Kim Bouldin -Salida, CO
I should have known I was destined for some magic when Kim Bouldin returned my phone call. A woman with a busy schedule and in high demand, she wasn’t likely to have time for me during my brief stay in Salida. So after two days of waiting for her call, I decided, much to my own disappointment, I would have to move on. But as luck would have it, just as was on my way in to town, my phone rang. And that was where the magic began.
From the moment we realized I live a mere 15 miles from her grandparents in southwestern Wisconsin, to our affectionate farewell 2 hours later, our meeting was imbued with eagerness, laughter and serendipity. It felt like we were old friends meeting for coffee. But for anyone who knows Kim, that’s par for the course. With her warmth, enthusiasm and generosity, she makes friends easily with just about anyone who comes across her path. And if you keep reading, you will see how this warmth and generosity have served her community well. Oh, and she is humble too. After two hours spent together, she “forgot” to mention that she had recently been awarded “Salida Woman of the Year.” I had to find that out for myself.
After leaving Wisconsin for college in Montana, Kim tried to move back to her Midwestern town upon graduation, but “it just wouldn’t take because there were no mountains there.” Looking for her place, she moved to Salida in the spring of 1995 to become a river guide and, like many young people who move to Salida, she did the seasonal dance: working the river in the summer, the ski area in the winter, and the café all year long. This lifestyle can be quite enjoyable as a young person, but Kim was motivated to put her degree in social work to use and to establish herself professionally in the town. She soon recognized that she “was no longer running.” She had found her spot.
By 1996, Kim had joined the board of the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse, which at that time had only one director running it. Wishing to be more involved, she used her irrepressible energy to write a grant funding a position for herself as the director of a children’s services program — a position she would hold for two years until she became a co-director. Kim worked for the Alliance through the births of two children, and the opening of a pizza restaurant with her ex-husband in 2002. Juggling too many plates, Kim decided in 2003 that she needed to focus more on her family and the restaurant—the now wildly successful Moonlight Pizza — a vibrant community fixture. But the desire to see a future with no domestic violence would never be far from her heart, and to this day she continues to be involved in the cause.
Running a small business in any small town can be a tricky undertaking, as proprietors often need to pull from neighboring communities to keep their endeavors afloat. And while Salida attracts a healthy number of tourists during river and ski seasons, the “shoulder” seasons can be tough for local businesses. From the beginning, Kim felt that it was important to take good care of Salida locals because, as she puts it, “that is where my bread and butter is.” So she organized her business with locals in mind — supporting community programs, getting deliveries to locals first, and hosting events. These days, the shoulder season has diminished with the advent of the Salida Mountain Trails system, which brings bikers to the town nearly all year long, but Kim still feels that the local community takes precedence. It is the community, after all, that makes Salida into the home she loves and treasures.
So what does Kim’s brand of community service look like?
First, there are “Moonlight Mondays” –a community giving program in which the restaurant gives back 10% of all Monday’s sales to local non-profits and community programs. At any time an organization can go online to fill out a request form and get on the Moonlight Mondays calendar. The organization then does their own marketing and brings people in (often new customers), on what is otherwise usually a slow night at the restaurant. Kim calls it a win-win, and says that last year Moonlight was able to donate back more than $15,000 to local organizations.
In another brilliant gesture, Kim was able to reconstruct the typical school fundraiser —in which students sold candy bars with little health benefit, and from unknown origins— into a symbiotic partnership between the school system and local businesses. Today, students take orders for gift cards from Salida businesses that choose to opt into the program. The businesses retain 80% of the value and donate 20% back to the local school district. This way, says Kim, the school makes good money, local establishments see an influx of business (often new customers), and the money stays in the community at a time when the local economy is often slower —an all-around win!
Although she no longer has a paying position with the Alliance Against Domestic Abuse, Kim’s passion to end domestic violence continues, and is now addressed through other means. Noting that “women love to get together and have a cocktail,” she has organized an annual “woman’s happy hour” to benefit the Alliance. Once a year in December, the women of Salida grab their change jars and checkbooks and get together to imagine and support an end to domestic violence. Yet another win-win, as women get to enjoy each other’s company, the business that hosts the event (it rotates every year) makes a little bit of money selling drinks, and the proceeds go to a good cause.
But Kim’s dedication to seeing an end to domestic abuse has recently been taken to the national level with a merger with another passion: roller derby.
It is easy to wonder how one finds the intersection of domestic abuse and roller derby, but Kim and a handful of her derby teammates (The Ark Valley High Rollers) are preparing to embark on a cross-country trip —from Cocoa Beach, Florida to Santa Monica, California— pushing jog strollers on roller skates (yes, that’s four wheels, not two), in an effort to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The “States on Skates” plan was hatched with inspiration from fellow teammate Gracie Cole who, in 2006 unicycled across the country, followed by a single-wheel trip down the Continental Divide Trail in 2009—both in an effort to raise funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Led by Gracie, who has experience with garnering sponsorships, the goal of the High Rollers is to raise $50,000 for the Joyful Heart Foundation —the largest supporter of the “No More” campaign. Departing on March 5, 2015, these spirited women expect to average 40 miles per day (6 days on, 1 day off) as they push their gear 2,800 miles, meeting up with and forming alliances with domestic violence programs and fellow roller derby leagues across the South.
As we finish up our time together, I find that I am once again inspired at the far-reaching impact “ordinary” people can have on their places. Passion and a commitment to place really can change the world…one story at a time. And more often than not, the result is a little bit of magic.
For more reading on “States on Skates,” Gracie Cole, or Moonlight Mondays, see below: