Vail chapel fundraising campaign receives a $1 million donation
Betsy and George Wiegers are longtime residents, philanthropists
Raising money for good causes comes with a good bit of waiting, nervousness and moments of exhilaration. The campaign for the Vail Interfaith Chapel recently had one of those exhilarating moments.
The committee running the chapel’s current $10 million fundraising campaign announced this week that longtime residents Betsy and George Wiegers had given a $1 million gift to the campaign.
“This is huge. This one donation is 10% of our goal,” said Rev. Tim Wilbanks, who is the president of the chapel’s board of directors.
Rev. Carl Walker, a member of the chapel’s fundraising committee, said he was “overwhelmed” by the donation. “Now we’re on our way,” he added.
The Weigers’ donation brings the total amount raised so far to $2.1 million.
In a statement, Betsy Wiegers said the donation was to aid a community institution.
“As a focal point of the community and an important piece of our history, the Vail Interfaith Chapel is Vail’s heart and soul,” Wiegers said. “It is not only our faith center but our community center, serving thousands every year who need mental health support services, food, and emergency shelter. George and I want to ensure that it remains in place for generations to come.”
Giving inspires giving
That large donation might also be the inspiration for more giving.
“We all know this is a very legitimate, worthy cause, but many people will say ‘It’s not legitimate until you get to Point X,’” Wilbanks said. “We got close to ‘Point X’ in one day.”
Betsy and George Weigers have a long history of philanthropy in the Vail Valley and elsewhere.
The Vail Valley Foundation named the Wiegers that organization’s 2019 Citizens of the Year.
In an email, Vail Valley Foundation President Mike Imhof wrote:
“Over several decades now, the generosity of spirit, volunteerism and transformative philanthropy of Betsy and George Wiegers has lifted up so many nonprofit organizations and causes, and elevated the quality of life for all who live, work or visit our beautiful valley. This is one of many reasons why Betsy and George, both together and at times recognized separately, have been honored by many over the years for their support. Their recent and very generous gift to the Vail Chapel project is a further testament to their philanthropic leadership and dedication to this community.”
‘Leadership in philanthropy’
Betsy Wiegers is a longtime patron of the Bravo! Vail Music Festival.
Festival director Caitlin Murray called the Wiegers “incredible philanthropists,” both in the Vail Valley and elsewhere. Murray noted that Betsy Wiegers was instrumental in bringing the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras to the Vail Valley. She’s also been involved in Bravo’s educational and enrichment programs.
The donation to the chapel campaign is “what leadership in philanthropy looks like,” Murray said.
A significant donation early in a campaign “raises its profile, and inspires others to participate,” Murray said. The Wiegers have done that “time and time again” for nonprofits in the valley, she added.
Wilbanks said there’s no strict timeline for the chapel’s campaign, although the committee would like fundraising to be complete this year or in 2022.
But construction on the chapel’s parking lot and roof is set to start April 5. The roof is the top priority. The old shake shingle roof can’t even be repaired now, Wilbanks said. He added that in 2012 or so, the chapel’s directors were told by the company that had long cared for the roof that simply walking on the roof would cause more damage than could be repaired.
Wilbanks said the Wiegers’ donation means that work will start on schedule, “full speed ahead,” on April 5.
The Vail Interfaith Chapel’s current capital campaign has a goal of $10 million for projects including:
A new roof.
Resurfacing the parking lot.
Replacing the heating and ventilation system.
Create a reserve for future needs.
Learn more at http://www.vailchapel.com.