Vail Valley Salvation Army, established in 1983, is an emergency help organization. It provides immediate assistance for immediate needs and works with the client to develop a plan for future self-sufficiency. The group's needs have increased dramatically in the past five years in this challenging economy. It partners with Eagle County Health and Human Services to assist clients that they cannot assist. It helps people keep a roof over their heads, heat in their homes and food in their stomachs, which supports their continued employment and, therefore, helps the local economy. Providing these basics also provides a safety net that contributes to health and the social well-being of residents of Eagle County.
The nonprofit provides emergency shelters for road closures and temporary housing for people in emergency situations. It is a partner in a community plan for pandemic preparedness. The group has a canteen, a commercial kitchen on a four-wheel-drive vehicle that can provide 200 meals per hour to emergency responders (utilized several times since its arrival). It provides durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, shower seats, toilet seat risers, walkers, crutches, etc., at no charge for people who require accommodations. It also coordinate holiday projects, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets and the Adopt-a-Family Program.
The numbers of households coming to the Salvation Army for assistance has increased dramatically, from 1,068 households in 2008 to 5,394 households in 2011. In 2008, there were 357 visits to its food pantries. In 2011, there were 5,410 food pantry visits. The majority of clients are Eagle River Valley residents. It also serves stranded motorists, transients and people who live in Leadville and work in the Eagle River Valley. It serves individuals of all ages. Most of its clients are low-income but may have been quite successful prior to the recession. The group also assists anyone in an emergency situation.
We are proud of the fact that our entire caseload, as well as our other projects and programs, including Adopt-a-Family, Food Baskets, Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program, the canteen and shelters, are all handled with just two full-time staff and everyone else is a volunteer. We have had space donated for our offices and pantries by Trinity Church for more than 20 years. In May 2011, Traer Creek donated a new, larger space for us, and the only increase in operating costs was utilities. We believe that we give a lot of "bang for the buck," as our donations go to provide direct services.