Top Five Reasons to Volunteer in Your Community

Countless organizations serve the food, shelter, health, safety, and mental well-being of every community – including ours.

In addition to financial support, many of these organizations depend upon volunteers to provide the bulk of planning and labor that smoothly deliver the services we rely on and perhaps sometimes take for granted.

Making it a habit to get involved where you can is vital. It also provides some very practical benefits in return.

Below are just a few of the great reasons to volunteer.

You Can Make a Difference

Okay, this is the one that everyone understands and thinks of when considering volunteering, but what a great reason. One of the greatest gifts of all is the gift of impact. The ability to make just one person’s life better, more manageable, or less lonely is something any contribution of your time and talent has the power to do.

You Can Learn a Great Deal

Volunteering your time in an area outside of your experience or even comfort level is a fantastic way to stretch yourself and continue to grow. Tending a plot of organic vegetables at the Nederland Food Pantry’s Community Garden, for example, is a powerful way to give and receive lessons on gardening in our super short growing season from certified experts in the field.

It’s Good for Your Health

Giving is not only good for the soul; it can also be good for the physical body. So many people sit at desks in front of computer screens. Countless volunteer opportunities include physical labor as a critical component of involvement. Go out for a day of fire mitigation work with Saws and Slaws, and you’ll learn an essential mountain skill, chainsaw operation, but you might just come home a little energized in the core from bucking logs all day.

It’s a Great Way to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Whether you’re new to the area or a long-time resident, you’ve probably seen or heard how often neighbors in the mountain communities depend upon each other for emergency help, dog walking, plowing, and things like that last egg needed for a special birthday cake. That’s just what we do up here. Joining an organization like Indian Peaks Wilderness for a Saturday of trail restoration with a group of neighbors is a great way to develop friendships and a support network for life’s little surprises.

It Sets a Great Example for the Next Generation

Anyone who has children knows they are always watching us for cues. And as we all realize, actions do speak so much louder than words. In the everyday rush of family life, volunteering as a family is a great way to interrupt the routine and provide a positive outing for the entire group. Who knows, maybe the headphones will even come off.

Below is a partial list the organizations in need of volunteers in the community.

Nederland Food Pantry, Clothing Closet and Community Gardens
https://nederlandfoodpantry.org/

Wild Bear Nature Center
http://www.wildbear.org/

TEENS, Inc.
http://teensinc.org/

Saws and Slaws
http://sawsandslaws.org/

Pastor’s Pantry at Whispering Pines Church

Ignite Adaptive Sports
https://igniteadaptivesports.org/

Indian Peaks Wilderness
https://www.indianpeakswilderness.org/volunteer-opportunities

Golden Gate Canyon State Park
https://cpwconnect.state.co.us/D/GGSP

Coal Creek Canyon Fire Department
https://www.coalcreekcanyonfd.org/

Nederland Fire Department
https://www.nfpd.org/volunteer

Timberline Fire Department
https://timberlinefpd.colorado.gov/

Nederland Area Seniors Inc
https://mountainpeaklife.org/

Carousel of Happiness
http://www.carouselofhappiness.org/

Coal Creek Canyon Improvement Association
https://www.coalcreekcanyon.org/

Coal Creek Meals on Wheels
http://coalcreekmow.org/

Gilpin County Food Bank
https://gilpincounty.org/

Food Charities Are a Vital Community Health Link

The charitable food pantries and banks in our mountain communities provide food access for vulnerable people. Unfortunately, most individuals and families accessing food pantries and other charitable food programs are food insecure, meaning that there is limited or uncertain availability of healthy foods.

According to a research study conducted by the Society for Community Research and Action, food insecurity is related to poor nutrition and many other adverse health issues. Some of these include poor physical, cognitive, and socioemotional development among children and chronic health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, among adults.

Thus, our area food banks are essential in addressing community health disparities through the foods and related services they provide. Supporting food banks to assess and respond to food and health needs is also a great way to support area healthcare, educational, economic, and social sectors.

