June 2022
The Fleet is Complete!
Two New Lunch Lizard Food Trucks to Expand
Summer Mobile Meals Program

A new Lunch Lizard food truck funded by a generous donor advisor family is
ready to roll this summer.
It's summer time and the Lunch Lizard food trucks are heading out on their routes providing summer meals to children for their 8th consecutive summer.

Earlier in June, our Community Foundation hosted an event to celebrate a very generous donation from Kevin and Meredith Davis, donor-advisors involved with our Community Foundation and owners of Western Slope Auto and Grand Junction Chrysler. The grant of $150,000 allows D51 Food and Nutrition Services to purchase a brand new Lunch Lizard food truck. Notes Kevin, “I know there is a lot of need in our community, and I hate to see kids go hungry. This community has been good to me and our family, and I wanted to do something to make a difference. Purchasing this food truck is a real honor and privilege for us.”

We used the opportunity to thank our donors by announcing a community fundraising campaign Complete the Fleet! to raise an additional $100,000 to purchase a second new Lunch Lizard truck.

Community support for the Lunch Lizard program has been overwhelming and we are happy to announce we have COMPLETED THE FLEET! Dan Sharp, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, is moving ahead and ordering a second, designed-to-exact-specifications, food truck. A huge THANK YOU to all our generous donors who helped with this project!

The new food trucks replace two older food trucks that are nearing 20 years in age and needing significant maintenance. It had become clear that more reliable food trucks are needed to keep the program running smoothly. The new trucks can carry 400 meals per run, rather than the 250 meals the smaller, older trucks transport. They have reliable air conditioning which will be a huge help for the driver and servers on the food trucks, and a child-height service window. The Lunch Lizard summer meals program delivered almost 30,000 meals last summer in 2021.

See news coverage regarding the Lunch Lizard and “Complete the Fleet” on KKCO and through this article from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. 

For more information on the Lunch Lizard, including the summer schedule, see here
Board Member Spotlight:
Katie Steele
Katie and Doug Steele love to travel internationally, pictured here bundled up
for a tobogan ride to see polar bears in Manitoba
Katie Steele was born in western Colorado. After graduating from college, she lived in Dallas, Phoenix, and Denver, before losing a coin toss with her husband and landing back in Mesa County. She laughs that it was the best bet she ever lost; she loves the incredible experiences found on the Western Slope and is happy to call this place home.

A good friend of Katie’s introduced her to the Western Colorado Community Foundation several years ago. It wasn’t until she started serving on the board that she truly understood and appreciated all the things the Community Foundation does. “I had no idea how many neighbors we touched with our broad range of support," says Katie, who is wrapping up her sixth year and final term on our board. Katie served as Treasurer for three years and appreciates the financial transparency and integrity of the organization, as well as the commitment to long-term sustainability.

Not only is Katie a board member, but she and her husband Doug are involved in our CORE Giving Circle and are thrilled to see the Conservation, Outdoor Recreation, and Environment (CORE) Fund expand its fundraising and outreach. Being the strong advocate and believer in getting children into the great outdoors, Katie selected Colorado Canyons Association to receive one of WCCF’s 25th Anniversary Surprise Grants this year (pictured below with CCA Executive Director, Chris Herrman).

Notes Katie, “If we don’t show our young people how to care for and respect our public lands, our access to these public spaces may not be available for people to enjoy in years to come. CCA’s mission makes it possible for a lot of kids in Mesa, Delta, and Montrose counties to experience our national conservation areas and have opportunities they would never have had otherwise."
Community Foundation Updates
New Board Members!

May 10th was our Annual Meeting. We recognize and thank three wonderful board members who are completing two terms and rotating off our Board of Directors: Jim Brown, Monique Serra, and Katie Steele.

We appreciate their enthusiasm for our mission, expertise, and time shared so generously with our board and board committees over the past six years!

