Donating to local nonprofits ‘more important than ever’ this Yampa Valley Gives Day, set for Tuesday
Editor’s note: This story discusses suicide.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For Mindy Marriott, donations to her nonprofit literally translate to saving lives.
Marriott, executive director of Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide, said the organization’s free counseling program, which used to be open only to those experiencing suicidal ideation, has seen a 70% increase in participants since COVID-19 hit Routt County, which is when the organization opened the program to anyone seeking help.
REPS received grants from various state and local organizations to begin providing more counseling in the spring, but Marriott said they are now counting on local donations to continue providing the services, which is where she hopes Yampa Valley Gives Day can make a difference.
A regional champion of the statewide campaign Colorado Gives Day, Yampa Valley Gives Day begins at 12 a.m. Tuesday and encourages residents to donate to local nonprofits in Routt and Moffat counties, with a minimum of $5. Those wanting to donate may do so at yvgives.org, which has more than 75 nonprofits listed with descriptions of their work and options to donate.
“For many of these organizations, this is the single-largest fundraising day of the year, and it allows them to continue their mission,” said Holly Wilson, office manager at Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
A survey Yampa Valley Community Foundation conducted this summer found 66% of local nonprofits lost their ability to conduct annual fundraisers due to COVID-19, which is why Wilson said donating this year is more important than ever.
“It’s been a challenging year for our nonprofits,” she added.
Gretchen Van De Carr, chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, said other programs being canceled due to COVID-19 increased demand for its programs, which include a youth conservation corps program for children ages 11 to 18, a conservation corps program for young adults ages 18 to 25, a natural resources internship program for those interested in pursuing careers in conservation and the Yampa Valley Science School, which brings all sixth-grade students in Routt County into the environment for a week-long experiential environmental science program usually held at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
Van De Carr said getting out of the house and into nature is vital for young adult growth, which Rocky Mountain Youth Corps has tried to keep in mind as COVID-19 restrictions fluctuate and cases continue to increase.
“I think this is really hard on that age group,” she said of children and teenagers. “Having the ability to socialize and also being seen as a valuable contributor to the community builds their self-esteem.”
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is specifically hoping for funds to waive the $150-per-student fee for the science school, which Van De Carr said will be difficult without community funding.
The organization normally receives about $40,000 from the Steamboat Education Fund Board, but the board gave money directly to the schools this year, due to the crisis schools were placed in when COVID-19 began.
“We desperately need to do something like this and help these kids experience nature and environmental science,” Van De Carr said, adding the organization received financial aid that was able to carry them through 2020, but funds will be tight in 2021 without help from the community.
Van De Carr is also helping to bolster mental health resources around its programs, as it currently has physical doctors in crews to provide services for anyone who received a physical injury but no mental health services.
“After this year, that became apparent,” she said.
While each nonprofit serves the community in a different way, Van De Carr said Rocky Mountain Youth Corps provides tangible benefits to the community through their work with the U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife in conservation and wildfire prevention.
“The youth win, and the economy wins,” she said. “It’s a tangible outcome that people can see.”
Marriott echoed the same belief about benefiting the community in a tangible way through providing mental health resources in a time of added distress.
“This year, we certainly have seen a dramatic increase in our referrals, people needing support navigating what they’re experiencing during these times,” she said.
REPS’ complementary therapy program includes five free sessions with a local licensed therapist, and Marriott said donations will go toward continuing to provide such a service for anyone who needs it.
“We’re so grateful to live in this community and be part of such a caring and giving population,” she said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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