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Medical foundation spreads help beyond hospital

Eben Harrell

With its offices in the hospital and its close affiliation with Aspen Valley Hospital, many people think of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation as simply the nonprofit arm of AVH. But last year, along with fund raising for the hospital, the foundation distributed nearly a half million dollars to 29 different health and human services charities across the Roaring Fork Valley. That’s an aspect of the foundation that the community recently has overlooked, said foundation Executive Director Kris Marsh.”We face an identity challenge,” Marsh said. “People think of us and think ‘hospital.’ But that’s just part of our story.”Marsh said because of the recent financial crisis at AVH, fund raising for the medical foundation was around $700,000 below average last year, although a recent $500,000 gift from a private benefactor has helped make up the difference.While the foundation met its grant-giving commitments, its board members have been racking their brains about how to spread the word about their non-hospital work.”You can understand our purpose and who we serve by looking at where our money goes,” foundation board President Archer Bishop said. “This year we gave $413,663 in grants to health and human service agencies providing care through the Roaring Fork Valley. To Aspen Valley Hospital we gave a total of $358,944.”Last year, Grants ranged from $30,000 to support mental health and substance abuse services at Aspen Counseling Center to $5,000 for medical equipment for the Aspen Police Department, Bishop said. Aspen Counseling Center director Jeff Kremer said local nonprofits rely heavily on the foundation due to dwindling state support for health-related charities. “We’ve lost about $74,000 in state funding over the last few years,” Kremer said. “But we’ve also received $30,000 a year from the foundation. Their support is flat-out critical to our organization. I’m sure it’s the same for other nonprofits in our field. A lot of people may not realize that.”The foundation offers two types of grants to local nonprofits. The first is one-time grants available through application each year. The second type, which are the vast majority of grants, bring a three-year funding commitment from the foundation. It’s these partnerships, Marsh said, that are just as central to the foundation as its affiliation with AVH.”It’s called partnering, and it means that local nonprofits can count on our support for three years. For three years, they know what they’re getting,” Marsh said.”People know about our partnership with AVH, but these partnerships are just as crucial to our identity and, we think, to the health of our valley as a whole.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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