La Puente honors generosity of Dave & Virginia Svaldi


Adams State University President, Dr. David Svaldi, and his wife, Virginia, were honored by La Puente and Valley-Wide Health Systems for their ongoing commitment to the homeless shelter, particularly their support of the annual Share the Magic holiday gala, presented in conjunction with the ASU Theatre Program. Each year, the couple funds and hosts the opening night reception and purchases "the house," so that ticket sales benefit the charity. In past years, Helen Lester has teamed with the Svaldis in purchasing "the house."

Lance Cheslock, executive director of La Puente, (left) and Gigi Darricades, President & CEO of Valley-Wide Health Systems, present a plaque of appreciation to Virginia and David Svaldi at the 2014 Share the Magic gala.

The Svaldis were presented a commemorative plaque at this year's gala, held Dec. 5, prior to the theatre's production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, directed by Dr. John Taylor. The event raised a record $76,000 in support of the homeless shelter's programs. Over the last seven years, the opening night benefit performances have raised more than $350,000 for La Puente.

Of this year's total, La Puente is committing $21,000 in honor of the Svaldis to the "It's a Wonderful Legacy" endowment.

"We wanted to take this opportunity to recognize the very generous and wonderful contributions of David and Virginia Svaldi," said Lance Cheslock, La Puente's executive director. "We discussed a way to recognize the contributions (to the Legacy Fund) and finally came up with It's a Wonderful Legacy."

Last year, La Puente also benefited from the Svaldis' donation of a 1953 GMC truck, which Dr. Svaldi had restored with help from his older brother. Another loyal La Puente supporter, Harry Mathews of Denver, purchased the truck for $10,000.

La Puente provides food, shelter, and advocacy for the homeless and community members in crisis. In addition to the 40-bed shelter in Alamosa, it also operates a network of a dozen food banks throughout the six-county San Luis Valley.

By Julie Waechter