Though the city headquarters dozens of national nonprofits — from the U.S. Olympic Committee to Junior Achievement to Compassion International — Colorado Springs isn't known as a philanthropic mecca. The Independent's Give! effort — an end-of-year fundraising campaign with and on behalf of local groups — is helping to change that perception.
In just the campaign's second year, more than 1,400 donors — the vast majority of them local — gave a total of $427,370 to 40 area nonprofits. That easily topped our goal of a third of a million dollars.
Since the campaign involved nonprofits from seven different areas of interest, a quick synopsis on each participating organization should together comprise a snapshot of the area's nonprofit scene. That's what follows, along with a description of their needs as of early 2011 — which just may align with some stuff in your attic or basement. (As those needs may have changed by the time you read this, we recommend you get in touch with any nonprofit before organizing a donation.)
To learn more about the campaign and each organization, go to indygive.com.
Dream Power Animal Rescue helps an average of 1,000 animals every year through adoptions, plus 500 cats and dogs with low-cost spay and neutering programs. The next bright idea: using a donated RV to take veterinarians and support staff to low-income neighborhoods. Needs: foster homes; veterinarians/techs and board members; operating trays and supplies, grooming and first aid supplies, a commercial washer/dryer and a refrigerator/freezer.
Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center gives TLC to injured, sick and orphaned animals, preparing them to return to the wild. Those that can't be set free find new lives as "educational ambassadors" to schools, libraries and nature centers. Needs: volunteers to help with accounting and fundraising; fresh, frozen and baby foods; gift cards, building materials, new computers and a microwave, new (or reliable) vehicles, laundry/dishwasher soap and yard-maintenance tools.
Hamlett Spay & Neuter Clinic works to control the population among cats and dogs with low-cost services. Seniors, low-income individuals and feral cat caregivers receive free surgery and vaccinations for their pets. Cats and dogs won't find better friends than Hamlett's people (although they might not think so at first). Needs: additional board members; cat food and litter, blankets and towels, and a larger building.
The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region helps nearly 22,000 animals every year through programs, services and collaborations. HSPPR also works to unite selected older pets with senior citizens, forging a win-win arrangement. Needs: volunteers to walk animals and help with adoptions; large towels, fleece blankets, cat litter, treats, hard rubber chew toys and puppy pads.
Arts & culture
The Colorado Springs Philharmonic moves and entertains more than 60,000 people of all ages every year with innovative and playful programming at affordable ticket prices. The Vanguard Series, in particular, will prove that this ain't your grandma and grandpa's nose-in-the-air classical music. Needs: volunteers for the office and to hang posters in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.
FutureSelf works with 12- to 24-year-olds and aims to inspire their positive transformation through the arts. In the past decade, mentors have helped almost 2,000 young men and women grow into stronger artists and citizens. Needs: volunteer artists to teach and assistant teach; a paper cutter; microwave, mini-fridge, art supplies (call ahead for specifics), and working floor lamps.
Imagination Celebration provides a free place for people of all ages to indulge their creative, curious selves and improve their lives. Its Celebration Place offers music performances, puppet shows, poetry slams and much more — from inside the mall, no less! Needs: volunteers to supervise projects and assist at the front desk; art supplies, paper, fabrics, wood, plants, house paint and electronics, all in good condition.
The Manitou Art Theatre makes magic in its converted garage, offering inspirational and fun theatrical performances and programs. Resident clowns Jim Jackson and Birgitta De Pree often pack their gear and head out to delight the community at large. Needs: volunteers to build sets, staff offices and manage marketing efforts; a color copier, exterior signage, arts and crafts supplies, and asphalt or concrete repair.
Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site is a farm and living history museum focusing on nearly three centuries of life in this region. Needs: donations for the Sponsor an Animal Program and memberships; docents (can you work a butter churn and look good in a bonnet?) and event assistants of all ages; animal feed and cooking supplies.
Bike Clinic Too's part-time staff and volunteers refurbish bikes, furnish locks and helmets, and provide free repairs to people who need low-cost transportation. No questions are asked, other than "Do you like that bike?" Needs: veteran and apprentice bike mechanics; bike tools; storage space near downtown; bikes, helmets, locks and pumps in reasonably good condition.
Citizens Project is a grassroots education and advocacy organization dedicated to defending and promoting equality, religious freedom and respect for diversity. Around election time, especially, you'll see its name on forums, candidate questionnaires and much more. Needs: election volunteers, house party hosts, event sponsors, social media fans and followers, and interns; video camera and working vacuum.
