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With the departure of its Executive Director April Obholz Bergeler last week, Ark Valley Helping Hands faced a resource crisis. As one of many health-assistance-oriented nonprofits in the Arkansas River Valley, it has a true mission, but faced competition for nonprofit leadership as well as nonprofit funding.

Earlier this week, Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom, announced to the Board of County Commissioners that the board of Ark Valley Helping Hands decided to fold its mission into CCPH, voting to be absorbed by the public health system.

Carlstrom said that CCPH will hire a coordinator for the program, which will still function largely with the volunteers that have made it so important to local communities.

“I’ve never absorbed another community nonprofit before,” commented Carlstrom, to which County Attorney Daniel Tom replied, “We’d rather just take over their programs than absorb the nonprofit.”

“There are no employees, only the board is left, and we’ll inherit significant funding from them,” said Carlstrom. She added that she is familiar with the grants that the organization has worked with and that it exists as a volunteer member organization. By giving a little help to community members, often elderly or disabled — who might need storm windows put on, or groceries carried in — this assistance can help them stay in their homes.

Helping Hands programming, said Carlstrom, would be run in a similar manner to other CCPH programs. “We already have the Age Well and Aging Strong programs run by two coordinators, so we’ll hire a coordinator for the Helping Hands programming as well.

She added that CCPH is finally seeing some progress for its Home Share program, which it tried to pilot nearly four years ago, and is being re-launched. ” We piloted a home share program through Sage Generation and had three successful home shares then, like four years ago. What we do know now is that it takes a full-time position to start a new program like that.”

She added “It’s in line with our work on aging…. we want to see more emphasis for residents of the north end of the county to help them age in place. With the county as coordinator, we can help them with housework, transporting – things like that.”

Carlstrom pointed out that putting this programming under the public health umbrella can increase the funding streams. “Under public health, they have the opportunity to provide for so many other grants… plus we are the backbone of organization needed for the program.