El Pomar Foundation’s Colorado Assistance Fund has aided 17 Southwest Colorado organizations since March, disbursing $73,500 to help communities and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The foundation’s trustees established the $1 million fund March 9, within a week of Colorado’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then, the fund has moved quickly to provide aid to nonprofits and government agencies working to provide basic human needs and to support access to health care for people and communities.
“We are grateful for the nonprofit organizations and their staffs who have selflessly stepped up to support individuals and communities in need during this pandemic,” El Pomar Foundation President and CEO Kyle Hybl said in a news release. “In establishing the Colorado Assistance Fund, El Pomar Foundation’s trustees aimed to deliver funds as quickly as possible to support critical needs.”
Seventeen organizations located in Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties received grants, with funding focused largely on assistance with rent, food and medical supplies.
Women’s Resource Center was forced to cancel many of its spring fundraising events because of the pandemic. The $5,000 grant awarded to the organization enabled it to continue serving local women in need of emergency assistance.
Executive Director Christy Schaerer said the requests for assistance have increased during the past two months. Most requests were for help with rent, food and utility bills.
The grant has almost been completely disbursed to their clients, and Schaerer suspected it would be exhausted within another week. Women aided by grant funding include a restaurant industry worker in need of help with rent, phone and utility bills, and a mother of two who was homeless and needed assistance with a rent deposit to secure permanent housing.
A virtual Men Who Grill event is being planned to start raising funds for the organization, but Schaerer said the grant was important in allowing them to continue serving clients while they came up with new ways to raise funds amid the pandemic.
MakerLab at The Powerhouse made use of the $5,000 grant it was awarded by manufacturing more than 20,000 pieces of personal protective equipment with the help of more than 300 volunteers and community partners.
In March, Executive Director Jeff Susor said the center put out a call for volunteers and it was overwhelmed with support. He said it was one of the few times of genuine crisis where the community could do something to help right away.
The PPE constructed was distributed to local organizations during a time when federal assistance wasn’t available and regular suppliers couldn’t keep up with demand.
Susor said they’re now “98% out of the PPE manufacturing business because the local need is no longer there.”
The MakerLab has sent remaining supplies to New Mexico and Arizona to assist with the outbreak on the Navajo Nation, and to some Denver-area hospitals. With the slowdown of PPE production, the center is now looking toward a gradual reopening and providing a safe space for local children with modified summer camps.
Southwest Rainbow Youth approached Dancing Spirit about acting as a pass-through for the grant after recognizing a need for food and other basic needs. Executive Director Kasey Correia said Southwest Rainbow Youth administrators wrote the grant application and were awarded $2,500. The funds were used to dispense food and other supplies to Southern Ute Indian Tribe members through the Ignacio Mutual Aid Initiative.
Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County was awarded a $3,500 grant to aid in creating virtual youth development programs that can continue to serve local youths while the facility is closed.
“In these uncertain times, it is invaluable to know that El Pomar is there to support our communities and our kids, impacting lives through life-giving investment,” Kathrene Frautschy, director of development at the Boys & Girls Club of La Plata County, said in a news release.
The fund also awarded grants to Archuleta Seniors, Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado, Community United Methodist Church, Dr. Mark Fisher Medical Foundation, Fort Lewis College Foundation, Keystone Center, Loaves and Fishes of Archuleta County, Manna, Reaching Out to Community and Kids, Silverton School District, The Good Samaritan Center, The Piñon Project and United Way of Southwest Colorado.
To support local animals around the state, El Pomar trustees dedicated $100,000 from the foundation’s Freda Hambrick Fund to pet food banks and to assist veterinarian clinics that are covering costs of pet food or veterinary services for families who could no longer afford such expenses.
With the full $1 million fund disbursed, El Pomar trustees have approved another $1.1 million for another round of funding. The next round will focus on long-range recovery efforts aimed at helping communities begin to return to a healthful, full-functioning state.
A full list of grant awardees and an application for new funding are available online at www.elpomar.org/grant-making.