2015 was an eventful year! Change was in the air… a renewed excitement was being reborn throughout the Short Creek Valley and it all started with a phone call from George Jessop…
George and I grew up in the same era… My Grandfather raised his mother so we shared more than just our hometown; we shared memories of family activities, community activities as well as being peers in school. However, the religious and political environment found us on opposite sides of the “issues” in the early 1980’s so although we always remained friendly, our social interactions ended.
In 2014 George and I reconnected while planning a High School Reunion for our respective classes. 2014 marked 30 years for my class and 29 for his. George & Miriam had recently exited the FLDS and their culinary talents made them perfect targets for the class planning committees. George & Miriam were cautiously excited to reconnect with peers and soon became a vital part of the reunion. I was honored to reconnect with George and Miriam quickly earned my respect as his partner. The two of them were a huge part of the reunion’s success as we treasured the memories of past and present.
George and I connected again a few months later, and along with Willie Jessop, hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner at Willies Bed & Breakfast, serving over 450 people! The experience of serving unconditionally was priceless, and once again George & Miriam were vital contributors to the success!
Early in 2015, while George was driving truck on the ore haul, he called and asked me what I thought of hosting a July 4th event in Colorado City… an event where everyone would be welcome, with the intention to create healing in relationships with friends, family and rebuilding our hometown! I was instantly enrolled!!!
As I look back the project was much larger than anticipated but well worth the effort. George would spend hours on the phone everyday while driving the return trip from Blanding, Utah, calling anyone and everyone he could, to enroll them in the project. We expected around 500 people to attend but obviously hoped for more. There was so much work to be done, cleaning up the park, raising money to cover the costs, organizing volunteers for all the various activities, coordinating with city and county governments, which were uncooperative at best, advertising and promoting the event, and organizing the entire project to be ready by the day of celebration. It was a daunting task with HUGE demands. George had good days and challenging days. When someone he called would “rain on his parade” he would check with his team to get re-energized and when his calls were successful he would ignite the rest of us with his enthusiasm!! It was exhausting yet highly rewarding and by the time the event was completed, over 4000 attended!!!
History was made that day! Words cannot express the awesome “Space” created during the event. We acknowledged that many gathered, having previously suffered pain and persecution from friends, family, church and everything they held near and dear. We invited everyone to set the differences aside, and focus on what we shared in common.. This was our hometown, the place of our birth, the roots of our heritage, and to remember the good times, the happy memories and the positive social interactions from days gone by. We witnessed perpetrators apologizing to those they wronged, friends and family reconnecting after decades… It was like a sacred bomb of love and healing was dropped on the park that day… There were even marriages resulting from the events of that day.
Today the challenge lives on.. Each year George rallies a team of volunteers to fund and produce the event. Unlike surrounding communities, where the cities support and oversee community events, we actually have a unique opportunity.. The opportunity for the residents to champion the cause, take ownership for the success and instill community pride, patriotism, and a respect for our heritage that is only possible though being involved. George & Team are early adopters, visionaries, and forward thinking individuals who “Be the Change They Want to See in Their HomeTown!” We are ALL invited to follow their example.
Please support in any way you can… Plan to attend, bring your family and help us create a world class “Family Friendly” environment where we all honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our forefathers, to provide the freedom and opportunities we have today! Thank You George & Team for your efforts in our behalf!!
-HJ Dockstader Jr