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8 things everyone should know about filing for bankruptcy

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Diana A. Ray, Attorney at Law

Bankruptcy is a fresh start for people who are unable to pay down their debts (see factbox). Bankruptcy gets rid of dischargeable debt, completely free and clear, and it’s tax free.
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How do you know if it’s time to consider bankruptcy?
  • You’re making minimum payments and sinking in interest rates.
  • You’re finding yourself without any disposable income every month.
  • You’re unable to pay down your debts.
  • Your expenses are more than your income.
  • You’re considering credit consolidation (talk to an attorney before you go this route).

Schedule a consultation with Glenwood Springs bankruptcy attorney Diana A. Ray to learn if bankruptcy is right for you. Visit dianaraylaw.com, call 970-945-8571 or email Diana Ray at dianaraylaw@gmail.com for more information.

 

Attorney Advertising. This article is designed for general information only. The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

 Diana A. Ray, Attorney at Law is a Debt Relief Agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

When people fall on hard financial times, there’s one opportunity that creates a fresh start: bankruptcy.

The most responsible people in the world can still end up in a hard financial situation, said Diana A. Ray, a bankruptcy attorney in Glenwood Springs. And now, given the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the economy, more and more people are finding themselves in scary and uncertain situations.

“I want people to know that bankruptcy is not a bad thing — it’s a right that we all have,” Ray said.

While bankruptcy is often a last resort, it’s also symbolic of hope and new beginnings. Here are some of the most important facts about filing for bankruptcy.

1. Bankruptcy is a fresh start

A bankruptcy gets rid of a person’s dischargeable debt, completely free and clear, and it’s tax free. Ray said if you owe a creditor $20,000, for example, and the creditor will settle that debt with you for $10,000, you’d still have to pay taxes on the remaining $10,000. With a bankruptcy, you don’t owe the debt or the taxes — and it’s gone for the rest of your life.

When you file for bankruptcy, you have to take a credit counseling course which helps debtors budget their income and expenses.

“It really helps them in the long run to avoid filing for bankruptcy again,” Ray said.

Ray points out that once you file bankruptcy, you’re on the hook for any debt acquired after the date of the bankruptcy filing. A person cannot file for bankruptcy again for another eight years.

2. Bankruptcy is nothing to be ashamed of

Ray’s bankruptcy clients are hard-working, responsible people who have fallen on hard times for various reasons. Some were trying to keep their small businesses afloat, while others built credit card debt they thought they could pay back.

For some, a job loss occurs at the same time as unforeseen medical or other expenses — next thing you know you just can’t keep up with the bills, Ray said.

“It doesn’t mean you’re incompetant or irresponsible,” Ray said. “There’s a stigma around bankruptcy, which is really unfortunate.I would say that most of my clients can’t avoid it.”

3. Creditors can no longer collect on you

Diana A. Ray, Glenwood Springs bankruptcy attorney.

Once you file bankruptcy, creditors are no longer able to collect on you. What’s more, these creditors can no longer harass you regarding the outstanding debt.

“If you’re getting calls from creditors, once you file they have to stop,” Ray said. “It’s called an automatic stay and there are enormous penalties for creditors if they violate it.”

4. Some debts are excluded

Not all debts get erased after filing for bankruptcy. The most common debts that are considered nondischargeable are alimony, child support payments, student loans, and certain tax debt.

“It’s important to talk to an attorney to figure out your options and which debt is dischargeable and which is not depending on which Chapter of bankruptcy you file” Ray said.

5. You will be able to build your credit again

While it’s true your credit score will go down after a bankruptcy, it’s not hard to rebuild your credit and increase your score after filing.

“For many of my clients, their credit score was already bad,” Ray said.

The bankruptcy filing shows up on a credit report for 10 years, but within a year of filing you can start to see increases to your credit score.

“I counsel people on how to increase their credit,” Ray said. “After you file, you’ll be bombarded with offers for loans and credit cards. The interest rate might be higher because of the bankruptcy, but you will get offers.”

Ray said it’s important to build credit again by opening accounts and paying them off. You could open one credit card account, for example, and charge just $20 per month to it and then pay it off in full.

“It shows you’re paying off your monthly debt,” she said.

