Walking Our Faith: Nonprofit provides free supplies for Summit County’s children in need | SummitDaily.com

Walking Our Faith: Nonprofit provides free supplies for Summit County’s children in need

Living in Summit County is a blessing. Our mountains attract people from around the nation to enjoy skiing, hiking and biking. You’ll often find drivers raising a palm in greeting because we are a friendly community. As I begin my seventh year as a full-time resident of Breckenridge, there is nowhere else I’d rather live.

You quickly discover that Summit County is a giving community and volunteerism is infectious. For those who relocate to Summit, I’ll bet that within a year of their arrival, they’ll find a group of like-minded people and a cause to serve, from trail maintenance to community gardens to providing food for kids in need.

This column is called Walking Our Faith because I believe there is no better expression of our love for God than when we carry it into our communities, loving our neighbors as God has loved us. One way we do that is by helping local charities with financial assistance and volunteering our time and talents.

Through this holiday season, I am featuring local charities that need our help. If your organization would like to be featured here, please send me an email.

This week’s Q-and-A is with Carol Furrer of Casa Gabriel in Silverthorne. The nonprofit is doing important work to help our most vulnerable population: children under 5 years of age.

Q. What is the mission and what services are provided?

Casa Gabriel is part of Catholic Charities of Denver’s Marisol Family. Our mission is to provide material assistance and support to families with young children in our mountain communities who are in need. Our ministry offers these services free of charge without regard to religion, immigration status or financial need.

Q. Who do you help in our community?

Our clients are families (including single moms) with children newborn to 5 years of age. We supply diapers, wipes, formula, blankets and other smaller support items. Imagine you are underemployed earning minimum wage. You have a 2-year-old and a newborn. You will spend $4,320 a year on diapers and formula alone. What about blankets, crib supplies, winter or summer clothing, and bottles? It can take an enormous bite out of a minimum-wage income. This is why Casa Gabriel exists. We are now giving out over 2,300 diapers a month.

When a client comes to us, we ask “Have you been here before?” “How can we help?” “What do you need?” Our 24 volunteers (some bilingual) provide compassionate listening, referrals to other community agencies, conversation and encourage clients to visit safely. For data purposes only, we ask for the mother’s name, address, phone number and names of the children.

Q. How has the work changed over the past year?

COVID-19 impacted our services especially for the time we were closed. Since reopening after 4 1/2 months, we are seeing a steady increase in clients, especially in the immigrant community. We require mask-wearing and comply with other COVID-19 rules to limit the number of clients in our reception area. However, we never turn away those with children in our age ranges who need our help.

Q. How has your personal walk of faith been impacted by your work?

Walking in faith, we support all those who choose to give life to their child and value the dignity of every human life. We offer support knowing the challenges they face and that food stamps won’t always cover the cost of diapers and formula and the services or materials available through Women, Infants and Children or the Family & Intercultural Resource Center are not always readily available. We are the only ministry in the county that regularly focuses to provide this free support.

Q. What does Casa Gabriel need to continue to assist young parents?

Currently, we reside two days a week (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays and 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays) in the real estate offices on Colorado Highway 9 and Fifth Street in Silverthorne. However, this property is slated for demolition in the spring as part of the Fourth Street North development. Once again, we will become nomads for the third time in 18-plus months.

Anyone with property or who knows of space that could house our ministry can contact our office at 720-584-0299 on Mondays or Wednesdays. Our goal is to have a building constructed on the grounds of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Silverthorne.

Q. How can readers get involved?

We can accept donations of toddler clothing, shoes, Enfamil formula or cash to purchase other needed items. We invite anyone to visit on Wednesdays. We seek volunteers who are bilingual, though that is not a requirement. We would love to have you share our services with anyone who may need our assistance. You can contact our office at 720-584-0299 on Mondays or Wednesdays, or talk to any of our volunteers.

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