A ‘Word of Thanks’ from Next: Help pets affected by Marshall Fire

SPECIAL WORD OF THANKS: HELPING FIRE VICTIMS

1/12/22: Humane Society of Boulder Valley

More than a thousand families lost their homes when the Marshall Fire ripped through neighborhoods in Boulder County, and you raised more than $2 million to help them in the recovery effort.

But the fire also made a huge impact on pets.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley helped care for rescued pets and for pets that got hurt. They’re also providing long-term boarding and foster care options for families forced from their homes and now living in places where pets aren’t allowed.

The non-profit is even covering the expense of pet deposits for people suddenly forced to pay extra to keep their pets with them in rental housing.

They’re also providing pet food and supplies for displaced families.

Because of your Word of Thanks donations, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley is going to be able to continue that work and make two additional promises to the thousands of Coloradans who lost their homes in the Marshall Fire. They are going to offer free boarding services for those families whenever they need it in the coming year if they end up living somewhere that they can’t have their pet. And for all the families that lost pets in the Marshall Fire, your donations will cover the adoption fees at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley if they choose to bring the love of a pet back into their lives.

Kyle started Word of Thanks in 2020 so this community could come together to support non-profits doing great work in Colorado. This week, we want to show our thanks to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley for doing so much for pets there.

As always, we ask you to consider a $5 donation, and Kyle will match the first fifty of those.

Thank you!

If you’re interested in giving, you can donate here.

PREVIOUS WEEKS: 2021 WORD OF THANKS

12/31/21: Boulder County Wildfire Fund

We said on Wednesday that the non-profit we highlighted that day would be the last of 2021. Then, the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history tore through neighborhoods in Boulder County one day later.

Next viewers have been kind and generous since Kyle started our Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign in 2020. What do you say we see what we can do together for the victims of this fire?

Boulder County Wildfire Fund will meet short and long-term needs of Coloradans impacted by the Marshall Fire. Community Foundation Boulder County organized this fund specifically for the people who lost so much this week.

This group is transparent, local and deeply-rooted in Boulder County. In fact, their staff lives in the community and have been impacted by the fire themselves.

They will be in it for the long haul for these victims. They have a long track record of working with a wide variety of community groups to ensure crisis support can last for years.

We’ve seen the power of your generosity so many times before when our neighbors needed it. This Next community has raised $5.4 million, all of which went straight to the non-profits doing great work in Colorado.

Every $5 helps. Usually, Kyle will match the first fifty donations of $5 with every Word of Thanks cause. This time, he’s in to match 100.

As always, thank you.

If you’re interested in giving, you can donate here.

UPDATE: You donated more than $2.1 million!

12/29/21: Hope Communities

Some of our newest neighbors in Colorado are preparing for a new year in a new country after fleeing the collapse of Afghanistan.

You helped them with immediate needs when they arrived, but together, we can also help them put down lasting roots to be self-sufficient and successful in Colorado.

The Hope Communities non-profit has a history of aiding families in way that allows them to move beyond a cycle of poverty. They help people find affordable housing and meet their goals.

They want to do the same for Afghan refugees.

Lainey Hashem is Hope Communities’ navigator who works with resettled Afghan families in only the way someone who speaks their language and knows their culture can. She helps them find the resources, training and services they need to become connected with life in Colorado.

With all of the Afghan families here, there’s more demand for Lainey’s navigation services than Hope Communities can meet. They’re raising money to bring on additional staff with the language and cultural skills to help our new neighbors thrive.

Every $5 helps, and like every week in our Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign, Kyle will match the first fifty donations of $5.

Colorado has a reputation dating back decades as a place where refugees are welcomed and thrive as part of the community. For this last Word of Thanks of 2021, let’s help our newest neighbors from Afghanistan succeed even after most of the public attention has turned elsewhere.

Thank you!

If you’re interested in giving, you can donate here.

UPDATE: You donated more than $21,000 for this effort, though we switched our focus to the Boulder County fires a day after we discussed Hope Communities. We’ll bring this one back at some point soon!

12/22/21: Colorado Village 

Collaborative 

Help this Colorado non-profit expand one of its Tiny Home Villages to help Coloradan’s transition from houselessness to stable, permanent housing.

Since its founding in 2017, Colorado Village Collaborative (CVC) has launched five transformational housing projects, including two tiny home villages and three Safe Outdoor Spaces that have provided more than 50,000 nights of safe, dignified housing in partnership for those experiencing homelessness.

They provide a safe place to stay for people who don’t feel safe in large shelter environments and serve as a transitional step between living on the streets and finding stable long-term housing.

CVC said their two tiny home villages have housed 47 people this year. 

“We’ve helped 14 of our residents move into more stable housing, and we continue to support many of our former residents with resources,” CVC said on their website. 

The non-profit is preparing to move and enlarge its first Tiny Home Village in the spring, expanding from 33 to 38 homes for those in need.

These tiny homes are a safe, stable place for people to stay while they get on their feet and find permanent housing.

Let’s help build and add a few more homes for our neighbors.

If you’d like to give, you can donate here.

UPDATE: You donated more than $63,000!

12/15/21: Bags of Fun

There are families that will gather this holiday season in hospital rooms. That’s especially tough when the family member in the hospital is a child.

There’s a great non-profit in Colorado that, for more than a decade, has delivered fun, happiness and distraction to kids facing a life-threatening diagnosis.

Since 2005, Bags of Fun has delivered its backpacks full of gifts to children with cancer and serious illnesses. They’ll deliver bags full of games, electronics, toys and activities geared toward their age level, in the hope that they’ll bring laughter and relief to kids in the hospital.

