Castle Rock resident Jerry Powell says business owners have a greater responsibility for their community than do the residents who live there. He says when you open a business, you’re obviously asking the community for support, but you can’t open up shop and expect it to be a one-way street — businesses have to provide something back.
Powell’s Castle Rock Woodworks woodshop gave back to the community when Castle Rock Police K-9 Officer Ronin died in February due to unforeseen health complications. Castle Rock Woodworks provided a handmade wooden plaque to the police department in honor of Ronin shortly after the dog’s death.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Powell has been bunkered at home, helping his three sons through online learning as all school buildings in the state are closed until at least April 30. As he has been stuck at home like many other Coloradans, Powell has been thinking of hands-on projects he can provide to the community to pass the time through Castle Rock Woodworks.
So far, Powell has provided more than 1,000 free kits to build birdhouses and planter boxes to families, senior homes, nursing facilities and teachers.
“We tried to make it where kids got a hands-on project and parents got a break from (online schooling),” said Powell.
Castle Rock Woodworks made the birdhouse kits educational by providing pamphlets with the kits about Colorado birds, links to educational resources and information about where to place the birdhouses. Powell said the birdhouses take around 15 minutes to build and can be constructed by using common household supplies such as glue.
The planter boxes are similar to the birdhouses in that they are easy to build and include educational components, such as information about wildflowers in the state.
To pick up the kits, residents contacted Castle Rock Woodworks through Facebook to get Powell’s address. He set up a table outside his house where the kits could be picked up without coming into contact with him and others.
Castle Rock Woodworks is planning on releasing new projects each week until mid-May, Powell said. The kits are available to everybody throughout the Denver metro area.
“We support all those that are trying to navigate through this weirdness. We’re in the same boat,” said Powell. “We will continue to do what we can to contribute until things find a new normal.”
Like Powell’s clientele, others throughout the metro area are finding ways to keep themselves entertained through the pandemic as Coloradans are under a stay-at-home order until at least April 11. Here is a look at what others are doing to pass the time.
In Lakewood’s O’Kane Park Neighborhood, bordered by Alameda Avenue to Sixth Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard to Harlan Street, neighbors are like family.
“I would say our neighbors and neighborhood is unusual. It is the primary circle for us,” said Kelly Theiler, a resident of O’Kane Park Neighborhood. “We take care of each other’s kids, we go out to dinner, we go on vacations with each other. We are the safety net for each other.”
Maintaining a sense of togetherness has been important for eight households in the neighborhood, said Kristy Myers, another resident of O’Kane Park Neighborhood.
The neighborhood has gotten creative with keeping each other entertained through different events like a “no touch scavenger hunt.” Residents went outside, searched for items like a horse, a fire truck and a crow, and they had to take a selfie with a squirrel to complete the hunt.
Each weekend, some neighborhood residents will host a brunch together with different themes while keeping at least six feet distant from each other, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the weekend of April 4, the brunch was cowboy-themed. Every participant sat outside their porches, drank out of tin cups and dressed like a cowboy.
The neighborhood has also been playing Cards Against Humanity with each other through Zoom, a video communications service.
“It keeps everyone hopeful, and it keeps everyone social so that we can get through these next four weeks and hopefully come out of it okay,” said Myers.
Before the pandemic, Denver resident Landan Taylor would typically play disc golf or meet up with his brother after work.
But now that Colorado is under a stay-at-home order, Taylor has turned to another way to entertain himself while still socializing — video games. Taylor has been playing video games regularly with his friends while talking to them through a microphone.
“As someone who likes to socialize, it is a good way to feel like I am hanging out with people and getting that human experience,” said Taylor.
Denver resident Camila Plana is staying connected with her friends through virtual happy hours on Zoom. Her virtual happy hours with her friends have included wine tastings and have also entailed her friend group taking turns giving presentations on different topics. One of Plana’s friends gave a presentation on her past relationships.
“(The presentations) are more personal, but they are educational too,” said Plana. She said one of her other friends gave a presentation on basic Spanish while another one presented basic American Sign Language.
“It is really important for us to reach out and stay in communication with our friends and family we would normally stay in contact with,” she added.
Eric Nevins, who grew up in Highlands Ranch but now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, said he and his coworkers have been setting up virtual coffee meetings on Monday mornings to try to keep life as normal as possible. Nevins works as a mechanical engineer for Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions firm based in Kansas City.
“I’m a pretty face-to-face, social-oriented person. I miss interacting with people a lot,” said Nevins. “As far as getting coffee with those guys, it is nice, because you’re not being professional at work every time. It gives you a time to stay social. That is the most important part — to not feel like I am isolated.”
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