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An opportunity to give back to the community

By: Jenny Stafford, Beth Roalstad and Daisy McGowan
November 28, 2017 Updated: November 28, 2017 at 8:21 am
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There are countless studies analyzing the correlation between brain activity and the act of giving. What powers it? What side of the brain drives decision making? What reasoning is involved to assess the action?

But any nonprofit organization will tell you, it's about heart. According to Giving USA's report on 2016 giving, 72 percent of all charitable giving in our country came from individual donors. The AARP Foundation's 2016 Colorado Charitable Giving Survey reported that 4 out of 5 adults surveyed reported giving to one or more charities in 2016.

As civic leaders, we help lead local organizations that span a diverse range of impact. While our organizations vary in sector, from homelessness to contemporary visual art to pediatric health care, the common thread of philanthropic impact runs through the work we each do. The generosity of our community enables our organizations to create transformational local impact.

The Giving Tuesday movement has helped to elevate the philanthropic conversation on a national level, acknowledging what we inherently know from the work we do every day: philanthropy, and the organizations it benefits, are vital to a strong community and country. The tradition of our community rests on individual responsibility and action; historically, we have looked to nongovernmental organizations like ours to solve our community's problems and spearhead growth and innovation.

There's no better day than Giving Tuesday to reflect on Colorado Springs' rich history of generosity, and self-reliance. Here are two examples of how individuals have given their time, talents, and treasures to create community impact.

More than a decade ago, local leaders rallied arts and cultural enthusiasts around the idea of creating an overarching organization to advocate and organize on behalf of the arts. Colorado Springs was the only city in the country of its size lacking a local arts agency and needed an umbrella entity that could champion the Pikes Peak region's bountiful arts and cultural happenings and advance the creative economic sector. The group exclusively raised local dollars to support the initiative and the nonprofit Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR) was born.

COPPeR's mission is to connect residents and visitors with arts and culture. In 2016, it celebrated a decade in business and it's resume of accomplishments continue to fuel the region, recently championing an Arts and Economic Prosperity Study, a yearlong study that found the nonprofit arts & culture sector generates $153.3 million in annual economic activity.

What was not, now is, because our community saw a need, volunteered their time, relationships and resources to re-write our creative sector's story.

When Winfield Scott Stratton died in 1902, he left instructions in his will that nearly all of his fortune was to be used to establish and maintain a home for poor people and named in memory of his father, Myron Stratton. The Home, which opened in 1913, has operated continuously since that date, and has served thousands of seniors and children in poverty for more than a century. Once an orphanage for children, more than a century later, the Myron Stratton Home evolved his legacy, joining Partners in Housing, Peak Vista Community Health Centers and TESSA to the Stratton Consortium. If you have visited the Myron Stratton Home, you know it's a magical place that is selfless in its service to this community.

There will always be gaps in our community that need addressing. We are proud to represent organizations on the forefront of delivering on those needs: bringing world class pediatric health care to southern Colorado with the new Children's Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs; building a home for multidisciplinary arts at the Ent Center for the Arts; and convening the many homeless advocacy groups in the region to address one of the city's most pressing social issues. Philanthropy plays a major role in bringing these projects and initiatives to life.

Community members and businesses in the Pikes Peak region have made miracles happen and we understand that homegrown donors - those who live here, work here, raise children here - have a personal stake in the game.

As our community grows, with more and more young professionals ascending on and choosing to stay in the region, we will see these changes take shape. Driven by a sense of purpose, younger generations are making their mark through voice and volunteerism, becoming lifelong advocates for the cause.

Today is your day. Find your passion and engage. Make it personal by visiting GivingTuesday.org to learn how your dollars, time, goods and voice can help make a difference in our community.

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Column by: Jenny Stafford, Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation, Beth Roalstad, Homeward Pikes Peak and Daisy McGowan, Galleries of Contemporary Art at UCCS.

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