For at least a little bit of time, they just can be a kid, instead of just being in the hospital.

Bags of Fun has expanded their work to address Colorado’s pediatric mental health crisis, building bags for teenage patients at Denver Health. They might include things like video games, clothes, gift cards and fun those teenagers can take home with them when they’re discharged. This is true whether they’re going home to their parents, foster care or a shelter for homeless teenagers.

Our Word of Thanks donations this week will help them continue this work during this holiday season. Delivering a backpack full of fun distractions lets these kids know people care. We can show them that specifically this week.

Like every Wednesday when we introduce you to a new nonprofit doing great work in Colorado, we ask you to consider just a $5 donation. As always, Kyle will match the first 50 of those.

Word of Thanks is up to $5.4 million raised for non-profits in Colorado. Let’s see what we can do together this week. Thank you!

If you’d like to give, you can donate here.

UPDATE: You donated $25,000!

12/8/21: A Precious Child

There is a massive non-profit operation this time of year to get holiday gifts to kids in low-income families across the metro area and in Weld County.

The non-profit A Precious Child gets gifts to families who need them. They are unwrapped when given to parents or guardians, so that the adults can have the joy of wrapping presents for their kids.

A Precious Child has 11,000 kids covered right now, but the list grew as schools and community organizations recommended even more kids for the emergency list. Because of this, they’d like to get gifts to 2,000 more kids than originally planned.

Often, Precious Child says these kids are asking for the essentials as holiday gifts — things like toiletries or basic clothing items. A Precious Child will buy them those essentials if that’s what they’re asking for on Christmas, and then get them something special beyond that, too.

A Precious Child has the system to do all this quickly, and they have it down to a science. They just need our help to get to the last 2,000 kids on the emergency list.

Like every week for Word of Thanks, we’re asking you to consider a $5 donation. Kyle will match the first 50 of those. As always – I’ll match the first fifty donations of five dollars to get us started.

Thank you!

UPDATE: We re-upped the ask on Friday following the death of former Denver Bronco Demaryius Thomas, who was a celebrity ambassador for the program. In total, you raised more than $188,000 for A Precious Child. This means every child will get a gift for the holidays, and anything above $100,000 will allow for buying more basic essentials, as well as birthday and Christmas gifts. Thank you!

If you’re interested in giving, you can donate here.

 Back by popular demand this week is one of the most loved Word of Thanks micro-giving campaigns we’ve featured on this show. What do you say we do a repeat, and buy holiday gifts for every kid living in Denver Public Housing?

Like we told you last year, the low-income families in Denver Public Housing can sign up for help with holiday gifts for their kids. It’s first-come, first-serve until the funds run out. Just imagine being a parent brave enough to ask for that help, then being told there’s nothing for you.  

We kept that from happening in 2020. Your Word of Thanks donations bought a gift for every single child in Denver public housing last year. 

You exceeded every expectation. 

Let’s do it again. 

The holiday gift drive is run through the non-profit Friends of Denver Housing Authority. Every dollar goes toward holiday gifts. In fact, when your generosity kept coming in last year after they got gifts for all the kids, so some of those funds were held over to start this year’s gift drive. 

Still, there’s not enough to cover gifts for the nearly 4,000 kids in Denver public housing. 

This is simple. These are families who could use our help, and we don’t want any family who signs up for help to be told it’s too late.

We ask you to consider even a $5 donation, and just like last year and like every week for Word of Thanks, Kyle will match the first fifty $5 donations.

As always, thank you for joining this Next community in supporting local non-profits doing great work in Colorado. We can’t wait to see what we do for families this holiday season.

UPDATE: You gave more than $123,000 to provide gifts to these children!

If you’re interested in giving, you can donate here.

11/24/21 | Food Bank of the Rockies’ Culturally Responsive Food InitiativeThink of the foods you traditionally eat during the holidays – the food that might make you feel comfortable or feel like you’re at home. Just as turkey and the fixings might be traditional at one person’s home this Thanksgiving, tamales might be traditional at another person’s home. For Colorado’s Ethiopian community celebrating Orthodox Christmas, teff flour and coffee are staples. For Russian-Americans celebrating the same, ground beef and cream of mushroom are among the ingredients they need to make dumplings. In Colorado’s Asian community, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts are for the Lunar New Year.

Food Bank of the Rockies’ Culturally Responsive Food Initiative makes sure that people aren’t just handed impersonal boxes of stock foods and wished a Merry Christmas. This program allows people to celebrate the holidays that mean most to them with the foods that speak to their culture and heritage.

You donated more than $64,000 to support this program.

If you’re interested in giving today, you can donate here.

11/17/21 | GRASPGRASP, or the Gang Rescue and Support Project of Metro Denver Partners, is an intervention group run primarily by ex-gang members. They work in Aurora and Denver with the goal of connecting with young people to convince them to stay away from gangs. They’ve been around since 1991, mentoring young people in the hospital after they’re injured by violence, helping them build connections outside gangs to support kids in a safe environment and helping them get through school.

They want to continue growing to help even more. In this week, our donations went to helping them secure a “community-based gang violence intervention specialist.” The non-profit will pay this $40,000 for this position, and the person they hire will respond to scenes of shootings and other incidents of violence when they happen. This specialist is expected to help at least 200 high-risk kids stay out of trouble, help deescalate gang tensions and mediate conflicts.

You donated more than $35,500 to support this position.

If you are interested in giving, you can donate here.

