Community of Caring
Aspen Mine Center
166 E. Bennett Ave. Cripple Creek, CO.
Mailing address: PO Box 1587
Phone: (719) 689-3584
Fax: (719) 689-5711
8 AM - 5 PM
Aspen Mine Center Programs
COLLABORATION AND CARING: THE ASPEN MINE CENTER
Help for children, young people, seniors and the needy; those with challenges physically, mentally or emotionally; pregnant moms and their infants; the unemployed; those living below the poverty level, which is a high percentage in southern Teller County; those in transition of any kind, all these find help in this place of caring. Most find the help they need through the collaborative efforts of a number of people and agencies located here.
Community of Caring founder and chairman of the board Mary Bielz, art teacher in the local schools for many years, had a dream, which grew into a passion as she was confronted with the extreme and varied needs of her students and their families. In the 1980s she worked with the Salvation Army to help fill those needs, eventually becoming a Salvation Army board member. But the needs kept growing.
People and families needed food, clothes, shoes, coats, a place to live, school supplies, heat, medicine, transportation and jobs. At first, Bielz brought the national Community of Caring program to her RE-1 school district, with the core values of Respect, Responsibility, Trust, Family and Caring. Ultimately, Community of Caring’s first major program was the Mountain Alternative School, opened in 1992. Then she began to raise money for more.
“We began by crushing cans,” she said.
But then the fledgling nonprofit received a large donation from a bequest. With that money and local support, she began planning for a physical one-stop resource center, where people and their needs could be paired with goods and services.
In 2002, she was instrumental in obtaining the present facility, a long-defunct casino, the Aspen Mine. The bigger dream was taking shape. The One-Stop Resource Shop was about to become a reality. In 2012, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a week of special events culminating in a 10th Anniversary Gala. Special guests included two of the former casino owners who donated the building to Community of Caring Foundation. (See Photos on Events page.)
Community of Caring operates the following programs and services:
1. Supplemental Assistance provides financial assistance for emergency needs such as housing, medical, transportation, utilities, food, clothing, childcare, etc. In 2017, Community of Caring spent $70,600 on emergency needs. We served a total of 1396 cases.
2. RESOURCES Community of Caring operates and funds two major resources: The Mountain Alternative Education Program and The Aspen Mine Center.
Aspen Mine Center (AMC)
The Aspen Mine Center provides a visible, neighborhood "one-stop shop" resource to southern Teller County’s highly transient and mobile population. In the past, availability of resources in southern Teller County were unknown, inconsistent, or non-existent for those in need. Most services were located in Woodland Park because of the cost of rent or real estate in the gaming district. Also, families and individuals needing these services had no or at best unreliable transportation. AMC facilitates many agencies and non-profit organizations coming together to connect those in need to the appropriate resources. Youth crime, domestic violence, child neglect, problem gambling, and alcohol and drug abuse offenses that have increased since legalized gambling are being addressed in an efficient, cost- effective, collaborative effort. AMC stems the tide of transience and family conflict in our gaming population. The Aspen Mine Center builds community attachment, wellbeing and protective factors in southern Teller County. The AMC is a “Continuum of Care” model. Since its opening, 24 new programs have been created in Cripple Creek. In 2017, Community of Caring’s client coordinator logged 4,830 client contacts, 366 of which were new intakes.
Aspen Mine Center Gift and Thrift Resale Shop
This valuable community resource relies strictly on thousands of dollars in donated goods from the community and more than 30 volunteers donating nearly 3,000 hours per year. The Gift Shop in 2017 generated over $45,000 in revenue for Community of Caring’s programs and emergency assistance fund.
3. PROGRAM BUILDER. The following programs are run and funded by Community of Caring.
The Mountain Alternative Education Program has helped 210 students over the past 16 years to graduate who otherwise would not likely finished high school. For the past 16 years Community of Caring provided $50,000 per year as well as administrative oversight for this vital program. In 2016, we served 42 students. Our success stories with these students are multiple, affirmative, and on-going.