6. Your home may be protected

Many people worry that because they own assets such as real property, they won’t be able to hold on to those assets after a bankruptcy.

“That might not be true,” Ray said. “Your home is protected as long as it’s under the exemption amount. If you meet the criteria — and most people commonly do — it’s protected.”

There are certain criteria you have to meet, thus, it is always a good idea to discuss your options with a bankruptcy attorney.

7. You can file without your spouse

If you’re married, you can file for bankruptcy on your own or jointly with your spouse. If you file solo, the bankruptcy won’t appear on your spouse’s credit, Ray said.

“In determining whether a joint or single filing is warranted, it just depends on the scenario,” she said. “I routinely file for clients without their spouse being involved.”

8. Bankruptcy is complicated, an attorney is highly recommended

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. There are many nuances to the law that could backfire if overlooked.

For example, listing all creditors, listing the appropriate exemptions for assets, and knowing what kind of expenses you can or can’t incur leading up to the filling. An attorney will navigate all of those details.

“At any point, if you’re contemplating bankruptcy, call an attorney because there’s so much planning that needs to be done — so many things you need to do or not do that could affect your bankruptcy.”

“If you think you might file in the future, it’s so important to talk to an attorney. If you think you might be in this situation six months from now, talk to me now.”

Pandemic highlights the challenges facing caregivers

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Renew Senior Communities

Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, is co-moderating the Friday webinar.
Free webinar on the challenges facing caregivers

What: A special webinar discussion, “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19.”

Who: Nadine Roberts Cornish, gerontologist and author; and co-moderated by Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado and Renew Senior Communities CEO Lee Tuchfarber.

When: Friday, May 8, 1 p.m.

Where: Online. Register at www.renewsenior.com.

Cost: Free

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to give up on some of life’s simple freedoms, making an experience that caregivers have endured all along a sudden reality for just about everyone.

COVID-19 has sort of leveled the playing field, said Nadine Roberts Cornish, a gerontologist and author. It has given us an opportunity to experience what our lives might be like if we have to take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one.

“It’s important that we understand the role of a caregiver, but also our role in supporting the caregivers in our lives,” she said.

That’s why caregivers and anyone who anticipates caregiving in the future are encouraged to join a special webinar discussion, “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19,” hosted by Renew Senior Communities in partnership with The Aspen Times, on Friday, May 8 (see factbox).

The discussion will feature Cornish and will be moderated by Renew CEO Lee Tuchfarber and Amelia Schafer, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.

An opportunity to have tough conversations

Many caregivers find themselves in the role suddenly, Cornish said — they’re going about their lives and then the phone rings and it changes everything.

“Individuals who have had those conversations in advance understand and know what their loved ones’ wishes are — and they’re better equipped to handle the responsibility of caregiving,” she said.

With the situation we’re all facing due to COVID-19, many people have found themselves thinking about all the things they should have taken care of, Cornish said.

“Let’s come to grips with our mortality and have those difficult conversations and put our affairs in order,” she said. “It makes caregiving so much easier because you don’t have the responsibility of deciding those things for someone.”

Cornish cared for her mother for the last 15 years of her life and was uniquely qualified to navigate the waters thanks to a background in public health. She always knew she’d be her mother’s caregiver someday — they had many conversations about it over the years – but she didn’t know how long it would last or exactly what to expect.

After her mother died, Cornish realized there were so many caregivers out there who needed guidance; she launched The Caregiver’s Guardian to provide caregiving consulting and education about a year later.

The importance of self-care

The work Schafer does at the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado largely focuses on supporting and educating caregivers. There are an estimated 16.3 million Alzheimer’s caregivers in the United States, roughly 5 percent of the population.

“We call them unpaid caregivers, because almost always these are people – family and friends – who are not getting compensated,” Schafer said.

Schafer uses the analogy of the safety briefing on an airplane to describe the importance of self-care for caregivers — the flight attendant tells us to put an oxygen mask on ourselves first before assisting someone else.

“We try not to lecture people to take care of themselves, we just try to make those resources available to them,” Schafer said.

Cornish calls self-care for caregivers “non-negotiable.” She said it’s such a necessity that it’s the foundation for all of her work.

“If you’re claiming to care for someone else and you’re neglecting yourself, then you’re not really taking care of that person,” Cornish said. “You’re under the illusion you’re taking care of somebody.”

