EpicPromise awards more than $2.2 million to 57 Summit County nonprofits | SummitDaily.com

EpicPromise awards more than $2.2 million to 57 Summit County nonprofits

Sarah Vaine, chief executive officer of the Summit Community Care Clinic, spoke at the EpicPromise community grants reception in Breckenridge on Monday.
Jessica Smith / jsmith@summitdaily.com |

Community was the word of the night at the Summit County Community Grants Reception held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Breckenridge Monday night.

Representatives of more than 50 Summit nonprofit organizations gathered to celebrate the grants awarded for the EpicPromise 2014-15 grant cycle — more than $2.2 million to 57 local nonprofits — and to share stories of the successes their programs have achieved.

The atmosphere was friendly as attendees stepped out of the chilly December evening air and into the cozy confines of the DoubleTree conference room. Conversation buzzed from all corners as the people behind Summit County’s most giving organizations met and mingled.

Representatives of the Summit Community Care Clinic chatted with Advocates for Victims of Assault, while SOS Outreach rubbed elbows with the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) and High Country Conservation Center (HC3). The guest list was a veritable who’s who of local nonprofits.


“I want to thank you for being here,” said Pat Campbell, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Breckenridge Ski Resort. Campbell started off the evening’s presentations by talking about EpicPromise, its goals and ongoing efforts.

EpicPromise is a branch of Vail Resorts dedicated to environmental and community sustainability efforts. Previously known as Vail Echo, the program was renamed this year.

During the last five years, Vail Resorts has contributed some $7 million to about 235 nonprofit partners annually; in addition, its employees donated 20,000 company-sponsored volunteer hours annually.

Energy conservation is another big part of the EpicPromise mission. In 2011, Vail Resorts reached its 10 percent energy reduction goal, and is currently working on reducing another 10 percent by 2020, with 6 percent already achieved.

In 2014, 45 percent of waste was recycled or reused, and the goal is to hit 50 percent next year.

A guest donation program with the National Forest Foundation raises funds for Summit restoration projects through a $1 opt-out program on items such as season pass sales, online tickets, room nights and golf.

This year’s EpicPromise Holiday Giving Campaign will raise money through Jan. 10 at local retail locations to benefit Summit County Search and Rescue.

“We have some great stories to tell tonight,” said Campbell.


Next to speak was Meredith Farnum, talent management specialist at Keystone Resort.

“I’m here because I’m a ‘Bag Lady,’” Farnum said, to chuckles from the crowd.

Farnum was referring to the FIRC Bag Project, in which volunteers, known as “Bag Ladies,” sew items such as bags, aprons and purses and donate 100 percent of the sales proceeds to support FIRC’s emergency assistance program and food bank.

Farnum introduced FIRC executive director Tamara Drangstveit, who pointed out that the Bag Ladies had raised about $80,000 for FIRC since the program’s inception. She went on to highlight other FIRC successes, through the eyes of people whose lives had changed because of them. She told the room about 3-year-old Evan, who had recently taken an Exploring Foods Together class, which introduces children to new foods, and the email she received afterward from his mother about her son’s newfound enthusiasm for healthy eating.

Then there’s Johanna, a woman whose husband became violent and who was afraid she and her young daughter wouldn’t be able to afford living in Summit County on their own. With help from FIRC and Advocates for Victims of Assault, mother and daughter are now living safely in their own place.

Drangstveit also mentioned Rita, a young mother who moved to Summit County with her 2-year-old son and struggled without family or extended family nearby. Through the Families United program, which EpicPromise supports, Rita has benefitted from home visits, classes and parenting groups.

Following Drangstveit’s stories was Marcela Vos, board member for the Summit Community Care Clinic. Vos told a personal story about when she first arrived in Summit. After a skiing accident tore her ACL, she learned the hard way what it was like to deal with an emergency injury without health insurance. “I took that as a great life experience and life learning moment,” she said, and years later, it inspired her to join the board at the clinic.

Erin Major, also from the clinic, discussed the successes of the Healthy Smiles project in Summit schools, which ensures that local children from preschool through high school get yearly dental checkups. Patient navigators are also available to help parents figure out where and how to find care if needed.

Joel Hauswirth, director of food services for Summit School District, spoke about the Universal Breakfast program, and how he’s worked to increase participation.

“We’re just going to keep aiming higher and higher,” he said.


Applause punctuated every statistic as more and more stories revealed the ways in which the organizations gathered were working to make a difference in Summit County.

At the end of the presentations, John Buhler, chief operating officer of Keystone Resort, took the podium to say a few words. While the popular phrase in Summit is that people come for the winter and stay for the summer, he said, “I think all of you stayed for the community.”

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