As rents rise, Summit County Cares fundraiser collects $50,000 in aid | SummitDaily.com

As rents rise, Summit County Cares fundraiser collects $50,000 in aid

Michel Infante, the family support manager at the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, helped collect donations for Summit County Cares during the $10K in a Day event on Dec. 21. The program made their goal of raising $50,000 by the end of the month.

The Summit County Cares annual fundraiser met its financial goal for 2016, but the increasing cost of living in the area means the program must halve the number of people it can help during the year.

Although final donation numbers are still coming in, Anita Overmyer, the development director at the Family and Intercultural Resource Center, said that the program officially made its goal of $50,000.

In the past, the holiday fundraiser has been able to help 800 locals annually with money for rent, medical or heating bills. However, due to rising costs of housing and health care, Summit County Cares has had to narrow its efforts and help fewer people. In 2015, the program raised $51,000 and helped more than 400 people through resources available from FIRC, Summit Community Care Clinic, Advocates for Victims of Assault and Social Services.

"We do still feel like we can help a lot of people with that amount," said Overmyer. "We just have to be a little more creative about how we're using the funding because obviously the rents have gone up."

Tamara Drangstveit, FIRC's executive director, said in a written statement that many seeking assistance in Summit have been forced out of their homes because the owner has decided to make the property a vacation rental. To find new housing, people often need to have up to $5,000 up front to cover first and last month's rent, as well as the security deposit. Of the people who benefitted last year from Summit County Cares emergency funds, 70 percent of them were facing homelessness.

The fundraiser was started in 2008 by several of Summit's media organizations, including the Summit Daily and Krystal 93, among others. The organizations partnered with The Summit Foundation and FIRC to pull together donations over the month of December. The first campaign set its sights high, hoping to raise $125,000 to help people at the start of the Great Recession.

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This year several local organizations and businesses worked with Summit County Cares to collect funds. The Breckenridge Restaurant Association donated money from its annual Dining Passport sales to Summit County Cares. Restaurants throughout the town brought in $15,000.

TJ Messerschmitt, the president of the association and owner of Relish and Twist, said donating to this program is a benefit to restaurant staff working in Breckenridge.

"The majority of our employees use the Care Clinic," he said.

In addition to passport funds from Breckenridge, the Summit County Cares fundraiser held the Dine Out to Donate event again this year. Overmyer said that they have been working with The Boatyard American Grill and the Blue River Bistro to help with fundraising for the past several years. The two restaurants donated 20 percent of their dinner sales to Summit County Cares on Dec. 13. This year, Overmyer said that they added the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, which donated dinner and lunch sales that day as well. The event raised $1,500.

Father Dyer United Methodist Church also collected $6,700 for Summit County Cares during its Christmas Eve offering.

More individual donors contributed to fundraising this year with the introduction of the $10K in a Day event. Volunteers from local nonprofits as well as Summit County's media companies were at the City Market in Breckenridge and Dillon on Dec. 21 to collect donations. Alpine Bank and Ivan Stanley Fine Home Builders each matched $2,500 to help make the $10,000 goal. After events and organization contributions, the remaining $16,800 of the program's goal was raised through individual donations.

"We would have fallen short if it wasn't for $10K in a Day," Overmyer said. "The more money we raise, the more people we can help."

By The Numbers

Breckenridge Dining Passport: $15,000

Father Dyer’s United Methodist Church: $6,700

Alpine Bank: $2,500

Ivan Stanley Fine Homes: $2,500

Dine Out to Donate: $1,500

Online donations can be made at SummitFoundation.com