Mountain Shadows returnees get wonderful welcome

RYAN MAYE HANDY Updated: March 15, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: March 15, 2013

Behold, a new recipe for a wonderful life in Mountain Shadows: One part Kosher salt, one part bread, and one part Mayor Steve Bach. Savor with a glass of wine and sweeten with a pinch of Suzi Bach.

It was a recipe — minus the Bach elements — that worked for Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

So, the Bachs spent their Friday afternoon driving through Mountain Shadows welcoming nine homeowners who were displaced by the Waldo Canyon fire back to the neighborhood with gift baskets.

Bob Cutter, president of the non-profit Colorado Springs Together, chauffeured the Bachs through the bustling cachophony of construction, providing background and anecdotes for many of the lots, vacant or newly rebuilt, they passed. The Mayor wore a crisp, oxford button-down — the same shirt he wore when President Barack Obama came to town in June, he noted — and was charged with hand delivering the baskets to each residence. Suzi Bach presented the homeowners with a welcome home card, and explained its “wonderful life” recipe, inspired by the movie and written inside, to the residents:

“Bread — that this house may never know hunger.

“Salt — that life may always have flavor.

“Wine — that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”

Panera Bread donated the loaves, and Cheers Liquor Mart donated bottles of Pinot Grigio, wrapped in specially-made “Welcome Home” labels. Although the baskets were only delivered to nine homes on Friday, it’s the Mayor and Cutter’s ambition to give them to every homeowner who rebuilds or moves into Mountain Shadows.

It’s a lofty goal, and the Mayor has months of catching up to do — the last homeowners to receive a welcome home basket from Bach were Joseph Boyd and Trish Nelson-Boyd of Yankton Place, the first couple to move back into the neighborhood. Since they returned last fall, 20 homes have been completed and hundreds of others are being reconstructed.

Friday’s selection of homeowners, put together by Colorado Springs Together employee Annie Reilly, were in various stages of “move-in.” The Bensons of Courtney Drive moved into their new home in January, whereas Harriet Webster of Vantage Vista Drive has yet to move into her completed home. Reilly planned a visit to a new home that she bought in the neighborhood where the current owner, Shauna Hoey, received a basket and warm mayoral greeting as well.

But the sunny day for the greeting party was not without its shadows — a few poignant reminders of the struggles that homeowners continue to face in the area heavily damaged by the Waldo Canyon fire nearly nine months ago. Chris Felder of Vantage Vista Drive moved into his house in January but has yet to see the mail arrive. The Berkheisers of Sandray Court look out of their new windows at a haunting, denuded landscape studded with black trees.

Despite the tragedy, Mountain Shadows has an irresistable vibe that Reilly said she is eager to return to. After her home in Parkside was destroyed, Reilly sold her lot, not wanting to return. But, working at Colorado Springs Together pulled her into the lives of her neighbors, and she bought another home in Parkside, a block from where her old home used to stand.

Now, Reilly is inexorably connected to her neighbors, more so than before, she told Suzie Bach.

“It takes a lifetime to get to know your neighbors so well,” she said.

Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261

Twitter @ryanmhandy

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