The Snowmass Village Community Outreach Fund was established more than 27 years ago to assist people living in Snowmass Village. The fund has helped more than 35 residents in the past four years and has given more than $11,000 in assistance.

The amounts given vary from $200 to $1,000 and go to community members who find themselves in need of help. In most cases the funds help cover the cost of rent, medical bills, child care, food, medical travel or legal help. Assistance also has been provided to local teachers to help in their volunteer efforts overseas.

Our main source of income is the annual “Open Your Heart” campaign each February at Alpine Bank Snowmass. Supporters can purchase hearts that range in price from $5 to $100 in honor of someone or in memory of someone. The hearts make a colorful display on the walls of the lobby and Alpine Bank generously matches all donations uof as much as $1,500.

Volunteers are on hand to sell the hearts every Friday afternoon at the bank during the month of February.

The board is made up completely of volunteers and has no administrative overhead in order to maximize the value of each dollar donated by the community. The board’s current directors are Robert DeWetter, Marion Garrett, Betsy Burns Sima, Nancy Ferguson, Marylou Farrell and Tyler Newton.

For more information on the Snowmass Village Community Outreach Fund, call Marion Garrett at 970-618-6703, or Betsy Burns Sima at 970-948-9367

If you are familiar with the Buddy Program, you probably have a sense of how fortunate the Roaring Fork Valley is to have an organization that works so tirelessly for the youth in our community. If you are not familiar with the Buddy Program, it’s time you got up to speed.

In the midst of National Mentoring Month, I thought it appropriate to help spread the word. In October 2018, I was paired with one of the coolest, funniest, most artistic young men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. As many do, I joined the program with the intention of being a constant supportive figure in someone’s life. As many also do, I quickly learned how much of an impact my Buddy would have on me.

The past 15 months have seen more waterslide rides than any adult should ever endure and a pretty nasty bump from a fall on the ice — shout-out to the ARC! Plenty of cookies, muffins and gelato — here’s to you, Paradise Bakery! My Buddy’s first-ever fishing experience and, yes, we caught the biggest fish ever, not to mention the dozens of other adventures taking advantage of the amazing place in which we live.

If the thought of being a Big Buddy has ever crossed your mind, I implore you to talk to one of the fantastic staff at the Buddy Program. Becoming a Buddy may well be a decision that changes not only the life of a young man or young woman but yours, too.

Once again the Aspen Thrift Shop, the city of Aspen and the town of Basalt have stepped up to the plate and provided key financial support for my program Science in Schools. This critical program in its 20th year reaches 2200 K-4 students from Aspen to Glenwood teaching them the scientific method through fun, hands-on science experiments. Kudos to the Thrift Shop and our local governments for recognizing the importance of science literacy in our educational system.

Every month, volunteers of the Aspen Thrift Shop meet to continue to accomplish our mission: to make grants to nonprofit organizations in the Roaring Fork Valley. We are grateful to community members who continue to support our efforts by donating and purchasing gently used clothing and household items.

For the month of January we are pleased to announce the following recipients: Aspen Historical Society, Aspen Homeless Shelter, Glen X Career Expo, Stepping Stones of the Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen Hope Center, Basalt Elementary School — Teacher Appreciation Week, Basalt High School — Choir, Empty Bowls Science in Schools.

Recently I contacted my former Wee Buddy in the UK to wish him and his family a “happy Christmas,” as we say. He shocked me with his profound gratitude crediting me for saving him from being drawn into a gang inevitably following his older brother to prison.

This was my inspiration to answer the call for male Big Buddies in our midvalley where we are so needed.

Each week my Little Buddy and I meet for a couple of hours. Often it’s the high point of my week. In the past month we have been sledding, snowboarding, ice-skating and to the X Games. His appetite to try new things means we do activities I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed, making them even more rewarding by his enthusiasm.

Without being or doing anything special, you can give an impressionable teenager a window into another world making both your lives better.

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