by Sam Klomhaus
Mail Staff Writer
The Chaffee County Community Foundation celebrated its first anniversary Wednesday at the Salida Rotary Scout Hut.
The foundation has been building toward this for 18 months, board Chair Ed Cooper said. They’ve learned what a community foundation is and how it might work here, he said.
Cooper said it’s important to take a long-term perspective for the foundation.
The foundation’s mission is to increase philanthropy in the county, Executive Director Joseph Teipel said.
Teipel said the foundation wants to elevate the benefits residents get from Chaffee County and foster a sense of reciprocity and giving back.
The foundation has hosted nine workshops in the past year for skills such as grant writing, Teipel said.
Going forward, he said, the foundation is developing a training program for interested members of the community to learn how to be nonprofit board members.
It is also working on a volunteer consulting program that would take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and skill in the area, Teipel said.
Chaffee County Commissioner Keith Baker talked about how the idea for a community foundation came up during the Envision Chaffee County process. Community foundations help people make a financial and moral commitment to a project, he said.
Evelyn Baker said that when she and Keith owned The Trailhead in Buena Vista, they would have to turn down people asking for donations when they had reached their budget limit, and that was difficult for them. With the community foundation, she said, people only have to write one check, and the foundation takes it from there.
Dominique Naccarato, Greater Arkansas River Nature Association executive director, talked about what it means for nonprofits to have the foundation in the area. She said it has helped GARNA get a leg up, and she can see the foundation helping expose young people to philanthropy.
Founding Executive Director Michael Hannigan said that anything that happens, happens because of everyone.
“People just care about our valley so much,” Hannigan said.
Chaffee County watched other places do this, he said, and decided we could do it better, or at least differently.
It takes a whole critical mass of people to effect change, Hannigan said, and when people love a place they do whatever they can to take care of it.
“When people decide to make things better, it happens,” Hannigan said. “And that’s what’s happening here.”