Vail Daily column: 20 years of helping neighbors
Once a month, for the past 20 years, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund meets to evaluate medical misfortune. If this sounds a bit grim, then you’re right. We see lots of sad circumstances that befall lots of good people. It’s humbling work and never easy. Sometimes, our meetings are emotionally contentious as we search for solutions, not always having the right answer or enough hope for the Vail Valley residents we serve.
For those not familiar with our mission, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund provides financial assistance to locals who suffer a medical crisis. During the past 20 years, we’ve helped more than 1,800 families with grants that typically range from $1,000 to $5,000. This money is offered as an encouraging “hand-up” to the injured neighbor down the street, the hospitalized grocery clerk, the kid with cancer, fathers too ill to keep a job and mothers that die. By alleviating the financial burden that often accompanies a serious illness, we provide a moment of repose and a time to heal.
But the need never stops. This month, the Vail Valley Charitable Fund received 10 new applications, each a unique story with many factors to consider. Our docket this month includes a spinal-cord injury from a bike crash resulting in paralysis and artificial respiration; a mom with a kidney infection who can no longer care of her handicapped child; a 30-year old with a brain tumor; a bipolar heart attack victim; an elderly couple about to lose their house because they can’t work due to his liver cancer and her orthopedic surgeries. This list goes on, month after month, year after year.
To help us evaluate each application, our board of directors consists of several professionals: a doctor to review medical records, a banker to appraise finances, an insurance broker to determine medical liability coverage, an attorney to wrangle with creditors or advise on bankruptcy (a too-common outcome of a broken health-care system) and a host of good, hard-working Samaritans who just want to help.
Although we are careful stewards of the funding we receive, our need for capital is relentless. The majority of our funding comes from private donors, with a smattering of larger grants from corporations and other nonprofit organizations. We also raise money via special events such as the Vail Undressed Calendars, Summer Solstice Trail Run, Oktoberfest Shuffle, BecTri and LG Tri Sprint Triathlons and several others.
In some cases, we’ll help family members or friends organize a fundraising event for a specific individual whose needs are greater than our budget. While our events may not be as glamorous as the grand galas of other organizations here in the valley, our beneficiaries are just as worthy. And the heartfelt smile of gratitude from an injured child or ill neighbor is just as rewarding.
Please help us celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund.
Pete Brill is a board member and secretary of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund.
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