Vail Valley Spotlight: Salvation Army |

Vail Valley Spotlight: Salvation Army

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyNicole Greener and Nate Hammer ring bells for the Salvation Army last Christmas in front of Wal-Mart in Avon, Colorado

Organization name: Vail Valley Salvation Army

Community Caseworker/Director: Tsu Wolin-Brown

Location: The Cabin, 0090 Lariat Loop, Edwards

Phone number: (970) 926-3704

Web address:

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Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Years in business: 25

What is the organization’s mission and who benefits from its work?

Mission Statement: The Vail Valley Service Extension Unit of the Salvation Army provides emergency services and strives to meet human needs, in an effort to promote self-sufficiency.

Vail Valley Salvation Army Services:

– Emergency Transportation: We provide emergency transportation in the form of gasoline, bus tickets and minor auto repairs.

– Food Pantry: We provide food, diapers and household necessities such as toilet paper at our main Edwards food pantry year round. We partner with United Methodist Church in Eagle and the Vail Interfaith Chapel in Vail to stock pantries in both of these locations. We also give out $10 or $15 gift cards with food to purchase perishables.

– Prescriptions: We assist with medications when there are no other resources in emergencies.

– Utilities: We help with emergency utility needs in the form of wood and propane, and by helping with bills and deposits.

– Rent: We help local individuals and families with emergency rent and deposits.

– Transient Help: In the form of food, short-term lodging, emergency transportation and help with minor auto repairs.

– Local Families: We provide help for local families who have experienced some type of an emergency and are in need of food, shelter, clothing, medication, household items (pots, pans, bedding and furniture) and minor repairs to the house or vehicle.

– Seniors: We help seniors with food, medications, utilities, eyeglasses and hearing aids, and we sponsor seniors for summer camp.

– Holiday Food Baskets: Our service unit provides holiday food baskets during the holidays ” 370 for Thanksgiving in 2007; 496 for Christmas 2007; more than 427 for Thanksgiving 2008, and 529 for Christmas 2008.

– Adopt-A-Family: We match donors with low-income families to provide food, clothing, household needs and holiday gifts ” 341 in 2007 and more than 350 in 2008.

– Law Enforcement Programs: Our service unit provides bus tickets, gasoline vouchers and food vouchers to various law enforcement agencies throughout the valley to help people who contact them with emergency transportation needs. We also work with the various public safety agencies when they have clients with emergency needs due to domestic violence or other situations.

– Emergency shelters: We provide emergency shelters for road closures and temporary housing for people in emergency situations.

– Canteen: We have a new commercial kitchen on a 4-wheel-drive vehicle that can provide 200 meals per hour to emergency responders. This has been called out several times since its arrival in April 2008.

– Durable Medical Equipment Loan Program: We provide durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, shower seats, toilet seat risers, walkers, crutches and more at no charge for people who require accommodations.

The Vail Valley Salvation Army helps people from diverse cultures to have shelter, food, utilities and limited medical and prescription resources. We support people in the work force so they can continue to work, and we provide resources for the unemployed so they can work and be self-sufficient.

Our caseload went from 716 cases in 2007 to 995 in 2008.

Our target population includes low income families, as well as anyone in an emergency situation. Most of the individuals and families we help either live here or are passing through the valley, but we have also helped people in the Roaring Fork Valley and in both Lake and Summit Counties on a case-by-case basis.

Other community agencies referred 277 cases to us in 2008, and we referred 135 cases to other community agencies. There were 90 families for whom we paid rent, and visits to our food pantry were up from 249 in 2007 to 357 in 2008.

We collaborate closely with Health and Human Services, Catholic charities, Eagle Care Clinic, Vail Valley Charitable Fund, Eagle Valley Family Assistance Fund, Early Head Start, public safety entities, local churches and the Bright Future Foundation, to name our major partners.

A huge issue that we have been facing is the enormous increase in individuals and families served, especially during the recession, with many clients losing their jobs or having fewer hours at work.

Where does your funding come from?

Bell-ringing is our largest fundraiser, followed by individual donations, our Red Kettle Golf Tournament in June and grants from Eagle County, Energy Outreach Colorado, El Pomar Foundation, Anschutz Foundation, United Way of Eagle River Valley and Cordillera Motorcycle Association. We also receive many in-kind donations, such as food cards and food from Moses Gonzales’s “Make a Difference Day,” and other food, coat and toy drives.

How many staff members work for you?

Tsu Wolin-Brown and Tami Figueroa, a part-time caseworker. The only way we can function with so little staff is because of this generous community ” we utilize thousands of volunteers each year.

Anything else you’d like the community to know about the organization?

We truly operate on a shoestring. Our office and pantry space is donated by Trinity Church and we operate with only one and a half staff members. We rely on the community for food, volunteers and for partnerships to accomplish our goals of serving others.

Contact Community Editor Lauren Glendenning at 970-748-2983 or

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