In June of 2017, Community of Caring created the Mountain Afterschool Program- Partnership with RE 1 School District. Community of Caring funds a Program Director and several part-time activity leaders to head up eight after school clubs that provide activities, skill-building, year-round tutoring extended enrichment, and social competency for primarily at-risk students at the Cripple Creek-Victor High School. Our funds also provide services from “A Willow Bends”, a local counseling center. They specialize in substance use and abuse prevention, trauma therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. So far in the 2017- 2018 school year, 67 children ages 8 through 18 have participated in the Afterschool program; nearly 20% of the entire school population!
· Aspen Mine Center Client Services Case Management Program
This program/process is the foundation of the Aspen Mine Center. Our client services staff spends 1 1/2 to 2 hours with each new client to conduct a needs assessment, collect baseline data, establish a success plan, and discuss and set short, intermediate and long term goals that provide a road map to success. Our relationship-based program creates a trusting bond with clients. Our staff provides support and promotes clear expectations, skill building and encouragement. We hold clients to high standards, promoting the Community of Caring values of Respect, Responsibility, Trust, Caring, Family, and Honesty in all interactions; especially in their own self-evaluation. Our dedication to positive collaboration and partnership with dozens of agencies, businesses, and local connections creates tremendous opportunities for clients to build stability and enhance well-being.
· Aspen Mine Food Pantry
Community of Caring operates a food pantry in the Aspen Mine Center. In 2017, we had 800 clients utilizing the pantry with an average of 70 families a month receiving a 40 pound box of food. This program is staffed by volunteers. Care and Share provides the Pantry with over 2,000 pounds of donated food per month, St Peters/St. Victor's Faith Family, and many individual donors faithfully contribute to this project. In 2017, we received food valued in excess of $40,000. There is never a fee for this service.
· Aspen Mine Clothes Closet
People in the community provide used clothes and household items to the community through our Clothes Closet. On average 17 people visit the closet a day, 4,400 uses per year. This project is run entirely by volunteers and is a great “green” asset. There is never a fee for this service.
· Community of Caring Volunteer and Community Service Program
Since the opening of the Aspen Mine Center, Community of Caring has implemented a volunteer program. In 2017, over 7,000 hours of volunteer time valued at $85,000 have been logged. We also serve as a judicial court ordered community service site. Through this project, we have provided 1,300 service hours for individuals-an opportunity to fulfill their community service requirements. Our community service clients boast a prideful connection to the Aspen Mine Center family. Many have continued their connection and have volunteered with us long after their service is completed. These individuals are a source of pride to us, family.
· Commodities Program (TEFAP)
Suspended from 1994-2002, in Teller County because of space limitations, Community of Caring re-initiated this program June 2003. We serve 135 households and 45 seniors a month. Through the Aspen Mine Center, many volunteers package and distribute USDA food to qualifying residents of Teller County on a monthly basis. We receive $55,000 worth of food each year for this program. There is never a fee for this service.
· Teller County Resource Group Coalition
The second Wednesday of every month, the Teller County Resource Group (TCRG) meets to hear agency presentations and updates. Agencies throughout Teller and El Paso Counties come together to share and disseminate their non-profit information that will benefit clients from our communities, while preventing duplication of services, and increasing provider knowledge. This resource meeting has been the inspiration for much collaboration and has built partnerships that continue to grow and flourish. This collaborative process was the birth of the Aspen Mine Center in 2001. Community of Caring has continued to provide the structure to allow this process to continue to support and sustain addressing the needs of our community. 85 agencies are currently listed in the TCRG directory.
· The Summer Youth Enrichment Project
Community of Caring, in response to the Colorado Action For Healthy People Survey, created a partnership with Cripple Creek Parks and Recreation in providing enrichment Friday activities throughout the summer (excursions to museums, zoos, etc.). Community of Caring funds this great opportunity for children whose families are unable to pay due to financial hardship. In 2017, we served a total of 87 children for 11 excursions at no cost to the families. This project mitigates poverty - 100% of these youth are on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
· The Aspen Mine Center Book Exchange Library
Again, people in the community generously donate reading and viewing material of all kinds to the Book Exchange. Children’s books, fiction and non-fiction literature, magazines, and DVD movies abound in the center. As materials come in, the public is encouraged and welcome to take their chosen subject home with them. The ebb and flow of this is a constant exchange of “green” activity. There is never a fee for this service.
