The Chaffee’s Got Heart Committee is extremely proud of local businesses and individuals that have gone above and beyond by doing extraordinary things during these uncertain times. From innovating ways to thrive despite trying circumstances to showering struggling members of our community with generosity to prioritizing the health and safety of our most vulnerable, these businesses and individuals, who have been nominated for this honor by fellow community members, have shown what it really means when we say: Chaffee’s Got HEART.

BUENA VISTA PUBLIC LIBRARY

Today, we sat down with Julia Makowski, Youth Services Coordinator for the Buena Vista Public Library to find out how she took on the challenge of reconnecting families to the library in a safe and meaningful way during the pandemic. In the words of the library’s Director, Cecilia LaFrance, “Julia is a local hero in the time of the pandemic, supporting the mission of the Library to inspire discovery and growth in the community’s youth.” 

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business? 
I joined the library in July 2020 and the director tasked me with getting our programming up and running within the regulations our county had in place. So, in September, I launched our robust “take and make” program, which provides weekly activities connected through a monthly theme. All materials are provided and activities go beyond reading to included science experiments, math skills, and arts and crafts. We also offer ways to encourage continued exploration and curiosity in kids beyond just the activities provided. 

We wanted to support parents by promoting early learning and literacy and also wanted to give families an opportunity to still be connected with the library even from a distance. It was extremely successful and we got great feedback from parents. We were surprised to find out that we were giving them time together in a shared experience, or at least they were using it that way. We hadn’t anticipated that, but it makes sense since connections are what people are missing right now. 

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community? 
I don’t think it’s above and beyond. I think it’s what we are supposed to do. It’s the purpose of our library and though we needed to pivot and change how we approached our mission, we still wanted to meet community needs. 

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’? 
I’ve seen this by watching our parents handle this situation. They miss us and want to be here more, but they have been very understanding and patient. In trying to make those connections with friends, family and the community in different ways, they have all been very respectful with each other because they know this isn’t just about them. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020? 
That I am incredibly fortunate and lucky to live here and be part of this small community that is so supportive. I can’t imagine what this past year would have been like in a larger city. 

Cool Tidbits: 
Each month, Julia designs monthly themed take and make kits to provide a new opportunity to interact, explore and learn each week. Between September and December, the Library distributed over 800 kits to youth ages 0 – 5th grade. Examples of work may be seen at the youth page on the Library’s website. 

Sign up for take and make kits through the website. 

Register for Play, Learn, Grow: An Early Learning Zoom Workshop Series supported by Colorado State Libraries. 

Summer Reading Program plans are shaping up for in-person, outdoor activities including a variety of animals and fun. Learn more or volunteer by emailing Julia. 

 

KALIEDOSCOPE TOYS

Today, we sat down with Donna Cole, owner of Kaleidoscope Toys, to find out how the pandemic changed operations at this shop full of unique toys, games, books, arts and crafts, jewelry, candy, and novelties. 

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business? 
When all non-essential businesses were shut down last March, we pivoted to doing phone and online orders for curbside pick-up and delivery. We focused on the safety of our employees and customers with extra cleaning, We focused on stay at home activities to help parents who were having to work from home and teach their kids. 

During our busy Christmas season, we had 2 teams that worked different days so if anyone tested positive, the other team would not have had contact and could keep the store open. And during the summer, we had a chain across the doorway to let people know we were serious about limiting the number of people allowed inside to meet regulations. 

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community? 
My staff and I have been passionate about keeping our community safe – including kids, teachers, pregnant moms, grandparents, health care workers and customers with health issues. We wanted the kids to be able to go to school in person, if they felt comfortable to do so. 

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’? 
Chaffee’s Got Heart is great campaign to remind everyone to keep doing the things that have helped mitigate the spread of the virus in our county. I see Chaffee’s Got Heart signs in most businesses that are enforcing compliance. I think so many people in our community have big hearts and have helped support each other and local businesses throughout this past year. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020? 
I’ve learned that we have a very resilient team that can adapt to changing circumstances and that we have a very supportive customer base that stepped up to help us through a crazy year. I’m reminded every day of how grateful I am to live in this wonderful community. Keep up the good work! We’ll get through this together. 

