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Each year, members of the Douglas County Senior Foundation strive to collect as many donations as they can in order to provide grants for area nonprofits supporting the county’s senior population.
Unlike other foundations, said treasurer Brian Kirstein, theirs does not operate off an endowment fund.
“We’re very dependent on our donations. We’re not a typical foundation,” he said. “We have to raise money every year to make this work.”
And with no revenue, the foundation is run by a group of loyal volunteers who each year review grant applicants vying for the money.
“Each organization will ask for more than what we can usually provide,” said board member Nikki Hoy.
Still, the group gives what they can, also with the help of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, which matches their funds up to $15,000.
“Every member donates,” board president Bob Epstein said of the foundation’s volunteers.
Karie Erickson, executive director of Neighbor Network, said the foundation’s work is critical not only for the organizations receiving grants but also for the seniors they serve. The Neighbor Network is a nonprofit providing services such as housekeeping, transportation and care management to seniors.
“They make it possible for all of us direct service providers to continue touching the lives of seniors,” she said of the foundation. “Every one of those members have such a heart and such a passion for the seniors of Douglas County. They have given so much to promoting not only independence for our seniors but then also the care that goes along with when they need supportive services.”
Neighbor Network, one of this year’s six grant recipients, will use the money to support its companionship program, Erickson said. The program asks volunteers to provide outreach and supportive relationships to seniors living in isolation.
“One of the biggest issues facing seniors is isolation,” foundation board member Al Wonstolen said.
This year’s five other grant recipients were the Parker Senior Center, the Castle Rock Senior Center, the Douglas/Elbert Task Force and the Sky Cliff Center.
Manager of the Parker Senior Center, Jan Dengal, said they will use their grant to support the center’s meal program, through which they provide 8,000 lunches annually to seniors and the community at large.
The center charges $4 a meal, unless an individual is unable to pay.
“We never turn anybody away, so we keep the costs as low as we can,” Dengal said. “It’s been a real valuable sort of starting place to bring seniors that are normally shut in or grounded, who can’t get out, to come in and get a hot, nutritious meal.”
Dengal said the Douglas County Senior Foundation provides the kind of support their center needs to function, and commended its members for their work.
“They’ve just been wonderful to us,” she said.
Money from the foundation has helped grant winners with a number of different uses, from companionship programs, to meal programs to expanding the Castle Rock Senior Center, Wonstolen said.
The group is already accepting donations for next year. They hope to collect them online in the future, but for now money must be mailed to the foundation. More information on donating and applying for grants is available on their website, douglascountyseniorfoundation.com.
“They all struggle for money,” board vice president Sandy McCurdy said of grant applicants. “Everything helps.”
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