11/10/21 | VFW Post 1The oldest VFW post in America, right here in Denver, has ditched the local watering hole model that you may see at other VFWs. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1, on Santa Fe Drive, wants to be a community center type of space open to all veterans, offering entrepreneurship training, exercise classes, therapy and peer support and a large veterans art program. They also want to expand to become a free community space open to non-veteran groups. But the vision won’t become a reality until construction on their building finishes. They realized the building wasn’t up to code when they tried to hang their beloved neon sign that first hung at the post’s old location on Bannock Street. While part of the renovation is already finished, they still have a ways to go. In honor of Veterans Day, you got them more than $52,000 closer to the finish line.

11/3/21 | Advocates for RecoveryMany of us have witnessed the destructive power of addiction and know what it can take to help someone suffering. Advocates for Recovery, a non-profit that helps Coloradans navigate recovery from drugs and alcohol, is meeting people at a low point and offering the kind of understanding and guidance that comes from life experience to find a way out of addiction. Advocates for Recovery works on the peer model so that people in recovery are guided, coached and counseled by others in long-term recovery.

As part of a pilot program, they also have a peer counselor inside one emergency room in the metro area, at Swedish Medical Center. When someone comes in with an addiction related issue, this counselor can be there to offer options once the patient is medically stable. You donated more than $15,000 to help them expand funding and grow this program.

10/27/21 | Foster Source: Foster parents step up to give kids their time and love, but finding and keeping willing foster families in Colorado is a challenge. As many of half of them quit in their first year, and even more the next year. That means kids in foster care move families more often, increasing their trauma. Foster Source is a Colorado non-profit supporting foster families so that they keep doing that vital work in our community. Foster Source provides trauma parenting education for foster parents who may be dealing with the challenge of parenting a child with trauma for the first time. The non-profit offers physical items they need like bunk beds, groceries, car seats and mattresses. Foster Source also offers therapy for foster parents to give them skills to parent kids through a difficult time. You raised more than $31,000 to help provide new foster parents with the help they need.

10/20/21 | Jane’s Place:  Jane’s Place will eventually be 17 affordable apartments in the heart of Salida with office space for non-profits, a co-working center and a social enterprise coffee shop to support community projects. The project is named in memory of Jane Whitmer, who had a vision for the project and owned the land where the housing project will stand. Once it’s built, Jane’s Place will offer seasonal housing to whitewater raft guides in the summer and ski lift operators in the winter. Additionally, it will offer housing to entry-level workers who can’t afford mountain rents, to families during a crisis and to AmeriCorps volunteers serving Chaffee County. The goal is to fill the “gaping hole in Salida’s housing market.” The community of Salida has already raised $800,000 for this because they believe in the concept so much. The more they raise, the less they’ll have to borrow, and the more affordable and impactful the housing project can be for the people who need it. You raised more than $19,400 to get them closer to the goal.

10/13/21 | Latina SafeHouseDomestic violence advocates tell us it takes someone an average of seven attempts to leave their abuser. In Colorado, the non-profit Latina SafeHouse is doing lifesaving work in two languages, going behind-the-scenes to help women facing abuse prepare to leave for good.

They both protect survivors and help them escape, and get them counseling and support.

There are brave Coloradans preparing for their next attempt to leave their abuser. Latina SafeHouse is there with them, on the inside and on the outside, saving lives and changing futures.

You collected more than $27,000 to assist them continue their work.

10/6/21 | Seniors’ Resource CenterIf you know an older person who was isolated during the pandemic, you know the toll it likely took on their mental and physical health. You also know that it’s emotionally and physically exhausting work for all the Coloradans taking care of someone they love at home.

Seniors’ Resource Center’s adult day center in the Denver serves a dual purpose: providing older adults with the socialization they need and providing their caregivers with some free moments for self-care. These caregivers, often spouses or children, were worked to exhaustion during the pandemic.

Seniors’ Resource Center has also been strained after decades of doing this work in our community, so they’re consolidating their programs to focus on their adult day center, as well as in-home respite care visits that allow older Coloradans stay in their homes and give their caregivers a short break.

We raised more than $19,000 to help them do this work.

9/29/21 | The B.A.B.Y. Foundation: When families are taking care of seriously ill kids, paying for treatments and therapies on top of regular household expenses can become overwhelming. Even with insurance, these families can face significant costs when it comes to medical care.

The B.A.B.Y. Foundation, based in Loveland, works to fill the gaps by covering these medical expenses so that families can focus on taking care of their kids. It’s been their mission for 20 years.

The foundation is all volunteer, and every dollar they raise goes to these families. They work with them one-on-one, assessing their financial situations and doing what they can help lift the burden. On average, they cover $5,000 in bills for each family.

With more than $23,000 raised, you helped four families.

9/22/21 | Scholars UnlimitedWhat was your favorite book as a kid? How many times did you read it?

The non-profit Scholars Unlimited has spent decades providing free out-of-school programs for students in low-income communities around the Denver metro area. As part of that mission, their newest project aims to help young Coloradans start a personal home library by giving them a book of their own. Their focus is on showing representation in those books because nine in 10 of their scholars are students of color.

These books have potential to doubly inspire kids to dream because the characters look like them; they will literally see possibility, and then imagine more of their own.

You raised more than $48,000 this week, meaning the 500 kids this non-profit serves were each gifted several books.

9/15/21 | Work Options: While restaurants are struggling to find staff, there’s a group in Colorado helping people who want to work in the industry to overcome barriers.

Work Options used to be called Work Options for Women, but recently changed its name to serve everyone. They offer a six-week culinary training program that has worked with thousands of Coloradans who have something standing in the way of their employment, whether that be lack of work history, prior felony convictions, unstable housing situations, no high school diploma or something else. Additionally, students can receive job readiness instruction and cognitive behavioral therapy sessions that aim to help individuals identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and to learn practical self-help strategies.

