Vail Valley nonprofits creating collaboration amid COVID-19 crisis
Local nonprofits Eagle Valley Community Foundation, My Future Pathways seek partners to join early success in Edwards
- For information about collaborating with these efforts and others, go to eaglevalleycf.org, or myfuturepathways.org.
EDWARDS — Fritz Schmidt looked out from his chair in the middle of a space he owns in Edwards and smiled from behind his face mask at the beehive of activity in what was emptiness a few days before.
“I wish you success. Much happiness will happen here,” Schmidt said.
Much happiness already has.
The Community Market, an offshoot of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, opened a satellite location in Edwards in the same center as Fiesta’s Cafe & Cantina and Marko’s Pizzeria. They’re sharing the space with My Future Pathways and any other local nonprofit that wants to office there.
“This is collaborative,” said Ron Davis, the founder of My Future Pathways as well as the Guardian Scholars Program.
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The focus is to help as many people as possible, as often as possible, he said.
“What happens in the future, no one knows except that people will still need help,” Ron Davis said.
The Edwards satellite branch of The Community Market opened on the afternoon of May 2. The nonprofits intentionally did not promote, yet 409 people showed up for food in five hours. Another 365 people came Tuesday, and volunteers expect those numbers to grow.
Schmidt and his wife drove by Saturday. He said they saw so many people that it looked like a run on the bank next door. It wasn’t. It was just people looking for a little help.
“That is a real indicator of need in the Edwards community,” said Susie Davis — no relation to Ron Davis — who is the director of community impact for The Community Market.
The Community Market’s main warehouse is still in Gypsum, but organizers have been looking up the valley for a long time.
“What a wonderful gift. We needed a place central to the valley,” Susie Davis said.
Food distribution takes place with MIRA and other community partners. With the Edwards addition, organizers expect to serve more than 3,500 people per week, Davis said.
“So many people are ‘hungry’ for assistance,” she said.
Speaking of hungry, for Cinco de Mayo, volunteers gave away 200 pounds of carnitas to go with the food boxes. Costco donated the meat. Ron Davis, Bratzo Horruitiner and some others cooked up some magic. People went home happy on May 5.
Horruitiner started the COPA soccer league and has been helping launch youth programs around the valley for years. He has worked with Ron Davis and others to make Guardian Scholars into a force for good. That sparked the idea for My Future Pathways, and the notion that they needed a safe space for kids to gather.
Collaboration in action
Ron and Susie Davis have worked with valley nonprofits for decades. They say the lack of collaboration and COVID-19 are big problems. Big problems sometimes create big opportunities, Ron Davis said.
“We founded My Future Pathways to identify community needs and bring people together to serve. COVID-19 made this vision a reality in this time of great need. What an opportunity to make things happen.” Ron Davis said.
Eagle Valley Behavioral Health is collaborating with My Future Pathways to support the mental health, social and emotional support of the valley’s youth, said Michelle Dibos with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health.
Along with The Community Market, the space will be used for a youth community center equipped with exercise equipment, ping-pong and pool tables donated by Maximum Comfort and other gear. Mostly, though, it’s a safe space for young people to gather, Horruitiner said.
Schmidt said he’s a living example of the American Dream. The dream still lives and he said he’s happy to do what he can to help people embrace it.
“It’s a great country. I’m glad to be here,” he said.
Schmidt grew up in post-war Germany and vividly remembers standing in line for a bowl of rice and potatoes. When he immigrated from Germany to the United States in 1960, he spoke no English, he said.
He caught a break working as a Porsche mechanic and was soon helping open dealerships around North and South America. He became fluent in both Spanish and English, made his way to the Vail Valley and is a successful real estate developer. He is not charging rent for the Edwards space, but the nonprofits do have to pay their own utilities.