The Caring for Community Fund granted over $151,000 to 13 projects in the Roaring Fork Valley. Funds went to programs focused on youth development through peer mentorship, domestic violence and crisis response, homelessness services, substance abuse treatment, and mental healthcare. As a result of Aspen Skiing Company executive team’s generosity, the Fund was able to offer a one-time large grant program for proposals over $20,000 in addition to accepting small grant requests averaging $7,500. Valley Settlement Project, the Aspen Hope Center, and Mindsprings all received substantial grants between $22,000 and $41,000. These grants support those confronting mental health issues, raise awareness of the importance of maintaining one’s mental health, educate businesses and community members on how to identify signs of mental health stress, and provide critical services during mental health crisis. Find the full list of funded projects here.

Mindsprings

Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – Mindspring
Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – Mindspring

Mindsprings received $41,000 to expand its Mental Health First Aid trainer project in partnership with Pitkin County. The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trainer program will teach 30 people to organize and operate MHFA seminars throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Once trained, instructors will host 1-day courses that will teach community members how to recognize the signs of mental illness, address mental health crises, and support someone going through a severe mental health episode.

Much of the MHFA training is focused on what to say and what no to say to an individual with conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, or bipolar disorder. Additionally, much of the crisis training is focused on suicide prevention and the long-term treatment of suicidal individuals. In a region like the Roaring Fork Valley, where rates of depression and other mental illnesses are particularly high, training like this will be vital in maintaining and hopefully improving the conditions of our community.

Feed My Sheep

Feed My Sheep is the only organization that provides year-round services to homeless individuals between Grand Junction and Denver. Located in Glenwood Springs, the operation does much more than provide a bed and a meal to homeless community members. In addition to the standard services of a homeless shelter (showers, laundry, storage, etc.), Feed My Sheep also helps people fill out job applications and social security forms, provides them with a physical address to list on applications, and transports them to interviews and appointments.

Feed My Sheep received $5,500 for general operations support which will be especially important as the winter progresses. The organization’s overall mission is to aid the homeless in reaching self-sufficiency through individualized case management and assistance with personal problems like substance abuse and mental illness. When asked for their “project completion date” in the grant application, Feed My Sheep wrote “When there are no more homeless.”

Stepping Stones

Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – Stepping Stones
Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – Stepping Stones

Stepping Stones operates a Peer Mentor program within its young adult drop-in center.

The center serves as a constant resource for local youth in the Roaring Fork Valley. Individuals between the ages of 10 to 21 can come in at any time and have a safe, positive environment in which to do homework, connect with friends, or simply get a meal.
Stepping Stones’ goal is to raise the next generation of mentors in the Roaring Fork Valley to guide youth in a positive direction.

The Peer Mentor program is not only another resource for kids in the drop-in center to receive individualized support, it’s also an opportunity for the teenage mentors to work a job with flexible hours that still allow them to attend school full-time.
Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – Stepping Stones
Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – Stepping Stones

UpRoot Colorado

Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – UpRoot
Caring for Community Fund, 2018 Fall – UpRoot

UpRoot Colorado, an organization relatively new to the Roaring Fork Valley, received $3,500 in support of its Volunteer Gleaning Corps.

UpRoot’s mission is to reduce the otherwise wasted surplus produce from farms in the area and give it to people experiencing food insecurity. Millions of tons of usable, nutritious food in the United States remain unharvested and ultimately wasted on farms where they cannot find enough buyers. UpRoot trains community volunteers to work on farms in this region, gleaning usable but unharvested food and donating it to local organizations like Lift Up, Community Food Share, and Harvest of Hope Food Pantry. This partnership not only provides a consistent destination for gleaned food, it also provides individuals relying on food pantries as their primary source of meals nutritious, locally grown produce.
Ciara Low of UpRoot noted, “In our first two years of operation, we gleaned just less than 25,000 pounds of fresh produce, which equates to more than 115,000 nutritional servings, and distributed this nutrient-dense food to hunger-relief organizations on both sides of the Divide!” The group will leverage Caring for Community funds to hire a gleaning coordinator to manage and supervise volunteers during gleaning days and ultimately expand the organization’s overall operations. Additionally, they will use funds to “…increase the amount of local, fresh, and nutritious produce available to members of our community who need it most,” said Low.
Winter 2018
Valley Settlement Project: Increasing Access to Mental Health Support for Latinx Families$22,000.00
Aspen Hope Center: Crisis Services and Follow Up Care Provision
$31,000.00
Mindsprings: Mental Health First Aid$41,000.00
Feed My Sheep Ministry: General Operations Support$5,500.00
RESPONSE: Crisis Helpline Support$7,500.00
UpRoot Colorado: Volunteer Gleaning Corps
$3,500.00
Casa of the Ninth: Advocacy in the Ninth$5,000.00
WindWalkers Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy Center: MIND the Gap Use Horses for Healing
$5,000.00
Aspen Strong: Connection Campaign$3,750.00
A Way Out: Aftercare Services Support
$7,500.00
Access AfterSchool: SecondShift After School Programming$7,500.00
Stepping Stones: Peer Mentor Program$7,500.00
Buddy Program: One-on-One Mentoring Program$5,000.00
Total$151,750.00


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