For years Americans were great at helping treat the physical wounds of those returning from battles overseas in service to their country, but up until recently, the mental healing process didn’t receive the same amount of attention. Doctors, therapists and fellow servicemen and women took notice of skyrocketing suicide statistics amongst veterans and are taking action. Groups across the country are forming to bring vets together to help them adjust to life as a civilian; speak with others who might be struggling as well; and provide continued meaningful service to their country and their neighbors.
Veterans Community Response (VCR) is a nonprofit organization composed of firefighters, veterans and therapists working diligently to support combat veterans in their postwar readjustment process. Located in Spokane, the group draws in veterans from all over the region.
“Our programs center on the intention of helping combat veterans develop the skills to navigate their post-war challenges to achieve productive and satisfying lives after serving our country,” said President and Co-Founder Darren Coldiron.
VCR recently held a one-day retreat for board members at Talus Rock in Sandpoint as a way for the leadership team to build the visions for the year and give the volunteer board a chance to connect and clear their head. The retreat included yoga, campfire chats, and a Native American sweat lodge—not treatments you might typically associate with those that have experienced heavy combat.
You never know when the snow will actually stop falling in this part of the country, but for skiers and riders, sadly, the season must eventually come to an end. While there should still be plenty of great days here in March, it’s never too early to start planning the inevitable meltdown. Diehards are prepping their spring-condition skis and boards—the ones you don’t mind getting dinged by a suddenly exposed rock or fallen tree limb. While conditions might tend to deteriorate, that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of fun to be had.
All of our area mountains enjoy celebrating another successful season by throwing family friendly end-of-the-season bashes. Costumes, contests, food and drink are all present, and those who attend will find the last few days are more about camaraderie amongst fellow outdoor enthusiasts than searching for those last few secret stashes of powder on the mountain. Any day now, it might start looking like spring, but don’t forget there is still snow to be found and plenty of fun to be had on the mountain.
Silver Mountain Kellogg, Idaho
March 30 - Spring
Carnival Kick off your spring break with a toboggan relay, pond skim, barbecue and outdoor party! Enjoy outdoor music and a barbecue starting at 11am on the Mountain House patio.
If you live in Sandpoint, it’s hard to pick just one thing you love about it. Is it the scenery? The friendliness of the people? The abundance of year-round outdoor activities? If you are like most, the reasons are plenty. And one thing I am certain we can all agree upon is that our hardworking friends and neighbors who have chosen to call this place home have given their hearts and souls into making sure that Sandpoint has the “finest” of all that life has to offer; that is definitely something to be celebrated!
At Sandpoint Living Local, each month we love to share the stories of our friends and neighbors who are making a difference in the lives around them. We are also humbled by the support the community provides us through reading our stories and choosing our publication and online platforms to market and brand their businesses. It was out of this love of community and desire to celebrate it that Sandpoint Living Local began the Sandpoint’s Finest event last year. We have a passion when it comes to connecting our community and want to acknowledge those who help to make this a wonderful place to live and visit. And what a better place to do it than at a social gathering that brings us all together!
This year, the Second Annual Sandpoint’s Finest event will take place on Friday, March 29 at The Hive in Downtown Sandpoint. With food, drinks, music, dancing, fun and laughter, we will recognize those people, businesses and organizations that the community has voted as Sandpoint’s Finest for this past year.
It has been nearly three years since Debbie Love took over as the executive director of the Bonner Community Food Bank, and in that time, she has witnessed firsthand how the needs of the community have continued to grow.
“We have families who are employed but continue to struggle to make ends meet,” said Debbie. “Also, since expanding our Priest River site, we have seen an increase in need with our older population who live on fixed incomes, averaging $750 to $800 per month.”
The good news is that Bonner Community Food Bank has been distributing an increasing amount of fresh produce over the last few years. This past year alone they have given out more than 100,000 pounds of produce. Debbie said this is made possible in large part due to the generosity of the Sandpoint Farmers Market, Sandpoint Community Garden, St. Catherine’s in Priest River, The Grocery Rescue Program, local growers and various community gardens.
“We are also fortunate to have raised garden beds on site at the food bank for the last two seasons. I remember sitting in a meeting with Michelle Murphy (who was starting with Bonner County Coalition of Health at the time and had grant funding for community gardens), and she asked me what my vision was for the food bank. I was unaware of her connection to our local school gardens and told her I would love to see a community garden here at the food bank.”
What began over a shared cup of coffee has become an instrumental part of hundreds of young musicians’ lives over the past decade. Co-founded by Karin Wedemeyer, a German-born opera singer, and Ruth Klinginsmith, a violinist trained through the Toronto Conservatory, these two women launched a music hub unlike any in North Idaho.
The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint opened its doors to musician hopefuls in September of 2009 and over the past decade has fulfilled its mission by expanding opportunities for arts accessibility, teaching music with a consistent curriculum 365 days a year and successfully training aspiring young performers.
“Our vision is to become a leading school of performing arts in the Northwest, the ‘Julliard of the Wild West,’ we like to kid. But we are not kidding,” says Kathi Samuels, Board of Directors chair.
Kathi’s first interaction with MCS involved her interest to teach her son, who was 6 years old at the time, how to read music. She enrolled him in a group recorder class in 2010. “The environment of music was a draw for me as a parent, a place where my kids could be immersed in ‘the language of music,’” she says. “After one visit, it was obviously a place I wanted to visit again.”
For over 90 years, The Panida Theater in Downtown Sandpoint has hosted many amazing performances. Who would have anticipated way back in 1927 when the Panida first opened that nearly a century later the iconic theater would continue its mission of showcasing great performers and performances for audiences in the Panhandle of Idaho—hence, its name the Panida.
But the past century has not been all glory for this historic structure. In the mid-1980s, the theater had fallen into disrepair. But thanks to the generosity of people and businesses in the community, the fundraising efforts put forth by many resulted in the restoration of the Panida, which today is on the National Register of Historic Places and has received numerous accolades from the governor of Idaho, the Idaho Commission of the Arts, the Idaho Centennial Commission and the U.S. Depart of the Interior.
In 2015 the theater underwent a ceiling restoration which required closure of the historic landmark during several weeks over the summer.
But when all was complete, a new fire alarm and sprinkler system was installed, and with the restoration of the plaster ceiling this beautiful landmark was closer to all the repairs and code requirements needed to carry on business as usual, which delighted locals and tourists alike.