Closing the ‘opportunity gap’ |

Closing the ‘opportunity gap’

Carolyn Pope

EAGLE COUNTY – Silent auctions are a mainstay in the fundraising world. It’s a rarity to enter an event and not find the tables overflowing with items from around town. In general, silent auctions, if managed well, can bring in anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 and more. There’s a lot of legwork involved, followed by the logistics and the end of evening fiascoes, oftentimes involving long lines, jammed credit card machines, and items occasionally being handed out to the wrong bidder. The Youth Foundation was the first in the Vail Valley (as far as I know) to utilize modern technology to streamline the process with last year’s “KidBid” on-line auction.Colorado Mountain News Media’s Bob Brown thought the idea had legs and gave them a hand by offering the Vail Daily’s resources to advertise the sale. Now on for its second year, the auction has increased in size, offering a variety of items and happenings to appeal to most everyone.On Nov. 3, a kick off party was held at Chef’s Corner in Cordillera for some brainstorming and excitement building. “We have a new improved auction system,” said Jean Graham, one of the members of the foundation’s board of directors. “It’s very high tech,” added Don Cohen. “It’s easy to use and links easily for end users, making it easy to bid or to donate an item.” Fundraising veterans Terry Cohen and Terry Benedickt are organizing the event. The “Power Terries” have gathered an exceptional selection of items online, including dinner for eight in your home by the French Press; gift certificates for Juniper, Rocks Modern Grill, The Saloon, La Tour and more; a $500 gift certificates from Karats Jewelers; yoga classes; and a breakfast for 20 people at Chef’s Corner. Scholastic soccerThe Youth Foundation was founded in 1997 by Mark Smith, who saw an emerging problem. In the shadow of the dazzling growth of the Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts, a new community of service workers had been growing in the area. These hard-working families, living paycheck to paycheck, were finding employment in lower paying jobs, the kind of jobs that resort guests and vacationers never saw but were critical to keeping the local economy moving. Although there was an “opportunity gap” between the community’s families, Smith saw the potential to close the education gulf. That’s why The Youth Foundation was created – to help extend educational opportunities to lower income youth. Kathy Brendza was the executive director until 2005 and Susie Davis now runs the organization along with some fabulous staff members.The founders knew that just throwing money at a problem would not be an effective solution. The original design and mission they had for The Youth Foundation continues today through a combination of custom programs and services, funding support for related youth programs, and direct scholarships. The goal is to jump in to keep kids from “falling through the cracks,” and to lift them up through education, sports and opportunities for character development. They offer “a hand up,” not a handout.”The Youth Foundation scholastic soccer gives boys an opportunity to stay after school, get work done and play a game they love,” said Vail Mountain School headmaster Peter Abuisi, a board member. “Sports provide a great opportunity for character development.””From a business standpoint,” added development director Tricia Leimbach, “it is the premier nonprofit to take care of the kids with after-school programs for under-served kids,”Kid Bid will be advertised in the Vail Daily for nine days with all of the available packages. The purpose is to involve younger people to get on the Web and bid. The auction runs from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9. ==========================================Heard at high altitude”Kids are digital natives, older kids are digital immigrants, but we grownups are digital dinosaurs.”==========================================On the social radar: The Black Diamond Ball, a gala for the Vail Valley Foundation, is Dec. 2. Tickets can be purchased by calling the foundation office at 949-1999.==========================================Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism