Moffat County resident recognized as United Way’s 2010 Volunteer of the Year
Lorrae Moon had to make a quick detour before Wednesday’s volunteer luncheon.
She’s tasked with keeping an eye on her son’s flock of sheep during the day. But, as she drove by on her way to town, she noticed some newborn lambs were huddled among the rest of the sheep, separated from their mothers.
So, Moon stopped to lend a hand.
Although she would have rather not gotten dirty just before lunch, she jumped in to help because it was needed, she said.
“I drove over there and looked and I was like, ‘Oh crud, I have to get a sweatshirt on and so I was putting on my rubber boots,’” she said.
Such a willingness to help without hesitation illustrated why Moon was recognized during the luncheon as Moffat County United Way’s 2010 Volunteer of the Year, executive director Corrie Ponikvar said.
The award is sponsored by the City of Craig, Moffat County, and United Way.
“I’m probably the least one to deserve that because there are so many people in our community that do stuff,” Moon said after receiving the award. “But, I believe in volunteering and we all have to step up to the plate because that’s what makes a nice community when you care and lend a hand. I do believe in it with my whole heart.”
Much of Moon’s passion for giving back to the community comes in the form of agriculture.
“I might be close to being a hippie,” she said with a laugh. “This morning I was out in my greenhouse and planted a couple rows of this and that and just had my hands plum dirty. So it is definitely in my soul as part of who I am and what makes me tick.”
Moon said she is active in several organizations and is the community club leader for the Elkhead Wranglers 4-H club, a Yampa Valley Hens and Chicks organizer, and founder of a local knitting group.
For the last 23 years, she has spent her early mornings driving a bus for students going to Sunset Elementary School, Craig Middle School and Moffat County High School.
“I just thought nobody could drive my children but me,” she said explaining why she started driving a bus. “I was a little bit of a mother hen. So, I started and it just worked for me and I just stayed with it. Now, it is so important to me because I love my route kids and they’re apart of me because my kids are grown up now and so these are my kids.”
Moon, who lives on a ranch north of Craig, said she grew up participating in 4-H.
“I’ve just taken it further with my kids and we talk about it on the bus all the time,” she said. “That’s how I connect with everybody and everything all the time is through anything agricultural — the babies, the chicks, my goats, all of it.”
Moon said the best part of being involved in the community is being able to participate and see “what outstanding kids they can be.”
She found such qualities in Moffat County’s youth during her time as the founder and organizer of the Black Mountain Junior Rodeo Series, a summertime weekly youth rodeo competition she ran for seven years.
“To volunteer with the kids is to keep raising that bar higher and make them be quality people,” she said.
Moon is also the vice president of the Yampa Valley Piecemakers quilt guild, in addition to being a “huge participant” and advocate for the local farmers market, she said.
“I think I’ve been there right from the first day they opened,” she said, adding she likes to sell the goods from her garden at the market.
The Northwest Colorado native is also a master food canner.
“It’s a certificate and I have a name tag,” she said with a laugh.
She often hosts free workshops to get people “up to snuff” on how to can foods and much of what she cans comes from her garden.
“Canning is coming back so it is important to be there for people as they get to their canning questions because sometimes they are pulling out a Ball blue book that was the ’74 version,” she said. “They need to get the new one and that’s what I’ll tell them.”
Moon contends, “you can put anything in a jar,” as evidenced by a recent chicken-canning project done by the Hens and Chicks.
“I’m like a big cheerleader for it,” she said the Hens and Chicks.
The Hens and Chicks is the local chapter of the International Farmgirl Sisterhood. The group had its first meeting in February at Moon’s kitchen table. The mission of the organization is to work on various agricultural projects, she said.
“Local, sustainable — that is just kind of the tone of everything that I do,” Moon said. “Just keeping it in the area, supporting your local businesses, supporting your local farmers and ranchers.”
Moreover, she said the Hens and Chicks represent a “simpler way of life,” and one of community involvement.
That’s just what Moon wants, she said.
“I’ve kind of thought this way my whole adult life,” she said. “Everybody thought I was strange and (on the) brink of hippie-hood. But, people are kind of coming over to my side. This is all stuff that has been in my mind and people come and they say, ‘Lorrae, will you tell me how to can? Lorrae, can you show me how to knit,’ you know?”