‘Candlelight’ attracts 760 to Nature Center

       With more than 760 people, the three-hour Bear Creek by Candlelight Dec. 3 “was the largest event we've had in that amount of time.”

Phil Carberry, co-owner/operator of the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, answers questions from the public, with help from volunteer Lynn Riester. On his hand is an owl that was blinded in one eye after flying into a barb wire fence.
Westside Pioneer photo

       This was the pleased assessment afterward by Todd Marts, who directs the Bear Creek and Fountain Creek nature centers for El Paso County Parks.
       The evening gathering at the Bear Creek Nature Center spotlighted four nonprofits (including the center's Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers) that provide different types of public service. The other three are the Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (displaying a partially blinded owl and explaining how it is the only such facility in the region that takes care of small, injured animals and birds of prey and, when possible, releases them back to the wild), the Children's Literacy Center (which aids slow readers with individual tutors) and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic (which brought in a string quartet that played through the evening). The center hosted the event - offering its various permanent displays inside and luminaria-lined trails outside - as well as trained staff and volunteers and refreshments.
       “What was really cool about it was that our partners had different audiences,” Marts said. “It was a kind of a pooling of audiences.”
       People had the opportunity to donate on the spot to one or more of the four entities or to use center-provided laptops and do it on line.
       The evening's lineup was arranged in keeping with a seasonal “Give” campaign by the local Independent newspaper. The Nature Center's Friends group and the other three nonprofits are among about 40 selected by the paper for support.
       “It's an opportunity for the smaller nonprofits to get the word out,” said Marts, appreciatively. He noted that the center (which had its budget roughly halved two years ago by a financially strapped county government and now relies heavily on volunteers) has raised $5,000 for the Friends through the Give campaign, which will continue until the end of the month.

A string quartet from the Colorado Springs Philarmonic (background) performs.
Westside Pioneer photo

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