Below is a list of area food pantries with instructions on how to provide support through food and monetary donations and how to access food and other services. 

Nederland Food Pantry, Clothing Closet https://nederlandfoodpantry.org/

The Nederland Food Pantry’s mission is to relieve hunger and provide basic needs and support to the Peak-to-Peak Community respectfully and compassionately. 

They are open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to Noon at the Nederland Community Center located at 106 Hwy 72, Nederland, CO. While all items are free – they ask clothing closet clients to limit their shopping to one bag per visit. 

To make an appointment, email Annette Franck NFPcloset@gmail.com or call 303-408-4596

Harvest of Hope Pantry – Boulder http://hopepantry.org/

Harvest of Hope Pantry opened its doors in 2012.

Their sole mission is food assistance. They offer a client choice shopping experience where individuals select preferred foods within our shopping allowances.

Harvest of Hope is located in Boulder, at 4830 Pearl St; they serve everyone who comes to the door.

They are open Monday-Friday and closed on the weekends. 

The Pantry is open Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m., and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. | Thursday evening, except for major holidays, on a walk-in basis.

Want to donate?

Fresh Food

If you have an over-abundant garden, please send it our way. 

Even the smallest amount is fantastic and brightens someone’s day and meal.

Shelf Stable and Non-Perishable Foods

Bring in your non-perishable canned, jarred, boxed, and bagged products.

*Donated food items must be labeled, unopened, and unused. In addition, canned food items need to be no more than one year past their best-by date.

Gilpin County Food Bank – http://www.gilpincounty.org/departments_offices/human_services 

The Gilpin Country Food Pantry has a new location at 101 Norton Dr. in Black Hawk. They are open Thursdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Every Thursday, they have pantry day from 1:30-3:45 at the former Public Health modular. They have implemented a shopping format that allows individuals to select those items they would like most. 

If you want to contribute, they take donations 24/7 between the two front doors of the new pantry location. In addition, they take financial contributions. Donations may be left in a dropbox between the two front doors at the Justice Center or in the foyer at the new Human Services location at 15193 Hwy 119 (across from the transfer station) 

You can mail checks made out to Gilpin Food Pantry to 15193 Highway 119, Black Hawk, CO 80422.

Pastor’s Pantry Whispering Pines Church

Pastor’s Pantry is part of Whispering Pines Church, located at 73 Gross Dam Rd., Golden, CO (On Hwy 72 across from the CCCIA Community Center)

The food pantry is open every Thursday from 3–5 p.m. for shopping and donations. 

Action Center – https://theactioncenter.org/get-help/

The Action Center offers free food and helps those facing hardship with other community resources.

Each week households can receive a pre-packed box of groceries filled with healthy, high-quality food like fruits, veggies, meat, dairy, and much more. (Selection varies daily).

You can just drive-thru or walk-up and receive your grocery box once a week with easy access!

Pick-up is available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m. to Noon & 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. No documentation or appointment is required!

They take food and other household donations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. In addition, you may make cash contributions via mail or online at https://theactioncenter.org/donate

The Action Center is located at 8745 W 14th Ave in Lakewood, CO.

Homelessness in Colorado

The pandemic, now entering year three, has taken its toll in many visible ways. The number of people living without homes or shelter in Colorado is accelerating. 

A recent nationwide study conducted by Security.org shows Colorado has the No. 11 highest rate of homelessness in America and saw a nearly 2% annual increase in its homeless population.

Denver has the No. 38 highest homeless rate among U.S. cities.

While some may see this as an urban challenge, surging poverty brought on by the disruption of COVID-19 has created a mounting crisis of hunger, homelessness, and other emergencies that destabilize families everywhere, including many mountain communities.

A growing concern

Living in extreme poverty and, in some cases, without proper IDs or a permanent address further strangles those with the greatest need from the resources that are in place and available to fight these issues. 

The surge in homeless populations has overwhelmed many shelters, strained the entire network of services set up to help unsheltered populations, and created tension among small communities as temporary encampments sprout up in remote pockets. 

