Yampa Valley Gives Day eyes $1M fundraising goal in 2019
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs mom learned a few shocking statistics after her son was diagnosed with dyslexia, and so she turned to a new nonprofit in town, Steamboat Reading, to make sure her child wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
On the other side of the country, a New York actress decided to fly into Steamboat, so the only professional theater company within 100 miles could have a “seasoned” Rosalind for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” being performed by the nonprofit Piknik Theatre.
This pair of nonprofits — one new and dedicated to learning disabilities and the other run by a devoted retiree for free, so he can pay professionals to bring art to families and students — are just two of the groups looking for support on Tuesday’s Yampa Valley Gives Day, which is held in conjunction with Colorado Gives Day.
“The goal is to increase philanthropy through online giving,” said Holly Wilson, of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation.
Wilson helps to oversee Yampa Valley Gives, the regional arm of Colorado Gives that supports nonprofits in Routt and Moffat counties.
There are 79 nonprofits listed on the Yampa Valley Gives website this year. Their names and a description of their causes can be found at yvgives.org
Last year, the community rallied to raise $913,836 on Yampa Valley Gives Day, and volunteers are aiming for $1 million this year, according to Wilson.
Mom and IT executive Ashley Selzler said she knows there are a lot of causes dear to people’s hearts, but she would like locals to consider giving to Steamboat Reading.
Selzler said while she can afford to have her son tutored for his dyslexia, there are other parents who can’t.
Yampa Valley Gives Day donations can be made at yvgives.org on from 12:01 a.m. to midnight Tuesday, Dec. 10.
• 2018 fundraising total: $913,836
• 2019 fundraising goal: $1 million
“You hear about the good statistics, where 40% of successful entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson, have dyslexia and people like Albert Einstein and Jennifer Aniston. … But here’s the bad statistics: 50% of our jail population has some form of dyslexia or dysgraphia. If you look at stats on (juvenile) hall, it’s 70%,” Selzler said.
“It affects confidence, and if you’re starting to feel stupid, you’re going to create trouble, so you don’t have to read out loud (or participate),” she added.
Selzler said while the public schools do their best, their teaching methods are still geared toward the 80% of students who don’t have dyslexia or dysgraphia, and Steamboat Reading can help evaluate those kids being diagnosed too late.
Another nonprofit that’s participating in Yampa Valley Gives Day is Piknik Theatre, founded by Stuart Handloff as part of his graduate studies in New Zealand. While Handloff has been doing theater since the 1970s in Steamboat, the retired public administrator became serious about bringing professional theater to the Yampa Valley in 2008.
Piknik Theatre is now a beloved family favorite of locals and visitors who want to see professional actors travel to Steamboat and perform both light and classical theater in parks and in the formal setting of a local church.
“Outdoor performances are free, and we’ll get donations by passing the hat, but there isn’t earned income from the summer. That’s why donations and events like Colorado Gives are so important,” Handloff said.
Handloff tries to raise enough money to pay production staff, a guest director and actors based on a sliding scale for the time and community they’re serving. He goes without pay as a coordinator and director but knows that he’ll have to pass the torch to another theater professional at some point, who will need to get paid.
New York actress Hannah Dubner first came to Steamboat in 2016 to perform for Piknik Theatre.
“If you believe in community and you believe in risk taking, if you believe in connection and vulnerability at this time in the world, Piknik Theatre is something you might want to let your wallet support,” Dubner said.
Expect Tuesday to be full of boisterous volunteers waving signs along Lincoln Avenue to remind people about the special day of giving.
Last year’s largest fundraiser on Yampa Valley Gives Day was the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which collected $89,580 in donations.
Visit yvgives.org to support the charity or charities of your choice.
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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