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The Gift of Unity through Service

December 12th, 2014

Hannah Staller

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the food. Big family dinners, endless sweets, warm soups and fluffy breads put me in a festive mood. However, as I celebrate with my family this holiday season, I remember that access to an

abundant and healthy food source is a privilege not everyone in our community enjoys. I often take knowing where my next meal will come from for granted. I do not have to worry how I will feed my family, or whether we will have enough to eat at the end of
the month. Unfortunately, food security is not a reality for everyone in our community, for a myriad of reasons. One in seven Coloradans experience food insecurity every day, meaning they are unable to access a constant, healthy, and culturally appropriate diet. In 2012, 18% of children under 18 in El Paso country lived in poverty, with insufficient access to food. Read the rest of this entry »

A Message from the Grants Office

December 9th, 2014

With the fourth quarter of the year coming to an end, El Pomar Foundation’s grants office has had the opportunity to review many requests throughout 2014.  In  the first three quarters of El Pomar’s competitive application process in 2014, we have received more than 300 requests and noticed a financial trend that is worth noting.

As we have reviewed the expenses of organizations submitting applications, we learned that 66% of the organizations are increasing expenses for the current year compared to last year.  The median increase is 20%, while the average budget increase is over 170%.  To provide some context for growth, we conducted research on current economic growth trends and found that the Rocky Mountain Region (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana) has had a Gross Domestic Product growth of 4.1% over the past year.  We also learned that the projected growth in the United States for 2015 is 3.7%.  While these are not staggering numbers, they are positive signs of growth and significantly less than the projected growth of expenses for many nonprofits.  These significant increases represent not only higher expenses but also the need for increased revenues. Read the rest of this entry »

A Historical Perspective: Final Stops on the Rock Island Line

December 4th, 2014

Colin McCarey

In 1847, steel tendrils were sprinting across the United States, overthrowing canals and eventually steamships as the primary conduits of American industry. The country was fighting the Mexican-American war, training ground for heroes and villains later to be immortalized in the Civil War. The romanticized outlaw Jesse James was born in Clay County, Missouri, and the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad Company was chartered in Illinois.

A quarter of a century later, the renamed Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad was introducing the first elegant dining cars to passenger trains and was victim to the first train robbery by the ex-Confederate Jesse James. By 1889, Jesse was in his grave, and the iconic Rock Island Line reached Colorado Springs.

At its height, the Rock Island Line would include over 8,000 miles of track interconnected with other companies and transcontinental networks. The construction of tracks, lines, freight yards and grand stations employed an enormous amount of labor, ranging from ditch diggers, to mechanics, to the skilled artisans who carved and inlayed mother-of-pearl motifs in the observation cars. Read the rest of this entry »

Penrose House Provides a Space for Nonprofits to Collaborate and Grow

December 1st, 2014

Penrose House, the historic home of Spencer and Julie Penrose, provides nonprofit organizations and inspiring setting to strategize, convene and collaborate. Hundreds of organizations conduct meetings and training’s at Penrose House each year.
Recently, two local mental health agencies, Safe2Tell and Youth Mental Health First Aid, utilized the amenities of Penrose House to convene and educate staff members. Read the rest of this entry »

Honoring Those Who Keep Our Community Safe

November 20th, 2014

Devanie Helman

On most days, I pass at least one police car on my morning commute to work. I don’t think much about it, other than pausing to wonder why they are out so early, or if they have been out all night. However, after attending the 29th annual Medal of Valor Luncheon earlier this week, I realize how fortunate I am to feel safe and free in my community.  In my daily life, I do not worry about my safety, or the safety of my neighbors. I do not think about my ability to rescue someone in trouble, or lay awake willing myself to remain steadfast and brave in the face of imminent danger. In my life, these activities seem outlandish and something only found on the 5 o’clock news. For some, this is their reality. Read the rest of this entry »

College Readiness and Success Program: A Fellow Perspective

November 19th, 2014

Each year, El Pomar Fellows support the College Readiness and Success Program. The program provides resources and support to help high school students, counselors, and families learn more about access to higher education. The two Fellows working on the program, Ashley Cornelius and Zoe Goodman, recently reflected on their time in the program.

