Partners in Routt County invites community to celebrate 25 years in Steamboat Springs

Partners in Routt County mentor Sara Krehbiel leads a role-playing game as part of a workshop focusing on respect, teamwork and understanding in September 2017 in Hayden. Partners is celebrating its 25th year in Steamboat Springs, and invites the community to its free event on Oct. 15 that will feature food, two drink tickets and music.
John F. Russell

Partners in Routt County is celebrating 25 years, and the nonprofit is inviting the community to gather Oct. 15 at the Steamboat Grand to celebrate a long list of accomplishments.

Since 1996, the group has grown from just a few mentor-mentee matches to more than 60. Lindsey Kohler, executive director of Partners, believes those partnerships between youth and adults make the community stronger.

“What always comes to mind, for me, is connection,” Kohler responded to a question about what Partners brings to the community. “It’s that connection between adults and youth who might not otherwise have known one another. We have so much support throughout the communities from businesses and individuals that just do it because they know it has a benefit to the community.”

The school-based mentoring program started in July 1996 after a group of concerned citizens and youth service professionals came together to form a grassroots committee intent on starting a mentoring organization in Routt County, according to Partners in Routt County.

They created Partners in Routt County to address local youths’ increasing levels of high risk behaviors related to substance use, interpersonal disputes, and lack of protective factors such as social support from adults and positive social norms. The group recognized mentoring services as an effective strategy to affect positive changes.

“Obviously, our community-based mentoring program has grown significantly from just a few matches, mentors and mentees, to last year where we supported over 60 matches,” Kohler said. “Then we have our school-based mentoring program, which we collaborated with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps for the program originally, and then took over fiscal responsibility of that program and brought a number of young professionals to this community over time that supported children in the school setting.”

The school-based mentor program was started by Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in 2000. Partners took over the program in 2006, and has been bringing young professionals to Steamboat Springs who work day to day in the school setting, either part time or full time.

Over the years, the organization has grown and made many worthwhile connections in the community.

In 2019, thanks to the support of an anonymous donor, the organization moved into a new building and created the Partners Alliance Center, which was large enough for Partners in Routt County and also offered space to other nonprofits, including Routt County Crises Support, Opera Steamboat and The Cycle Effect.

“It basically shared office space where we have other nonprofits that can share resources, while offering very low rent for those nonprofits,” Kohler said. “I think that’s a pretty special thing that our former director, Michelle Petix really made happen.”

Other big accomplishments followed as Partners in Routt County acquired Grand Futures Prevention Coalition in a deal that closed in January, merging the efforts of the two longstanding Routt County nonprofits. The mission of Grand Futures, now under the umbrella of Partners, is to mentor, support and prevent substance abuse in youth and young adults ages 6-24 in Routt, Moffat and Grand counties.

“I would say obviously the acquisition of Grand Futures last year, it is a pretty big accomplishment,” Kohler said. “It was a big accomplishment on our part and on the part of the Grand Futures board, and Amber Delay who was the director of Grand Futures at the time. That’s a pretty strong, serious collaboration and really people just trying to do what’s best for a youth in our community to find a way to serve them better. It speaks volumes about everybody that was involved in that on both sides.”

Partners in Routt County actually turned 25 last year, but because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, the group pushed the celebration back a year. Kohler is still hoping that the community, and those touched by Partners over the years, will come out and help celebrate. The organization is asking people to go online to the Partners in Routt County website for free tickets.

“It is completely free. It’s not a fundraiser, but people will have the ability to donate at the event if they would like, but it is purely celebration,” Kohler said. “There will be food, and every person that comes will get two free drink tickets and music by Moon Cat. It is just a nice time to gather.”

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