Cool Tidbits: 
Kaleidoscope toys delivered 100 Easter baskets to various community members to bring some light to at the beginning of the pandemic 

They are still asking everyone to follow the same rules as last year: 

  • Everyone 3 years old and up must wear a mask 
  • Use hand sanitizer before coming inside 
  • We limit our small space to no more than 8 people at a time, so you may have to wait outside for a few minutes 

They still offer curbside pickup and can deliver toys in the Salida area and still offer private shopping from 10-11am. 

You can use your Discovery Pass for $5 off a $30 purchase. 

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram or sign up for our monthly email newsletter. 

HIGH COUNTRY BANK


The Chaffee’s Got Heart Committee could not help support the work of Chaffee County Public Health without generous support from local businesses and organizations.
Today, we sat down with James Bove, Marketing Director for High Country Bank, our most recent sponsor, to find out how the pandemic changed operations and to discuss why High Country Bank, dedicated to “Building Futures Together,” decided to sponsor this important work.

How are you supporting the Chaffee’s Got Heart Campaign?
As a business, we are following every single rule that comes with the HEART campaign, but we’ve also gone beyond that to be super proactive with our paid leave and sick time to encourage anyone feeling sick to stay home. We’ve gone above and beyond with disinfecting, cleaning, signs, social distancing and mask wearing, and if our employees can’t make it for a free test through public health, we will pay for their test. We have made sure to follow every bit of what the HEART campaign stands for, and we’ve also tired our best to donate to Public Health in different ways to support the team in letting the community know what’s going on during the pandemic.

Why did High Country Bank decide to sponsor the Chaffee’s Got Heart Campaign?
High Country Bank is community-focused so our main goal is to help the community succeed and get through tough times. Each year we set up a program to determine our donation budget, but this year completely changed events and sponsorships. We had to act on our feet and see where support was needed most. By supporting the Chaffee’s Got Heart campaign, we can help the community get through this. Whether it’s supporting CCPH with advertising dollars so they can get information out or it’s providing lunch to CCPH staff so they can work all day testing or vaccinating our community members, we feel it’s imperative to help CCPH since their work is critical to getting our community through this tough time.

What would you say to other businesses looking for a way to support this work?
This community is why our businesses thrive, so if the community is having a tough time getting through, it is going to impact our businesses. It’s been a tough year, but if you can spare a little to support the entity trying to help us get back on our feet, it’s a good place to start.

Any other thoughts you’d like to share with the community?
First, we want to thank CCPH. We know you’ve gone through some really tough times dealing with everything and you’ve worked so hard to put the community first, and to put the sake of everyone else above your own. Second, we want to thank all the essential workers who have helped keep restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and all the other critical services open, clean and going over the past year.

Learn more about High Country Bank’s extensive contributions to our community: https://www.highcountrybank.net/who-we-are-give-back-program

 

JALABLU COLLECTIVE HEALING

Today, we sat down with Jenna Pfingston, owner and founder of jalaBlu Collective Healing to find out how the pandemic changed operations at this yoga studio in Buena Vista that welcomes all levels, supports your journey wherever you may be, infuses the curiosity within self-discovery, and holds the intention to discover the power of you.

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business?
Though challenging, this was a beautiful invitation for all of us to look at our businesses from a different perspective. When COVID first hit, we flipped to an online yoga studio. A dear friend helped me completely change our website and set up an online platform for practice. The progression of getting everyone – teachers and students of all age groups – dialed into zoom took some time and individual troubleshooting, but we did it together.
I also took this as an invitation to lower our prices way down so we offered an unlimited monthly option. Our community was so committed to seeing jalaBlu make it through these challenging times that we had remarkable online attendance through spring. We weren’t brining in the money foundation we needed to, but it was more important to keep people in their practice, to keep people in balance with their emotions and all they were facing.
When we could re-open the studio, we did so in a way that kept the community safe. We followed distancing, masking and capacity limits, invested in an air purifier and shifted to doing all business online, including registering and paying. We used to have 16 classes per week, but now only have 6 per week. We still have a higher online attendance, but also know that some people need to come in person for that energy and human contact so we allow 9 students in the studio per class and I also offer private one-on-one yoga sessions.

