RAISING THE SPARKS…AND CREATING A BETTER WORLD

Photographer Dave Bernier took this photo for the Montrose Mirror at the opening ceremo-ny for Welcome Home Montrose in March of 2012 at the Montrose Pavilion. Melanie Kline is shown with Gary Love, father of injured Marine Todd Love. Photo by Dave Bernier.

Photographer Dave Bernier took this photo for the Montrose Mirror at the opening ceremony for Welcome Home Montrose in March of 2012 at the Montrose Pavilion. Melanie Kline is shown with Gary Love, father of injured Marine Todd Love. Photo by Dave Bernier.

MONTROSE—(February 4, 2014)  She was born and raised in Colorado, and learned her lifelong profession of silversmithing while still a student at George Washington High School in East Denver. To this day, Melanie Kline credits much of her success in life to the tools and skills she acquired as a Denver teen. Kline will share her journey and accomplishments as creator of the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans with the Ouray Women’s Club on Feb. 18

“Colorado is a good place for the arts,” Kline said. “I spent 20 years on Cape Cod as a young adult—it was a great place to raise my two kids—but when I have lived in other places I have always been surprised that they don’t seem to have the same opportunities.”

It’s no surprise that Kline eventually created a line of jewelry called “Cowgirl at Heart,” because her own heart has always belonged to the Rocky Mountain West.

“When my dad died, suddenly there was no longer anyone in Colorado for me to come and visit,” she said. “So I left the Northeast and my work in high-end jewelry to find a place back home.”

That was when Kline, who had never been to Ouray, visited there for the first time.

“I stumbled on Ouray, and bought a house there in 1991,” she said. “It was the cheapest house in town, and I still have it.”

In 2001, Kline moved to Ouray to live full time, establishing her business, Ouray Silversmiths. The company opened a retail outlet in Montrose when Kline moved here in 2007. Though she had established herself as one of the premiere designers of Judaica in the world—Kline was invited to prepare a one-woman show for the Washington DC Hebrew Congregation a decade ago—she found herself moving on to new frontiers as a designer, creating the sought-after  “Cowgirl at Heart” line.

“I thought I would just keep doing Judaica, but I had given it my all,” she explains. “I still had my studio though, so I created a line inspired by this place. I was so happy to be home.”

Today, one of Kline’s two sons owns and operates Ouray Silversmiths with his own family, and Kline herself has moved on—though not exactly to retirement.

Two years ago she found herself watching a television program about America’s returning veterans, and the challenges they face. Kline wished there was something she could do to help, a desire that inspired her to create Welcome Home Montrose and the Warrior Resource Center, a local non-profit that has achieved national recognition for its work in easing the transition for veterans as they return to civilian life. Located at 11 South Park Avenue, the Warrior Resource Center has become a place of support for all U.S. veterans, of any age, any branch of the military, and from any conflict. It was the work being done through Welcome Home Montrose that helped Montrose earn recognition as an All America City in 2013, work in which Kline is assisted by her “right hand,” WRC Executive Director Emily Smith.

“It’s pretty neat to work with Emily,” Kline said. “I have never been happier—there are so many great people in the world, and because of Welcome Home Montrose, I know that.”

Though she turns 65 this year, Kline looks forward not to relaxation, but to the opportunity to get back to work as a designer—and to continue changing the world. Welcome Home Montrose and the Warrior Resource Center have been embraced by the community, have established many local partnerships, and are inspiring other communities to join in—the Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans has been working with a group of volunteers in Durango who hope to create a similar endeavor.

Kline believes her Jewish faith has played an enormous role in her life choices.

“There is a Hebrew phrase, Tikkun Olam,” she said. “It is about” raising the sparks,” and helping create a better world.

“I still sell my designs through the store,” she added. “But I now find myself looking at life in a whole different way. Sometimes I envy those who are not always searching for that next opportunity—it’s a restless thing. But maybe it’s because, as an artist, I see how things COULD be. That’s what artists do—they take something, and turn it into something else.

“We are always looking around to see what we can change.”