Here we are, the final stretch! Thank you to those of you who have been reading along with Nonprofit November, and also to those who skim to find what appeals to you. This final week has proven to be educational, but also difficult to connect with people during the holiday week.
In full transparency, it’s because of the holiday that two of this week’s agencies were not actual interviews. The first is the YMCA. I did not interview anyone from the Y, and they are not really a small organization. However, I believe they are largely misunderstood, and I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little of my knowledge from working for the Y movement for over 30 years. The second is Tri-Lakes Cares. I have met with their Exec, I serve on their board, and I distributed Thanksgiving meals with them last weekend. However, I did not technically interview them specifically for this project. But, it’s my project and I’m going to share about their great work anyway!
I hope you enjoy reading this final edition of Nonprofit November agency spotlights. I also hope that it has helped to spark an interest in you, to find a cause where you can make a difference in your community. If not, here’s your last chance . . .
The William Stanley Foundation
This is the only foundation I have interviewed during this project. A foundation varies from other organizations I’ve highlighted in that it serves as the funding source for work being delivered through other nonprofits. They work to address a critical social need through a variety of programs or agencies.
My friend, Bill Stanley, founded his foundation just one year ago. Having had several successful careers, Bill decided that he didn’t want to leave all of his assets to his children. Instead, he wanted to leave a legacy. While Bill is very philanthropic, he doesn’t choose to give through larger organizations. He wants his giving to go straight to recipients or to programs directly serving individuals. He loves to be able to see the impact of his contributions.
The William Stanley Foundation works to address education, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship in our young people. Bill is building his network of nonprofit agencies in order to connect with and fund projects that match his passions. Some examples of the organizations this Foundation has supported include: Inventa Academy, Rocky Mountain PBS, Kids on Bikes, Junior Achievement, Cool Science and many more.
As a brand new organization, Bill is still developing processes and figuring things out. One of his biggest needs is to grow his Board. Currently there are two Board members and he would like to double that. With no paid staff, it is a working Board. The intent is to keep it that way in the foreseeable future. If you are interested in getting involved at the leadership level, or if you know of a program this Foundation should look at, email Bill at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more on their Facebook page.
Thanks to the Village People, everyone has heard of the YMCA. Many people live in a community where there is a Y. And almost everyone I speak with has participated in YMCA membership or programs at some point in their lives. Which makes it kind of ironic that relatively few people realize that the Y is a nonprofit organization. Fewer yet can articulate the mission or cause.
It seems most people think of the Y as a swim-n-gym or a fitness center that “does good stuff in the community.” That’s not wrong, but the Y provides so much more. As a grassroots organization, every Y seeks to address the unmet needs in the community they serve. This can be anything that falls into their areas of focus: healthy living, youth development, and social responsibility.
With a 177-year history, it’s difficult to sum up all the amazing work of the Y in just a few paragraphs, but I’ll try! Every program they offer is designed to strengthen the community and help individuals reach their full potential. Some traditional programs include fitness classes, swimming lessons, day camps, youth sports, before and after school care, youth-in-government, and Bible study. Based on their community needs, there is a lot of creativity in programming. Some of the more unique offerings include a food-mobile in a food desert, a writer’s workshop for aspiring young artists, a resource center for expecting moms, adventure trips, speed dating, garden clubs, a competitive yoyo team and so. much. more.
You are probably familiar with many of the things started or invented by the Y. Basketball, volleyball and racquetball were all created at Ys. So was organized camping and swimming pool filtration (thankfully, ew). Toastmasters, Gideons, Scouting and Father’s Day all came out of YMCAs. In many communities, the town library and night school were initially started by the Y, eventually spinning off and becoming public libraries and local colleges. These are just a few of the initiatives the YMCA has provided, all in an effort to strengthen our communities.
The Y is committed to ensuring every community member has access to their programs and services. No one is ever denied access due to an inability to pay. Financial assistance for membership, programs, child care and more are made available because of the generosity of the community they serve. Find your local YMCA at www.ymca.net. From there you can get involved in programs, membership, volunteerism, philanthropy, leadership, and more!
Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI)
One of the most crucial roles that nonprofit organizations fulfill (in my opinion) is engaging the community in delivering upon their mission. By doing this an agency connects people to their cause, deepening their passion for the work. RMFI (pronounced RIM-FEE) does an amazing job at this. The pandemic impacted their numbers, but in a typical year they engage over 2,000 volunteers as stewards and guardians of our outdoor resources.