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community?
There was no question in my heart that the priority was keeping the community safe. jalaBlu is a profound and significant place for people to be who they are, and to heal, so we wanted to make sure it was a safe, healthy one.

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’?
In the way the community reached out. They made it apparent how much they needed jalaBlu to survive. I received so many beautiful cards, emails, and bundles of abundance from the community that helped keep me and jalaBlu going. I don’t think jalaBlu’s doors would still be open without all the generosity – from grants to individual generosity – it was unbelievable to me. I never imagined how many people would donate and it has helped tremendously. That’s the sweetness of being in a small community like Buena Vista.
I also need to give a huge shoutout to my teachers who really stuck with me! It hasn’t been easy and it’s not like they make a ton of money, but I would not have been able to do it without the solid core group I have by my side.

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020?
It’s ok to be human. We are all humans and this has not been an easy ride for anybody. We don’t always have to have it all together. We can be messy, but sometimes we feel the grace. This year a lot of people have recognized the beauty of simplicity in their lives. It’s illuminated that we need to let things unfold. We may not always have the answers, but we have to have faith and trust anyway.

Cool Tidbits:
“We need jalaBlu now more than ever,” says Jenna. “If you are still in a place of struggle, please join us.” jalaBlu is recognized for having such amazing yoga instructors, who don’t only hold space for the physical body and move you into shapes, but who also hold space for the emotional body, too.

Follow on Insta at: @jalablu_yoga and learn more at: www.jalablu.com/

Private yoga or Primal Embodied Wisdom Sessions are available online or in-person. Learn more: https://www.jalablu.com/private-yoga-sessions-with-jenna

Jenna never wants money to be a barrier to practice. Email her to inquire about an energy exchange that works: jalablu@gmail.com

 

 

HOWL MERCANTILE & COFFEE

Today, we sat down with Salida’s Kimi Uno, owner of Howl Mercantile & Coffee, to find out how the pandemic changed operations at this experiential retail environment offering small batch artisanal goods and a home to an intersectional creative community.

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business?
In the 4 years since we opened, we’ve been building our Instagram platform so by the time COVID hit, we had a wide, loyal customer base that wasn’t only in Salida. When we were closed for 45 days in the beginning, we relied on those customers. This meant working hard on our website, adding photography and content, and implementing a new online ordering system so people could order from afar/the safety of their homes. Once we reopened in May, we kept doing online, but also shifted to systems that allowed us to handle as many customers outside as possible. We set up an outdoor pay, and offered pre-ordering, sidewalk pick-up, and delivery. All these options were extremely helpful for sales, especially in December, when we actually ended up breaking our all-time sales record!

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community?
On March 16, we were one of the first businesses to close. We had been in Denver that weekend and were amazed how many people were coming up to the mountains despite the pandemic. We knew that by remaining open, there would be a reason for people to be out and about
spreading the virus, and we wanted to help our community flatten the curve to keep pressure off the hospital and health care system. Keeping our staff safe was also at the forefront of mind, as was instilling a sense of respect toward people who work in the service industry.

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’?
I’ve seen it in so many of our local businesses, like restaurants innovating to get customers outside and implementing online ordering. There are some that do such a good job, like Moonlight, who accommodates customers in such a safe way that you can tell they care. It’s obvious there are some businesses that really care about our community and others that don’t.

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020?
This is something I’ve always lived by that got reinforced this year: you’re only as strong as the people you surround yourself with. Having staff that value caring for our community and are willing to follow through with the expectations that I’ve set to keep them—and the community—safe has made all the difference. My staff matter and we should treat all members of the service industry with respect and a sense of gratitude.

Cool Tidbits:
Kimi prides herself on carrying products she believes in and cultivating strong relationships with the people that make these products. “We envision our space as a marketplace for artists and makers trying to bypass modern day capitalism and financially support themselves through their passion and small businesses.” Howl partners with the Ark Valley Equality Network to further the work of anti-racism in our community and to focus our energy into the education, healing, and fundraising that the community will need to ensure Salida is fair, equal, and welcoming to all people. Learn more at their website: howlmercantile.com or on Instagram @howlmercantile.

