Aspen Times editorial: In this time of giving, think about our community’s smaller nonprofits
It is no secret that the Roaring Fork Valley is home to some of the most generous givers in the United States. With more than 485 nonprofits between Aspen and Parachute, a lot of great people work hard to provide much needed services to our friends and neighbors.
While every nonprofit can benefit from year-end giving, we know that not every donor can write a check for $10,000, so we wanted to highlight some organizations where as little as $50 will go a long way.
That said, we worked this week with Aspen Community Foundation to choose the following nonprofits that just could use some visibility and a helping hand. These organizations often are challenged to position themselves in front of donors or the community; they are working with vulnerable individuals and families on sensitive issues or they are part of a larger system (such as a school district or judicial district).
A Way Out: Founded in 2013, this group provides free substance-use disorder/mental-health assessments, addiction counseling and helps get people ready to make a change connected with the right programs. They help the individual but also their family. As drug addiction is reaching epidemic levels, the Aspen-based A Way Out helps families in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties take that first step to helping a loved one. In 2017, A Way Out helped 200 people (more than half for alcohol abuse) and 34 families — all that with an operating budget of $709,000. They can be found at awayout.org.
River Bridge Regional Center: This child advocacy center provides hope and healing to abused and neglected children. This month, the group is celebrating its 11th anniversary and works on a budget of less than $500,000, according to its most recent annual report. Its main avenues of funding are grants and foundations, so any donation, even $10, goes a long way. They partner with all the local law enforcement agencies in the valley and out to Silt and over to Vail. They can be found at riverbridgerc.org.
Stepping Stones: Started in 2014 by local nurse Kristin Nelson, the Carbondale-based teen drop-in center provides kids as young as fifth-graders through high school a safe place to go to learn life skills and get adult leadership and mentoring. In 2017, more than 6,200 youths used the center and more than 4,600 meals were served. Their operating budget was $289,000. This year, they recently bought a building to house youth programs (ages 10-14) next to their existing house for the young-adult programs (14-21). They are planning and looking ahead to expand in El Jebel with Patrick’s Place, the vision of Temple Glassier, whose son Patrick died by suicide in 2017. Since announcing the project in April, the group has raised $98,000 for the project. They can be found at steppingstonesrfv.org.
CASA of the 9th: Serving Colorado’s 9th Judicial District, the volunteer-based Court Appointed Special Advocates group trains and supervises volunteers who represent victims of child abuse, neglect and severe domestic conflict. The volunteers are appointed by judges to be a voice for the children in court and in the community. Founded in 2011, they are working on a budget of about $178,000 this year and helped 40 children in Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. They can be found at casaoftheninth.org.
If a donation to an organization isn’t what inspires you, we encourage you to practice a little human-to-human gratitude by something as simple as an extra generous tip for your server.
The “Shock & Claus” movement going around this season is an easy way to make a difference for someone in our community. This is the simple effort of gathering a group of friends for breakfast, lunch or dinner and each individual brings an extra amount of cash for tip. At the end of the meal, your server could net $500 to $1,000.
Or when you see a special deal while grocery shopping for your holiday dinners, think about the local food banks and grab a few extra cans and drop them off at one of the seven Lift-Up food pantries from Aspen to Parachute (heads up, they are closed next week, but certainly will need help at the start of the new year).
We make these requests understanding that many of us live paycheck-to-paycheck. But knowing that your hard-earned money is going to help the greater community is an incredible gesture this time of year.
The Aspen Times editorial board consists of publisher Samantha Johnston, editor David Krause and reporters Rick Carroll, Scott Condon and Carolyn Sackariason.
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With much sorrow I heard of the passing of a good friend Bruce Berger. He was a man for all seasons, a pianist, prolific author, environmentalist, and lover of Aspen.