Holiday giving arrived early for six nonprofit organizations in Colorado Springs.
Last week, an anonymous donor gave more than $220,000 to the nonprofits, along with $50 Visa gift cards for each full-time employee who works for them.
The donations came with typed anonymous notes from the self-described “mystery friend” donor.
The nonprofits included the Garden of the Gods Foundation, which helps with programs and facilities at the Garden of the Gods, $10,000; Cheyenne Village, housing for developmentally disabled, $50,000; Silver Key Senior Services, transportation, Meals on Wheels and case management for seniors, $50,000; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, arts education, performing arts and exhibits, $50,000; Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, $50,000; and Rocky Mountain Field Institute, $10,000.
“I was speechless. Speechless,” said Cheyenne Village Executive Director Ann Turner. “So many people appreciate the work we do and I am so humbled by it. Lately, we have had so much pain and … tragedy. This just reinforces there is so much joy in this season. It makes me weepy.”
“What a great surprise,” said Jan Martin, a trustee of the Garden of the Gods Foundation. “It makes me believe there really is a Santa Claus.”
“I like to think there are angels on earth that do such fabulous deeds … This truly is an example of such,” said J. Hilaire, Foundation trustee in a news release.
“It’s like something out of a fairy tale or a movie,” said RMFI Board President Ian Kalmanowitz. “I want to thank this donor for this absolutely amazing act, not just for the RMFI but for the community as a whole.”
“I was totally overwhelmed. Speechless,” said Pat Ellis, executive director for Silver Key. The last month of the year is “so critical” for nonprofits because donors often make their gifts then for tax purposes, she said.
All mentioned the $50 Visa cards to each employee as a special aspect of this donor’s gift.
Destination of the dollars
Some nonprofit representatives said it’s too early to specify what they will do with the money, but Lynne Telford, executive director for Care and Share, said: “We’ll turn it into food.”
Telford said she was unable to quantify the number of meals the additional money will cover.
“On average, we can provide eight meals for a dollar. It’s a lot of food,” Telford said. “We are working really hard to provide food throughout southern Colorado. With donated food, still there’s a cost to us. If we get a donated national load, we have to pay for the transportation. This will help us bring in a lot more food.”
The Garden of the Gods Foundation board will decide after Jan. 1 what to do with the money, Martin said. The Foundation often uses its money to fund projects for the city, which owns the park.
“We’ll probably look at some of those requests,” Martin said.
Silver Key will likely use the money for its food pantry, Ellis said.
“That was one area we had not secured full funding for this year. That was a god-send,” she said.
The RMFI will use the money to support the programs, “where ever the need will be — work in Garden of the Gods or the Waldo Canyon burn scar, Black Forest burn, work on Pikes Peak, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, anyplace there is a need,” said Kalmanowitz.
Cheyenne Village staff will “need to take a little time and think about what are the most pressing needs,” Turner said.
Fine Arts Center President of the Board Ron Brasch opened the gift at the board’s Dec. 17 meeting.
“I was delighted … we’re extremely grateful for that individual’s or organization’s generosity,” said Brasch. The Fine Arts Center will probably “continue what we’re doing from a mission point of view — arts education, expanding our shows.”