CHILDREN’S DISCOVERY RANCH

Today, we sat down with Kathi Wardlow, founder and director of Children’s Discovery Ranch, to find out how the pandemic changed operations at this early childhood center located on the historic Hutchinson Ranch.

How did COVID cause you to innovate? 
We adapted operating procedures so they aligned with the guidelines to prioritize health and safety. The changes we made included creating consistent pods so groups weren’t mixing, physically distancing while sending a message that we all are still connected, and adding in a ton more cleaning and sanitizing. We also reduced capacity by just running two of our three classrooms. We kept the same number of staff, however, so that we don’t have to stress and can support each other if one of us has to stay home with our own kids who are sick or in quarantine. As a nature-based, play-based program we have acres of outside exploration space and are already typically outside a lot. We increased our emphasis on being in nature. The space to get out in the woods, rivers, fields was really helpful, supportive and healing for all of us. The best part is that the kids adapted so easily and quickly to all of the changes. Better than we did! 

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community? 
We recognize how important being part of our school family is for the health, well-being and development of kids, and how essential it is for our kids and families to have a space away from home where kids feel safe and nurtured. All the effort and stresses to reopen with a little risk as possible were worth it when we saw how happy the kids were and how appreciative the families were so they could get back to work themselves. 

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’?
In addition to all the businesses and individuals who have shared their services, knowledge, and expertise for the greater good, I want to mention the collaboration between several local schools. We are fortunate to work with the Salida Early Childhood Center, Son Shine Inn and Poncha Springs Schoolhouse. Together, we’ve waded through the guidance, which has continually changed since the beginning of the pandemic. We’ve been able to reflect on our collective knowledge of best practices for young children and families, and to share ideas on what adaptations need to be made to minimize risks and keep our schools open and as safe and healthy as possible. In addition, the Salida School District, Chaffee County Public Health, Chaffee County Early Childhood Council and our local SBCC have provided invaluable resources and support to help get us through to the other side of these challenging times. So many people have stepped up for our community! Chaffee definitely has huge heart! 

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020? 
We are all essential! Everyone brings their unique talents, knowledge and passion to the table to make our community vibrant. This creates a wonderful place for our children to grow and thrive. 

Cool Tidbits: 
Discovery Ranch has been serving our community since 2004. 

Families associated with Discovery Ranch has always been supportive when the school has needed to grow and expand – either through monetary or in-kind donations. Kathi explains: “Our hard work and determination to keep it going through COVID is a way to give back to our community that has given us so much.” 

It was important to the school to maintain a connection while they closed in April and May so they distributed activities to families and created story time videos that were posted to a private Facebook page. 

To learn more, follow them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TwosEarlyLearning/ 

 

BOYS & GIRLS CLUB OF CHAFFEE COUNTY

Today, we sat down with Executive Director, Brian Beaulieu of the Boys & Girls Club of Chaffee County to find out how the pandemic changed operations at this non-profit created “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as caring, productive, responsible citizens.” How did COVID cause you to innovate? 

We had to be flexible and respond to daily changes to meet the needs of our working families. We’ve always been a facility-based, face-to-face organization, so we had to change how we connect. Plus, we had to step up to a big challenge since we say: “whenever school is out, Boys and Girls Club is in.” We did a lot of work to offer a safe place for kids to come when schools went remote. We reconfigured programming at both facilities (Avery-Parsons in BV and BGC in Salida) to create 3 safety zones where kids could spread out and work on their own, with staff roaming to help kids learn. We stand ready to open for safer learning if needed again, and when schools are open, we continue to offer our regular after-school program. 

How did partnerships play into your success? 
This may not have been the challenge we were looking for, but because we live in a place where so many people have a high dose of common sense and know how to get things done, we were able to pivot and do what needed to be done. We used parks, spent more time outside, took advantage of environmental education programs, but it was all due to a team effort. We have the best program staff in our history and we are very fortunate to have such great partners. We worked closely with Public Health, both school districts and rec departments, superintendents, Chaffee County Community Foundation, Alpine Achievers Initiative/Americorps, and GARNA to make it all happen. 

