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 PROGRAMS
The first major program was the Mountain Alternative School. The second was the Aspen Mine Center itself. But in addition to the One-Stop Shop of the Aspen Mine Center and the off-site Mountain Alternative School program run in conjunction with the local school district, a number of other programs are administered by and through Community of Caring and the Aspen Mine Center. These programs fall loosely under several major headings: Education and Employment, Food and Other Assistance.
Its first major program, run in conjunction with the local school district, is the Mountain Alternative School, an alternative school program administratively within RE-1 but physically across the street from the high school in its own building and with its own director. The alternative school has made graduation possible for a number of students who otherwise would have simply dropped out forever. It has a high success rate.
A second off-site program is the Summer Enrichment for Kids, also a collaborative venture, this time working with Cripple Creek Parks & Recreation. The Parks & Rec building is located next door to the Aspen Mine Center.
A third program, a GED program put on by Community Partnership Family Resource Center of Divide, Colo., is sponsoring G.E.D. classes at the Aspen Mine Center currently on Tuesday afternoons and evenings, in addition to the weekday morning classes in Divide. Our program features one-on-one teaching until graduation. Contact Karen Casey-Svetich at 661-0379 for more information.
An important aspect of education is preparation for employment, especially once one is out of school or out of the job market for a time. A significant aspect of the Aspen Mine Center programs is the availability of both education and employment assistance, including a cross-over program for seniors to earn while learning new skills.
The Aspen Mine Center is a Host Agency for the Rocky Mountain SER-SCSEP (Senior Employment Redirection – Senior Community Service Employment program. This is an Earn While You Learn program, paying eligible seniors to work 20 hours a week at the Aspen Mine Center while learning a specific set of skills to help them move into the local workforce within a year or so. The Center has already hosted a Volunteer Coordinator training spot and a Workforce Center position.
Employment assistance to help young people and those reentering the work force is based on the Pikes Peak Workforce Center facility upstairs at the Aspen Mine Center. The Workforce Center is formally staffed two Tuesdays a month, currently by Spanish-speaker Maria Medina from Colorado Springs. The rest of the month, the Workforce Center facility is run Monday – Thursday by our employment specialist Hank Nelson.
Hank provides one-on-one employment assistance to anyone who asks and needs such help. Utilizing resources provided by or through the Workforce Center, Hank makes sure job seekers have relevant resumes, can access the various Colorado jobs banks, can apply for unemployment compensation if necessary, and are made aware of local employment opportunities. Even a self-guided typing course is available. Plans are under way to offer beginning computer classes to seniors and the PPWFC Work Keys program to young people. From youth to seniors, help is available.
Job Fairs have been held at the Aspen Mine Center, by both a temporary staffing agency and by the PPWFC on behalf of a new casino being built in town. In years past, the PPWFC and Aspen Mine Center have hosted open job fairs. It is anticipated such job fairs, for local employers, will continue to be held here.
COMMODITIES: The last
Friday of each month, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Aspen Mine Center hosts
COMMODITIES DAY, run entirely by volunteers. There are 100 families and
200 to 300 individuals, including seniors and low-income individuals,
served each month through the program, with food from the federal
government and Care and Share.
FOOD PANTRY: Our Food
Pantry is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on an emergency basis. A
food box with enough food goods for five days is made up, on request, for
individuals or families.
We rely heavily on private donations of food and money to purchase supplies. If you are interested in helping with this continual need in our community please feel free to contact Ted at 689-3584.
OTHER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
A complimentary clothes closet program called BOUTIQUE IN THE CREEK makes available good clean used clothing for men, women, children and infants. Shoes, accessories and even bedding are sometimes available. Boutique in the Creek is open Tuesday through Friday and staffed primarily by volunteers. Plans are under way to create more readily obvious sections for maternity and infants and for business dress, for job seekers needing appropriate attire for interviews or work.
The Center maintains an active VOLUNTEERS IN COMMUNITY SERVICE program. A number of people monthly get their school or court-mandated community service hours in, while serving the community, by volunteering in the Aspen Mine Center with its various programs and other needs.
Executive Director Ted Borden and the AMC client services coordinator are in charge of the other available ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS for low income households, seniors, youth and disabled residents. After an intake appointment to determine needs and qualifications, temporary assistance can often be provided with vouchers for gas, diapers, medicines, heating bills (through the LEAP program), limited transportation for doctor’s appointments, even limited temporary shelter.
The Aspen Mine Senior Club is located upstairs, in the Dining Room area, where the Golden Circle Nutrition program provides subsidized complete nutritional hot lunches two days a week (plus three days a week at the Vicci Center in nearby Victor). Having evolved from a lunch program to having its own tax exempt nonprofit status, the Senior Club sponsors both health-related and recreation programs for seniors and puts out a quarterly newsletter.
The Aspen Mine Center hosts the Teller County Resource Group meeting each month. Originally the Southern Teller County Resource Group, it has expanded to include several dozen participants, primarily in government and social services, from throughout the county.
Also located in the Aspen Mine Center is a children’s play area, complete with playhouse and hobby horse, and Cripple Creek Coffee, a favorite place for both locals and out-of-towners for coffee, breakfast, dessert, lunch, box lunches or catering. On Friday morning, there is an organized Play Group with Cathy Kelsay there.