In the pandemic, Work Options also started preparing food for people in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they are setting up a new training café at the Adams County Human Services Center.

These services are provided at no-cost to students. You raised more than $14,000 for them to continue this work.

9/8/21 | Second Chance CenterAlmost half the people who get out of prison in Colorado will go back.

Recidivism is a difficult problem to solve, but the Second Chance Center is a non-profit that helps people re-enter society successfully. In fact, the recidivism rate of their participants is 10%.

They call their approach “live, learn, earn.” People leaving prison go into Second Chance Center’s peer housing, where their rent is covered for two months while they find work. The support of that communal housing is key in making sure people stay sober, stay employed and stay encouraged to succeed in society.

Most need six to nine months to create a stable foundation — then they’re off on their own.

The Second Chance Center is adding a new child and family advocate focused on the family reunification process for people leaving prison. They will focus on rebuilding the bonds that can keep people on the path to success.

We all say we believe in second chances. This non-profit is in the business of making second chances happen for more Coloradans – making our state happier, safer, and more productive in the process.

Next viewers gave the group more than $31,000 to help them expand their work.

9/1/21 | We Don’t WasteThis nonprofit is solving two problems at once: making sure restaurants don’t have to throw away good food and making sure families in our community have access to fresh, nutritious food. 

We Don’t Waste reaches out to restaurants and other food providers to take their unused food and quickly give it to families in need around our community. 

They do this by giving the food out to nonprofits and by running mobile food pantries in a number of neighborhoods where access to fresh, nutritious food is tough to find. Right now, they are running six to seven mobile pantries each month.

They are hoping to add an entirely new location, serving another neighborhood in the metro area. You got then $24,000 closer to that goal.

8/25/21 | Now I Lay Me Down to SleepIn hospitals across Colorado, when a baby isn’t born alive or dies soon after, nurses can ask parents if they would like a family photo. Perhaps that’s an unimaginable question because you haven’t imagined yourself in that situation; neither had the Next viewer who wrote in to say she was eternally grateful for the non-profit called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.

The longtime non-profit based in Littleton connects photographers with grieving families to preserve a memory in a moment of grief. Jami shared her photos with us and wrote: “Without them, my son’s photo album would be full of empty spaces that match the ones that losing a child puts in your heart. There would be no beautiful pictures on my wall that remind us daily of our little Joshua… my heart smiles every time I look up and see that Joshua, although not here with us, will forever be a part of that one family picture, and because of that, will never be forgotten.”

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep provides a service that grieving parents may not even know they want or need. This group continues to expand its work by recruiting volunteer photographers to reach more hospitals, dispatching them on a moment’s notice when families suffer a loss and even training nurses how to take professional photos when a photographer isn’t available.

Next viewers gave more than $28,000 for the cause.

8/18/21 | African Community CenterAfghans with Special Immigrant Visas are coming to Colorado, and we know who will be here to welcome them.

Since 2001, ECDC African Community Center (ACC) has helped families from around the world after they arrive in Denver. They have assisted thousands of refugees, who have left behind everything to be here, to create a sustainable life in Colorado. ACC expects many refugees from Afghanistan will need their help – refugees who helped protect American troops.

This non-profit can get them into an apartment, get them furniture and get them an ID. It can help them feel more comfortable in America, and put them on a path of self-sufficiency. ACC even greets these families at the airport, so that they feel welcome in Colorado.

Both staff and volunteers make all that happen, but they also need financial backing. ACC guesses that just $5 can provide a warm meal for an exhausted and anxious family, and have it ready for them at their apartment to welcome them when they first arrive from the airport; $25 can provide an hour of interpretation during Cultural Orientation Class to ensure everything taught is provided in a language spoken by the family; $500 can furnish an entire apartment.

You gave them more than $224,000 to help them assist these refugees in creating a new life in Colorado.

8/11/21 | Colorado Pet PantryColorado Pet Pantry is a statewide food bank dedicated to helping pets.

The model is simple and efficient. They take donated food from pet food suppliers — food that’ll soon expire — then rush it out through their network to food banks, animal rescues and stand-alone events throughout Colorado.

But they provide food and supplies to more than just organizations. They help individual families, too, by helping them during rough patches. People can get food for their pets here, allowing them to keep their pets instead of surrendering them because of money. This non-profit has been distributing pet food since 2013 and has gotten 5.1 million pet meals out to owners who otherwise would have struggled to afford pet food.

Colorado Pet Pantry figures it can feed a dog or a cat for a month for $5. Through Word of Thanks this week, you gave this group more than $61,200 to help them feed local pets.

8/4/21 | Lutheran Family Services Rocky MountainKyle asked Next viewers to come up with an idea during this week of Word of Thanks, and there was a common theme. Many of you asked if we could honor Simone Biles’ incredible tenacity in the 2021 Olympic Games by helping children who, like Biles, spent time in the foster care system. And we thought that was a beautiful idea.

When it comes to helping local foster children, Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain is one of the largest and most respected non-profits in the field.

There are thousands of children in foster care across Colorado. Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountain wants to help these kids and their foster families thrive in the face of adversity.

The $26,800 you all gave this week went to helping recruit and train new families to welcome foster children into their homes. This money can provide support for families dealing with foster children in crisis and with special needs. It can also buy those kids clothes and school supplies, and help their foster parents afford to throw them birthday and holiday parties that they’ll remember.

7/28/21 | National Sports Center for the DisabledThe National Sports Center for the Disabled opens the door of sports to Coloradans who didn’t think it was possible for them. This group believes that everyone is able, and anything is possible.

