Of the myriad truths gleaned from the Waldo Canyon Fire — milk becomes a solid after a week in a refrigerator with no power; in the local dialect, "Jerri Marr" means "rock star"; Twitter really is an almost-perfect medium for breaking news — one of the most conspicuous was this: Colorado Springs is a giving town.
A glance back makes this seem axiomatic. To cite just a few examples: Local restaurateurs lined up to feed evacuees ("Unto others," Appetite, July 4); markets saw pet aisles picked clean of supplies as residents rushed to the aid of local rescue organizations; the "Community Rises" concert, organized by the Colorado Springs Independent, Philharmonic and World Arena, and Focus on the Family, raised almost $300,000 in just one night for Pikes Peak United Way's Waldo Canyon Fire Victim Assistance Fund.
The past 2½ weeks have given us reason to be proud of our city, our neighbors and, indeed, ourselves. Not that all of us needed reminding. Working with the Indy Give! campaign, Colorado Springs' newest, hippest and funnest year-end charity fund drive, I've seen first-hand that we are that kind of town. Though we may never agree on a single mill levy or property tax initiative, when we see a need or a cause that moves us, we dig deep and help out.
Charitable giving fulfills a basic human need: It gives us power over our environment. Instead of sitting by helplessly, watching a monstrous fire devour our beloved mountains, or let our city's identity be defined by folks who don't share our values, giving to others gives us a chance to ... do something about it.
Philanthropy and volunteering allow us to shape our town into the place we always wanted to live. You want world-class mountain biking trails 10 minutes from your office? There's a group for that. You want our kids, no matter what their ethnicity or socioeconomic background, to have active, healthy bodies and tummies filled with good, wholesome food? There are groups for that, too. You want a vibrant and inspiring arts scene so there's something fun to do on Friday nights other than drive to Denver? Yep. We've got that.
Every dollar, every hour spent in support of a cause we love is an act of creation no less tangible than swinging a hammer at the head of a nail.
Some years ago, Independent publisher John Weiss had the bright idea to use his paper to showcase some nonprofits in town that he thought were doing great and important things. Our fellow altweekly, Willamette Week in Portland, Ore., stole his idea and made it better. In classic John Weiss form, he stole it back and refined it further. The result is the Indy Give! campaign, now on the verge of its fourth year.
While the official kickoff isn't until Nov. 1, we are huddling backstage to bring you a better, faster, stronger (in other words, totally bionic) Give! 2012. We've already done the hard part: narrowing our large pool of unbelievably amazing applicants down to our 2012 class of 61 nonprofit organizations, announced here. Their missions are sure to engage and inspire you, and to remind you of all the things you love about our town.
The Give! Class of 2012
All Breed Rescue & Training
Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Indigo Mountain Nature Center
Safe Place for Pets
Arts and Culture
Business of Art Center
Colorado Springs Youth Symphony
Cottonwood Center for the Arts
KRCC Ivywild Studio and Performance Space
Millibo Art Theatre
Ormao Dance Company
Springs Ensemble Theatre
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts
Pikes Peak Recycling on the Rise
Pikes Peak Therapeutic Riding Center
Pikes Peak Urban Gardens
PILLAR Institute for Lifelong Learning
CASA of the Pikes Peak Region
Community Partnership for Child Development
Colorado Springs Community Centers
Fostering Hope Foundation
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado
Special Kids Special Families
Women's Resource Agency
Chico Basin Ranch
Coalition for the Upper South Platte: Fire Suppression and Recovery Team
Energy Resource Center
Friends of Monument Valley Park
Friends of Red Rock Canyon
Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates
Mile High Youth Corps of Colorado Springs
Rocky Mountain Field Institute
Trails and Open Space Coalition
A Hand Up
Blue Star Recyclers
Catholic Charities of Central Colorado
Interfaith Hospitality Network
One Nation Walking Together
PlayDate Behavioral Interventions
Springs Rescue Mission
Suicide Prevention Partnership of the Pikes Peak Region
Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center
Diabetes Community Center
Girls on the Run of the Rockies
Mission Medical Clinic
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Safe Passage Children's Advocacy Center
Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts
Centro de la Familia
Inside/Out Youth Services
Kids on Bikes