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community? 
We—my board, leadership team and program staff—are all very prototypical kid nuts. Our motivation really was missing kids. We love working with them, we get energy from them and we take particular pride in changing the trajectory of their lives so it was all about: how can we reach out? How can we stay connected? We would do whatever it takes to make sure kids are still safe, happy and learning. 

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’? 
I see it every day in small gestures, and feel like it’s not just heart, it’s also common sense and people wanting to help others. Our phones have been ringing off the hook since Spring. People have always wanted to help our kids, but there have been so many more inquiries about how the kids are doing, and how people can help to make sure kids are safe, happy and their basic needs are being met. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020? 
I gained a great sense of pride in our mission to serve kids who need us most. Working families have always had challenges and needs, but this year, it felt like we were built for times like this. This year proved we have the right staff, right mission and right partners. In some crazy way, we are spoiled in Chaffee County to have a fighting chance to do things well in the most challenging times. There’s no other place I’d want to be during something like this because our community is so vibrantly helpful and up to the challenge. 

Cool Tidbits: 
Chaffee Boys & Girls Club has been open since May 26 . It may look a little different, but they want everyone to know they are here for those who need them. If school is closed, they’ll work with kids and families to stay on track. If you need anything, or want to contribute, call: 719-539-9500. 

Our small club has produced award-winning members like the Southwest Region Youth of the Year, Athena Kintgen, and First Place National Fine Arts winner, Devyn Grundy. 

To stay up-to-date visit: bgcchaffee.org or follow on Facebook. 

*** 

EDDYLINE BREWERY

Today, we sat down with Brian England, CEO and owner of Eddyline Restaurant & Brewery to learn how the pandemic changed things at this communal gathering place in Buena Vista.

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business?
We’ve been working on developing our company culture and values for a long time. As a result, we’ve always been forward-looking, innovative, a leader in the community, doing what we can to set ourselves apart. So, while this was forced upon us, we were able to adapt very quickly because of these values. Our main goal was and continues to be: providing great customer service and great quality food at a value. To this end, our biggest innovations were integrating an online ordering system, changing our menu to include take-and-bake specials and foods that would travel well, and adding take out drinks that included not only beer, but also wine and bottles from Deerhammer Distillery. We added in a bodega so people could get products that were tough to find at the grocery store, and got creative to provide fun take-home projects like Mother’s Day Brunch Kits. Everything we did was aimed at working with what customers could do at home and adding value to their lives.

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community?
One of the reasons we moved to Buena Vista is because of the community here. Looking at how the pandemic has ripped across globe and talking to other people, we are so fortunate to live where we live. The people here are what makes this place so special and we wanted to take extra measures to keep our customers and employees safe. To do this we had to make some sacrifices – like closing the Taproom – but we feel businesses should always put their best foot forward and as a leader in the community, we felt driven to set a high standard.

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’?
We saw our community step up right away in so many ways. The community here is selfless and they’ve proven again and again that no matter what happens, we are going to do what is pragmatic, and what is right for the greater good even if it’s inconvenient for one. We are going to protect each other and rally around each other to get through this together.

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020?
We are fortunate to live where live. 2020 has confirmed that beyond a doubt for me and my family. BV is an amazing place to be. The community is amazing. Not only can we survive, but we can thrive through the most difficult times and that speaks volumes to the people that live here. Another big takeaway is that even though it may seem difficult, we need to stay diligent now more than ever. We need to wear masks, keep our distance and be patient. In Chaffee, it’s easy to feel safe, but we need to keep up safety measures for a while longer so that hopefully later in 2021, we can return to a level of normalcy.

Cool Tidbits:
If you’ve taken the Chaffee’s Got Heart Pledge and received a free Discovery Pass as a result, stop by Eddyline for your free chips and salsa. Tight on time or staying extra safe? Place your order online for pick-up.
For the latest brews and news: https://www.facebook.com/eddylinebrewery
Eddyline is expanding its branded merchandise line. Available online soon or stop 926 South Main, Buena Vista to check it out.