They’ve been leaders in adaptive outdoor sports for a half-century. Technology and sports evolve, just like equipment and coaching methods, but their determination to make outdoor sports accessible to all is what matters most. It could be adaptive skiing, rock climbing or kayaking. They want to make it possible.

The National Sports Center for the Disabled has been a fixture in Colorado for generations, but when one of their transportation vans was stolen, they needed help to keep their work going — especially because another van and trailer were already broken down.

Next viewers gifted more than $20,000 to help.

7/21/21 | Mi Casa Resource CenterThe pandemic scrambled the job market and led a lot of Coloradans to start looking for something new, something more rewarding and something more stable. There’s a longtime non-profit in the Denver metro area that helps people leverage their skills into something more.

For 45 years, Mi Casa Resource Center has been helping underserved communities in the metro area, primarily Latinas, through in-depth entrepreneurship education and job retraining to help women pursue careers that will change their lives and the trajectory of their families.

They do this with personal, one-on-one direction from experts. That could mean working with the Women’s Business Center, where hundreds of women plan and launch small businesses each year, or with Mi Casa’s newest program, La Receta (The Recipe), helping entrepreneurs build food businesses or grow the one they have.

You raised more than $18,500 to help Mi Casa continue its work.

7/14/21 | Showers for All: A shower might be the most basic part of your day, but for some people, it’s a luxury. It could also be exactly what they need to get off the streets and into a stable job.

A shower and clean clothes would give someone the ability to walk into a job interview looking and feeling their best, with the basic dignity that comes from being clean. Showers for All takes the shower and laundry trailer it built to spots around Denver. People who are homeless can then have access to a hot shower and a place to clean their clothes.

One guest specifically told the non-profit about a series of job interviews that didn’t pan out for them; after taking a shower and putting on clean clothes, they had two offers. Another woman told Showers for All that being able to take a shower regularly kept her medical conditions from getting worse, and allowed her to feel like she could walk into a place without people staring at her.

Homelessness isn’t going to be solved by a shower, but you raised more than $86,900 to help the Showers for All build a second shower and laundry trailer and expand their non-profit.

7/6/21 | Denver Urban GardensDenver Urban Gardens (DUG) is a local non-profit that builds new community gardens and supports existing gardens in underserved neighborhoods; 188 gardens dotting the metro area are group projects through DUG, in which neighbors work together to grow both healthy food and the community at the same time.

The group has done this work for 35 years, but DUG has heard from community members that some garden plots need more support, especially in neighborhoods without the resources that others have. You raised more than $12,800 to help them with physical infrastructure — like tools, water, shade and seeds — as well as providing translators, who can help people learn how to successfully grow their own food.

6/30/21 | Celebrate EDU: Nationwide, before the pandemic, four in five Americans with developmental disabilities were unemployed. In Colorado, there’s a local non-profit with an innovative idea to help people reach their potential.

Celebrate EDU, based in Boulder County, provides job skills, as well business and entrepreneurial training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This allows them to turn their passions into small businesses, or hone their skills so they can join the workforce to find purpose and the community that comes with work.

Celebrate EDU’s students have started a baking business, an online clothing boutique, a podcast and even bilingual instructional videos for other young people with autism.

You raised more than $19,166 to help them expand their work and scale up their micro-grant program, so that students with strong business plans can get a little seed money to start up their idea.

6/23/21 | Arvada Healing FundSo many of you wanted to help after a shooting happened in Olde Town Arvada that left one officer and one Good Samaritan dead.

While the family of Johnny Hurley decided to go with GoFundMe, a for-profit fundraising business, there are non-profit organizations that can get donations to victims, as well.

The Arvada Healing Fund was created specifically for Next viewers. Every dollar donated was split between the Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation, which supports the family of fallen Officer Gordon Beesley, and the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance, which meets the needs of other survivors and witnesses.

Ofc. Beesley’s family requested privacy, but we know from friends that he left behind a wife and kids. The Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation said all the money they received was going to his family.

The Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA) is a group we’ve talked about before. They wanted to help with the needs of other survivors who were close to the shooting and impacted in various ways. That does include the family of Hurley if they’re interested in that assistance.

Community First Foundation set up the fund. They decided not to take a dollar and cover credit card processing fees. You all raised $34,600 to help the people of Arvada.

6/16/21 | Soccer Without BordersIt’s never easy being the new kid, let alone the new kid in a new country.

Soccer Without Borders is a non-profit in Colorado that uses the uniting power of sports to encourage kids and make them feel welcome as they get used to life here. They do this with their youth soccer program for young people — refugees and immigrants — who are new to Colorado.

As these kids play a sport they know and love, they can learn English at the same time. This soccer program also serves as a way to connect those kids and their families to the support systems they need to get off to a successful start in Colorado. That could be anything from career guidance to finding a place to live, or language tutoring for adults.

Their young participants have come to Colorado from 24 counties, speaking 16 different languages.

Soccer Without Borders has been around for a decade and is expanding its work to more communities from Weld County to the Denver Metro Area. We raised more than $19,600 to help them do that.

6/9/21 | Robbie’s HopeChildren’s Hospital Colorado announced a “pediatric mental health state of emergency” when they started seeing twice as many young people with anxiety and depression than before the pandemic.

Robbie’s Hope is a non-profit named for Robbie Eckert, a 15-year-old from Lakewood who took his own life in 2018. His parents started the organization so that they might save lives. The “Hope” stands for “Hold On, Pain Ends.”

