who continue to do the important work of bringing the spoken stories to the children. The biggest tribute to the founding of Mesa County Spellbinders is that it is still strong today and we thank all of those Tellers who are carrying it forward.
Chapter founder Jim Widdows