Summit County and local groups rally to provide food and essential services to those affected by shutdown
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to corrected the Dillon Community Church food bank hours.
DILLON — As businesses continue to shut down throughout the area, county departments, towns and nonprofits are stepping up to lend support to those individuals most vulnerable to the new coronavirus, and others who aren’t able to access necessary goods and services.
The number of individuals in need is significant. Those deemed most at-risk to severe illness from COVID-19 are adults over 60 years old and individuals with serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
In addition to individuals with health conditions, there are about 5,500 seniors in the community, of which at least 50 are considered particularly vulnerable due to physical impairments, a lack of family in the area and other factors, according to Lorie Williams, manager of the Summit County Community and Senior Center.
While some members of the senior community consider themselves more at risk than others, there seems to be a clear drive throughout the population to look after one another and make sure needs are being met.
Andy Searls, 83, is president of Staying in Summit, a local group dedicated to the development of senior housing and care communities in the area. She said she didn’t consider herself in the at-risk population because of her overall good health. Still, she noted there is a need to keep in touch with others in the community.
“I’m concerned,” Searls said. “But I don’t consider myself higher risk. … I do try and keep in touch with people just to check in and see if they need anything, and if they’re OK. It can be lonely for people living in their apartment without any contact with the outside world. … Everyone I’ve talked to within the last few days seems to be in good health and seems to be fine. People are frustrated, but that’s the name of the game.”
Diane Luellen, 74, who founded the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council, said she’s squarely in the middle of the vulnerable population, noting not only her age but also a history of blood and heart conditions.
“I’m staying close to home, reading, sorting closets and having meetings by Zoom,” Luellen said. “I’m fortunate to live in a comfortable home, and getting groceries isn’t a problem. But I’m very concerned about people who can’t do that, who don’t have a comfortable place to be, or who don’t have friends and family nearby. … But the community is responding beautifully. People are reaching out to one another. I don’t see a big level of concern. Though I do hear people saying they’ll be following the advice of health officials.”
While most of the older population and others considered more vulnerable continue to take extra precautions against the disease, county officials and their partners are making efforts to expand available resources to support them.
Earlier this week, the county announced a pair of hotline numbers for at-risk individuals — including those whose financial situation has deteriorated over the past week — to call to get help with food, medication and other services.
“What we’re really working on right now is food and security,” said Joanne Sprouse, the county’s human services director. “People can’t get food because they can’t get on the bus, or maybe they’ve run out of funds. We’re trying to focus mostly on our most at-risk and vulnerable, but vulnerable can mean that you are no longer working, and you’re in a desperate situation.”
The numbers (970-668-2940 or 970-668-2942) will connect community members with the human services department, which will facilitate the pick-up and drop-off of prescription medications or ensure people can get food deliveries to their doors if they’re in quarantine or can’t leave for other reasons.
For food deliveries, individuals can receive either a “blizzard box” — which includes prepared breakfast, lunch and dinner for two people — or fresh meals prepared daily. Meals will be picked up and delivered by town staff and volunteers to avoid any centralized pickup locations, and left outside of doors to reduce physical contact.
- @TheSummitFoundation on Venmo
- Mention “Summit County Cares” or “SCC” when making a donation
- Family & Intercultural Resource Center: 970-262-3888
- Summit Community and Senior Center: 970-668-2940
- Dillon Community Church: 970-468-2461
- Father Dyer United Methodist Church: 970-453-2250
Williams said the county would be able to prepare about 100 meals a day. And other community organizations are stepping in to help out, as well. Sprouse said a number of groups already have begun lending help, including the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, The Summit Foundation, Northwest Colorado Center for Independence, Red Cross, the local Elks Lodge and Rotary Club, Vail Resorts, numerous faith organizations and more.
“Everyone is rising to the occasion to take care of the folks in Summit County,” Sprouse said. “I’m impressed with the outpouring of support we’ve had. … We know as the days go on it will get worse. We’re looking at what we need daily.”
On Wednesday, The Summit Foundation released on its website a list of additional resources available to community members. Though, just days into the closure, those resources are already being pushed to meet demand.
“We’ve had as many people in a week as we usually see in a month,” Family & Intercultural Center Resource Executive Director Brianne Snow said about the group’s food pantry. “We’re trying to be responsive to what the needs will be. … The next month or two are pretty uncertain for families. All we’re trying to do is create a steady stream of information that is facts based and not rooted in fear so that people feel supported. That’s important in a time of uncertainty, just to know that there is someone you can pick up a phone and call to get information.”
As nonprofits, governments and other community partners continue efforts to mitigate the effects of shutdowns, Coloradans are being asked to help where they can. On Wednesday, Gov. Jared Polis announced the launch of HelpColoradoNow.org, a central hub for residents to find volunteer opportunities, make financial contributions for relief efforts, and donate blood, supplies and more.
Residents also can reach out locally to see how they can lend a hand.
“If people do have extra time on their hands, they can call the (Community and Senior Center) and get on our volunteer list,” Williams said. “The volunteer list is growing, but when we get super busy, we’re going to need help getting these meals out. We’re going to need help building more blizzard boxes.”
Food drive-through and delivery
- Family and Intercultural Resource Center
- Breckenridge: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays
- Silverthorne: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Father Dyer United Methodist Church: 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Dillon Community Church: 4:30-5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:30-2:30 p.m. Fridays
- Smart Bellies: bags for students in need
- Dillon Valley Elementary: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays
- Summit High School: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays
- Summit County Community and Senior Center: 970-668-2940
- Meals on Wheels: Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Delivery of food boxes containing 1-2 meals
- Available to help with delivery of medication, groceries and meals
- Food Bank of the Rockies: Mobile food pantry at 10 a.m. March 26 at the Frisco Bus Barn
- Father Dyer United Methodist Church: prepackaged meals Sunday evenings
- The Rotary Club of Summit County: prepackaged meals Tuesday evenings
- Church at Agape Outpost:
- Meals and shower/laundry service: 1-4 p.m., Mondays
- Additional hours by appointment: 970-453-1247 ext. 101
- Summit School District: Boxed meals for students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at Dillon Valley Elementary and Summit High School. (No meals March 20-23.)
Cash and food assistance
- SNAP enrollment:
- Family & Intercultural Resource Center: 970-262-3888
- Summit County Human Services: 970-668-9160
- WIC enrollment
- English: 970-668-9199
- Spanish: 970-668-9701
Mental health and recovery
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