It takes a village: Local non-profits work together


By Kirsten Le Roux

Special to The SUN

The expression, “It takes a village to raise a child” has been evident in Pagosa Springs this past year.

GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) is a local organization raising funds for outdoor scholarships for teenagers, to give them the opportunity to connect with nature and themselves and find a rightful and meaningful path in their lives. GECKO stages fun and challenging outdoor events (which also aims to get everyone outside) as a way to raise the money for the scholarships.

From experiences in other not-for-profits, there was an expectation coming in to Pagosa Springs that, operationally, this would fall to Team GECKO and their friends and families as volunteers. What was unexpected was the ongoing collaboration with other local non-profits and service organizations. These organizations have offered assistance passively (lending their equipment and facilities to offset event costs) but most often they have offered support in a significant hands-on capacity, taking a large active role in the events where the coordination of the majority of their service organization was required.

By way of example, GECKO’s final two events of the season — Devil Mountain Ultra and EPIC Mountain Challenge — each involved three days of activity plus setup and tear down, and everywhere you looked teams from other organizations were coordinating their parts in the task. San Juan Back Country Horsemen had two teams of riders on the remote parts of the Devil Mountain Ultra route providing sweep and keeping the course clear ahead of runners. Search and Rescue had a team of six to eight out on the course and manned check points to ensure runners made it to each stage safely. Kiwanis Club of Pagosa Springs prepared and served all the meals back at base camp. Pagosa Trails Council and Pagosa Trail Riders (ATV) manned remote aid stations from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the U.S. Forest Service coordinated with all teams on access.

At Epic Mountain Challenge, the Rotary Pagosa Mountain Morning group took on the mammoth role of planning, coordinating and providing meals from Friday to Sunday for over 200 people and had Rotarians stationed serving the meals from 6 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Sunday. Joanne Irons and personnel from the Youth Center pitched in to assist with photography and videography for the events. The list goes on.

Planning and preparation for the Rural Philanthropy Days conference to be held in Pagosa Springs in June 2014 is well underway. For it to be a financial success collaboration from not-for-profits (that quite often compete for the same funding) is crucial. Working together lifts everyone higher and will improve our community and the opportunities for all of us. If GECKO’s experience in Pagosa Springs is anything to go by, the prediction is that this next Rural Philanthropy Days conference will be sensational.