Cornish said self-care takes on different meanings for different people. She has one client who gets outside every day to pull weeds in her yard, while another client enjoys sitting by the window undisturbed to enjoy the view.

Whether it’s exercise, reading books, listening to music or something else, “nobody can tell you what your self-care looks like — you get to define it for yourself,” Cornish said.

Impacts of isolation during coronavirus pandemic

Nadine Roberts Cornish, gerontologist and author, is the guest speaker in a May 8 free webinar discussion on “The Hidden Crisis Facing Family Caregivers During COVID-19.”

Because of the danger coronavirus presents to elderly or sick people, Cornish said many of the caregivers she works with have reported feeling extremely isolated since the pandemic began.

Caregivers usually have some support throughout the day during normal times. Maybe their loved one is in an adult day care program, or they get a break from caregiving when they head off to work for the day.

Many of those breaks have stopped during the pandemic. Some caregivers are even avoiding trips to the grocery store out of fear they could bring the virus home and put their loved one at risk.

“There’s a heightened sense of protection and a need to isolate more than everyone else,” Cornish said.

And for those caregivers who don’t live with the loved one they are responsible for, not being able to check in on them at the long-term care facility or senior care housing where they live can be extremely isolating for both caregiver and patient, said Jim Herlihy, senior director of marketing and communications for the Colorado Alzheimer’s Association.

“It can be very disconcerting for the person living with disease — they don’t understand what it all means and wonder if they’ve been abandoned,” he said. “We’ve heard from some caregivers who are saying the disease seems to be advancing (during this period of isolation).”

Focusing on the positive

From structuring your caregiving environment to using technology to connect the person being cared for with other loved ones, it’s possible to find peace and even joy during the caregiving journey.

Schafer said education about the person’s disease or illness is important, as well as connecting with other caregivers who share similar experiences or circumstances.

“There’s power in people not feeling like they’re the only ones going through this,” Schafer said. “It might not change your circumstances, but it helps change your mindset.”

Cornish said there’s joy in the caregiving journey, you just have to know where to look for it.

“Caregiving allows us to stop and shift and really make caring for a loved one a priority,” she said. “I think our ultimate purpose on earth is to care for each other.”

Tips for caregivers separated from loved ones during COVID-19

  • FaceTime (or WhatsApp) calls
  • Reading to them over the phone
  • Doing some breathing exercises with people over the phone
  • Watching a movie together over the phone and talking about it

From outside the loved one’s window:

  • Talking by phone from outside the window
  • Holding up signs
  • Singing and dancing from the window
  • Play games from a window, like cards or charades. (It may sound silly, but we have seen some really cool videos of people doing these things.)

Sending supplies to staff and residents, such as:

  • Favorite snacks
  • Stuffed animals
  • Weighted blankets
  • Heating pads (they even have heated stuffed animals)
  • Aromatherapy supplies including diffusers and essential oils
  • Sending letters or cards
  • Scheduling virtual visits with residents and families via the community computers (usually need to have a staff member available to help residents get connected during scheduled times)

More tips and tools for caregivers can be found at alz.org/help-support/resources/online-tools.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado

Real estate broker launches “office on the road”

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Rimkus Real Estate

Dyna Mei Rimkus is excited to travel the valley, from Aspen to Parachute, to provide convenient service to her real estate clients from her Mercedes Airstream mobile office
Rimkus Real Estate “on the road”

Launching in June, the Rimkus Real Estate mobile office will service clients from Aspen to Parachute. Look for advertisements announcing hours and locations or check Rimkus Real Estate’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RimkusRealEstate, for updates.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the real estate industry, Dyna Mei Rimkus had already been thinking outside the box about ways to service her wide variety of clients throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

Rimkus, a licensed real estate broker and owner of Rimkus Real Estate, works with English- and Spanish- speaking clients from Aspen to Parachute, spanning all demographics and income levels. She wanted to find a way to conveniently deliver her services to such a large geographic region and that’s when the light bulb went on.

“No one really goes into a real estate office that often,” Rimkus said. “I started looking for other options and found this Mercedes-Benz Airstream touring van and now it’s my mobile office.”

From showings to closings to video conferencing, the 9-passenger van is equipped with a full kitchen and bathroom and can handle just about anything — including social distancing.

