New director takes the wheel at Sk8 Church in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Buck Chavarria paused when asked where he hopes Sk8 Church, an organization he and his wife, Tara, started, built and nurtured for more than a decade, will be five or 10 years from now.
“I don’t want to shape their direction,” Chavarria said. “A lot of people have told me that it’s my baby, but it’s really an adolescent now. And just like your own kids, you want to see them happy, healthy and functioning in their purpose, joyfully, as an adult.”
Buck and Tara Chavarria, who founded the nonprofit in 2006, moved to Oceanside, California, in July and have now turned over day-to-day operations of the organization to Nate Bartels, and his wife, Sarah.
Chavarria has continued to mentor the Bartels the past several months, traveling back and forth from California, to ensure the transition went smoothly. In March, Bartels was officially hired as the new executive director.
“I feel like we have a good team in place,” Chavarria said. “It’s been great to train Nate and Sarah and to get them up to speed. They are pretty dialed in, and we have a new board in place, so that seems pretty healthy.”
Sk8 Church staff now includes Bartels, his wife, Sarah, who is serving as operations manager, and Trevor Meckelburg, who works as the middle school program director. Board members include SaRa Cobb, Kona Ward and Leilani Brooks.
“We felt like we have built a real good team, and I’m confident that they will lead the way,” Chavarria said. “I think that’s pretty cool.”
Nate Bartels said the transition has been a long process, but one he felt was important to embrace.
“Buck helped us learn all the ropes and the ins-and-outs of Sk8 Church,” he said. “It was long transition, but I think it was necessary in that there are a lot of unique qualities to the Sk8 Church that really take time to learn and to communicate.”
Bartels is hoping to build on the foundation that was laid by Buck and Tara Chavarria and take the organization to new heights as it moves forward.
“I’m really excited to pick up where Buck left off,” Bartels said. “It’s like his ceiling is now like the floor that we get to build from, which is so exciting. I’m super honored to be put in this position and to be recognized by the board and my peers.”
Bartels said the church will continue to partner with the community of Steamboat Springs to address important issues like addiction.
“My number one goal will continue to be to offer help to those who are addicted,” Bartels said. “We have a serious problem in our valley with opioids and street drugs and alcohol and marijuana abuse. I have adults, and kids alike, coming in consistently to seek mentorship, or seeking help from addiction.”
In addition, the church will continue to take students on mission trips to Denver, and other Front Range locations, as well as trips to California to do mission work there and connect with efforts driven by the Chavarrias.
“I feel that we have helped the church reach out beyond its walls, as well as bridging the church and the community to help young people,” Chavarria said. “We have created a safe, sober place where kids can go be themselves and not be judged. They can hear the gospel and have a place where they can connect with other people that love them. That’s always been the goal, and it’s still rocking.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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