TELLURIDE, Colorado (January 25, 2021) – Last December, the Telluride Foundation was getting worried. Inquiries and applications for Good Neighbor emergency hardship assistance spiked, while the COVID-19 Response Fund, which the Telluride Foundation created at the start of the pandemic to aid individual and families struggling with the loss of employment or business revenue, was rapidly decreasing as Good Neighbor cash assistance were deployed. However, just as the Fund was getting close to being depleted, a couple of wonderful events happened. First, the Johnson Family Foundation offered a $50,000 challenge match, which quickly raised $100,000 for the fund. Then, the Foundation received word from San Miguel County that the County Commissioners would give $45,000 to assist San Miguel County residents.
The COVID-19 Response Fund was created in March of this year and has raised over $1,300,000 from private donors to date. This Fund supports the Foundation’s Good Neighbor financial assistance program, in partnership with Tri-County Health Network. This program has distributed over $1,100,000 in assistance to support over 650 individuals and families, across San Miguel, Ouray, western Montrose counties, and Rico, for their most critical needs: rent, utilities, medical bills, and food. Rent payments are the primary Good Neighbor assistance request, with 78% of funds paid for this essential need. In addition to providing money for Good Neighbor assistance, the Response Fund distributed $320,000 in emergency COVID health and human service grants to healthcare, food banks, volunteer organizing, and internet access organizations.
The need for Good Neighbor assistance continues, and the COVID-19 Response Fund is the only place community members can apply for direct critical human needs cash assistance. While various critical government programs provide food support such as SNAP, many people don’t qualify. According to Paul Major, President & CEO of the Telluride Foundation. “We anticipate that we will need to raise another $400,000 to meet the need in the community from now until the spring.” As such, the Foundation is asking those who will soon be receiving a taxpayer stimulus checks and who have not experienced financial strife due to COVID-19, that they consider donating their stimulus check, or a portion there of, to help their neighbors who are struggling during this pandemic.
The Foundation launched its first “Stimulate the Response” campaign in April 2020 as the first wave of stimulus checks began arriving, asking community members to consider contributing their stimulus checks to the COVID-19 Response Fund. At that time, the Foundation was humbled by the donations from community members who gave what they could, some as small as $10.
The Good Neighbor Fund has been around for over 15 years, quietly and in the background, helping hundreds of families over that time. The Foundation has expanded the Good Neighbor Fund over the years to ensure families and individuals in San Miguel, Ouray, and west Montrose counties, as well as Rico, are supported, especially during these uncertain times due to the coronavirus. San Miguel County is also providing funding for mental health services through the Good Neighbor Fund. In addition, generous donors in Ouray County have created the Ouray County Response Fund, which provides Good Neighbor Fund grants specifically to Ouray County residents.
For more information about or how to donate to the Telluride Foundation’s regional Coronavirus Response Fund, https://telluridefoundation.org/responsefund/; for community resources and how to apply to the Fund, https://telluridefoundation.org/covid-19-community-resources/ ; or for more information about the Ouray County Response fund, https://telluridefoundation.org/ouray-county-response-fund/.
The Telluride Foundation exists to create a stronger Telluride and regional community through the promotion and support of philanthropy. 2021 marks 20 years of making more possible through the Telluride Foundation’s commitment to enrich the quality of life of the residents, visitors, and workforce of the Telluride region. Currently, we are meeting this mission through our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have created the regional Coronavirus Response Fund, which supports community-based organizations and vulnerable individuals and families in the Telluride region, including San Miguel, Ouray, western Montrose counties, and Rico. The Fund is targeted to assist in three urgent areas: 1) the Good Neighbor Fund, family/individual emergency assistance for food, rent, medical (including behavioral health treatments); 2) emergency grants to health and human service nonprofits, including regional medical clinics, food banks, and schools to provide meals for students; 3) expanded internet access and infrastructure necessary for students and teachers to participate in remote learning. Please click HERE to read more or donate now.