Habitat gets helping hand from Vail Resorts | VailDaily.com

Habitat gets helping hand from Vail Resorts

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyCal Wettstein, a construction committtee member for Habitat for Humanity, center, and Mack Nichols, a past chairman for Habitat for Humanity, right, hand a door up to Tom Miller, Vail Resorts Development Company's director of development, right, for him to install in one of two Habitat homes that Vail Resorts employees volunteered to help build Thursday in Edwards.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” Vail Resorts employees are putting in hours of sweat to help Habitat for Humanity finish its Fox Hollow project in Edwards, Colorado as part of the new partnership between the two.

Vail Resorts kicked off a new program, the 360 Charitable Giving Program, with a focus on giving back to the community and the environment in the communities where it has resorts.

The program is pairing up with several Eagle County nonprofits, but Habitat for Humanity is one of its primary focuses this year, said Nicky DeFord, spokeswoman for Vail Resorts.

The company launched the program after looking at its charitable giving and finding it had been “kind of a hodgepodge,” DeFord said.

“We wanted this to be more strategic,” she said.

Since Vail Resorts moved its corporate headquarters to Broomfield in 2006, Vail locals have criticized the company for being too disconnected from Vail. DeFord said the increased partnerships with local nonprofits ” she guessed the company is working with as many as 100 Eagle County nonprofits in some capacity ” would make the company more visible in the community.

Vail Resorts gave Habitat for Humanity a grant to help with the Fox Hollow project, primarily with the green building aspect of the project. DeFord said the company wouldn’t disclose the amount.

Vail Resorts is committed to the environment and green building, said Keith Fernandez, president of Vail Resorts Development Company. The Fox Hollow project is Habitat’s first project in the state going for LEED certification, a national green building standard.

Vail Resorts has several projects underway that are going for or have already met LEED certification, Fernandez said. Lending that expertise to Habitat is something the company is excited about, he said.

John Welaj, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties, is thrilled to have it. Welaj said that Vail Resorts is now its primary green building partner.

“It’s such a complimentary relationship,” he said. “We look at this as a long lasting partnership.”

There’s a one-year agreement between the company and Habitat for now, but both are thinking of ways to coordinate on future projects, said Elyse Howard, spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity.

Howard thinks one way the two could pair up again is when RockResorts, Vail Resorts’ hotel company, does remodels and upgrades in local hotels – Habitat’s Home Outlet store in Gypsum could get some of the old furniture. That would be a natural follow-up to the green building partnership with Fox Hollow, she said, because Vail Resorts would be recycling its furniture and keeping it here in the community.

As for the green building support at Fox Hollow, Fernandez said they’re keeping it economical. Many people don’t realize sustainable building can be done for a lot less money than just a few years ago, he said.

Vail Resorts has been bouncing around some tag phrases to represent the new 360 program, DeFord said.

“Lift shacks to lodges” is seeming to stick.

“We’re thinking about 10 years down the road, what will this valley look like,” she said. “We’re really trying to be more visible.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com

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