What’s behind Aspen’s Right Door? | AspenTimes.com

What’s behind Aspen’s Right Door?

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” The Right Door, which since 2003 has provided drug and alcohol treatment services to Aspen area residents, has essentially doubled the size of its client base every year since then and is now consulting with two neighboring counties ” Eagle and Garfield ” in an effort to get similar programs started there.

But, said the man at the head of the organization, the growth may have to stop soon.

Starting with a client base of 17 people in 2003, the organization has expanded to serving almost 700 people in 2007, and an expectation that the number will be well more than 800 for 2008.

“The demand for services has been so huge, we had to step it up,” said Executive Director Brad Osborn in a recent interview. “We were actually in a crisis between ’06 and ’07.”

In 2006, he said, half of The Right Door’s funding came from foundations grants and government sources, including Aspen’s City Hall and Pitkin County, and half from private donations.

It was in 2007 that the organization’s board of directors called in the Executive Services Corps. to take a look at The Right Door’s fiscal structure. The corps, which is a group of retired executives who donate their time to help nonprofits keep their finances in order, concluded that the Right Door’s funding was out of balance and should be getting a greater proportion of its money, if not all of it, from the government.

That, Osborn said, was not viewed as “a really viable option” in this area, particularly since he and the board agree that the organization should keep its distance from government oversight ” even though it is located in offices in the Schultz Health and Human Services Building on Castle Creek Road.

But the organization did shift its fundraising priorities, he said, and now gets approximately 70 percent of its funding from area governments.

“A lot of people think we are part of the government,” Osborn conceded, but he stressed that the organization does not take its marching orders from local government, and that its remaining level of dependence on donations is “part of being supported by the community.”

The Right Door works closely with area police and courts, and most of its clients are referred by the judicial and law enforcement systems, Osborn said.

The organization helps its clients locate the most appropriate type of rehabilitative regimen for their particular level of addiction, legal status and other variables, then helps them to get enrolled in whatever program is called for.

The Right Door also is a primary agency in dealing with a client’s “after-care” program, meaning the level of follow-up needed to keep an individual from backsliding into drinking or using drugs.

And the organization has other programs, such as its daily meal that primarily goes to the area’s homeless. The participants come to the Schultz building, to what is known as the “day center” on the first floor, and is served a meal brought over from the industrial kitchen at Aspen Valley Hospital.

It also provides drivers to take people arrested for drunkenness down to the detox center in Glenwood Springs, and has a crisis hot line that is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

And, said Osborn, there is a “very small scholarship fund ” it’s called a client support fund. But it’s not going to make a dent [in the total cost of treatment], and it’s only going to people who really want to change. We’re not going to do it just to help someone through their third DUI.”

Today, The Right Door employs 14 people ” six full time and eight part time, including the staff of the day center, those who administer the drug-testing program, those who take 12-hour shifts on the phone line, and counselors.

The organization’s 2007 tax forms, obtained through the Internal Revenue Service, show a budget reflecting revenues of nearly $444,000, nearly $364,000 of which comes from either government support or foundation grants and other donations. Just short of $78,000 comes from “program service revenue, including government fees and contracts” or from interest on investments, according to the IRS Form 990.

Out of that comes Osborn’s salary of $48,000, and a total of nearly $238,000 in salaries paid to other staff members. The rest is spent on related administrative charges, such as the phone bill ($6,066 in 2007), and travel ($7,888 in 2007, which included “transport escort support to individuals going to and from treatment,” according to the Form 990.)

Osborn said he has requested a budget of $700,000 budget for 2009, but doubts that it will be approved.

“We just can’t see where we can raise the money,” he remarked.

And, he said, the period of growth for the Right Door may be over for now.

“It’s out-of-control busy,” he said of the level of activity this year, adding, “I’m afraid we’re going to have to stop the growth.” He said 800 to 900 clients is the most he can foresee The Right Door handling successfully, as the organization is now made up.

A special reception for the group’s donors, who make up a list of roughly 3,300 people, is planned for Dec. 5 at Valley Fine Arts in the Wheeler Opera House building, from 5-6 p.m.

The event, hosted by one of The Right Door’s most ardent supporters, gallery owner Mia Valley, is meant to kick off The Right Door’s annual appeal for donations, a mail campaign which got started last week.


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