A fellow named Dave who had been on the street, but with a little help found a home, is one of the thousands of Gazette-El Pomar Empty Stocking Fund success stories.
At the Feb. 8 closing reception for the annual holiday drive, Kristy Milligan of recipient nonprofit Westside Cares described Dave, who always visits when he stops by for a cup of coffee from "the pot that's always on." The compassionate staff had been there for him when a homeless friend died.
Moving forward to a happier day, Dave shared that he and a friend finally had found a place to rent. They were just $200 short of moving in. Westside Cares helped them over that hurdle. The money Westside Cares received from ESF will fund seven months of the agency's rental assistance program, Milligan said.
The 2017 drive raised $1,176,984 for health and human services provided by 20 nonprofits. Altogether, ESF has raised more than $19 million since 1984.
El Pomar's Bill Hybl, Gazette President/Publisher Dan Steever and Jerry Bruni of The Bruni Foundation wrapped up the successful year at the Penrose House reception. Bruni, whose foundation offers matching funds, called it remarkable that more than $1 million was raised "in this year of natural disasters."
Steever saluted those who gave the more than 2,000 donations and the community partners that were hosts for 23 events raising $95,000. Special thanks went to Paul Franco and his Life Well Lived Financial Group for their annual Holidays for Hope evening, which brought in more than $28,000, raising theireight-year contribution to more than $100,000.
Delivering their first oversized check were Travis and Niki Fields of Fieldhouse Brewing Co. for their Blackberry Paws Honey Beer fundraiser. Their $2,808 was matched by Jon Eddy Productions and Oskar Blues Colorado Springs for a total of more than $4,500. "This year is just the beginning," said Niki Fields.
Steever said he is proud that ESF grows as a community project, starting as a small holiday adopt-a-family Gazette effort in 1984. No administrative costs are taken for the Gazette-El Pomar Empty Stocking Fund, with the full $1.1 million going to the nonprofits.
Ending the evening with envelopes filled with ESF checks: American Red Cross of Southeastern Colorado, Care and Share Food Bank, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, CPCD giving children a head start, Ecumenical Social Ministries, Griffith Centers for Children Chins Up, Home Front Cares, Lutheran Family Services, Mercy's Gate, Partners In Housing, Peak Vista Community Health Centers, Pikes Peak Hospice & Palliative Care, Salvation Army of El Paso County, Silver Key Senior Services, TESSA, The Resource Exchange, Tri-Lakes Cares, Urban Peak, Westside CARES and YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region.