Vail Daily column: SOS Outreach builds character in underserved youth
My Echo Story
Vail, CO Colorado
Editor’s note: This column, submitted by Vail Resorts, showcases the nonprofits that the company supports through its Vail Resorts Echo program.
Many locals have heard of the youth development nonprofit SOS Outreach, or seen its kids on the mountain, but few people understand the depth of SOS programs. Since its inception in 1993, SOS has advanced considerably. Not only does the organization get underserved youth outdoors and involved in adventure sports, but SOS also focuses on character development and instilling leadership skills in youth.
SOS is unique in that it builds character by utilizing summer/winter sports to integrate the SOS core values – courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom and compassion. These values serve as a foundation for all SOS programs where students also work with an adult mentor, complete service projects and attend leadership workshops.
Youth participating in SOS are often underserved in that they come from low-income families, single-parent households, may be involved in the court system or are demonstrating poor academic achievement. During the 2011 fiscal year, SOS served 4,888 participants through its programs in 15 states and New Zealand and at 45 resorts. It anticipates serving similar numbers during 2012.
SOS receives much of its support from participating resorts who supply passes and instructors to participants. Vail Resorts Echo in particular has been a long-time donor.
“We are very lucky to have such a great supporter on our team,” said SOS Executive Director Arn Menconi. “Without Vail Resorts Echo, SOS programs would not be possible.”
This winter, 2,421 of SOS’s youth will be participating in programs at a Vail Resorts’ mountain.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one aspect of SOS that has made the most difference – I’ve been involved for so long and they’ve done so much,” said Paco Holguin, a 17-year-old Eagle resident who has been involved with SOS for eight years. “From the character-enhancing workshops to the wilderness trips and snow sports, I’ve learned so much.”
Nicole Fava is development manager for SOS Outreach. Through Vail Resorts Echo, Vail Resorts hopes to connect its communities to its efforts – from on the ground conservation programs to grants for local schools. Aimed at both protecting the natural resources that surround the resorts and helping build stronger communities where its employees live and work, Vail Resorts Echo encompasses three core efforts: environmental stewardship, charitable giving and community engagement. Learn more at http://www.vailresortsecho.com