SALIDA COMMUNITY CENTER

Today, we sat down with Elaine Allemang, Director of the Salida Community Center, to find out how the pandemic changed operations at this organization driven by a mission to nourish the people of Chaffee County by providing food programs and activities, and by promoting a safe and sanitary community environment for all ages and cultures. 

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business? 
The Salida Community Center has always had the needs of the citizens at heart. We started the food program several years ago when we realized there are people in this county that are in need of food. We always helped around 200 to 300 people, but when the pandemic hit, we immediately saw an increase and as of now we serve over 800 people. 

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community? 
We knew how many people were affected by Covid-19 and we wanted to step up and help as many as we could. We joined forces with several non-profits to help the people of Chaffee County not only with food but necessities such as shampoo, soaps, toilet paper, dog food and other needs that might have. Our Community Center always relied on rental of the facility in order to bring in funds to keep our doors open however since our water pipe broke, we have now had to rely on the help of donations from the citizens of the area. 

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’? 
The residents of Chaffee County have proven they “Got Heart”. There are so many caring and selfless people here in the area. We have so many volunteers that step up to help. They donate time and money in order to help our neighbors in this area. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020? 
The most valuable thing that I have learned from this pandemic is the huge number of selfless and caring people that reside in this area. When caring people come together, we can accomplish anything. 

Cool Tidbits: 
The Salida Community Center has provided food/meals to over 800 families every month this year! 

Want to get involved? Visit: https://www.salidacommunitycenter.com/take-action. Here you can either donate or enter your email to get notified of volunteer opportunities. 

To stay up-to-date on events and volunteer opportunities, follow the Salida Community Center on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalidaCommunityCenter. 

CAFE DAWN

Today, we sat down with entrepreneur, barista and coffee connoisseur, Phillip Benningfield, who co-owns and operates Café Dawn with wife Dawn Heigele, to learn how the pandemic changed things at their community-minded, environmentally conscious coffee shop. 

How did COVID cause you to innovate or change the way you do business? 
As a restaurant, we already take safety and health quite seriously so COVID just caused us to up our “serious factor.” Fortunately, we have one of those businesses that stayed open the whole time, but at the beginning, when people were really afraid and staying at home, we only allowed take out and even did some delivery for a couple months. When things started to re-open and we could again allow seating, we continually monitored it to be sure that our seating remained safe; it was a constant fluctuation between allowing it and keeping the level of exposure as low as possible. More recently, we have added heaters so people can stay comfortable outside. 

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community? 
Because we care about our community. We give a damn about the people that come into our business. Of course, we want to give them great coffee, but more than that, we want to give them a safe environment. And in turn, we expect them to be respectful of our safety measures so we can stay open. 

We’re also motivated because of our commitment to our employees. My wife (Dawn) loses sleep over this all the time. If we are safer, we are not sick, we are always open and our team stays employed. 

Where do you see examples of the idea that ‘Chaffee’s Got Heart’? 
The best example is the way so many of our businesses have approached this. Innovating to provide services and take care of those who are sick or can’t get out. The effort and patience businesses have shown to make changes that protect their customers and employees – that to me shows our county has heart. 

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020? 
Love. Family. Empathy for others. These are the important things and what we need more of. It’s important as a business to put these first, to be willing to make a lot of changes, to stick to your guns and be as safe as possible. 

Cool Tidbits: 
Look Before You Drink! Café Dawn baristas are extensively trained to properly extract espresso, steam milk and create latte art so be sure to check out the work of art in your cup before diving in to your delicious drink. 

If you’ve taken the Chaffee’s Got Heart Pledge and received a free Discovery Pass as a result, Café Dawn offers $5 off a Survival Kit, which includes 6 bagels and a bag of delicious coffee. 

Tight on time or staying extra safe? Call ahead (719-539-5105) for pick up. For the latest menu and hours: https://www.facebook.com/cafedawn 

LITTLE RED HEN BAKERY

Today, we sat down with owner and baker Emily Walker of the Little Red Hen Bakery in Salida to learn how COVID changed things just a year after she and husband, Andrew (owner of Salida’s 7000 Feet Running Company) took over the reins.

