Our View: Every dollar can make a difference

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At issue

Community Cares Fund

Our view

New fundraising initiative is worthwhile effort to help community members in need.

Editorial Board, June 2009 to September 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Grant Fenton, community representative
  • Paul Strong, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

No one needs a reminder of the very real consequences the recession is having on Routt County and many of its residents. But we're going to provide one anyway.

The need for health and human service assistance has skyrocketed in the past year. Client visits to Routt County's Department of Human Services have tripled. The Routt County Council on Aging served 1,000 more meals in 2008 than it did in 2007. Advocates Building Peaceful Communities saw the number of nights it provides shelter for victims of domestic violence double in 2008. LIFT-UP of Routt County provided $32,000 in rent and mortgage assistance in the first four months of 2009.

Not only has the demand for services increased dramatically since the economy headed south, but the funding available for local nonprofit agencies that provide direct assistance to those in need also has dwindled. Charitable giving is down about 20 percent across the state, a trend that has proved true in Routt County. Routt County United Way, which provides funding to 40 local health and human services agencies, missed its annual fundraising goal by about $125,000 last year. United Way received $500,000 in funding requests from those agencies and was able to dole out only $350,000.

The truth is, most of us know at least a couple of fellow Routt County residents who are really hurting financially. Waiting lists at day care centers are evaporating as parents reduce the number of enrollment days for their children, part of an effort to reduce expenditures any way possible. Folks who never have needed assistance find themselves walking into the Department of Human Services and other agencies looking for help.

For those residents fortunate to be in a stable economic situation, there's perhaps never been a more important time to consider donating to those in need. Through a new Yampa Valley Community Foundation initiative, such donations can be quickly distributed to fellow Routt County residents who, as United Way board president Laurie Good said, are "living in the margins."

The Community Cares Fund, which launched Sunday, aims to raise $30,000 in 30 days. That money, paired with a $30,000 challenge fund already raised by the Community Foundation, will provide $60,000 to be quickly distributed to agencies that work closely with residents in need. Specifically, the emergency funds will go to local organizations that provide food, housing, health care and safe refuge.

"We think this is a time we need to come together and help people through a hard time," Community Foundation Executive Director Betsey Jay said.

Local agencies that provide the above-mentioned services will fill out short grant applications to be reviewed by a Community Cares Fund committee. Funds will be dispersed to organizations that show evidence of an increasing need for their services and have processes in place to assess client needs, make allocations and account for those expenditures.

Potential beneficiary organizations include LIFT-UP, Advocates, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Steamboat Mental Health, Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition and Routt County Department of Human Services.

Any and all donations will be accepted. If you can, please consider giving to this critical emergency fund. Visit www.yvcf.org and click on "Donate Now." Under the "Local Nonprofit Funds" pull-down menu, select "Community Cares Fund." Checks also can be mailed to the Community Foundation at P.O. Box 881869, Steamboat Springs, CO 80488. There will be no administrative fees associated with the Community Cares Fund, meaning all proceeds will go directly to our friends, co-workers and neighbors in need. Every dollar will help.

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