Vail Valley nonprofit groups forge a new partnership to aid kids |

Vail Valley nonprofit groups forge a new partnership to aid kids

SOS Outreach, My Future Pathways work together

SOS Outreach and My Future Pathways are both dedicated to providing help, guidance and future options to local youth. The two groups forged a partnership this season.
Special to the Daily

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, kids have taken the brunt of the social and emotional damage. A new partnership aims to repair or stave off some of that damage.

The SOS Outreach program for about 25 years has worked to get kids who need help into snowboarding, along with mentoring and other assistance. That group in the past ski season has forged a partnership with My Future Pathways, a more recent Vail Valley organization with many of the same goals.

My Future Pathways director Bratzo Horruitiner said the partnership was forged quickly.

“We work with the same kids, the same demographics with the same need,” Horruitiner. After a first meeting with SOS Outreach Director Seth Ehrlich, “a month later, we were on the mountain,” Horruitiner said.

Other, more bureaucratic organizations could have taken months, or longer, to forge a partnership, Horruitiner said, adding that Erhlich is someone “who cuts the (nonsense).”

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Cutting the nonsense at SOS means the organization was able to run its full complement of programs over the winter.

“Kids needed programming and structure,” Ehrlich said. That’s especially true for kids in SOS outposts outside the Vail Valley. In program areas from Detroit to Seattle, far fewer students have been in classes this school year.

Slowing the slowdown

“You can just see the kids deteriorate” from the lack of connection and structure, Ehrlich said.

While the pandemic’s mental health impacts on kids have been significant, the story’s been different with particpants from Eagle County Schools, which has kept most kids in class through most of this school year.

But turning Wednesdays into teacher work days meant fewer SOS session leaders were available for on- and off-mountain sessions.

The partnership between SOS and My Future Pathways was a natural, Ehrlich said. That included finding kids who might benefit most from SOS programs.

This season’s programs took advantage of My Future Pathways’ access to kids and SOS’s access to mountains.

Without My Future Pathways, this season’s program wouldn’t have happened, Ehrlich said.

Programs through SOS include youngsters through high school and beyond. That’s another area where the connection with My Future Pathways is important.

Horruitiner said that both organizations can help forge better futures for young people, from providing insights into new opportunities to social opportunities for groups inclined toward isolation.

“I’m proud to know people like (Ehrlich), who open doors and provide opportunities,” Horruitiner said.

Hard work pays off

Providing pathways to better futures for youngsters results in some profound success stories.

Horruitiner noted that one of this year’s My Future Pathways and SOS participants has landed a full-ride scholarship to Colorado Mountain College. That student plans to continue at Colorado Mesa University, where another full-ride scholarship awaits, this one from the Guardian Scholars organization.

Another student that’s benefited from a bit more attention came from Honduras less than three years ago. From coming to this country with no English language skills, the student has gone from failing grades to A’s, Horruitiner said.

“Sometimes you have to work double,” Horruitiner said. “That makes (success) more tasty.”

While the partnership with My Future Pathways is the latest, Erhlich said SOS has about 200 partners of all kinds including school districts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs and other agencies reaching out to young people who need a bit of guidance and direction.

“We accelerate those connections … so kids area able to take the next steps,” Ehrlich said.

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