DonorDirect closes doors | AspenTimes.com

DonorDirect closes doors

ASPEN – Over the past decade, DonorDirect has loaned more than $125,000 to local residents in need, affecting the lives of 360 men, women and children. Now, the nonprofit has closed its doors – not for a lack of funds or because there is no need for its services but rather because it’s “the end of an era” for those who founded and ran the homegrown charity.

“I want to make sure that the community knows that it was a hard decision for us to determine whether or not to close DonorDirect,” said Alyssa Genshaft, who served as president and director of the Tide Me Over Lending Fund, which was DonorDirect’s giving arm. “It has been a labor of love. There is nothing more meaningful than knowing that you are making a difference in the life of an individual or a family.

“We have heard a lot of heartfelt stories over the years and have come to the rescue of many.”

Since its creation in 2002, DonorDirect gave out 147 loans, totaling $126,600. These one-time, interest-free loans were given to applicants who met a list of qualifications. The brainchild of Aspen residents Holly Tullar and her mother, Bartlett, the idea for DonorDirect came from a growing concern about the number of Roaring Fork Valley residents who were living paycheck to paycheck and getting into financial trouble after an illness, accident or unexpected change in employment.

And while the situation still exists, Genshaft said the Tide Me Over Lending Fund has actually received fewer requests in recent years. Plus, the people behind the nonprofit – all volunteers – have moved on to other endeavors and believe other nonprofits might be able to better serve those in need.

“I think we feel like we have served a need and have fulfilled our mission. But it’s time to move on,” said Genshaft, who now has three children younger than 7 and finds herself pulled in a different direction. “It’s the end of an era, I guess.”

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Still, the people behind DonorDirect recognize that there remains a continuing need in the community. With more than $40,000 in the bank, the organization’s board has decided to forgive the balance on outstanding loans – “You should have heard the joy and relief in people’s voices when we called to tell them,” Genshaft said – and to donate the balance to other local charities.

And it is these charities that DonorDirect hopes will pick up where it left off.

“We feel confident that even in our absence, there are many other wonderful organizations in this valley that are able to provide similar services,” Genshaft said. “I feel like by closing our doors at this time of year, we can both support and draw attention to these other organizations that offer help to our friends and neighbors in need.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com