Robbie’s Hope wants to inspire Colorado’s teenagers to talk to each other to destigmatize anxiety and depression. They enlist teen ambassadors to talk with their peers, so that feeling depressed or anxious isn’t as isolating. The non-profit also leaned on the expertise of teenagers themselves to create a guide for adults on how to talk to teenagers about depression and suicide.

Their basic message is to convince teenagers that “it’s OK to not be OK.”

We helped them raised more than $26,600 to continue their work.

6/2/21 | Warren VillageThis week, as the Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign turned 1-year-old, we turned our attention to Warren Village, a long-time non-profit dedicated to helping single parents, and therefore, changing the lives of whole families in Colorado.

This group helps build a foundation of education, health and financial security. The impact lasts generations. How? Warren Village provides two or three years of housing for single parents and their children. They pay a portion of their income in rent, but the real focus is on the career coaching parents get to start or finish a degree and to get established for a secure financial future. This is all while their children receive specialized child care and early education that can help them overcome learning difficulties or mental health issues.

You all gave more than $102,900 for the cause.

5/26/21 | Colorado Freedom MemorialThe Colorado Freedom Memorial was the first of its kind in America — a memorial to all the state’s service members lost. They display of Coloradans killed in action from the Spanish American War to the present day.

But part of the memorial is crumbling. The granite foundation is coming apart with time. It can be fixed, but this is an expensive project that would eat into the budget organizers use for events and other programs.

As we approached Memorial Day, we wanted to use our Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign to help the Colorado Freedom Memorial — a special project we can do together in honor of those who have served and sacrificed.

Our $43,300 in donations will help keep the Colorado Freedom Memorial a beautiful place for years to come.

5/19/21 | Food Bank of the Rockies’ Totes of Hope programFood Bank of the Rockies’ Totes of Hope program has been around for 15 years, and it’s lasted that long because it works.

When kids leave school on Fridays, they’re sent home with enough food to feed a family for the weekend. In the summertime, the program moves from schools to other places like community centers and church camps.

Single parents, especially, have told Food Bank of the Rockies that weekends are when they most struggle with food. Those are days when kids can’t get meals at school or childcare, and getting the whole family to a food bank can be challenging.

In addition to sending children home with food, the Totes of Hope programs also just started doing ingredients and recipes, so families can cook together.

We spent May collecting money for the Food Bank of the Rockies to address hunger in this state. This week, we want to help this specific program were able to collect $41,600 to help.

5/12/21 | Food Bank of the Rockies’ mobile pantriesWhether it’s a lack of reliable public transit in the suburbs, or driving an hour out on the Eastern Plains, Coloradans who are far from grocery stores and food banks have a transportation hurdle to feeding their families.

This week, we wanted to highlight the mobile pantries sent out across Colorado by the Food Bank of the Rockies.

You’ve likely heard the term “food deserts,” or areas underserved by grocery stores. Food Bank of the Rockies rolls out 70 refrigerated trucks a month, like a food bank on wheels, to deliver fresh produce and other groceries.

They first locate pockets of need, where Coloradans could use help with access to fresh produce and other food items. Then they pick a day and time, spread the word and show up to help.

Food Bank of the Rockies goes out on these mobile pantry missions more than 800 times a year, and they cover the cost. We can help send out even more.

You collected more than $28,200 for the cause.

This isn’t the first time we’ve said this, but it’s worth repeating that the demand on food banks spiked with the pandemic, and that demand really hasn’t let up. Food Bank of the Rockies says 40% of the people coming to them for help are looking for food assistance for the first time. These are people who hadn’t been to food banks prior to the pandemic.

This week, we sought out to support and expand the Food Bank of the Rockies’ Culturally Responsive Foods Initiative. The concept is about more than food. This is about families, memories and traditions.

This program aims to deliver certain foods to communities in Colorado — the foods these communities want to eat and what they want to cook with, rather than just the traditional food bank staple items.

Maybe this seems like a simple thing, but it’s had a profound impact. Think about how food is woven into our family stories and traditions. Think about not being able to afford that food and not seeing it in food banks. Working with partners statewide, the food bank listens to the requests of communities, whether they are Latino, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Somali, Russian, Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone. Then, the program goes the extra mile and extra dollar to find the food items that mean a lot to them.

You raised more than $41,700 to help this program continue.

4/28/21 | LuBird’s Light FoundationA long-awaited plan to build an inclusive playground for kids of all abilities hit a snag, just months before it was set to open.

Organizers wanted to build a playground at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, not far from Children’s Hospital. They envisioned a place with a firm surface for both feet and wheels, and equipment that included a wheelchair bouncer and an accessible merry-go-round.

A non-profit called LuBird’s Light Foundation raised money for years and broke ground last year. That’s when they discovered soil issues that are expensive to fix.

With more than $73,000 in donations, Next viewers helped raise the money to make this playground — a playground for kids of every ability — a reality. It finally opened in September, giving all kids a place to come together and play.

4/21/21 | Colorado Search and Rescue teamsEach county in Colorado has its own search and rescue team — typically volunteers who, along with giving their time, tend to spend $4,000 to $10,000 of their own money on training and equipment to keep all of us safe in Colorado’s wild, beautiful places.

Even with that, they still need help, whether it be for new equipment or upgrading old vehicles. The statewide non-profit that advocates for these groups collected our $53,000 in donations, then started a grant process to award money to high-priority needs without taking any money for overhead. 

4/14/21 | SAVA CenterSexual assault can create a lifetime of trauma, which is why the support for sexual assault survivors in Colorado is so critical. The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Center, or SAVA Center, in Northern Colorado offers help to survivors of recent assaults, as well as to survivors of assaults that happened years or even decades ago. They even work on prevention, creating programs that reach thousands of students.

