Military charity looks to expand reach

By Erin Prater Published: January 19, 2014 | 12:00 am 0

A military charity has decided that money earmarked for a Colorado wounded warrior vacation campus could be better spent sending veterans to out-of-state retreats.

Parker-based nonprofit Project Sanctuary has offered free monthly getaways for troops, veterans and their families at the YMCA's Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby since its inception in 2008.

The retreats are intended to provide healing through time spent bonding as a family in the outdoors.

In March, the charity launched a campaign to raise $2.4 million for the construction of a vacation campus on YMCA property that would accommodate the needs of some combat veterans.

The YMCA's cabins aren't handicapped-accessible, making them difficult for some wounded warriors to navigate, a charity spokeswoman told The Gazette in March.

Since then, the YMCA has made some of its cabins handicapped-accessible, and the organization has reconsidered its plans, said Geneva Templeton, Project Sanctuary chief operations officer.

"We stepped back and said, 'Do those plans really meet our needs?'?" she said. "?'Is that what is going to work best?' Probably not.

"What we think will work better is if we partner with different organizations in different areas of the country to offer retreats elsewhere."

Money raised for the project will instead be used to add out-of-state retreats to the charity's roster of in-state ones.

Last year, Project Sanctuary hosted a record 13 retreats.

This year, it plans to host at least 17, including its first out-of-state retreats: two in Utah and one in Texas.

Templeton hopes that doing so will help the charity reach a greater number and more geographically dispersed military families.

But it still has a long way to go before meeting demand for its services.

Its waiting list is at an all-time high of 1,500 families, Templeton said.

"Our goal is to get that waiting list down to zero and do that as quickly as we can," she said.

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