Yampa Valley giving circles set donation records in 2020
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a year where many have lost jobs or faced other financial stressors due to COVID-19, the three Yampa Valley giving circles gave out record donations, which members attribute to the charitable nature of Steamboat Springs.
The three giving circles administered through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation — WZ Giving Circle, Women’s Giving Circle and IMPACT100 — donated a collective $103,000 to area residents and families in need. A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy, or collective giving, where individuals pool their charitable donations and decide as a group where to give the funds.
“You hear on the news that this pandemic has created such an economic disaster, and our community has been very fortunate to be able to be in a place to give,” said April Sigman, executive director of the Routt County Council on Aging, a beneficiary of Yampa Valley giving circle funding.
The Council on Aging, which provides for elderly members of the community, has seen an 80% increase in residents needing groceries delivered, and much of the group’s funding has come from the WZ and Women’s giving circles.
“Our clients specifically are even more isolated than the working-class adults who aren’t afraid to go to the grocery store,” Sigman said. “A lot of my clients are really cautious, and they need those meals delivered. They need to be able to stay in their homes.”
The three giving circles are comprised of members who are required to make a tax-deductible donation to join the group: $250 for the Women’s Giving Circle, $2,000 for the WZ Giving Circle and $100 for IMPACT100.
“A lot of us have such abundance in our lives,” said Anne Mayberry, member of the Women’s Giving Circle. “Our gratitude and feeling like we’ve been blessed makes us want to give back.”
The Women’s Giving Circle focuses primarily on families in need, often with single mothers. Nonprofits interested in receiving money for clients from the Women’s Giving Circle can apply with specific needs, such as groceries, housing or protection from an unsafe situation.
“We find that single women raising kids by themselves are a lot of the people who fall through the cracks,” Mayberry said. “It’s about anyone who needs help.”
WZ Giving Circle shares a similar mission of providing help to local families. Ray Parks, founder of WZ Giving Circle, said the inspiration to create the group came while he was volunteering at LiftUp of Routt County and saw the need firsthand .
“It was just absolutely surprising to me how much need there was in this community,” he said. “I really wanted to do something, and all of our members feel the same way.”
Nonprofits interested in applying for funds from WZ Giving Circle are required to present to the group about their specific needs.
“We’re strictly helping individuals and families that have immediate needs,” Parks said. “I think the most important thing to remember is there really is a need in Routt County.”
Beneficiaries of Yampa Valley giving circles said the donations they received, often coming in the form of large grants, have provided meals, housing repairs, medical bills and other necessary expenses for Routt County residents.
“Northwest Colorado Center for Independence has been able to make tangible, life-changing improvements happen for those in Routt County who really do need it most,” said James Higgin, case manager with the center. “They are one of the beacons of light I can call upon when it seems like there is no other way.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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