Jim Zaccone, of the Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Chartable Trust, helps Hunter Esswein, 8, learn to cast Sunday during the Yampa Valley Community Foundation's 30th anniversary celebration at Yampa River Botanic Park. During the event, the Community Foundation announced a Community Cares Fund initiative that aims to raise $30,000 in 30 days to distribute to residents who need basic living assistance as a result of the economic recession.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Jim Zaccone, of the Yampa Valley Stream Improvement Chartable Trust, helps Hunter Esswein, 8, learn to cast Sunday during the Yampa Valley Community Foundation's 30th anniversary celebration at Yampa River Botanic Park. During the event, the Community Foundation announced a Community Cares Fund initiative that aims to raise $30,000 in 30 days to distribute to residents who need basic living assistance as a result of the economic recession.

Foundation finds its hook

Organization hopes to raise $30K in 30 days to help people during recession

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Janet Borden speaks to the crowd after she and her husband, Tim Borden, right, were named the Individual Philanthropists of the year Sunday during the Yampa Valley Community Foundation's 30-year anniversary party in Steamboat Springs. The Bordens put on the annual Fourth of July fireworks display in Steamboat.

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Hunter Esswein, from left, Jolene Esswein and Erich Esswein accept the Youth Philanthropist award from Beth Bishop on Sunday, filling in for the award winner Kayleigh Esswein, who couldn't attend the event.

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Donna Howell, left, presents Holiday Inn's Lynne and Scott Marr with a plaque, honoring them as the Business Philanthropists of the year Sunday at the 30th anniversary celebration for the Yampa Valley Community Foundation in Steamboat Springs.

Donations

To donate to the Community Cares Fund, visit www.yvcf.org and click on the "Donate Now" link. Under the "Local Nonprofit Funds" pull-down menu, select "Community Cares Fund" and fill out the rest of the fields to make your donation. Donors also can call 970-879-8632.

For more

During its 30th anniversary celebration, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation awarded its individual, business and youth philanthropists of the year awards. Steamboat Springs residents Tim and Janet Borden were named individual philanthropists of the years; Scott and Lynne Marr, owners of the Holiday Inn, were named business philanthropists of the year; and 16-year-old Kayleigh Esswein, a rising junior at Steamboat Springs High School, was named youth philanthropist of the year.

— The Yampa Valley Community Foundation's Sunday event at Yampa River Botanic Park was more than a celebration of its 30 years assisting nonprofit groups in Routt and Moffat counties. It also was an opportunity to announce a joint fundraising effort with Routt County United Way to raise $30,000 in 30 days.

The Community Cares Fund has a special mission - to assist those residents who have been adversely affected by the economic recession.

"It's really a short-term emergency fund, a safety net sort of thing to help people with basic needs," said Betsey Jay, executive director of the Community Foundation.

Jay said the need was identified after the Community Foundation conducted a survey in January of area nonprofit organizations to assess how different groups of people were affected by the economy. Among other things, the survey revealed that nonprofit groups were hurting as a result of dwindling resources. Smaller budgets have meant some health and human service organizations haven't been able to provide an adequate level of service to folks in need.

Jay said Community Cares Fund revenues could be dedicated to individuals for food, housing and health care, or other needs such as child care tuition.

While the Community Foundation will take care of the fundraising responsibility, Routt County United Way will distribute the funds.

Laurie Good, president of the United Way's board of directors, said the fund is a great joint effort because it will allow the United Way to quickly channel resources to the right agencies.

"We really are trying to find a way to get direct assistance to people in the community who are living in the margins," Good said.

Jay said the Community Foundation already has raised $30,000 in matching funds.

Evolution from 1 goal

The number 30 took on a special meeting Sunday. The Community Foundation began 30 years ago after a group of community members banded together to save Steamboat Springs' Yampa Valley College from being developed into apartments, Jay said. At that time, the organization was called the Yampa Valley Foundation. It took four years, but the original members eventually saved the college, which became part of the Colorado Mountain College system and was given the name Alpine Campus.

From 1984 to 1995, the Yampa Valley Foundation operated as a nonprofit that raised and distributed funds to organizations in Routt and Moffat counties.

In 1996, the Foundation added "Community" to its title, and after an agreement with Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., it broadened its focus and hired its first full-time professional executive director.

"We had a broad mission, but at that time, we didn't know it would become a community foundation," said Ed Hill, one of the founders and chairman emeritus of the Community Foundation's board of directors.

The agreement with Ski Corp. allowed the Community Foundation to begin its Passport Club. Memberships are sold for $5,500 and include ski passes, access to a locker room on the mountain and parking privileges. Revenue from the Passport Club provides the operating budget for the organization, but some also is distributed back to the community, Hill said.

The organization that started with a single goal - saving the local college - now has granted more than $7.5 million in the past 11 years. Its donors gave $118,000 in college scholarships to local students in 2008 alone.

Much-needed assistance

The Community Foundation works with 67 organizations throughout Routt and Moffat counties. They include nonprofit groups; smaller organizations like Yampa Valley Recycles that don't have 501(c)3 nonprofit status; and other startups that work under the Community Foundation's umbrella.

In addition, 169 nonprofit agencies in Routt and Moffat counties have access to resources provided by the Community Foundation, according to Yampa Valley Partners' Community Indicators Project. Those resources include online seminars, grant-writing workshops, access to its nonprofit library and having staffers on hand simply to answer questions.

With the creation of the Community Cares Fund, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation is providing another means of support for local nonprofit organizations - groups such as LIFT-UP of Routt County.

Executive Director David Freseman said requests for LIFT-UP's services have doubled and in some cases tripled in the last year. LIFT-UP relies on revenue from its thrift store, donations from individuals and groups, and some grants.

"This type of effort could make certain we could meet the legitimate needs that are there," Freseman said.

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