Food, Volunteers, Cash and Help With Energy Bills
by Caitlin Switzer, The Montrose Mirror
Dec 08, 2011 | 657 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MONTROSE – More than a century ago, winter’s howling winds and icy gusts chilled Colorado settlers to the bone.

Today, those same fierce winds and frigid temperatures are chilling visitors to Museum of the Mountain West (68169 East Miami Rd.) in Montrose, thanks to the rising cost of energy.

Rich Fike, museum founder and board president, mentioned assistance with the museum’s heating bills when asked about his holiday wish list for the popular museum and historical exhibition.

“It costs us around $400 to $500 to run the furnaces every month,” Fike said.

The museum draws travelers from across the country and around the world throughout the year, particularly for its annual autumn “Tribute to Western Movies Days,” which this year featured the cast of the television classic, The Virginian, and country singer Lynn Anderson.

In addition to monetary support, Museum of the Mountain West could use railroad trucks and the assistance of a grant writer, Fike said.

“Artifact donations are always accepted, too,” Fike said, for which, he went on to point out, “you can get a tax write-off!”

The nonprofit Museum of the Mountain West, which focuses on the Western United States between 1880 to 1930, is also, through the Colorado Enterprise Zone,

a “designated contribution project.”

Open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the museum was honored in 2011 as a runner up for Best Museums in the West by True West Magazine. To learn more, visit

And stay tuned or future expansion plans, for which, Fike said, “We welcome support, especially financial,” including building an adjacent a two-story hotel.

At the Montrose County Historical Society Museum (21 N. Rio Grande), Director Sally Johnson said, the greatest need is for additional volunteers.

“Other wishes are for dressmaker forms, sterile brand name) stackable/lockable clear containers for storage and an oblong folding table for events,” she said. “We also need sponsors for our newsletter. We have found that a lot of our older members do not have computers, so emailed letters are still being sent out by snail-mail.”

Contact the museum at 970/249-2085, or visit the web site at to learn more.

Across town at Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center (735 South First St.), financial support is also welcome, particularly through the “Friends of the Dolphin House” program, said Executive Director Sue Montgomery.

Dolphin House is a child-friendly facility that serves the Seventh Judicial District (Montrose, Delta, Gunnison, Ouray, Hinsdale and San Miguel counties), coordinating the multidisciplinary team process for investigation of child abuse cases while providing a safe environment where victims of child abuse can undergo forensic medical exams and tell their stories.

“For $25 per month, over 12 months, you can pay for one family,” Montgomery said. “You can go on our website – – and sign up for a monthly donation to be made with a credit card if you prefer.

“If you want to become a ‘Friend,’ and make quarterly donations of $75 or a one-time yearly donation of $300, that is also great and can be done online too.

“We have been very blessed with our fundraising events this year,” Montgomery added. “Our golf tournament went well, and our yard sale raised $4,600.” But the need is escalating, she said. “Our numbers just keep going up.”

In 2008, Dolphin House saw 88 victims of child abuse. During the second half of 2009, those numbers shot up, and in 2010 Dolphin House saw 196 victims.

In 2011, Montgomery expects that Dolphin House will have served 230 families.

The Seventh Judicial District has taken a proactive approach toward addressing child abuse, noted Montgomery, with educational/awareness programs offered through the local After School Program and area churches, although continued community support is essential.

In addition to financial assistance, Dolphin House welcomes in-kind donations such as juice boxes and peanut butter crackers for kids.

“If we can get these items donated each year, it saves us a lot of money,” says Montgomery, estimating the facility goes through roughly 40 cartons of those food items in a year. “Churches, clubs, schools, subdivisions, etc., can do “Care Boxes” for abused children and bring the items listed on our sheet.”

To learn more how to support the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center, visit

Volunteers of America, the faith-based nonprofit organization that has grown to be among the nation’s most successful human- services providers, has a strong local presence throughout Western Colorado.

Volunteers of America Outreach Director Eva Veitch suggests a few simple, inexpensive ways to help support the nonprofit’s many local programs and facilities including “used laptop computers for our Valley Manor, Horizons and Homestead residents, as well as audio books or large print books – and headphones,” she said.

Also needed are Lunch-Bunch funds, to cover the cost of clients’ occasional lunches out, and sponsors for Meals on Wheels.

“Consider purchasing one sheet cake a year for the monthly birthday party at one of our facilities,” Veitch suggested. “There are also endless volunteer opportunities – you can help with special events, with seasonal decorating, or by visiting with our residents and helping with activities,” she added.

Volunteers of America has a number of volunteer opportunities for the whole family; to learn more, visit the web site

The staff at Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado is so accustomed to thinking of ways they can better serve the community that coming up with a holiday wish list was not easy, noted Director of Community Relations Nancy Hoganson. However, there are some specific ways that local residents can help support the organization.

Shoppers who prowl the racks and make purchases at Heirlooms for Hospice (435 East Main St.) support the nonprofit’s vital role in bringing solace and care to Western Slope residents – and their loved ones – at life’s end. Donations of furniture and gently used items to Heirlooms for Hospice are also greatly appreciated.

“Families can designate their memorials to go to Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado when a loved one dies, fund Lifelines for patients, or donate to our Gala Silent Auction in March,” Hoganson said.

To learn more about Hospice & Palliative Care in Western Colorado, visit

Perhaps one of the most vital programs in the Montrose Valley is the Kids Aid Backpack program, which is overseen in Montrose by Colleen Geery. Kids Aid makes sure that no child goes hungry over the weekend, when there is no school meal program.

Perhaps the most beneficial way to support Kids Aid is with a cash donation, allowing the program to purchase specific foods that best meet children’s needs, Geery suggested.

”It costs about $4.85 per backpack, per week, per child,” she said. “A person can sponsor a child for about $20 a month.”

Food donations are appreciated; however, there are restrictions on what types of food can be given to children, and all foods must be easily accessed and safely prepared by a kindergartener.

“I make sure that all cans have pop-tops, that the foods are convenient [and] non-perishable and easily and safely prepared,” requiring no knives or sharp objects to open, Geery said. “Currently, we put in the weekly backpack two packages of macaroni and cheese, one Chef Boyardee pasta meal, two oatmeal packs, one nut pack, one vegetable or fruit juice, two granola bars, one tuna and cracker pack, a fruit cup and a pudding. We buy all our food from Sam’s Club, and we do not buy food with high fructose corn syrup, Splenda or aspartame.”

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