Haven fund-raising efforts get solid start

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Two organizations' fund-raising efforts to ensure the future of The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden are being met with strong support.

Since last spring, the West Routt Rural Health Council, which owns The Haven, and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice have generated $167,000 of the $750,000 needed to pay off the center's debts and create a reserve operating budget.

Their goal is to raise the money by September 2005, when The Haven would become a division of the VNA.

"We are very optimistic. We are being received very well and getting a warm reception for this concept," VNA director Sue Birch said. "The respect for seniors in this community is admirable."

The VNA and WRRHC have been busy sending a flurry of grant requests to city and county governments in Northwest Colorado, as well as 15 community, state and national foundations and organizations.

The largest contribution has been $100,000 from the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation last summer. About $33,000 in donations have come from individuals -- including a $5,000 donation from a Texas oil executive who has a second home in Steamboat Springs, Birch said.

The VNA and WRRHC also have received silent pledges from foundations that are interested in helping but have not made their support official, she said.

Other foundations receiving grant requests for the project include the Anschutz Family Foundation, the Boettcher Foundation, Adolph Coors Foundation and the Gates Foundation.

The cities of Steamboat Springs and Craig, the town of Hayden and Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties have been approached for grants.

"All of these jurisdictions are served by this area," Birch said. "They all feed into The Haven."

WRRHC built The Haven, the only assisted living center in Routt County, in 1996. The center, which accommodates a maximum of 20 residents, is two-thirds full.

Although The Haven has broken even or made profits in previous months, Mark Fischer, president of the health council, explained that a fluctuating resident population can put the center at risk during downtimes, as was the case several years ago.

Being part of a larger organization such as the VNA is necessary to secure the center's future, he said.

Together with the VNA, The Haven will provide a platform for developing a continuum of senior services in Yampa Valley, including senior day care, more senior housing and social and case management for families.

The VNA, Haven, nursing homes and elected officials such as state Sen. Jack Taylor and his wife, Geneva, have been meeting regularly to determine how they can collaborate in building a more holistic and comprehensive model of senior care in the area, Birch said.

A request for a $600,000 Energy Impact Assistance grant is among the VNA and WRRHC's grant solitations. A portion of that money would be used immediately to build a senior community room at The Haven, she said.

The VNA and WRRHC should have responses to the requests within the first few months of 2005, when the organizations hope to start campaigning for funds within communities, Birch said.

Anybody interested in donating funds for the project or participating in fund-raising efforts should call Birch at 879-1632.

-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpiot.com

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