The Summit Foundation helps people through people
SUMMIT COUNTY – Twenty years ago, The Summit Foundation was organized with three goals in mind.First, it was established as a means to support nonprofit organizations in the community. Second, according to executive director Deb Edwards, the organization was to be a place for part-time residents to connect to their secondary communities. Finally, the organization aimed to serve a broad-based center for people to come together and serve the community.And come together they did. In the past 20 years, since the organization’s inception, it saw increased participation from the community in volunteer time and financial donations. A 20-member board of trustees and 12 advisers volunteer to help support the basic functions of the organization, plus help decide which grant applications will receive funding during the bi-annual granting cycles. To date, The Summit Foundation has granted more than $6 million to hundreds of nonprofit programs in Summit County and surrounding areas.
But aside from the organizational help offered by the board through hundreds of volunteer hours, other people in the community volunteered to support fundraising events like the annual Labor Day Rubber Duck Race. For example, kayakers line the banks of the Blue River to help keep the rubber ducks moving downstream toward the finish line. Locals were even willing to take their clothes off for the organization, when a nude calendar was published last year. Photographer Bob Winsett donated many hours plus his professional expertise to help the foundation. He shot the photographs for the nude calendar, plus provided many other lifestyle photos used on the Web site and in promotional materials that help form the organization’s professional image. Winsett teamed up with Tony Wilson and Alison Grabau of Wilson Lass Creative to produce “Summit Pioneers,” a coffee table book that sold to benefit the foundation.Summit Pioneers was Winsett’s idea. He wanted to memorialize the area’s disappearing ranching community, but felt it would not be appropriate to benefit financially from the project. Proceeds from sales went toward the foundation’s endowment fund, which currently is worth $2.4 million and will ensure the future of the organization.The administrative office of the foundation located on Ridge Street in Breckenridge is staffed by four full-time employees.
Edwards leads the team that includes Judi LaPoint, director of development, Åsa Armstrong, special events and business development director, and administrative assistant Jennifer Bergeron.Armstrong said she receives volunteer help from every corner of the community.At a spring event at Summit High School, she collected 50 signatures from teenagers interested in volunteering. On the other end of the spectrum, local families engage in a friendly competition to host artists who show their work at the annual Mountain Art Gathering every summer.”There’s so much support at all of our events and I just love that,” Armstrong said.A silent group of people and companies give in the form of in-kind donations to support each of the events, Armstrong said. These donations come in the form of brochures, food and wine, advertising and even time from local professionals like electricians who set up special lighting for an event.One major in-kind donor is Wilson-Lass Creative. Co-owner Meg Lass also sits on the organization’s board of directors.
Lass said she enjoys working with The Summit Foundation because it affects so many organizations and people in the community.”The scope of their work is why we’ve chosen The Summit Foundation as our major pro-bono client,” Lass said.”It’s a very energetic, dynamic and outspoken group,” she said. “A lot of ideas are exchanged and I find it gets me out of my little world and broadens my perspective of the county.”Edwards said the organization’s roots are deep and broad in the community. “The success of the organization is made possible because of those that can give their financial resources, certainly,” Edwards said. “But we rely heavily on donations of precious time from community members and also professionals for the expertise it takes to manage a successful community foundation.”Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249 or email@example.com.
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