Colorado Springs Diversity Forum fosters civil, informative dialogue on controversial subjects among people of diverse beliefs. Its Food for Thought program gives participants controversial topics to chew on while engaging in respectful conversation. Needs: volunteers for administrative support, committees and day-of event support; membership contributions and sponsorship for Everybody Welcome: A Celebration of Culture and Diversity.
Designated Driver of Colorado Springs aims to eliminate impaired driving by ensuring people reach their homes safely. While at a sponsoring bar, locals can request a ride home in their own car, for free. Needs: sponsorships and gift cards for gas and restaurants; volunteer drivers (with a good driving record and an ability to drive stick-shift), call-center operators and experienced grant writers; office supplies.
Greccio Housing provides affordable rental homes for low-income residents and assistance with emergencies, along with instruction in basic life skills and finances, including setting goals for education and employment. It's the only Colorado Springs nonprofit providing this support. Needs: volunteers for painting and cleaning, landscaping, office duties and transportation; school supplies and furniture.
Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates homes for low-income families and offers zero-interest, 30-year mortgages. The first-time homeowners learn that a simple act like swinging a hammer can change their lives forever. Needs: volunteer operating committee members and workers of all skill levels at construction sites and the group's ReStore building-supply store; construction materials.
Pikes Peak Urban Gardens builds community through organic gardening projects, demonstration gardens and education programs. In 2010 alone, PPUG established five community gardens in the area. Needs: volunteers to help water, plant and harvest; hand tools, wheelbarrows, a 10-horsepower chipper-shredder, large rototiller and Mantis tiller; aged organic cow or alpaca/llama manure.
Environment & sustainability
Friends of Cheyenne Cañon support North Cheyenne Cañon Park, a 1,600-acre recreation magnet brimming with wildlife, streams, rock formations and forests on the city's southwest edge. Needs: funding for education and visitor center staffing; volunteers for visitor centers, special events, education programs and trail maintenance; food for volunteers, clean-up supplies, maintenance materials and educational supplies.
Friends of El Paso County Nature Centers provide fun and educational outdoor experiences for youth — who often come back decades later for visits with their own children. Needs: monetary donations; an environmental education assistant and reception desk staff.
Friends of Garden of the Gods protect and promote the 1,325-acre signature park through programs including youth education, ensuring its well-being for future generations. Admission is free to all, but that comes with a price payable in tender loving care. Needs: volunteers for various purposes, including trail maintenance and guiding duties; tools including shovels and tree trimmers.
Palmer Land Trust works with residents and groups to conserve open spaces, including a permanent "green belt" around Pikes Peak and 30,000 acres of some of the region's most beloved areas. Needs: invitations to civic clubs' events to help spread information; volunteers for a property-management day in early summer; four-wheel-drive vehicle with medium-to-high clearance.
The Rocky Mountain Field Institute recruits volunteers to repair trails, improve habitat and restore fragile areas. Wherever nature needs help, the institute makes sure platoons of workers show up ready to get dirty. Needs: volunteers for workdays; color laser printer, small bookcase, Mac computer, four-wheel-drive Suburban and tools including shovels, McLeod rakes, 5-gallon buckets, pick mattocks and rock bars.
The Trails & Open Space Coalition uses its savvy and passion to preserve trails, parks and open spaces in partnership with smaller organizations, who know they can turn to TOSC for help with coordinating volunteers and generating funding. Need: volunteers to form Friends Groups to protect "orphaned" neighborhood parks and open spaces, and to lead crews and help with maintenance projects.
Venetucci Farm provides hands-on experience and education on 200 acres south of Colorado Springs. It's the 70-year blossoming of Nick Venetucci's dream to share his pumpkins with local children. Needs: volunteers for education programs and to help with the on-site farm stand, the children's garden and market; wagons, wheelbarrows, garden gloves and tools.
Cheyenne Village provides adults with developmental disabilities and their families with help in community integration, socialization, coordination of health care and benefits, and respite care. Its outreach program assists people with developmental disabilities who have fallen through the safety net. Needs: volunteers for community outings, raking and painting, and to help host parties; a carpet, furnace and van.
Fostering Hope coordinates support teams that assist foster families caring for at-risk children and teens. Trained volunteers step up to help foster parents who are feeling overwhelmed. Needs: tickets to large-group activities; businesses willing to mentor teens before they age out of the system; volunteers to assist in office; toys, clothing and office supplies (call first).