“It’s so spacious. I took an elderly friend to Costco recently and she felt safe and comfortable because she was in the back with plenty of space between us,” Rimkus said. “It was a great option for her.”

Serving the community

The mobile Rimkus Real Estate office, officially launching in June, is meant to provide convenience for working families who juggle many responsibilities. Rimkus said she plans to announce the mobile office’s traveling locations and hours each week when she knows where she’ll be parked.

“I think this will be a way to better service clients all over the valley, especially those who work long hours and don’t always have time to go to the actual office,” she said.

Serving the community has always been a priority for Rimkus. Rimkus Real Estate started offering free home buyer seminars in 2019 at local libraries. The goal was to teach community members about the advantages and responsibilities that go along with home ownership, including information about building equity for retirement.

Rimkus Real Estate’s next big decision as it expanded its offerings in the valley was its office location.

“The main goal in determining a new office location was, ‘how can we be most approachable and accessible to anyone thinking about home ownership —and how can we continue to reach out to anyone who might not yet have started thinking about all the benefits of owning versus paying rent or leasing land,” Rimkus wrote in a recent email to clients.

Rimkus will offer coffee and tea, and she’ll be baking her mom’s secret scone recipe to make the experience as welcoming as possible. She hopes the casual environment will encourage people to ask questions and share their real estate needs and wants.

Concierge-style showings

Dyna Mei Rimkus and husband Tobias Rimkus have converted a Mercedes Airstream van into Rimkus Real Estate’s mobile office for showings, closings and more.

In-person real estate showings were on hold until Gov. Jared Polis announced they could resume beginning April 27. Rimkus intends to use her mobile office as a concierge-type shuttle service for clients.

“For my clients in Aspen, I can pick them up from the airport and take them to luxury homes, park outside and make a nice picnic for them,” she said. “The 25-foot Sprinter van is equipped with comfortable seating for up to nine passengers — when we get to the stage of looking at properties with the whole family — and has two wide screen TVs to look at the listing details while driving to the next location, plus a few other conveniences.”

Using the van to help others

During the pandemic, Rimkus is also utilizing the van to support her philanthropic efforts. From driving seniors to pick up groceries to packing the van with bags full of supplies for underserved children, the mobile office sprinter van is helping Rimkus do more for the community.

On April 23, she used the van to deliver 600 bags of items, mostly toys, for underprivileged children from El Jebel to Glenwood Springs. And whenever she learns of someone who needs help shopping, she’s happy to use the van to pick up the items and deliver them.

“With this pandemic, the van has been a great tool for us to be able to help and serve the community however we can,” Rimkus said.

Social isolation and loneliness: a talk about coronavirus’s effects on mental health

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by Renew Senior Communities

Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado.
Courtesy Photo
Live panel discussion on loneliness during coronavirus

What: Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with The Aspen Times, presents “Coronavirus Isolation and Mental Health,” a webinar panel discussion.

Who: Ami Rokach, a clinical psychologist and a member of the psychology department at York university in Toronto, and who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years; Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado; Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities.

When: Thursday, April 23, 11 a.m.

Where: Online. Visit www.renewsenior.com to register.

Cost: Free

As the global coronavirus pandemic upends our lives and forces us to stay in our homes, it also highlights and increases the experience that many adults were already facing before the pandemic: loneliness.

A January 2020 Cigna survey of more than 10,000 working Americans revealed that 61 percent — or roughly three in five people — reported feeling lonely. The National Poll on Healthy Aging reports that about a third of seniors are lonely. And these statistics measured loneliness before a global pandemic mandated social isolation.

An April 23 webinar hosted by Renew Senior Communities, in partnership with The Aspen Times, aims to explore the relationship between coronavirus isolation and mental health. Ami Rokach, the author of “Loneliness, Love  and All That’s Between,” is a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years, and Mimi McFaul, a clinical psychologist and the deputy director of the National Mental Health Innovation Center at University of Colorado, will discuss the pandemic’s effects on mental health and the tools that can help people of all ages and backgrounds cope.

Alone vs. loneliness

The state of being alone, or social isolation, is the physical separation from other people, while loneliness is a distressed feeling of being alone that can happen with or without social isolation. People talk about loneliness as if we’re experiencing the same thing, but loneliness is actually a subjective experience which may differ from person to person, Rokach said.

