Battlement to the Bells United Way gearing up for 2019 campaign

Kyle Mills
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Lawrence Bond

Skier appreciation day big UWBB fundraiser

One of United Way Battlement to the Bells’ biggest fundraisers is just around the corner, with the annual Skier Appreciation Day just over two weeks away at Sunlight Mountain Resort.

“It’s a lot of fun. We have a theme every year,” UWBB Board President Lawrence Bond said. “This year it’s the ’80s.”

The Jan. 11 Skier Appreciation Day marks the 34th time UWBB and Sunlight have joined together to host the annual event.

The day will include food, music, giveaways and costume contests, and a $20 lift ticket will get children and adults a full day of skiing. All proceeds from the day’s ticket sales benefit UWBB.

“Even though last year wasn’t the best snow year, it was one of the best-attended days of the year at the resort,” Traci Gurley-Tomashosky, executive director, said. “It brings in quite a crowd. It’s really festive and fun,”

With this year’s theme, attendees are encouraged to wear costumes from the 1980s – acid-washed jeans, shoulder pads, perms and all.

Prizes including skis, snowboards and lift tickets. Chairlifts open at 9 a.m. and ’80s music starts at 11 a.m.

As the new year approaches, the area United Way chapter, Battlement to the Bells, is preparing to start the fundraising year and hopes to continue growing its new AmeriCorps VISTA Project that was launched last year.

Battlement to the Bells has been working to improve the communities and their populations from Aspen to Battlement Mesa since 1983, supporting local nonprofits through funding and grants for well over 30 years.

Focusing specifically on improving outcomes for education, financial well-being and health, UWBB represents communities throughout the Roaring Fork, Crystal and Colorado River valleys.

“The historical role of United Way is to unite local charities,” UWBB Board President Lawrence Bond said. “What we’ve often been known as is the fundraising wing for other nonprofits and charities.”

UWBB latest endeavor, the VISTA Project, helps bring up to 14 full-time volunteers to 16 local nonprofits, helping them build capacity and sustainability.

“The AmeriCorps VISTA project is probably the most exciting thing we have going right now,” Executive Director Traci D. Gurley-Tomashosky said.

“AmeriCorps VISTA allowed us to bring full-time volunteers to work in capacity building for local nonprofits.

“When you think of volunteering, a lot of time people envision the soup kitchen and the direct service model, where people are hands-on volunteering,” Gurley-Tomashosky added.

However, she said AmeriCorps VISTAs help to truly build capacity within an organization, including writing grants, helping build social media presence, websites, material and even program development.

VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America. Each volunteer serves a full year and receives a modest $200 monthly housing stipend.

“The volunteers live on a very modest stipend that is below the national poverty line,” Gurley-Tomashosky said. “That’s part of the experience of being a volunteer with AmeriCorps VISTA.”

The project is providing volunteer professionals for nominal cost to eligible non-profits organizations who address alleviating poverty in the valley.

“Instead of giving an organization a grant of $5,000, they get a full-time person to work for them,” Bond said. “The value of that is $35,000-$50,000 to an organization.”

UWBB is wrapping up the first year of the program, and recruiting new VISTAs.

“It is more challenging to bring volunteers than we thought it would be,” Bond added.

The program is looking to recruit across all ages, from college students to retired community members who want to help out and build their skills with a local organization.

“Housing needs here in the valley is one of our largest challenges, as it is for everyone,” Gurley-Tomashosky said. “We are trying to support these volunteers who are supporting our local nonprofits.”

Volunteers receive a $6,000 education award for their service. The award can be applied to student loans for future educational opportunities. The program also includes medical insurance and a childcare stipend for young parents.

“We want to keep it here and grow it,” Gurley-Tomashosky added. “It’s really important for United Way and our local nonprofits that we find a new way to support them. Something that really carries meaning, and I think AmeriCorps VISTA does that.”

“We think it extremely exciting for this valley, and for United Way in a effort to really give back to the community,” Bond said.

For more information about the UWBB VISTA Project contact the VISTA Program Manager, Andie Scott, at andie@