· Pioneers in Public Service & Philanthropy (formerly EPYCS) & City of Cripple Creek Community Allocation Project
Community of Caring was instrumental in 2001 in building collaboration between El Pomar Youth in Community Service Program and the City of Cripple Creek. This dynamic program allocates $18,000 in funds per year to area non-profits. In the past 16 years, over 280 high school students have participated in this hands-on program that teaches leadership, philanthropy, and civic engagement. Students learn the process of grant writing start to finish, and determine through conducting interviews with grantees which programs are to be awarded funding. This project has funded over $500,000 in 16 years to 310 programs and non-profits.
· Community of Caring Scholarship Program
Community of Caring endows two $1,000 scholarships for graduating seniors, as well as continuing-education students who exemplify our values and history of community volunteerism.
· Transportation Program
In 2017, we provided fuel for medical appointments and job access to 256 qualifying individuals and families totaling over $5,000 in gas and transportation vouchers.
· Christmas Program
Since 2006, Community of Caring has stepped in to meet the needs of struggling families for Christmas. In 2017, Community of Caring spent $3,000 on Walmart gift cards which were distributed to 34 families with 82 children. Another 38 children were adopted from the Angel Tree by local families. Over 80 hours of staff time were spent organizing and calling families and picking up community donations of food and gifts.
· Employment Assistance Program
Over the past 16 years, Community of Caring has had a dynamic partnership with the Pikes Peak Workforce Center (PPWFC). This program has been the life boat for local employees. Our employment assistance specialists have helped employees navigate the unemployment system, provided resume writing skills, mentoring, submittal of applications for employment, and listened with great compassion. In 2017, 1275 individuals were assisted through this program.
· Senior Case Management
Community of Caring has provided a Senior Advocate Case Manager since 2010. In 2017 through the PPACG Area Agency on Aging (AAA) we received a $30,000 grant to provide case management to assess needs, develop care plans, arrange services, coordinate the provision of services among providers, and follow-up and reassessment as required with the purpose of assisting older adults to remain as independent as possible in their own homes while maximizing their quality of life. In 2017, we served 665 clients.
· Medicaid Health Navigator Program
Our newest program established in 2017 provides support, advocacy and education for clients and families enrolled in or needing to enroll in Medicaid. Clients with Medicaid often are overwhelmed by the programs’ complexity, potentials and limitations. Our Health Navigator is employed by Community of Caring through a contract with Community Health Partnership (CHP)-the region’s RCCO. Our Health Navigator is skilled in engaging clients through positive interactions and relationship building. She is skilled in finding short cuts, cutting through red tape and complicated processes. Currently she is averaging nearly 200 client contacts per month and has helped save clients thousands of dollars in medical bills while reducing their stress.
· Wednesday Community Lunch Program
Each Wednesday, the Aspen Mine Center provides a community luncheon (for optional donation) that welcomes all community members. For many, this is the only nutritious meal they have all week. This program “builds a healthy community” by enhancing neighborhood attachment, prosocial engagement, connecting clients to local resources, providing opportunities to build self-esteem and build skills through volunteerism, promoting intergenerational and cross-economic interaction and acceptance. There are no “haves and have-nots” at this luncheon. These meals are frequented by municipal and county officials, law enforcement, agency representatives, the homeless, families of low economic means, persons with disabilities, the elderly, etc. Currently this program serves an average of 85 meals each Wednesday.
· Financial Health Advocate Program
This partnership with Pikes Peak United Way focuses on working with clients for up to two years to help increase financial literacy, increase household income, decrease debt, increase knowledge of community resources, decrease stress, and increase their overall wellbeing and stability. This program makes great strides to combat generational poverty through a supportive relationship utilizing a structured but logical curriculum. We have seen tremendous positive changes by empowering clients and their families.
Programs and services at the Aspen Mine Center are funded, in part, by the generous support of the Pikes Peak United Way. They advance the common good by providing a safety net for basic needs. Click on the image above to learn how you can give, advocate, volunteer and increase your community impact with the Pikes Peak United Way.
- The Aspen Mine Center is an equal opportunity provider. -