1A ensures healthy community | AspenTimes.com

1A ensures healthy community

Dear Editor:

There are troubling times in everyone’s lives when we need a little help from our friends. Fortunately in our valley, there are nonprofits that have come together over time to assist those facing tough times.

With the economic downturn, we may first think of those with financial hardships, struggling to put food on the table or to receive basic medical care, but one does not have to be of limited means to be facing cancer in the family, terminal illness of a loved one, the challenges of aging, domestic violence, children with developmental delays or adolescents who have gotten off on the wrong track.

Right now, those working daily to assist our friends, neighbors and co-workers in their time of need are asking for your help with a yes vote on Pitkin County Referendum 1A – the Healthy Community Fund.

In recent years, these community service organizations have faced unprecedented demands. Indeed, the Healthy Community Fund gave grants in excess of collections in 2011 by exhausting reserves that had been carefully built up over prior years. Voting yes on 1A will approve a renewal and slight increase in the fund, starting in 2013 and lasting for six years to acknowledge and help support our growing senior population, families in crisis and greatly increased individual needs for assistance. The increase asked for will be approximately $1.30 per $100,000 of assessed value – or $13 on a million dollar residence. Asking the question for less would have been deceptive; letting folks believe that their yes vote would have provided the same services as in the past. A simple renewal vote might have been easier to present but would not have even supported the same grants as allocated in 2011, even in the face of growing cries for help.

This program does so much for so many, often unseen. Your yes on 1A will provide a dedicated source of funds that the nonprofits leverage many times over to secure state and federal moneys and grants from foundations by showing that they have clear and demonstrated support from their local governments.

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These agencies have been working small miracles, tightening belts and straining to sustain services. They clearly depend upon a combination of local government grants, private donations, sliding scale client fees and countless volunteer hours to do their work. No one source is enough by itself to ensure that these services will be there.

There are those who are opposing the Healthy Community Fund on the grounds that “it is Pitkin County picking which charities to support for you.” In reality, a citizen review board, in meetings open to the public carefully screen all grant applications (which are public documents) to measure and evaluate the need for and the benefits to our community of each organization. These nonprofits are our partners in caring for the health, safety and well-being of our citizens and natural environment. They add value to the community in ways that are measurable and transparent, and voting yes for 1A ensures that they will be there to help when you, a co-worker, neighbor or friend needs them, whether or not you gave them an individual donation last year.

Please return your ballot before 7 p.m. on Tuesday Nov. 1 and please vote yes on 1A.

Rachel E. Richards

Aspen