Imhof: Generosity, doubled
In ordinary times, the generosity of this community is exceptional.
In extraordinary times, such as these, our community has exceeded all expectations, revealing incredible resolve to give everything we can to help one another.
We have been amazed by the response we have seen to the VVF Community Matching Fund appeal. Hundreds have come together to support those hit hardest by COVID-19 and provide support in four areas of critical need:
- Food insecurity
- Behavioral health
- Shelter, clothing, and household assistance
- Youth education and programming
Over the past week, we have received donations of more than $280,000, demonstrating that we are making progress toward reaching our goal of raising $450,000.
The vast majority of those donations have been in small increments — a sign of how committed our community is to helping one another, and especially our most marginalized population, in a time of need.
We still need your help to reach our goal by next Tuesday. If we can reach our $450,000 goal, every dollar will be matched by generous members of our Vail Valley Foundation Board of Directors to bring us to a total of $900,000 raised for our community.
A time of exceptional need
The areas of critical need outlined above are significant and will continue to grow.
Up to 14,000 Eagle County residents are expected to need weekly food assistance in the coming weeks and months. This is an unprecedented spike. On food insecurity, Mike Rushmore of the Eagle Valley Community Foundation recently said: “The number of families accessing the Eagle Valley Community Foundation food services has tripled in one month. Moreover, the use of the food has transitioned from a supplemental resource to the primary source of family nutrition.”
Families and individuals are struggling with the disruptive changes to our society this disease has wrought. On mental and behavioral health, Vail Health’s Chris Lindley recently said: “There are many more of our residents in this valley who lost their jobs than who have become sick. More will become poor from COVID-19 than get sick.”
Basic needs like housing are in doubt for a large portion of our community; no one ever expects to be in this position. On the need for shelter and household assistance, Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll recently said: “In the first 24 hours of opening Eagle County’s emergency assistance funding we received 1,287 applications. To date, our emergency assistance fund has around 3,900 applications and Eagle County has provided $413,200 in rent assistance and $64,500 in mortgage assistance to our applicants. We expect county unemployment numbers to jump to 20% in the next data release. Now more than ever is an important time for our community to rally together and take care of one another. We thank the Vail Valley Foundation for its efforts and we look forward to partnering alongside you.”
We are seeing great disruption to the critical education and social/emotional health of our valley’s children and youth. Superintendent of Eagle County Schools, Philip Qualman, recently said: “Our rapid shift to distance learning has been incredible, but not without challenges. On average about 70 percent of our students are engaged in distance learning, leaving 30 percent, or 1,800 students, not participating. Educational programming is more important now than ever.”
Why donate through the VVF Community Matching Fund?
Matching funds allow your generous dollars to multiply. Every dollar you give will double by donating through this fund.
Money raised for the VVF Community Fund is not for the Vail Valley Foundation 501c3, its overhead or administration. Since 1981 the Vail Valley Foundation has been fortunate to serve our community. We believe we must set aside our own organizational challenges and help those in our valley who are struggling most as a result of COVID-19.
Every dollar raised will go directly to a group of approximately 20 local nonprofits and charities that support our community in the four areas identified in this column, and all funds will be distributed by the VVF Community Matching Fund Steering Committee.
Learn more about the VVF Community Matching Fund at vvf.org.
Please consider a gift today. A dollar in is a dollar out for essential programs and services.
Mike Imhof is president of the Vail Valley Foundation.