How did COVID cause you to innovate?
The biggest change we made was putting our line outside. We never would have considered this if not for COVID, but we tried to pick something early on that would go above and beyond no matter what rules came into effect so we could get back into a rhythm that would allow us to focus on outstanding customer service and creating a delicious product. Plus, we gave people a place they could socialize safely from a distance.

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to keep our community safe?
I take my commitment to employing members of our community very seriously. Our employees and customers depend on us to be here for them so I wanted to make sure we could stay open. To do that, we needed to design a system that would provide peace of mind – for the 20 people on my team and for the customers – no matter what might happen. And it paid off. When we had an employee COVID scare back in October, it was really comforting to know that our customers had nothing to worry about because of the distance we placed between us and them. Out of an abundance of caution we closed for a few days until we all tested. As a small business, it was terrifying, but we knew it was the right thing to do and the feedback we got from the community was a hundred percent positive. It made people trust us even more and they came back in full force when we reopened.

Where do you see examples of the idea that “Chaffee’s Got Heart”?
From the very beginning of the pandemic, what blew us away was that our customers weren’t just coming to us for food, they were coming to us for comfort and that was super powerful. They sent such a strong message: you need to stay open because we need you, we rely on you and at the same time, they made it clear that they were going to be here for us, a definite sign of our community’s heart. We used to be so much friendlier and welcoming than we are now, giving samples, having kids play inside, chatting with customers – and it’s been scary to let go of that to be safe. We weren’t sure how people would react, but they’ve been amazing. We can’t wait until we can welcome people back into the store, but we know that the Little Red Hen will be ok until it’s safe.

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020?
I learned what we mean to this community. This was a scary year for a new business owner like me, but feeling this supported made me realize I want to do this for the rest of my life – run this bakery, here in Salida. We matter here, which is a lot of responsibility, but it’s also gotten me through the tough bits of 2020 and it made our team so much stronger.

Cool Tidbits:
Quarantined or staying extra safe? LRH offers free delivery after 4 PM within Salida. Call (719) 539-2401 to schedule your delivery.
If you’ve taken the Chaffee’s Got Heart Pledge and received a free Discovery Pass as a result, LRH offers unlimited coffee!
Through their Community Account the LRH accepts donations for the Salida Grainery. Stop by the Little Red Hen at 302 G Street in Salida to donate.
For the latest menu and hours: https://www.facebook.com/littleredhensalida/

CHAFFEE COUNTY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION (CCCF)

Today, we sat down with Executive Director of the Chaffee County Community Foundation, Joseph Teipel to learn how COVID changed the approach taken by this nonprofit founded in 2018 with a mission to act as a catalyst to inspire positive change through the power of philanthropy to enrich the lives of all people in Chaffee County.

How did COVID cause you to innovate?
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 shut down, we worked with 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 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.

Why did you decide to go above & beyond to contribute to our community?
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 stake holders and we did.

Where do you see examples 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. 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.

What’s your biggest takeaway from 2020?
On 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 without being around other people and that’s surprising.

Cool Tidbits:
CCCF is always trying to raise and elevate the idea of philanthropy and giving back. With new stimulus checks going out, CCCF is urging those who don’t need those stimulus dollars to leverage that money by donating it to the ERF at https://www.chaffeecommunity.org/invest-now. Over the year, a total of 1.1 million came into the ERF through grants, individual donations, etc. Approximately $700,000 went back into the community through grants to individuals, small businesses and non-profits. The rest is being held in reserve in anticipation of needs in 2021. Learn more: chaffeecommunity.org.

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Stories of Chaffee County individuals and businesses rising to the challenge abound. We will be shining a light on those doing extraordinary things for the community throughout the upcoming months. Visit our websites (Chaffee’s Got Heart or CCPH) or follow us on Facebook (@COVID19ChaffeeCounty) to see more. Know a potential candidate, or are you one yourself? Send nomination ideas to: health@chaffeecounty.org.

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