Charity Time in Woodland Park

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Nearly $35,000 in Woodland Park community investment funds will be doled out this year to 21 non-profits that help area residents and those in need, or organize big community events. 

And out of this list, the big winners are the Teller Senior Coalition, Community Cubboard, The Storehouse, Help the Needy, Above the Clouds Cruisers and Symphony Above the Clouds. But no group really received the lion’s share of the $34,102 in allocations, with the final awards per group ranging from $500 to $3,000.

The groups that struck out, with zilch donations, were CASA, Community Partnership, Prospect Home Care and Hospice and Colorado Lions Club. 

The Woodland Park City Council last week adopted the full recommendations of its community fund review committee, which had to grapple with a laundry list of nearly $196,000 in request dollars from local groups. 

However, committee chairman Darwin Naccarato told the council that this figure is somewhat misleading, with one applicant, Colorado Lions Club, submitting an inflated request of $108,000 that didn’t apply to their criteria. As a whole, he said the number of groups asking for money was actually down.

And for this year, he said the committee tried to award money to groups that the community investment fund would really assist. “If you don’t need the money, don’t apply for it,” said Naccarato, in explaining one of the committee’s underlying goals. According to the committee chairman, the area has some outstanding non-profits, such as Prospect Home Care, with large budgets. But with the limited dollars the city has in its community investment coffers, Naccarato indicated that their program can’t really assist these organizations. 

The council endorsed the committee’s findings without much hesitation and with much praise. A few questions were raised about some of the newer contributions, such as $650 to the Mountain Top Cycling Club. 

Woodland Park Mayor Dave Turley commented that he was previously quite skeptical about using these taxpayer dollars for this purpose. But after reviewing the process and seeing the benefits, he gave a thumbs-up to the program. “It is called a community investment for a reason,” said the mayor.

Similar sentiments were echoed by other leaders. Councilman Ken Matthews stated that having a committee handle the application details was a big improvement from the previous process, which threw these requests in the laps of the council. 

This often led to many emotional appeals by community group leaders, with the council playing the role as the bad guy. “It was very difficult to endure,” said Matthews, in explaining his previous stint on the council. 

Since a community investment committee was formed by former Mayor Gary Crane and other civic leaders, the group has tried to develop more objective guidelines for how the money is allocated. 

“The quality of the applications is getting much better,” said Councilman John Schafer, who serves on the committee.