“While subjective, it’s always very painful, very distressing and something we don’t choose to experience,” he added. “There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness may be experienced when we are, or are not, alone and is always painful and unwanted, while solitude is being alone because we chose to be alone to do what we can best do alone, such as reflect, take a walk in the woods, write, compose, etc. Solitude is very refreshing and a welcome experience.”

The negative feelings associated with loneliness and isolation are what led Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Senior Communities, to want to explore this and similar topics in a series of online discussions. He hopes the events can lead to meaningful social impacts in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.

The loneliness stigma

Ami Rokach, the author of “Loneliness, Love and All That’s Between,” is a clinical psychologist who has been researching and teaching about loneliness for more than 40 years
Courtesy Photo

Rokach has seen hundreds of patients who suffered from loneliness, yet only one patient in all those years initially reported feeling lonely, though later many admitted to feeling so.

“That indicates that we don’t admit, even to ourselves, when we’re lonely,” he said. “If I’m lonely, it means nobody wants to be with me, and if that’s the case, it must mean I’m not good or I’m inadequate, hence a ‘loser.’ There is a serious stigma about loneliness in our culture.

“Sometimes, loneliness and depression are seen as one and the same. We can differentiate between them by what they make us want. When people feel lonely, they’re often yearning to get closer to others, yet those who are depressed often tell others to ‘leave me alone,’” Rokach said.

That’s how psychologists know the experiences are not one in the same. In loneliness, people can slide into depression, but not all people experiencing depression are lonely.

“Loneliness became now a ‘hot’ topic, due to COVID-19. The reason that people now openly discuss it is that we can ‘blame’ the virus for our loneliness, and that eliminates the stigma that is usually connected to loneliness,” Rokach said.

Loneliness and health

In the last five or so years, loneliness has been linked to increased risks of serious health problems such as hypertension, sleep disturbances, enhanced dementia in seniors and even death. Chronic loneliness is as bad as smoking, obesity and diabetes.

“Loneliness can predict morbidity and mortality,” Rokach said. “The less stress we have — and loneliness is stressful — the better our immune system behaves, and the stronger it is.”

Using technology to conquer feelings of loneliness

There’s good news for social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic in that technology is helping us stay connected. It’s also creating a petri dish of innovation, McFaul said.

The use of telehealth — where patients can meet with providers virtually — has been surging during the pandemic after the healthcare industry as a whole has been working on making it more mainstream for more than a decade. Beyond telehealth, McFaul’s work at the National Mental Health Innovation Center is looking into ways that technology such as virtual reality can be used in both physical and mental health care.

“We’re already testing virtual reality with seniors,” she said. “With any isolated community, virtual reality is about taking them into an immersive world, somewhere they couldn’t go on their own.”

Rethinking loneliness during COVID-19

Loneliness is a concept that wasn’t really legitimized until research has substantiated its risks on physical health, McFaul said. Loneliness was only talked about in traditionally isolated populations until about the last 10 years.

“And now with COVID, it has become a universal topic,” she said. “But the cause and duration of it are different, which is interesting. I don’t know how this will lead to differences in how we recover from loneliness because for those who weren’t already experiencing loneliness, it is temporary in some ways.”

Rokach said the way we think about current circumstances can help us overcome the experience of loneliness. Even the term “social distancing” should really be “physical distancing,” he said.

“When you hear ‘social distancing,’ think of all things that can conjure up — ‘I’m alone, nobody is getting close to me, people prefer to stay away,’” Rokach said. “We can get wrapped into those thoughts and end up being depressed and experience loneliness.”

Instead of feeling as if something has been imposed on us and we have no control, Rokach suggests thinking of the current situation as a choice.

“Being alone is just physical — much of the way we feel about it is influenced by how we look at it,” he said. “By turning loneliness into solitude, we can understand that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. It will not feel lonely, but a period where we could do and experience things that we usually cannot.”

7 ways your Census participation benefits our entire community

Editor’s Note: Sponsored content brought to you by the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee

Census questions will ask for information such as the number of people living in your household, the names and birthdates of each occupant, race, sex, and relationship to one another. The Census will not ask about your religion, political affiliation or income.
Make sure your voice is heard

Getting counted in the U.S. Census is a way to make your voice heard at the local, state and federal level. Your participation influences everything from political representation to important public community services. Don’t sit in silence, help your community! The U.S. Census is completely safe and your personal information is confidential.

