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Chaffee County Community Foundation (CCCF) is the second nominee highlighted by the “Chaffee’s Got Heart” Committee for its efforts to aid the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizations across the county were asked to nominate local businesses and individuals that they believe exemplify the idea of Chaffee’s Got Heart.

Know of an outstanding business or individual working to keep the community safe? Make your nomination by Jan. 15.

Executive Director, Joseph Teipel sat down with the Committee to discuss how COVID-19 changed the approach taken by the nonprofit. CCCF was founded in 2018 with the mission to act as a catalyst to inspire positive change through the power of philanthropy to enrich the lives of the Chaffee County community.

When asked how COVID-19 caused the nonprofit to innovate, Teipel said “COVID forced us to research, design and implement new ways of doing what we do, which included things we had never done before. Overall, it caused us to innovate in 3 big ways:

  1. We had never given direct cash assistance to individuals, but COVID shifted our focus to the Emergency Response Fund (ERF). Within just a few weeks of the shutdown, we worked with the Chaffee County Department of Human Services (DHS) to offer assistance that would meet the community’s immediate needs.
  2. By June, we created a group-based grant program for food access organizations that was new to our organization. We wanted it to be innovative and forward-thinking so we modeled it around the idea that the grantees would work together to increase coordination and collaboration to meet immediate community needs and ensure all Chaffee families and individuals had access to nutritious food.
  3. Due to COVID, we had to grow our capacity very quickly. For 2020, we had a planned operating budget of $80,000. Over the year, we actually ended up passing $1.8 million through our organization. The sheer volume of dollars, transactions, grants…it all required we innovate, figure out how to do more with such a small staff, and lean on our board of directors.”

In relation to why CCCF decided to go above and beyond for the community, Teipel explained, “This is our mission and who we are, but we were also driven to do more by nudges from community leaders who recognized a gap that we could fill. We were asked to step up to the plate by these other stakeholders and we did.”

CCCF Honoring George Blake and his walks; his inspiration for fundraising for the community.

Teipel went on to explain where in the county he sees example of the idea that Chaffee’s Got Heart.

“The easiest example is the outpouring of generosity from across the county in response to COVID. It was clear that hundreds and hundreds of people understood the traumatic impact of the shutdown on other community members and they stepped up and got involved financially,” said Teipel. “We had 780 individual donors contribute to the ERF, many of whom had not donated to us before, for a total of $400,000 that went straight back to our community.”

Teipel’s biggest takeaway from 2020 is that “On the community level, I learned that Chaffee residents have a deep desire to support each other. On a pragmatic level, I learned that it’s possible to get so much done [virtually] without being around other people and that’s surprising.”

Chaffee County Community Foundation is always trying to raise and elevate the idea of philanthropy and giving back to the community. With a  round of new stimulus checks coming out, CCCF is urging those who don’t need those stimulus dollars to leverage that money by donating it to the Emergency Relief Fund by clicking here.

A total of 1.1 million dollars were raised for the Emergency Relief Fund through grants, individual donors and more. Approximately $700,000 went back into the community via grants, individual, small businesses and nonprofits. The rest of the money is being held in reserve in anticipation of needs in 2021. Click here to learn more.

Featured Image: Chaffee County Community Foundation: We Are Chaffee. Image courtesy Joe and Kimmie Randall.