The vicious cycle then puts some of society’s most vulnerable persons at odds with the residents of the communities they inhabit. 

Official response

Fortunately, some Front Range communities are beginning to address this challenge from a multi-departmental approach that includes law enforcement, community service, public health, and housing services. 

For example, Boulder County launched Homeless Solutions for Boulder County (HSBC) in October of 2017. 

This approach is organized around the “Housing First” model, an approach to homelessness that prioritizes getting people housed over sobriety or workforce programs.

A Housing First community in North Boulder, Colorado, called Lee Hill, allows the city to rent all the units to people who have been chronically homeless.

The Housing First approach is gaining momentum on a national scale. It is considered the best model for addressing homelessness in the future.

“I would say that a lot of homelessness has more to do with luck than with choice,” said Lindell Ellingson, a resident coordinator for Boulder Housing Partners. “It turns out that when people aren’t living on the streets, getting exposed to more trauma every day, they can make big shifts in their lives. And as a community, you can save money.”

Community Advocacy Resources

Several community organizations are working on coordinated efforts to address and prioritize the challenges of homelessness in the area. 

​Peak to Peak Housing and Human Services Alliance

A group of human service organizations and agencies that meet once a month to share information and expand services to mountain residents. 303-578-8033

info@nederlandfoodpantry.org

NICHE

The Nederland Inter-agency Council for Homeless Encampments (NICHE) is a partnership guided by the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church and supported by several government offices, law enforcement agencies, human services organizations, and other groups affected by issues regarding homeless camping in the mountains.

Council Leader: Paula Gipp NCPC Mission Elder gipp.paula@gmail.com 303-328-5863

Outreach Advocate Henry Schliff  h.schliff@gmail.com 720-355-9490 

Http://nederlandcpc.org/niche/

Mountain Health Collaborative

The Mountain Health Collaborative is comprised of local health professional members who volunteer during disasters in the Peak to Peak Region to meet immediate health needs, with the overall community goals of increasing resilience and accelerating the post-disaster recovery rate. To join the Mountain Health Collaborative, contact richard@peaktopeakcounseling.com or call 303-258-7454 extension 2.

You can find a more comprehensive list of essential services on the Peak to Peak Housing and Human Services Alliance found here – https://www.p2phhs.org/where-to-get-help-guide-english.

Canyon Cares occasionally provides information such as above in an effort to be a resource beyond the emergency financial support we provide for area residents

Winter Heating Assistance Programs in Colorado

Winter in the mountains can produce bitter cold days and nights. As such, heating is the single largest energy expense for most Colorado households.

The primary mission of Canyon Cares is to provide emergency financial relief for area residents struggling to pay their bills. In addition, we help by sharing public and private resources available to those we support. 

One of these resources is a federally funded state program called the Low-income Energy Assistance Program or LEAP. The program is designed to help eligible hard-working Colorado families, seniors, and individuals pay a portion of their winter home heating costs.

Who Can Get LEAP?

To qualify for LEAP benefits, you must:

  • Pay home heating costs either directly to a utility company or to a landlord as part of your rent.
  • Be a Colorado resident and a citizen or permanent legal resident of the United States, or have a member of your household who is a U.S. citizen.
  • Have a total household income that’s 60% of the state median income or less. 

How LEAP Works

If you are approved for the program, LEAP looks at your current income and your heating costs for last year and then makes one lump-sum payment directly to your heating provider. The money helps pay some of the costs of heating your home throughout the heating season (applications are accepted November 1 to April 30). However, you can only get one LEAP payment in each heating season.

How to Apply

You can apply for Colorado LEAP:

When Your Heating Stops Working: CIP

In addition to assistance with energy bills, people enrolled in Colorado LEAP can receive emergency service if their heating system stops working through The Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) 

  • Repairing your broken heating system (this does not include routine maintenance)
  • Replacing your broken heating system, if needed, and
  • Snow removal in rural areas to make it possible to deliver fuel.

Colorado’s Weatherization Assistance Program

The Colorado Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) helps qualified Coloradans save money, increase comfort, and better their homes and the environment through proven energy conservation solutions.