To learn more, visit a2pcensus2020.com or 2020census.gov.

If you live in the United States — regardless of whether you were born here or what your immigration status is —  you’re required by law to be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. There are just 10 questions, estimated to take about 10 minutes to complete.

Since 1790, the U.S. Census count has impacted everything from political representation in Congress to federal funding for essential public services.

Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valley municipalities and other stakeholders formed the Aspen to Parachute Complete Count Committee as a collaborative effort to increase census participation in our valley. Through its “Together We Count” campaign, the committee’s goal is to debunk myths and ease fears about the census.

Since the census count only happens once every 10 years, let this list serve as a reminder why you shouldn’t ignore the census — every single resident’s participation is essential to the vitality of our communities.

1. No citizenship question

Community-wide, the long-term effect of the current political climate and confusion around the citizenship question was coloring people’s perceptions of the census, said Phillip Supino, director of community development for the City of Aspen and a member of the Complete Count Committee.

Federal courts permanently blocked plans by the Trump administration to add a question to the census that would have asked you if you’re an American citizen. The committee is reminding all Roaring Fork Valley residents that there will be no such question on the 2020 Census.

2. Your census answers are confidential

Responses to the census are used to produce statistics, that’s it. The U.S. Census Bureau is legally required to keep your answers confidential. 

Census questions will ask for information such as the number of people living in your household, the names and birthdates of each occupant, race, sex, and relationship to one another. The Census will not ask about your religion, political affiliation or income.

In addition, all Census Bureau staff take a lifetime oath to protect your information, and any violation comes with a punishment of up to $250,000 fine and/or up to 5 years in jail.

3. Census data can NOT be used against you for any reason

Courtesy Photo

Federal law guarantees that your personal information and answers cannot be used against you by any government agency. That means your census answers cannot be shared by the Census Bureau with immigration or law enforcement agencies.

“Unequivocally, under no circumstances, can census data be shared between agencies,” Supino said.

4. Undercounting leads to underfunding

Census numbers equate to federal funding for vital community services such as roads, transportation, hospitals, emergency services, subsidized food, health care and more.

For every person who is counted in the census, Colorado receives about $2,300 in federal funding. That’s per person, per year, for the next 10 years.

That means just one person who isn’t counted could result in the loss of $23,000 federal dollars until the next Census count in 2030.

“With just a few minutes of your time, you can help ensure funds for important community services such as education, road improvements, and health and human services,” said Jenn Ooton, assistant city manager for the City of Glenwood Springs. “Additionally, our Roaring Fork and Colorado River Valley communities are better able to plan for the future when we have accurate population counts.”

Alex Sanchez, executive director of Valley Settlement, an organization that works to improve the lives of immigrant families, said the Roaring Fork Valley’s Latino community was grossly undercounted in the 2010 Census. This leads to an inability at the local level to fully support all members of the community with necessary resources.

“Hopefully this year the census count can be a true reflection of this community,” he said.

5. Better political representation

When a community is accurately counted, it can be more effectively represented. Colorado is one of five states in the West that could get an additional Congressional seat after the 2020 Census, but first we need successful Census participation.

“We all have a vested interest in making sure we’re participating,” Sanchez said. “Regardless of immigration status, this is our civic duty.”

6. Participating in the Census is easy

Your invitation to participate in the 2020 Census will be delivered between March 12-20. Once you receive your invitation, you can respond online (www.2020Census.gov), by phone (call in to the Census Call Center using the phone number on your invitation postcard), or you can mail in your response form.

7. Census Day (April 1) and other important dates

Every physical mailing address will receive a postcard with instructions for how to participate in the U.S. Census, plus reminder letters, from now until April 27.

The U.S. Census started accepting responses online, by phone and via mail on March 12. April 1 is considered Census Day, which means all questions you answer on the census form should include the people living in your household as of April 1.

From April to June, counts will be done of group facilities such as dorms and nursing homes.

In May, census workers will visit the homes of non-respondents.

And finally, in December, the Census data will be delivered to the President and Congress.