The SAVA Center also continues to build trust with the immigrant community, where convincing people to come forward after an assault and assuring them they’ll be protected is a challenge.

The pandemic made it harder for survivors to escape abusive situations, and the SAVA Center expects to see a wave of people seeking help as society fully reopens. Sadly, the pandemic has impacted funding, as well. Next viewers donated more than $25,000 to help them.

4/7/21 | Center for African American Health: The Center for African American Health (CAA) has been committed to supporting Denver’s Black community since 2005. This group started within the Black Church Initiative and has grown into a nonprofit that addresses the community’s physical health and wellbeing.

CAA offers free prostate screenings to men and overall health screenings at its health fair. It helps connect people with healthy food and offers mental health first-aid training. It even teaches people about health insurance coverage and aging in a healthy way. 

In spring, when all adults in Colorado became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, CAA focused its work on access and breaking down barriers in many ways — COVID testing, vaccine clinics, vaccine education and outreach.

You raised $43,000 to support the cause.

3/31/21 | COVAThe Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA) is a non-profit that can quickly help crime victims with emergency funds for things like groceries and phone bills.

The names of crime victims line the walls at their office, and most names would not be familiar. Their cases aren’t always in the news, so strangers aren’t likely to reach out to help.

There are state and federal victims assistance funds, but COVA keeps a small emergency fund to help out when that other assistance will be too slow or too limited to immediately help a crime victim in Colorado. Victims’ advocates apply for the funds on behalf of their clients, so it’s all legitimate. COVA can then turn around emergency help in 20 minutes if that’s what’s needed.

The money can be used to get a car out of impound, get a phone bill paid, repair property damage, get someone a gift card for gas or groceries for their family.

These victims’ advocates work all across our state and are there for people in the worst moments in their lives when they can not only feel victimized, but forgotten.

Next viewers raised $33,200 for this nonprofit.

3/23/21: Community Foundation Boulder County’s crisis fund: Next typically highlights a new cause every Wednesday as part of our Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign. In light of what happened during this week, when 10 people were killed at the Boulder King Soopers, we got a day’s head start and turned our attention to Community Foundation Boulder County’s crisis fund.

The foundation has an established history of helping in Boulder, whether it be with environmental concerns, veterans’ causes or art programs. The list is long.

In this case, their Boulder County Crisis Fund told us it could directly help victims’ families and others who were impacted by the shooting. The fund will be around for the long haul to help the people who need it.

Community Foundation Boulder County partnered with the City of Boulder and smaller non-profits to operate the fund to support these families and the community. Specifically, this group came together with: the City of Boulder, Rose Community Foundation, Longmont Community Foundation, Westview Church, Congregation Har Hashem, Congregation Bonai Shalom, First Congregational Church, Boulder Mennonite Church, First UMC of Lafayette, Community Church of Lyons, Islamic Center of Boulder, and the Colorado Healing Fund.

The Boulder County Crisis Fund hit $1 million in a week and eventually climbed to $1.52 million. Next viewers raised $296,000 to help the cause, accounting for about 20% of that total.

3/17/21 | The Matthews HouseThe Matthews House started 15 years ago with an original goal of helping those who were aging out of foster care. The vision grew, and this group now works with more than 3,000 families each year to help younger people succeed, especially trying to intervene earlier with at-risk kids.

One of their great success stories is educational support. The Matthews House helps students stick with school and get on track to graduate. Last fall, students came in with an average grade of 45% in their classes and left with an average of 73%. The non-profit has 14 learning sites in Fort Collins and Loveland, and the program grew eight times larger during the pandemic.

Knowing summer 2021 would be busy after a difficult school year, they wanted to prepare to help hundreds of students in Northern Colorado make up credits they missed and prepare to graduate.

Next viewers donated $55,000 to support the cause.

3/10/21 | CultivandoThe women of Cultivando do important work. This is a small but mighty non-profit that has a long track record of advocating for health equity in the Latino community. The promotoras, the community health workers of Cultivando, are trusted resources in Adams County, the only county in the metro area where more than a third of the population is Latino.

In March, Cultivando‘s promotoras sought to help spread the word about COVID-19 vaccines. They wanted to make sure mass vaccination events provided enough outreach to all communities, and they wanted to help individuals navigate resources and information about the vaccine. With more than $28,400 in donations, this group could scale up its services to meet the demand.

3/3/21 | Epic Experience: Sharon Ritzman watched Next from her home in Golden. Before she died in February 2021, she was a regular supporter of our Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign – so much so, that her family asked for people to consider giving to our weekly Word of Thanks causes in her obituary.

Sharon lived a life full of adventures with her family and volunteerism tied to the medical community. During this week, Kyle asked Sharon’s family if they would help pick our featured non-profit so that we might find something that would have made Sharon smile. That’s how we learned about Epic Experience, based in Arvada. Sharon supported their work.

Epic Experience hosts weeklong adventure camps for adult cancer survivors, strengthening their mental health and connecting them to a network of survivors who can help them explore life beyond cancer. They even set out to launch some virtual reality getaways for patients who couldn’t safely be around others.

Sharon’s daughter, Michelle, went on an Epic Experience camp. And Sharon herself went back to school to become a nurse to work with families facing cancer.

The people who run this small non-profit say they have eight times as many cancer survivors interested in these no-cost camps than they have available spots. Next viewers gave them more than $46,600 to help provide the experience to more people.

2/24/21 | Lincoln Hills CaresIn 1922, Black entrepreneurs in Denver began building a resort in Gilpin County. It was intended to be a mountain getaway for Black Coloradans who faced discrimination at other vacation spots. Lincoln Hills grew into a thriving community of cabins, drawing families who wanted an escape from life in the city and racial inequality.