Why did you get involved with College Readiness and Success Program (CRSP)?

Ashley: During my first year with El Pomar, Theo Gregory spoke with the new class of Fellows and described the work he did with high school students, and I was very impressed. Prior to the Fellowship I worked with SoColo Scholars at UCCS, a program that allowed high schools students to take college courses for credit and get a feel for what college could offer. I loved mentoring the students in the program and hoped to continue my passion for high school students and higher education later in life. CRSP presented a perfect opportunity to continue to work with high school students and to encourage them to reach their full potential. Many of the students will be first generation college students, and some didn’t think that college was a possibility until this program. The work is extremely rewarding and continues to surprise me each session, when more than 200 students and parents are in attendance. Read the rest of this entry »

La Puente Home

November 12th, 2014

Founded in 1982, the mission of La Puente Home is to provide
emergency services to homeless and economically disadvantaged individuals
throughout the San Luis Valley, La Puente operates an emergency shelter with
over 50 beds, 13 food banks, and provides transitional housing and
self-sufficiency services, homelessness prevention and community outreach
services, and job training for clients.

In the San Luis Valley, 34% of kids live below the poverty
line. La Puente Home’s annual Backpack Drive provides much needed school
supplies to students in the San Luis Valley. Each backpack includes crayons, pens,
pencils, notebooks, binders, and much more. This year, La Puente supplied over
600 full backpacks to Valley students, primarily in Alamosa County.

La Puente Home cares about educating the public about
hunger, homelessness and poverty even as it provides great programs and
services. Every September, La Puente hosts Hope Week to educate the public
about homelessness and how it impacts the community. More than anything, La
Puente understands that it takes a caring community with dedicated inhabitants
to alleviate the impact of poverty and homelessness on those most in need. La
Puente has long been a focal point in the San Luis Valley, and will provide critical
services for years to come.

The Charge of Excellence: An Interview with Wayne Caudill, Veteran Fellow

November 11th, 2014

How have your previous experiences as a veteran informed your experience at El Pomar?

When I look back at my experiences in the Army, I often reflect on the challenge and charge of excellence in all we do. The commitment to the mission, to those we supported, and ultimately to one another, was reflected in that excellence. Looking forward at my role with El Pomar I see the same alignment with excellence in what we do at the Foundation. Here we commit to enhance, encourage, and promote the current and future well-being of the people of Colorado. While 5:30 am formations are now substituted by 8:00 am meetings, and body armor has been exchanged for business suits, the same team building, creativity, and collaboration exist – and the coffee is certainly better.


Read the rest of this entry »

Pressure is a Privilege

November 7th, 2014

By Molly Brown

With 22 overall Grand Slam titles and four Olympic gold medals, superstar Venus Williams proved to be an excellent keynote speaker for Peak Vista Community Health Center’s 10th annual Breakfast for Champions fundraiser. While audience members enjoyed a hearty breakfast of steak and eggs, Williams treated them to a lighthearted, yet poignant speech. During her address, Williams captured the attention of the audience with stories about her childhood, career, and her relationship with Serena Williams, her sister and competitor. Williams focused on three themes instrumental in shaping her experience as a professional athlete and her life after tennis: Read the rest of this entry »

When a Friend Becomes a Stranger

October 27th, 2014

By Zoe Goodman

I ran into a woman I knew in the grocery store last week.  I flashed her a careful smile, a smile two strangers might share in passing, and then I intentionally moved to the next aisle over. I would come back for my stir fry sauce once the woman moved on. Until then, I busied myself in the cereal aisle. Usually, when I run into someone I know at the grocery store, I say hello. I ask how they are doing and I make a comment about the weather.  Ordinarily, I can pick up my stir fry sauce without having to desert the aisle and come back later.  Read the rest of this entry »