Some of the no-cost energy and utility bill saving services offered include:
  • Energy audits
  • Energy conservation education
  • Air infiltration sealing
  • Insulation in attic, floors, and walls
  • Furnace repair or replacement
  • LED light bulbs
  • High-efficiency appliances
  • Solar
  • Air source heat pumps

Find out more here – https://energyoffice.colorado.gov/weatherization-assistance-program 

Planned giving is a powerful way to support Canyon Cares

There are many ways to financially assist Canyon Cares, including planned giving.

A planned gift is a donation typically made as part of a donor’s estate planning. Examples of this type of gift include gifts of stock, life insurance benefits, retirement plans, real estate, personal property, or cash.

These gifts can be made during someone’s lifetime or upon their death.

Recently, Canyon Cares received the proceeds of several planned gifts, which helped significantly expand the geographic area we can now serve.

We can now accept donations of stock, personal property, and proceeds from life insurance or retirement plan benefits.

In fact, we are pleased to announce that we have arranged a way to accept stocks, bonds, etc. directly as a tax-advantaged way for those who would like to donate to Canyon Cares with this wonderful, tax-advantaged option! (Hurry if you would like to take this year-end deduction you must make the donation by Dec. 31st.)

While there are many good reasons to consider adding a planned gift to your estate plans, some of the most commonly recognized are below.

You can create an avenue to leave a legacy for yourself and your family.

Many organizations refer to planned giving as legacy giving. It often allows someone to make a gift as a tribute to a family member or to create a legacy for themselves. The donor benefits from the planned gift by making a lasting impact upon a cause they care about.

You can make a significant impact on the mission of an organization.

While many people respond to annual or ongoing fund appeals as a form of support, we often wish we could do so much more when the need is so great. A gift of an asset that has been appreciated over a lifetime might allow an organization to serve those in need for years to come

You can take advantage of tax savings for yourself and your heirs.

Many types of planned gift vehicles such as Charitable Remainder Trusts and Qualified Charitable Distributions offer significant tax advantages as part of the donation. Donating cash or property can also significantly reduce estate taxes paid by heirs.

(I do not attempt to offer tax advice here; simply know that this is a significant benefit that can be discussed with an estate professional.)

You may have more control over how your donation is used.

A planned gift outlined in a will or estate plan is a form of a legal contract made with the non-profit beneficiary. As such, the funds must be spent as stipulated in the contract for the donation to be accepted.

In other words, if there’s an element of an organization’s mission you are passionate about, you get a say.

You can “repay” an organization that may have helped you or a family member as a way to pass it on.

This last one is a bit tricky to explain. I know in my work with service organizations that many of the recipients of aid are incredibly grateful for the support they’ve received, and often cannot financially support an organization in return.

A planned gift is a way to make a future donation for the support received today.

As a registered 501(c)3, Canyon Cares would love to talk with you about ways your planned gifts might allow us to continue to serve residents of our mountain community.

Canyon Cares Annual Giving Program Spreads Cheer

During the first week of December board members of Canyon Cares once again distributed “Holiday bags” to area residents in need thanks to the generous donations of members of the community.

In total, we were able to distribute gift cards valued at over $10,000 to 70 households during our annual Holiday Giving event.

While the Holiday Giving campaign focuses on providing a little something extra for basics like food and gas, Canyon Cares provides emergency financial assistance all year long for things such as rent, utilities, and auto repairs in an effort to help individuals and families make it through rough patches.

Canyon Cares Holiday Gift card Program a Success!

Canyon Cares is happy to announce that our community Holiday Helpers have risen to the occasion! With the help of your donations, we were able to provide  gift cards to approximately 67 households in the Coal Creek Canyon area. 

