Eagle County nonprofits are participating in statewide philanthropic event

The mission of Starting Hearts is to save the lives of Sudden Cardiac Arrest victims by providing free CPR and AED education along with reducing the time in which emergency medical assistance is received.
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Editor’s note: The Vail Daily is running profiles of local nonprofits that are participating in Colorado Gives Day on Dec. 9. Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. And for the first time ever, it features a $1 million incentive fund created by the partners. Donate online at or schedule your donation in advance.

Starting Hearts

Starting Hearts was formed in 2010, three years after its founder, Lynn Blake, suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in Vail Village on Valentine’s Day. She was an otherwise healthy 27-year-old when her heart stopped without warning. Due to the quick intervention of bystanders, who dialed 911, performed CPR and used an automatic external defibrillator (AED), she became one of the very lucky 8 percent to survive SCA. Now, her calling is to increase the odds for others who are suddenly stricken through the efforts of Starting Hearts.

SCA is the leading cause of unexpected death in Colorado and around the world; the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation estimates close to 360,000 individuals suffer SCA annually — roughly 1,000 per day. But Starting Hearts’ goal is to change these numbers. The mission of Starting Hearts is to save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest victims by providing free CPR and AED education along with reducing the time in which emergency medical assistance is received.

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Starting Hearts has three primary programs: CALL. PUSH. SHOCK. — a free community education program on how to respond to sudden cardiac arrest. This training empowers residents and guests to initiate a rescue by calling 911, perform CPR and locate and operate an AED. Nearest AED is a program focused on increasing AED access throughout Eagle County. Administering an AED within the first three minutes increases the chance of survival to 70 percent. Neighbor Saver is a 911-aided citizen response system that utilizes PulsePoint, a location-aware application that alerts trained and willing citizens when someone nearby is having a cardiac emergency and needs assistance. If you are trained in CPR, then please download the free PulsePoint App on your smartphone, search for “Vail” from the agency list, and check the CPR box. Be a hero!

Visit to learn more about Starting Hearts.

Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation

Swift Eagle Charitable Foundation was founded in 2004 by 19 longtime Eagle County friends. It began in response to a dream of David Haakenson’s, directing him to give back to the community by starting a charitable foundation whose purpose would be to swiftly help those in crisis or hardship in Eagle County. Swift Eagle assists Eagle County residents with personal and living expenses; grants help pay rent, mortgage, utilities, and dental and eye health care costs which aren’t covered by insurance. Swift Eagle’s goal is to bridge the gap created in people’s lives by a crisis and help them maintain or regain self-sufficiency. The organization is still governed by an all-volunteer board of directors, so monies donated go to those who need help rather than to cover salaries or large overhead expenses.

“As a local nonprofit founded by 19 longtime locals, Swift Eagle’s roots go deep and branch out widely throughout this valley we all love,” said Pat Hamilton, one of Swift Eagle’s founders. “As much as it’s important to us to support every aspect of what makes our valley special, our No. 1 priority is its people, those who keep the valley running, who work on the mountain, in the restaurants, behind the wheel, behind the desk, on the ladders, on the rivers, in the schools.”

David Haakenson, founder and president, said, “There is a unique grass roots relationship between Swift Eagle and the people of Eagle County, and when they’re in hardship or crisis, it’s our priority to help them. This is the essence of Swift Eagle.”

For more information on Swift Eagle or to download an application, please go to

The Samaritan Counseling Center

The Samaritan Counseling Center was founded in 1997 and has provided over 20,000 hours of counseling, education and consultation services to the Eagle River Valley and surrounding counties.

The Samaritan Counseling Center works with individuals and families offering mental health care services and education to all who require or request care. We have staffed the Samaritan Counseling Center with therapists who work in all areas of individual therapy, family/marriage counseling, children, adolescents and drug and/or alcohol addiction. We also work with local physicians in order to provide a comprehensive mind/body/spirit approach to care and wellness.

This year, the Samaritan Counseling Center will provide over 2,000 hours of individual counseling to 300 individuals and families. In any given year, up to 85 percent of our clients require some form of client assistance because of financial difficulty. We have recently hired two additional staff therapists, and in 2015, we expect to provide over 4,000 hours of counseling resources to our valley. We also continue to utilize a clinical psychologist on our staff in order to handle a wide range of mental health issues, psychological testing and assessment.

This School Counseling Project is a signature program of the Samaritan Counseling Center. We have partnered with Eagle County Schools to place several of our therapists in every middle school in the district as a resource for the school counselor and the faculty. Our therapists work within the school system to offer counseling to pre-teens and adolescents who are considered high-risk in order to assist them with issues such as depression and anxiety and to assist them in maintaining retention and becoming contributing members to their community.

Please visit our website, at

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