RMFI is dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of public lands in partnership with the forest service, cities, and counties; as well as state and federal lands in Southern Colorado. This isn’t just about building and maintaining trails. The RMFI team is committed to education and research, ensuring preservation of our natural resources for years to come. That means protecting and enhancing the ecological health of our land and water resources. In addition to creating sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities, their work includes completing projects focused on watershed restoration and forest health.
When people understand, they care. That seems to be the philosophy behind the engagement and educational initiatives at RMFI. Whether it’s a brief talk on geology at the Garden of the Gods, technical training classes, or their accredited field study college course, education is woven into every aspect of their work. Since they have staff and volunteers on the ground, doing this work all the time, they are constantly researching and learning. They use the knowledge they gain through their work to develop better techniques and to educate landowners.
According to Executive Director Jennifer Peterson, the biggest challenge currently facing RMFI is their physical space. Their offices are currently located in a very charming old school house, but during their “work season” the amount of space they have is insufficient. Jennifer’s vision is to create a collaborative hub where like-minded agencies can come together to share space, resource, and knowledge. To get involved in advancing the work of RMFI as a volunteer, donor, or seasonal staff go to their website. If you have space to consider, reach out to Jennifer directly at email@example.com.
Serving Northern El Paso County, this agency does a lot! They improve people’s lives by providing emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programming. This can mean any number of services or supports to help families or individuals in need. Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) is probably best known for their food pantry. Through the pantry they provide supplemental groceries, snack packs, summer meals for kids, and holiday meals. In 2020 they distributed over 222,000 pounds of food, serving an average of 44 families a week!
While food is their best known service, TLC also provides financial assistance for housing, utilities, transportation, medical needs, education, child care, and more. Additionally, they offer medical support with nursing assistance, advocacy and connection, insurance help, emotional and spiritual resources, disease prevention and maintenance, and health education. Other programming includes: case management, their Getting Ahead group, a holiday giving tree, backpack/school supplies distribution, and more.
I have the honor of serving on the Board of Directors for this agency. I’m pretty new to the organization, but I have already had the opportunity to see the impact they have on our community. Clients range from those dealing with generational poverty to families experiencing joblessness due to the pandemic. The beautiful thing about Tri-Lakes Cares is the way that they treat each and every client with dignity and respect. The staff and volunteers value the individuals and meet them where they are. From there they help clients move forward based on their personal needs and readiness.
Executive Director Haley Chapin and Board Chair Rich Schur are dedicated to helping those in need in our community. They are the ubiquitous faces of the organization in the Tri-Lakes area. If you see them out and about, they can tell you that, as the community continues to quickly grow, so does the need for TLC’s services. Limited space and staff keep them from doing more. Community donations and volunteers help. If you would like to get involved go to https://tri-lakescares.org.
Mary’s Home provides long-term residential programming designed to help single moms transition out of homelessness and create a bright future for themselves and their children. The National Center for Homeless states that over 92% of homeless mothers have experienced severe physical and/or sexual abuse, and that children experiencing homelessness have 3 times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems, compared to non-homeless children. These are complex problems, which is the reason for the long-term approach.
Their research-based approach is broken into three phases, spread over about 5-years. The first phase focuses on healing and learning, the second phase involves discovering their career path, and the final phase helps them pursue their career. Through this process Mary’s Home not only provides a safe living situation, but the opportunity to create a new future. This approach isn’t a good fit for everyone. Single mothers experiencing crisis and who are committed to a life-changing health and growth process are the best match for this community.
Mary Hoggatt is the Program Director at Mary’s Home (the name is just a happy coincidence). Mary loves her job more than anyone I’ve met. What she would most like for people to know about the women they serve is how strong and brave they are. It takes significant resilience to break away from trauma and create a better life for their children. These women deserve respect.
Every family who enters Mary’s Home is welcomed with a safe, clean and comfortable living space. The space is fully furnished and surrounded by a built-in community of supporters and friends. Children attend childcare or school while moms gain parenting and employment skills. You can be a part of supporting the 19-families served through this program! Go to their website to learn about volunteering and donation opportunities.
Want to learn more about how you can have a lasting impact on your community? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect for a free 30-minute discovery call or check out this article on how to be a community superhero. In order to save the world, nonprofits need superheroes like you to help them have the kind of impact they exist to deliver.
Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of small businesses and nonprofits.