Vail Valley Charitable Fund: Lose yourself
Vail Valley Charitable Fund
No longer interested in pursuing the individual win, I traded in my competitive card several years ago to pursue the collective win through nonprofit collaboration and supporting my community.
I became a Vail resident in 2010. Prepared to run a purpose-driven branding agency with nationwide clientele, I thought I’d live in the heavenly High Rockies yet not be reliant on the weather or the hospitality industry for my livelihood. However, my values compelled me to participate in my community. Little did I know that the support would come full circle over the next few years, with a common thread of Vail Valley Charitable Fund weaving through my life.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Mahatma Gandhi said.
In 2012, the sun’s heat bore down on my sweat-soaked hair as I crossed the LG TRI’s finish line. At the time, I was only in it for the finish time. It wasn’t until later that I came to understand the beauty of the woman behind the event name: Laura Genelin — and my first connection with VVCF.
Hop to 2013. I was coined a local and proud to be so. I often took ski laps midday to soak in nature and be inspired for an afternoon’s work. One gorgeous spring ski day, I had family visiting and was returning from China Bowl with my niece just in time to pick up her siblings and join the parents for Los Amigos margaritas.
Coming up the hill, I was struck from the side. In denial, I didn’t believe the concussion was so bad, yet months later, I was told I had depleted my “backup brain,” and it would be best to heal up in Tahiti for a few months. As the sole owner of a business, I was told I could teach my team but I could not work. My brain needed rest.
I recall struggling to fill out paperwork for unemployment. That, coupled with a breast cancer scare, guided me once again to VVCF. As my medical bills soared, my business was forced to slow down. Always a giver and provider, it was a challenge for me to step back to focus on healing and to receive — to let my community take care of me — but VVCF granted me funds which relieved my stress and allowed me to recover.
In 2019, after six years with the Vail Valley Business Women board, I was on the lookout for my next opportunity. This time Sacred Cycle, a Colorado 501c3 found me. When asked why I took on the executive director role, my response is in my roots.
Raised by an activist mother and a father with an entrepreneurial mindset, I was taught to help and to roll up my sleeves when there was work to be done. To build a community that cares for each other and will help heal when tragedy occurs calls to me. I am a visionary and a believer in holding space for what is possible. Each day, I am pulled into the future by the Sacred Cycle vision to provide healing tools to sexual trauma survivors.
The opportunity to strategize and collaborate with fellow nonprofits is endless. Just this past month, VVCF came into my sphere yet again. This time, they invited our Sacred Cycle survivor participants to race in the LG TRI Mountain Bike event on July 9.
Looking back, I have cultivated a symbiotic relationship with my community and nonprofit organizations where I have contributed, and they have equally cared for and supported me. I define the triple bottom line a bit differently. It’s not about revenue nor me — it’s about the people I serve and the teams I lead. To build a strong team is to build a community of nonprofits that find the lost to give them safety and vibrancy. With anticipation, I wonder what’s next in our community.
Clare Hefferren is a Vail Valley Charitable Fund grant recipient, the executive director of Sacred Cycle and founder of Callosum, a purpose-driven branding agency. Find out more about the VVCF’s mission at vvcf.org.