Today, Lincoln Hills is a place where, every year, more than a thousand kids get to explore nature, learn about science and gain a new appreciation for their cultural history. Young Coloradans have the chance to come away with new interests and new skills in outdoor survival, biology and entomology — not to mention a new appreciation for what previous generations of Black Coloradans built at that special camp.

These young visitors come from all over the state, primarily from marginalized communities where economic factors might prevent families from getting the mountain experience that a lot of Coloradans take for granted.

Our donations this week supported Lincoln Hills Cares, the non-profit based at the old resort property. You raised more than $55,000 to help them prepare for a summer filled with YMCA and church groups, student visits and Boys and Girls Clubs.

2/17/21 | Urban PeakUrban Peak has a 30-year track record of helping young people experiencing homelessness in Denver. The teenagers and young adults who turn to this nonprofit need help for different reasons, but Urban Peak meets them where they are with experienced, specialized support. Urban Peak has an overnight shelter, a place for young people to come during the day to escape the streets, as well as job training, education resources and a focus on getting youth into housing where they’ll be safe and self-sufficient.

Even with 2020’s challenges, Urban Peak did that for more than 60 young people last year, doing what they could to scrape together the basics like a bed, chair and cooking utensils. With the help of our $63,600 in donations, the head of Urban Peak told us she wanted to let each young person buy one small thing of their choice to make their new housing feel like their home.

2/10/21 | Western Colorado Community FoundationDonations made this week were divided among three non-profits doing important work in western Colorado to prevent youth suicide. YouthZone, Gear Up and Friends of Youth and Nature use outdoor adventure as a way to get counseling and mentoring to young people who are at risk:

  • Youth Zone works with young people in Garfield County, Rifle and Parachute specifically, who have been in trouble and need guidance to get on the right track again.
  • Gear Up provides mentoring for middle schoolers in Mesa County, but it’s disguised as a mountain biking program, getting young people to set goals early in life to stay out of trouble and stay away from discouragement.
  • Friends of Youth in Montrose and Delta counties does work with kids in foster care who have survived trauma so that they can build confidence and resilience skills.

The Western Colorado Community Foundation collected and split your $56,400 in donations in three ways. They even got us started with $5,000.

If someone in your life is in crisis today and needs immediate help, Colorado Crisis Service is available 24-7. You can call 844-493-8255, or text the word “TALK” to 38255.

2/3/21 | Laboratory to Combat Human TraffickingThe Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking is a Denver-based non-profit dedicated to ending human trafficking in Colorado. They have found that the key to stopping this practice is training more people to spot it, and this group has been working on just that for more than a decade. They’ve trained 35,000 people how to spot human trafficking, including law enforcement, hospitality workers and people who work in health care and child welfare. We heard from one of those law enforcement officers just before we highlighted the cause. Colorado State Patrol Trooper Brent Crampton stepped in to stop a case of human trafficking in 2020 after his training. Crampton told us that he wondered if he missed other cases before he knew the signs and techniques to intervene. Together, Next viewers raised more than $44,400 to help The Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking reach more people across our state and train them, potentially rescuing victims and saving lives.

1/27/21 | WeeCycleWeeCycle is a non-profit providing diapers and other baby essentials to low-income families around Denver. During the pandemic, they focused on getting those baby items to food banks, so that families in need could get those essentials in one stop. Through Word of Thanks, they hoped they could immediately start helping families by giving them two packs of diapers instead of one. Next viewers were able to buy a whole lot of diapers, raising more than $94,000 this week.

1/20/21 | Branson, Colorado’s football fieldSince we started the Word of Thanks micro-giving campaign in June 2020, we’ve addressed serious topics in our state ranging from hunger to wildfires. This time, we thought we’d focus on joy. Branson is a dot on the map in the southeast part of the state. In 2016, the people living there were thrilled to have a six-man high school football team for the first time in a long time, but their field, carved out of old pastureland, was rough — so rough that even after Branson students tried to pick out every rock and nurture the grass, it was still a mess. Because of that, Branson’s opponents announced they wouldn’t play there for fear of getting hurt. Branson, with a population of less than 100, wanted to raise money to install an artificial turf football field. But this was about more than football. This town saw a new field as a place of pride and a chance to build a place for the community to gather. Next viewers helped get them $82,000 closer to their goal. In September 2021, the team played its first game on the new field!

1/13/21 | Jeffco Prosperity PartnersJeffco Prosperity Partners helps families reach their personalized goals while getting out of poverty. If the goal is a better-paying job, Jeffco Prosperity Partners can come in with career counseling and tuition assistance. If the focus is on overcoming mental health challenges, they are there to walk side-by-side with them through that. If the hope is to buy a house, Jeffco Prosperity Partners can guide them toward that goal. This nonprofit provides coaching and direct financial support to families below the poverty line in Jefferson County — keeping kids in school, making sure families stay physically and mentally healthy, guiding them down paths to increase their income and savings and decrease their reliance on government assistance. You raised nearly $32,000 to help them achieve those goals.

1/6/21 | Mountain Family CenterThe Modern West podcast is where Kyle learned about the struggle to find and afford fresh, healthy food in Jackson County. For the relatively isolated and small communities in the North Park area, Mountain Family Center is their connection to food and support from neighbors when they need it – that includes food pantries, grocery deliveries and even pharmacy runs. The non-profit runs the only food bank in Jackson County, in Walden. They also have three other locations in Grand County, in Granby, Kremmling and Fraser. You raised $66,000 this week to get fresh food to these families.

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