On the cold and blustery morning of Saturday, November 14th, Canyon Cares board members donned their masks and gathered at a safe distance to distribute gift bags for the Holiday Gift Card Program. Bundled up as if for a trip to Antarctica, new board member Chuck Berginc stoically stood in the parking lot greeting the arrivals and handing their gift bags through the car window. The bags included a few “Stay Safe & Warm” themed goodies along with a King Soopers gift card. Other board members present were Cindy Goodrich, Susan Simone, Linds Roberts, Karen Siefert, Dawn Williams and “master organizer” of the event, Nancy von Schulz. Thanks go to Coal Creek Canyon resident Antoinette Jackson, who  provided 25 beautifully crafted handmade masks to be handed out at the event. The amount of the gift card was dependent on the number of folks in the household, with the hope that it would provide a nice meal or needed groceries at the start of the holiday season.

Unfortunately, food and basic household supplies are an expense that many are struggling with right now. In our effort to provide valuable resource information, below is a list of food pantries in the area.

Canyon Cares featured in March Mountain Messenger Column

We want to share our gratitude to Linda Martin for her wonderful write up about Canyon Cares in the “It Takes a Canyon!” column of the March 2021 issue of the Mountain Messenger (page 16). Linda interviewed Board members and looked into the history of Canyon Cares in our community for the piece.

Canyon Cares is proud to support our local publications, including the Mountain Messenger and Mountain-Ear. You can find a full-page ad summarizing our recent assistance to the community on page 9 of the March 2021 Mountain Messenger. Together, we are “Neighbors helping neighbors!”

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

If you would like to support Canyon Cares’ work, you can donate directly, or sign-up to have a percentage of your purchases from King Soopers or AmazonSmile contribute to Canyon Cares.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact us (720-515-1129, canyoncares.org@gmail.com, or the Contact Us page on our website).

Ways You Can Help

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Oh, to live in the special mountain communities that we do! We take care of those around us when we can, and when it comes down to it, we put aside our differences for the common goal of helping one another. The Canyon Cares motto of Neighbors Helping Neighbors embodies the very mission of this non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

There are so many meaningful ways folks help one another, whether it be cooking food for a family in crisis, plowing or shoveling for a stuck or stranded neighbor (or stranger for that matter), checking on a neighbor’s pet or providing occasional free childcare. The list of ways to help is long and so very essential and special. However, sometimes a situation just requires something more…money.

Where individually we may not be in a position to help someone financially, Canyon Cares may be able to! That’s why your donations over the years have enabled us to help many individuals and families with an urgent financial need. Your support through donations, whether it be $5 or $500, is so crucial to our mission. Canyon Cares conscientiously and carefully disperses funds (paying service providers directly) and provides added resource information to recipients to further help them. 

Two other ways folks can help are by simply linking their King Soopers cards to Canyon Cares through the Community Rewards Program. Every time you shop, money is automatically donated to Canyon Cares at no cost to you. The Amazon Smiles program is another way for you to make a portion of your purchase a donation to Canyon Cares. See the Canyon Cares website (www.canyoncares.org) for easy to follow instructions to do both.

Additionally, for those in a position to do so, please know that if you are 70 ½ years or older with an IRA, 401K or retirement account(s) taking a RMD (Required Minimum Distribution), you can avoid paying a portion of taxes due on that withdrawal by making a tax-free donation (up to $100,000) to Canyon Cares.

Canyon Cares could not do what they do without your support. There are not enough words to express how appreciated that is. We will continue to help as many people as possible and we ask that you continue to reach out personally to help in your own unique ways and let folks know that Canyon Cares may be able to help, as well.

Canyon Cares Receives $10,000 Eldora Grant

Canyon Cares is so grateful to the Eldora Foundation’s Play it Forward program for a grant of $10,000! These funds and donations from many of our neighbors are crucial for us to continue offering short-term financial assistance to individuals and families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about the grant and Canyon Cares’ work during this time in a featured blog post about Canyon Cares from the Boulder Community Foundation.

If you would like to support Canyon Cares’ work, you can donate directly, or sign-up to have a percentage of your purchases from King Soopers or AmazonSmile contribute to Canyon Cares.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact us (720-515-1129, canyoncares.org@gmail.com, or the Contact Us page on our website).

Photo by Nicholas Bartos on Unsplash