Belts are tightening everywhere, but in Routt County, people are still willing to reach into their wallets to help friends and neighbors in need. For that our community should be applauded.
In an economy that has been as tough on individual taxpayers as it has been on business and government, the local community has managed not only to keep giving, but to give more than ever before.
People may be shaken by the state of the economy, but they don't seem to be letting it stop them from making charitable contributions. If anything, our community has stepped up to provide a privately funded stopgap in the current budget crisis. It is an accomplishment to be commended and a testament to the strength of this community.
Routt County United Way raised a record-breaking $365,000 to support county health and human service agencies this year. The Yampa Valley Community Foundation, which awards grants throughout the community and manages granting funds, received about $1.1 million in gifts last year and has seen no slowdown in gifts from donors who, as community foundation program manager Brooke Sanchez said, "are still full-throttle on giving."
Never has that generosity been more sorely needed.
With the state budget at what Steamboat Springs Councilman Paul Strong calls a "crisis level" and equally critical federal shortfalls predicted, local nonprofit organizations are feeling a serious squeeze. Among the 26 local nonprofit organizations supported by the Routt County United Way, 10 alone are anticipating a combined shortfall in outside funding of almost $500,000. Included in that number are organizations like the Visiting Nurse Association, which is bracing for a $250,000-plus drop in state and federal funding but faces no less need for its rural medical services, and Partners in Routt County, an adult-youth mentoring program expected to lose $60,000 in state funding over the next year and a half.
Thanks to the community's generosity, however, those organizations will get at least some reprieve from the belt-tightening. In fact, thanks to a combination of generous donors and realistic requests from area agencies, the United Way was able to grant 96 percent of the total amount requested from it. The community foundation, for its part, awarded $454,000 in grants, almost all of which stayed within the community.
For continuing to give because the need is there, even when the spare cash isn't, Routt County continues to prove its true worth.