Providing a Lifetime of Service to Community
Selecting a grand marshal each year is the privilege of the beneficiary organization for the Lighter Side of Christmas Parade. Ute Pass Kiwanis, the 2015 beneficiary, had the pleasure of naming local businessman Bert West for the honor this year.
Growing up in a farming community smaller than Divide, Bert learned about service to community at an early age. “Both my father and grandfather were Kiwanians,” he stated. “My grandfather always said ‘Be ashamed to lay your head on the pillow without first having done some good for your fellow man.’ He started taking me to Kiwanis Pancake Breakfasts when I was around 3.”
Taking his grandfather’s call to service to heart, Bert joined Kiwanis 27 years ago and has had perfect attendance at weekly meetings since then. “Some guys have had perfect attendance for over 50 years,” he said. “They are my inspiration.”
Bert quickly moved up the ranks in Kiwanis, becoming charter president for a new club, then moving on to Lt. Governor for the state of California. At the time, he was the youngest person to hold the office of Lt. Governor in CA and he did this in only his third year in Kiwanis!
Moving to Divide in 1995, Bert joined in the Ute Pass Kiwanis Club where he has been busy for 20 years. “I just enjoyed being a member of the club,” he said. “I started feeling like I needed to do more and become the Governor of the Rocky Mountain District I 2010.” Bert stated he enjoyed his time as Governor as he was able to travel to clubs in the Colorado, Nebraska Panhandle and Wyoming areas and interact with other Kiwanians there. “Now I’m running for the office of International Trustee,” he added. “That will definitely be the highlight of my Kiwanis career!”
The local Ute Pass Kiwanis club has 68 members and works closely with the local school groups that include K Kids in Elementary Schools, Builder Clubs in the Middle Schools, and Key Club in the High Schools in Teller County. “We have over 120 kids active in the program,” he stated. “They get to learn through service that there is something outside their immediate world that they can have an impact with. They get to help with supplying kids in other countries with school supplies following a disaster to leaning how they can make an impact on their own community and school.” The local Ute Pass Kiwanis Club also provides pediatric equipment to the local ambulance district. “We fund this with the Rocky Mountain District Foundation,” he said. “They supply the ambulance service with funds to buy the pediatric supplies they need to be ready for an emergency.”
His wife, Sandy, has been supportive of his Kiwanian activities through all this time. “We got married on June 21 30 years ago,” he said. “It’s the longest day of the year!” Together they raised two daughters Megan and Lauren, who both graduated from WPHS. “Ace the Wonder Dog, my Black Lab hunting machine, and Sandy’s dog Lovie round out our family at home right now,” he added. Working as a roofer, he “got tired of falling off roofs” and moved to wholesale sales in 2006. “This has given me the opportunity to do more with Kiwanis,” he said.
The Ute Pass Kiwanis major activities each year include Breakfast with Santa the first Saturday in December each year and raising scholarship funds for local students. “We hand out $4000-5000 each year,” he said. “We couldn’t have the great clubs locally in the schools without the combined efforts of the faculty advisors and club member participants. We are also in the process of adopting a local park on Lovell Gulch Road,” he added. “It will include a baseball field, soccer field, basketball and volley ball court as well as a fitness trail. We hope to build a toddler/preschool play area as well.”
“Fortunately for me, I’ve gotten a lot of awards for just being a part of Kiwanis. The one that means the most to me is to be a member of the Ute Pass Hall of Fame,” he said. “You don’t just get that one. They have to vote to give it to you and to have the club give it to me is the greatest award I’ve ever received in Kiwanis.” According to Bert, the local club is one of the most diverse with a wide variety of ages, backgrounds and careers in the group. “We have judges, school teachers, doctors, business owners, construction workers,” he said. “There is even a retired general and colonel major in our ranks!”
The 2015 Breakfast with Santa was a huge success, as was the Lighter Side of Christmas Parade. Winners for the entries this year were:
Grand Marshal award Colorado Springs Christian School
Best Use of Theme Pikes Peak Regional Hospital
Best Use of Lights Cub Scout Pack 20
Most Unique Friends of the Florissant Fossil Beds
Spirit Award Woodland Park Teen Center
Crazy Hat Contest 7 year old Aliyah Summeril
The 2016 LSOC Parade theme is “Rockin’ Around Your Favorite Park” celebrating the 125th birthday of Woodland Park and the 100 Year Anniversary of the National Park Service. Our own local national park, Friends of the Florissant Fossil Beds, are the parade beneficiary for 2016. Stay tuned! More to come! For additional information, visit www.lightersideofchristmas.com.