Interfaith Hospitality Network partners with local congregations to furnish short-term housing to homeless families with children; then, the group provides tools to help those families move to self-sufficiency. Needs: volunteers for printer maintenance, fundraising, grant writing, auto repair, remodeling/home maintenance and website research/maintenance. Also, volunteers for committees on PR, special events, personnel, development and host congregation recruitment.
Pikes Peak Family Connections staff and volunteers strive to change the high rates of child abuse and neglect. The nonprofit provides free assistance to children from birth to age 12; programs include 24/7 crisis care, scheduled care and planned respite care. Needs: volunteer crisis intervention specialists and on-call registered nurses; paper products, non-perishable food and Enfamil formula.
Silver Key Senior Services implements programs that help seniors maintain healthy and active lifestyles. The need is becoming greater, as staff and volunteers brace for the tidal wave of Baby Boomers turning 60. Needs: volunteers to transport clients and Meals on Wheels, perform household maintenance and yard work, coordinate the recreational calendar and greet visitors; non-perishable food, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and personal care items.
The Women's Resource Agency mentors girls and women striving for self-sufficiency, economic independence and healthy life choices. Every year, more than 1,200 people here learn how they can design their course through life. Needs: volunteers to assist with résumé preparation, mock interviews, computer skills and career coaching; personal shoppers for Dress for Success; assistants for administrative duties and events.
The Harbor House Collaborative provides safe places and programs for those seeking sobriety, healthy living and self-sufficiency. The Safe Harbor program is Colorado Springs' only treatment initiative tailored to women battling addictions. Needs: ongoing monthly donors to help with costs; volunteers to help with administrative support, financial planning and nutrition education; new or gently used twin-bed cotton sheet sets.
Mission Medical Clinic offers health, hope and spiritual support to low-income adults of any or no faith, giving them a boost to improve their lives in the long-term. Needs: volunteer licensed medical, dental, and behavioral health professionals, administrative assistants, and maintenance and repair workers; medical and dental supplies, paper goods, office supplies and prescription medications.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Colorado Springs Chapter, implements research, advocacy and education to assist families and friends dealing with mentally ill loved ones. The Family to Family program changes local lives with knowledge gained from firsthand experience. Needs: volunteers to staff helpline and to serve as board members assisting with human resources or data management; new carpeting.
The Suicide Prevention Partnership of the Pikes Peak Region provides support and education for those contemplating suicide and those who love them. Programs include Children Left Behind, which offers guidance, solace and companionship through art and writing activities to youngsters who've lost loved ones to suicide. Needs: volunteers for fundraising committees and hotline staffing; writing and art supplies, art easels and yoga mats.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure sponsors Race for the Cure and Ride for the Cure, which help provide breast cancer education, screening, treatment and support. Volunteers, no matter how little time they can give, will witness the power of the pink ribbon. Needs: volunteers for special events, year-round marketing and public relations, and leaders for committees and activities.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado coordinates one-on-one mentoring for children ages 7 to 12 through programs such as Operation Mentor (for military children). Results include improved academic performance and decreased violent behavior and dropout rates. Needs: volunteer male mentors older than 20.
Children's Literacy Center supplies people who share their love of reading one-on-one with kids who are struggling to keep up at school. Needs: volunteers to tutor children at sites throughout the Front Range; children's books (no picture books), new or gently used books for online fundraising bookstore, and pens, pencils, girls' accessories, etc., for treasure boxes.
Cool Science partners with schools and organizations to provide actual scientists and engineers to nurture children's knowledge of and love for science, and also to fill the gaps in local school curricula. Needs: volunteers to help plan, prepare and present hands-on, year-round science activities. (A background in science or engineering is highly desirable, but not necessary.)
Court Appointed Special Advocates trains volunteers to represent children dealing with abuse and neglect as they negotiate the legal system. Through the Milton Foster Children's Fund, kids get the chance to participate in team sports, music lessons and other fun activities. Needs: volunteer advocates, facilitators and administrative and events staffing; and gift cards, good computers and office supplies.
Kids on Bikes provides bicycles to low-income children, supporting healthy lifestyles through incentive programs tailored to move each child closer to self-confidence and independence. Needs: classroom financial sponsorships; volunteers to be mechanics, notaries, helpers for bike rides and clinics, fundraising and special events committee members, and assistants for administrative duties and grant writing.
Urban Peak serves homeless and runaway youths ages 15 to 21 by providing essential services and a supportive community. Every young person who knocks on the door will find a warm, respectful welcome. Needs: volunteers to help cook meals, answer daytime phone calls and help with daytime street outreach; undented canned goods, fresh meat and socks.Click here for a map of Colorado Springs!