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Huerfano non-profits receive $15,000 in grants from El Pomar Foundation

HUERFANO – Three Huerfano County nonprofit organizations received grants totaling $15,000 last week during a presentation hosted by Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation.  The presentation took place Thursday, February 23 at 4 pm at the Rawlings Library in Pueblo.
All of the grants were recommended by El Pomar Foundation’s Southeast Regional Council, an advisory board of community leaders representing nine counties in Southeastern Colorado. Felix Lopez, President of Trinidad State Junior College, is a member of the Southeast Regional Council.
The Southeast Regional Council made youth and workforce development recent funding priorities. Council members recognized the importance of educating and supporting young individuals, as well as promoting a thriving and sustainable workforce in the region. As a result, the Southeast Regional Council identified organizations that have and will continue to positively impact both focus areas.
At the presentation, the Sangre de Cristo Center for Youth will receive $10,000 to support its Creative, Responsible, Educated Women (CREW) program. The CREW program aims to positively engage the youth of Huerfano County through character building, social responsibility, and life skills development so that they may become successful adult leaders.
Friends of the Spanish Peaks Library District will receive a $2,500 grant to fund a community computer trainer for new online referencing software. This grant will help the public fully utilize the library’s resources. See photo, page 6, of Monica Birrer, director of the Spanish Peaks Library in Walsenburg as she accepts the award on behalf of the Friends of the Library.
In Huerfano County, a $2,500 grant will also go to Walsenburg’s Dorcas Circle food and clothing bank to support basic and emergency services. MaryAnn Chamberlain reports that she will use it to purchase food for the food pantry. Dorcas Circle is a busy place. In January, 1,063 people visited Dorcas Circle or the clothing bank, where folks can get three free outfits of clothes every time they visit. Each day that Dorcas Circle is open, approximately 75 to 85 people benefit from the food give away. Each month the charity hands out an additional 140 large food boxes to Huerfano residents who are down on their luck.
Most Dorcas Circle groceries are purchased from Care and Share. Dairy and bread is donated from Safeway, produce is donated as available from Care and Share, and the Volunteers for Change food drives at Charlie’s and First Choice help a great deal also. “We want to make sure we can help as many as we possibly can,” says director MaryAnn Chamberlain, noting that the elderly and the very young are particulary important clients to serve. Chamberlain says it is interesting how very generous our people in Huerfano County are. She has spoken to other food and clothing bank directors in other areas whose communities are not nearly as supportive as Huerfanos are. She says, “We are just so appreciative of our people in our area.  Walsenburg is a good place to live – a good town.”
The Dorcas Circle grant will come out of El Pomar’s Colorado Assistance Fund (CAF) V, an emergency services fund (food, clothing, shelter, rental and utilities assistance, etc.) designed to assist organizations helping Coloradans most affected by the economic downturn. Throughout the state more than 150 nonprofit organizations that focus on direct human service support will receive grants totaling $1 million over the next month through CAF.
Among other CAF V grant recipients are:
• Las Animas Helping Hands $5,000 (Las Animas County)
• Huerfano-Las Animas Area Council of Government $5,000 (Las Animas County)
• The Salvation Army Unit of Trinidad $5,000 (Las Animas County)
While there are indications that economic conditions may be improving, a recent survey of more than 150 Colorado health and human service providers conducted by El Pomar Foundation indicated that the needs are still great. According to respondents:
88 percent saw an increase in demand for services over the last 12 months.
59 percent saw a decrease in donations over the last 12 months.
“Throughout the state, health and human service providers are still challenged by an increase in demand for services coupled with a decrease in funding,” said El Pomar Chairman and CEO William J. Hybl. “The trustees of El Pomar feel strongly that this remains an area where the Foundation can make a significant difference by providing resources for those organizations that are supporting Coloradans still struggling to get by on a daily basis.”
El Pomar Foundation, based in Colorado Springs, is one of the oldest and largest private foundations in the Rocky Mountain West.  El Pomar contributes approximately $20 million annually through grants and Community Stewardship Programs to support Colorado nonprofit organizations involved in health, human services, education, arts and humanities, and civic and community initiatives.  Spencer and Julie Penrose founded El Pomar in 1937.
The Southeast Regional Council is an El Pomar advisory board of local leaders representing Baca, Bent, Crowley, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers, and Pueblo Counties. The Council provides local insight and grant recommendations to trustees of El Pomar Foundation.
Since its inception in 2003, the Council has recommended grants totaling $1,024,898.