SOS Outreach receives $100k donation for Eagle County programs |

SOS Outreach receives $100k donation for Eagle County programs

Eagle County youth take a field trip to Aspen with SOS Outreach to learn about different careers on the mountain.
SOS Outreach/Courtesy photo

Eagle County SOS programs recently received a huge boost of momentum through a generous donation of $100,000 from longtime SOS supporters and youth advocates Polly and Mark Lestikow, owners of Closet Factory based in Denver, and their family.

“Most people outside the SOS family think that we just help kids get up on the mountain and outdoors for fun,” Polly Lestikow said. “But, this program is really about helping children create their own value system, learn how to set goals and make a game plan to reach them.”

As community members, the Lestikows have been involved with SOS Outreach nearly since its inception.

“We’ve been involved with SOS for almost it’s entire history,” reminisces Lestikow. With what started as simply attending a road bike ride fundraiser in Beaver Creek, Lestikow soon found herself diving in headfirst to SOS Outreach.

At the suggestion of her future daughter in law and SOS mentor, Polly Lestikow volunteered her time and Closet Factory’s expertise to help organize gear in the original Avon office. She and Closet Factory went on to organize the Denver SOS facility and eventually organized the huge storage space in the Edwards headquarters.

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“These opportunities to help out were right up our alley — we love to bring order to chaos to make people’s lives easier and more efficient. I’m impressed to see how this simple outdoor program has grown to provide so many opportunities for growth in children in our mountain communities,” she said.

Lestikow’s hope with this contribution is to, of course, support SOS youth. However additionally, she hopes that her gift will inspire others to consider how they can make an impact in their community. Lestikow seeks to drive home that there’s more to giving than just dollars and cents. She advocates for those who have the means to donate their time and find ways to become involved in their community.

Since 1993, SOS Outreach has been bridging opportunity and transforming young lives in Eagle County. This winter season is no different. With SOS programs in full-swing, over 480 kids across the valley are being engaged through a unique curriculum that uses powerful outdoor experiences to develop key leadership skills and equip youth for life.

In its 28 years of operation, SOS Outreach has been improving and refining it’s programs to ensure that it’s curriculum is as impactful as possible for the youth who need it most. These gains can be seen through the enthusiasm and dedication of SOS Program Managers, the emphasis toward developing tangible life and career skills for youth, and the new addition of the SOS Alumni Network and Career Development Pipeline — a post-graduation program that keeps SOS participants connected and provides job opportunities and resources. While not always at the forefront, it’s no secret that these program progressions could not exist if not for the tremendous community support of SOS’s impact.

Community support, no matter how large or small, remains to be absolutely significant to the success of SOS of youth. The trickle down impact can be seen every day when SOS participants are hitting the slopes, engaging their community through service, or taking steps toward their future goals. “My favorite part about SOS is being able to pass down my love of snowboarding to younger kids and getting them pumped on all things SOS,” SOS junior mentor and high school student Armando Fuentes said. “Hopefully, when they grow up, they’ll be inspired to become junior mentors and the cycle continues.”

There’s real power in this; gifts like the Lestikow’s and that of many others ultimately empowers kids like Armando to grow and develop through SOS. These same kids, in turn, pass on their love of the mountains and skills learned to the next generation of SOS youth. “Snowboarding is just the hook to get kids involved,” Lestikow said. “They don’t realize that the community they build and that the experiences and lessons learned through the program will last a lifetime.”

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