Summit County nonprofits recognized for youth programs and customer service
DILLON — Nonprofits have given Summit County residents a huge helping hand during the pandemic. So as part of its summer service awards, One Breckenridge recognized nonprofit employees.
Megan Lancaster-Cavallo, a former employee at the Family & Intercultural Resource Center’s thrift store, was nominated for an award for being “extremely friendly and personable.”
During the virtual awards ceremony for the service champions, Bill Wishowski — director of operations at the Breckenridge Tourism Office, which runs One Breckenridge — said that while a nomination like this might seem simple, it serves as a reminder that everyday kindness can go a long way.
“The theme with this round was that simple, little things are making big differences in people’s lives that they’re able to go in and write to us, so I think that’s our message today is don’t forget those little things as we’re taking care of our visitors,” Wishowski said.
As an employee at the thrift store, Lancaster-Cavallo said she felt she was able to make a difference and work on her customer service skills. One way she said working at the thrift store was different than a traditional retail store was that she was able to work with people who needed support on pricing.
She said she worked for the thrift store after high school before starting her current job at the Young Men’s Christian Association. During high school, she worked for another nonprofit called Girls on the Run.
“I’ve always known that career-wise I needed to make a difference,” Lancaster-Cavallo said. “It wasn’t just about making that next paycheck, and for me, my passion is working with kids, which is why I was with Girls on the Run and then now with the YMCA, but anywhere I can see a difference and help in the community is more of a job for me.”
- Chanel Jaramillo, Blue River Bistro
- Ginger Perez, Downstairs at Eric’s
- Megan Lancaster-Cavallo, Family & Intercultural Resource Center
- Building Hope Summit County
- Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center
- Majai Bailey, Breckenridge Tourism Office
- The Lodge at Breckenridge
- Ski Country Resorts
Building Hope Summit County and the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center also were recognized during the awards ceremony for their work on The Hype program, which is a free youth connection program featuring small group recreational day activities. Wishowski nominated the two nonprofits after seeing an article in the Summit Daily News.
“This one hit home to me,” Wishowski said. “As soon as I read it, I knew I had to do a nomination because I’ve worked with high school athletes for the past three years over in South Park coaching basketball and baseball, and I understand and respect how much we need to be able to keep these kids involved.”
Jaime Overmyer, wilderness program director at the outdoor education center, said the program came out of necessity amid the pandemic. The center wanted to serve people in need, and it identified local teenagers.
The Hype program takes place once a week and allows small groups of youths ages 12-20 to participate in activities like ropes courses, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Overmyer said the program caters to the problem of isolation and is structured as a hangout session for teenagers rather than a rigidly structured program.
“We really wanted to give an opportunity for these folks to get together, to get out of their house,” Overmyer said. “… The real heart behind it was indeed just that — just getting you outside, having fun, talking to your peers and not talking to necessarily adults and having that very structured (setup) where you might have in school or you might have in therapy.”
Building Hope’s Youth Program Coordinator Carol Craig said the partnership has worked well because the outdoor education center has resources and systems in place, such as trained staff and equipment. She explained that the program emerged when Building Hope was given a grant to create a program to connect young people.
“We saw that in-person connection is really critical, especially for our youth in our community,” Craig said.
This piece of youth connection, Craig said, was particularly important to Building Hope after the community lost two young people to suicide this spring. According to Craig, the goals of the program were to give teenagers the opportunity to connect with one another on a different level by doing something active or creative together as well as to connect participants in a way that emphasizes emotions. For example, Craig said this could be a person’s heart racing when they’re on a ropes course or taking in the surrounding beauty while on a stand-up paddleboard.
Craig said some programs included a discussion where participants would be asked how an activity made them feel or what they might have done differently if given the chance to help participants understand how they feel in different situations.
“It’s really just getting in touch with yourself,” Craig said. “That would be a primary goal, having them get in touch with themselves and with other people, connecting with other people in addition to maybe meeting some new people and maybe making some new friends.”
Craig said the program has strived to fill the void of after-school activities, and she recalled an art class where a young man told her afterward that he was appreciative of the program and that he loves to create and was excited to try something new.
The nonprofits aim to continue The Hype program weekly as long as there is adequate funding, Craig said, and to continue outdoor activities into the winter. Upcoming events in October include an introduction to navigation with maps and compasses as well as a trail running clinic.
Those interested can sign up at BuildingHopeSummit.org/events.
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