LiftUp gets $100K gift from Yampa Valley Bank just in time for the holidays
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — LiftUp of Routt County was given a little holiday cheer this week when Yampa Valley Bank announced it was donating $100,000 to the local nonprofit.
“We are really, really excited about this, and I am so proud to work for a group of local shareholders and board members who truly put the Yampa Valley first,” said PJ Wharton, president and CEO of Yampa Valley Bank. “For us, it was a no-brainer. … Sue and her team at LiftUp immediately came to mind. Yampa Valley Bank is thrilled to support a 501(c)3 that does an amazing job of lifting up those in need.”
He said one of bank’s board members asked at their November meeting if there was any way the bank could help the restaurant, hospitality, retail and tourist service workers who were being negatively impacted by recent restrictions that closed restaurants to in-person dining.
She wanted to know if the bank, which is locally owned by 72 families, could do something meaningful and, more importantly, quickly to help. Wharton said within 20 minutes an agreement had been reached.
“That’s why we have chosen to donate $100,000 this holiday season to LiftUp,” Wharton said. “LiftUp has a proven and caring structure in place to help locals with medical expenses, housing expenses, utility expenses and food needs.”
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LiftUp Executive Director Sue Fegelein said the money comes at a crucial time when the organization is faced with increasing needs.
“It’s huge,” Fegelein said of the donation. “What it means is we can confidently keep helping people with housing assistance, and before this, we didn’t know what it was going to look like coming into 2021.”
Since the start of the pandemic, LiftUp has spent $259,475 for financial support and food costs despite budgeting only $169,000 for the entire year. The nonprofit also handed out another $193,719 in housing assistance, far surpassing its $55,000 budget. The thrift store, which provides a large percentage of LiftUp’s operational budget each year, is 47% below budget in 2020 due to COVID-19-related closures.
While Fegelein believes housing is going to remain a top priority, she said the funds from Yampa Valley Bank will be used where they are needed the most.
“I think it just depends on what happens,” Fegelein said. “If a whole group of people come through the door and suddenly can’t afford their heat, then we can use it there, as well. But I would anticipate housing to continue to be the biggest need, because it has been throughout (the pandemic).”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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Routt County’s COVID-19 incidence rate is increasing exponentially and is now among the top three in Colorado behind only Moffat and Kit Carson counties.