Longtime foothills resident Pam Reitan has many interests and remarkable energy.
A talented landscape painter, her interest in art finds her a frequent guest at the Center for the Arts Evergreen. Her interest in musical theater makes hers a familiar face under the lights at Center Stage. Her interest in skiing regularly lifts Pam and her husband, Terry, into Colorado’s upper stories, and the Reitans’ shared interests in travel and diving may find the couple plumbing deep secrets in bright waters anywhere from Aruba to the Red Sea. But it’s Pam’s interest in serving her community that consumes the greater part of her prodigious energies. For more than 20 years she’s been among the most energetic of Mount Evans Home Health and Hospice’s many devoted volunteers.
“That’s where my heart is,” says Pam, simply.
Born in the small farming community of Aurora a few miles outside Grand Island, Neb., Pam soon moved with her family to Shenandoah, Iowa, another small farming town about 100 miles to the east. It was while studying music education and art illustration about halfway between the two at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln that she met the engaging young fellow who, 43 years ago, became her husband.
Terry’s career brought the couple out West in the mid-1970s. The Reitans settled first in Greystone, on Upper Bear Creek, then on Lookout Mountain, and finally at Spring Ranch, just east of El Rancho. Along the way they welcomed a beautiful daughter, Serena, and then a handsome son-in-law, and later a precious granddaughter. While Terry’s professional fortunes prospered, Pam turned her gifted hands to the graphic arts, most notably creating some of the striking images displayed across the country on the broad sides of U-Haul rolling stock. And it was the shadow of tragedy that first kindled Pam’s interest in Mount Evans.
“A friend of mine had a daughter who was diagnosed with terminal cancer,” Pam says. “As a parent I could see what a horrible thing that could be, and I had to do something to show the family I was grieving with them.
“Mount Evans was such an aid to the family throughout the illness and after her death. I wanted to train as a respite volunteer so I could help them do what they do. I saw firsthand how important it is for caregivers to have a little time away, just to take a breath and relax for a moment. I took the training and became a respite caregiver.”
Pam’s respite days ended a few years ago when she found herself on caregiving’s front lines, caring first for her mother-in-law, and then her mother. And as she had given, so did she receive. “Mount Evans assisted me with both. They provided in-home nursing and medical care, and counseling for me. They had all kinds of resources I could draw on for information, advice and encouragement.”
Since then, Pam’s interest in art has proved a boon to Mount Evans. She’s long been a driving force behind the Mount Evans Angels, and devotes untold energy to the organization’s annual benefit gala at Mount Vernon Country Club.
“I love the benefit,” she beams. “It’s ‘Pirates!’ this year. We’ll turn Mount Vernon into a totally different world.”
But if turning wire and fabric into graceful angels and tropical lagoons are Pam’s joy, helping Mount Evans perform its countless essential functions is still her love.
“There are so many levels and layers to Mount Evans that people don’t know about. I’m a loud volunteer, because everybody sees what I do. Respite volunteers are quiet volunteers. Nobody sees what they do, or how important it is. There are so many ways to get involved.”