Benefit

So much more than chainsaws

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps hosts annual Pathways fundraiser to support programs

By Yvonne Pesquera
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 10/10/18

Chances are, if you've taken a hike anywhere in Taos County, you've benefited from the work of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. From signage to benches to erosion control, the Corps …

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Benefit

So much more than chainsaws

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps hosts annual Pathways fundraiser to support programs

Posted

Chances are, if you've taken a hike anywhere in Taos County, you've benefited from the work of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. From signage to benches to erosion control, the Corps keeps our trails in good shape. Now RMYC is asking for the community to turn out and support them in keeping their nonprofit organization in equally good shape.

The RMYC is having its 2018 Pathways Dinner and Auction Thursday (Oct. 11) at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Doors open at 5 p.m. The event will feature a silent auction, dinner, and entertainment until 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 at the door or at youthcorps.org.

For this special event, Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership is closed to the public starting at 5 p.m. Closing its doors for one evening is no small feat for the popular venue, but Dan Irion, one of the four founding partners of TMB, said this benefit is worth it.

"We care about our community and Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is a very valuable part of this community," he said. "I have two kids who I take outdoors quite a bit. They make the trails better for us who live here and for those who visit. That indirectly benefits my business in the long run."

Irion also acknowledged that Taos has a lot of nonprofit organizations. "When I think of the quality that they give back to the community, I would put the Corps toward the top of that list."

The RMYC press statement reads: "We call our event Pathways because that is exactly what we do. We provide the training and inspiration for young adults to find a pathway to a career and education."

The silent auction at Pathways will likely inspire a lot of supporters.

"It's incredible; we have over 80 gifts. I'm telling people: 'Get your Christmas shopping done early,'" said Matthew Foster, director of development at RMYC. Among the list of goodies he ticked off were a Southwest Airlines ticket, a weekend getaway at The Blake Hotel in Taos Ski Valley, two free passes to any Taos Mesa Brewing-sponsored event and a gift certificate to nearly every restaurant in Taos.

The buffet dinner is prepared by Taos Pueblo caterer Henrietta Gomez. The menu is a traditional Pueblo feast serving red chile with pork, vegetarian green chile, chicos and beans, prune pies, and blueberry pudding. Nonalcoholic beverages are included with the ticket; the bar is open to Pathways guests.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps' mission statement is to inspire young adults to make a positive difference in themselves and their communities.

It's easy to think of the Corps for their conservation work -- they even marched in this year's Fiestas Parade revving chainsaws to the delight of squealing children. But the Corps is so much more than that. Individuals aged 17-25 are paid for their work and given opportunities and experiences they can use for furthering an academic or workforce career.

Billy Knight is the chairman of the Corps board of directors. He is also a wealth management adviser of Knight Financial Limited in Taos since 1993.

Knight explained, "What a lot of people don't understand is that any federal grants received are primarily for the salaries of the workers. Not necessarily for the staff, but for the young adults who are out working in the field. They are all paid a fair wage. But in many situations, the grantees only consider certain aspects of the pay scales, so we have to raise additional funds."

The theme of this year's Pathways event is "Celebrating Diversity." Yet, Taos already is a diverse culture. Executive Director Ben Thomas agreed: "We are harnessing and reflecting diversity in our programs. This event is for people to come out and see that the Corps is doing some new things this year."

Thomas will share about the new partnership with Not Forgotten Oureach to engage veterans in its new agriculture venture. "We have a crew on the ground to farm Mitchell Pasture," which is a newly acquired parcel of land off Paseo del Pueblo Norte across from Cid's Market. He also cited a new partnership with Assistance Dogs of the West for training service dogs, and deaf and hard-of-hearing programs.

"We want to use this moment in time to highlight the diversity in our programming. A lot of people know us for our chainsaws. We're bigger than that," Thomas said.

The Corps started in Taos almost 20 years ago. Since then it has grown and expanded to include an Albuquerque office.

Foster noted that Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is open to anyone who wants to apply. They have only the most minimal of requirements.

"We provide professional certifications and a workforce development curriculum. Everybody leaves Rocky Mountain Youth Corps with a résumé and cover letter, and with basic life skills that makes them employable: teamwork, communication and showing up for work," he said.

For more information, call (575) 751-1420 or visit youthcorps.org.

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