State representatives visit the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, discuss food and housing needs
SILVERTHORNE — The Family & Intercultural Resource Center is experiencing more demand than ever before.
The nonprofit has seen a 28% increase in demand for food security, a 35% increase in demand for economic security and a 25% increase in demand for mental health services, according to information presented at a meeting with the resource center and state legislators on Friday, July 24.
State Rep. Julie McCluskie and the Colorado Competitive Council hosted a meeting at the resource center for four other legislators and business leaders on Friday. At the meeting, Executive Director Brianne Snow spoke about the center’s programs and the community it serves.
“We don’t want to lose our workers,” Snow said. “So we have been a cornerstone in making sure they survive.”
Snow started her presentation by talking about the economic landscape in Summit County. The average wage per job in Summit County is $29,000, which has been brought down to $19,508 during the pandemic, she said. However, a family of four would need to make $90,000 a year to survive.
Snow pointed out that there are no homeless shelters in the county. Programs like the center’s food pantry are necessary to keep people alive.
“We really use this program as a way for people to stretch their budget,” she said. “Winter is just right around the corner for us up here, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure that people can pay their rent.”
Snow also talked about the effect of the novel coronavirus on the nonprofit’s revenue. When Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order, the center closed its thrift stores. Losing revenue from the thrift stores, combined with the impact of the virus, created a $400,000 deficit in the food pantry funding for the year, Snow said.
Snow said she’d like to see the state legislators advocate for more food and housing assistance for people in Colorado.
“We know that it’s going to be really important to meet the basic needs of the clients,” she said in an interview. “We’d like to see some money come out for specifically food and housing assistance.”
McCluskie said that the novel coronavirus pandemic has proven how necessary services like the Family & Intercultural Resource Center are for the people who use it.
“The state needs to do more to support social safety net programs like those housed here at FIRC,” she said. “In this moment of crisis, it is critical that we continue to find those resources so that families can continue to work and thrive in places that they live.”
McCluskie said that in order to help nonprofits like the resource center stay afloat the state’s joint budget committee would need to look at family resource center funding. In the state’s most recent round of budget cuts, the committee reduced funding for resource centers.
“I know that next year as we see an ongoing budget deficit, we’re going to have to revisit decisions around our family resource centers and other safety net programs,” she said. “I certainly will continue to advocate that we maintain funding if not increase funding for these resources.”
State Sen. Tammy Story, who serves Boulder, Denver, Gilpin and Jefferson counties, said that she was impressed by the center’s efforts to provide for the community.
“I’m delighted to see that it’s such a strong effort here in Silverthorne in providing for families that definitely need assistance during this time of the pandemic,” she said. “That warms my heart but it’s disturbing at the same time to see that there’s such a great need.”
Snow said it was great to see the representatives show an interest in the resource center and its services.
“I think it’s great that they understand the importance of supporting the employees in this community as well as the businesses,” she said.
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