Summit County Cares fundraiser asks community for $50,000 | SummitDaily.com

Summit County Cares fundraiser asks community for $50,000

Greg Ellison
gellison@sumitdaily.com

Now in its eighth year, the Summit County Cares holiday fundraiser is endeavoring to raise $50,000 by Dec. 31 to assist locals struggling with the cost of housing, utilities and medical care.

The Summit County Cares fund, the largest emergency assistance fund in the county, serves clients of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, Summit County Community Care Clinic, Advocates for Victims of Assault and Summit County Department of Human Services.

Anita Overmyer, development director with FIRC, said that 100 percent of the tax-deductible donations help locals who are struggling to afford housing payments, keep the heat turned on or cover costly medical bills.

"Now that rents have increased by 50 percent, they're really challenged," she said.

Tamara Drangstveit, executive director of FIRC, noted that the fund, which has helped as many as 800 people per year in the past, has been stretched thin by the housing crisis in Summit County.

"Many of the families seeking assistance have been forced out of their previous homes because owners are switching the property to a vacation rental," she said. "Families in these situations are often unable to find a comparative home, so they are either moving from a two-bedroom into a one-bedroom or studio, or they are moving out of the county. For those who find a new place, it can cost up to $5,000 to cover the first and last month's rent and security deposit."

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FIRC raised approximately $52,000 during last years Summit Cares campaign, which aided over 400 local families, 70 percent of which were facing homelessness.

Drangstveit said FIRC tries to assist clients survive crisis situations and to connect individuals or families with support services.

"Providing the emergency assistance is just the first step, but it is an essential step," she said. "Our main goal at FIRC is to get people through their crisis and then really start focusing on ways they can find long-term stability."

IMPACT ON CHILDREN

The struggle to subsist, while challenging to parents, can be especially impactful on children, Overmyer said.

"When you're living in constant crisis, it's going to affect your kids," she said. "If parents are too focused on putting food on the table and affording a place to live, it affects their parenting."

FIRC officials said in a news release that ongoing stress has been proven to have lasting physical and psychological impacts on children, in some cases hampering development, and has been linked to numerous health and social problems during adulthood.

"The developing brain of children is more vulnerable to chronic stress than most parents may realize," the release states. "New and emerging research hints at how a constant barrage of stress hormones can change the way the brain develops, causing behavioral and psychological disorders and putting children at risk for mental illness later in life."

FRUITFUL PARTNERSHIPS

Rob Murphy, executive director of Advocates for Victims of Assault, said the fund is a critical resource for families and individuals served by his group.

"Among the hundreds and hundreds of households who've turned to the program for support in times of need are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault served by Advocates," he noted.

Joanne Sprouse, director of Summit County Department of Human Services, said the Summit County Cares campaign has been impactful for her agency's mission as well.

"Those who contribute to the Summit County Cares campaign help our working families make ends meet when their income is not able to cover the high costs of living in this area," she said.

In a press release, FIRC said many families are living paycheck to paycheck, with 40 to 60 percent of their income consumed by housing costs, compared to a national average of 30 percent.

"So when a seasonal job ends, hours are cut, a relationship turns abusive or a medical emergency arises — combined with the highest housing rates the county has ever seen — it becomes almost impossible for our neighbors to afford the basic needs," FIRC said in the press release.

Illustrating the effect of community support, FIRC reports that 80 percent of families they assist successfully transition from a crisis state to one of stability.

Overmyer noted the Summit Cares Campaign is a great example of a partnership that works effectively to increase community impact.

"It's amazing how the different organizations collaborate with each other," she said.

Murphy noted his group's reach has been furthered by the campaign and its partnership with FIRC.

"FIRC has been great partner to the Advocates over the years in helping us to help ensure economic justice for victims and their families who would otherwise become, or remain, homeless," he shared.

In many instances clients are over the income threshold for social services, Sprouse noted, but still require a helping hand to meet basic needs.

"The Summit County Cares campaign is a wonderful asset to this community and the people who live here in so many ways," she said.

Overmyer said the number of people needing support in Summit County is much larger than many people realize, and the impact of local human support agencies is directly correlated with funding.

"The more (money) we raise, the more people we can help," she pointed out.

If you want to join in the spirit of giving, in addition to direct donations there will be two upcoming opportunities to support a good cause while having a good time.

Dine In to Donate is this Thursday, Dec. 10. Patrons can take their pick from either Bagalis or the Boat Yard American Grill in Frisco, along with the Blue River Bistro in Breck, because all three will be donating 20 percent of the evening's dinner sales to Summit County Cares.

The Strings & Ivory Concert Fundraiser on Jan. 8, 2016, will provide music lovers an opportunity to support the cause. Tickets are $25, and 100 percent of tickets sold through FIRC will benefit the organization. Call Anita at 970-455-0223 to purchase.

The Lord of the Mountains Church will host the concert featuring 2015 alumni of the National Repertory Orchestra. The violin and piano performances begin at 7 p.m.

Donations for Summit County Cares are being accepted through The Summit Foundation at SummitFoundation.org or checks may be mailed to P.O. Box 4000 Breckenridge, CO 80424.