We welcome four new people with lots of talent to our Board of Directors. All of our new board members are active volunteers in the community and bring experience in grantmaking, between them having served on the United Way allocations panel, D51 Foundation, the current Mesa County AARPA Committee, and statewide national COVID relief efforts.

Thea Chase brings extensive experience consulting to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and rural communities, and also government experience as she serves as Mayor Pro Tem in Palisade. Terri Chinn is currently Vice President of Finance for St. Mary's Regional Medical Center and brings strong accounting skills and business acumen to our board. Raul de Villegas-Decker is a PhD and trained clinical psychologist who works in behavioral health and also provides organizational development consulting. Judy Vanderleest is well known in the community as one of the founders and champions of The Giving Club which has to date distributed over $550,000 to 31 local nonprofits. Her professional background is judicial administration.
Welcome Jesse!

We are pleased to welcome Jesse Redmond as our new Development and Donor Relations Associate. Jesse has eight years of government and nonprofit experience, including spending the last four years as Development Director for HomewardBound of the Grand Valley. His passion for our mission and for engaging donor impact in the community will be an asset for our development team as we continue ‘Dreaming Forward.’

Born in Grand Junction, Jesse lived in North Dakota for a time before moving back to attend CMU in 2011. While not at work, you might find him and his wife wrangling their two toddler sons at parks, playgrounds, and trails across the Grand Valley.
Illumination Award

HopeWest's annual Black Tie and Boots gala on June 11th was extra special this year - the 29th year of their signature fundraising event. It was Christy Whitney Borchard's last gala as she announces her retirement from the helm of the organization she built from scratch to the $4.4 million organization serving 1,800+ clients a year that it is today.

It was also special in that our Western Colorado Community Foundation was recognized with an Illumination Award at the gala. Like HopeWest, we began with nothing and have grown into a successful and vibrant community organization today.

As noted in the gala program, "The Community Foundation was a dream of community leaders and started with a vision but no money. Today they manage over $100 million in assets and more than 300 funds. This year the Foundation is celebrating its 25th Anniversary and we join them in recognizing its outstanding accomplishments."

Through the Waldeck Endowment Fund managed by our Community Foundation, over a million dollars in total funding has been distributed over the past 12 years to HopeWest and seven other nonprofits designated by our donor.
2022 Business Partners
We would like to thank and recognize our current Dreaming Forward Business Partners this 25th Anniversary year for their support and commitment to our mission of promoting local philanthropy to improve the quality of life for the people and communities of western Colorado. 

If you are interested in becoming a Dreaming Forward Business Partner, please contact Kristin Lynch at KLynch@wc-cf.org
Reflections from the President & CEO
Completed. The. Fleet. It was just several weeks ago when our Community Foundation announced a community-wide fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to purchase a second new Lunch Lizard food truck for D51’s summer mobile meals program. And in less than two weeks, we have reached that goal! 

Thanks to one incredibly generous, anonymous donor, and many other donations from Lunch Lizard fans and supporters, we have completed the fleet. It was a happy phone call to my colleague, Dan Sharp, to let him know he can proceed and order a second new food truck.

Completing the fleet – new Lunch Lizard food trucks – is what allows this popular and successful hunger relief program to expand and serve more children. Newer and larger trucks take the program to a next level of service and effectiveness. We helped start the Lunch Lizard program eight years ago, and look at what it is today! Imagine what the two new food trucks will allow it to become tomorrow. We celebrate the $250,000 our donors have recently committed to the Lunch Lizard program. A quarter million dollars is one of the biggest investments our Community Foundation has ever made in a single project.

This year, our Community Foundation’s 25th anniversary year, is one of dreaming forward... of visioning new frontiers, articulating big dreams... for our own organization and for the nonprofit partners we support. Our Dreaming Forward grants this year are being awarded to a handful of nonprofit organizations in need of program planning, a feasibility study, or start-up funding to launch a new initiative or program. Call them next level funds. All of our Dreaming Forward Grants to be awarded this year are designed to, indeed, help a partner organization get to the next level in terms of program or organizational effectiveness.

We eagerly anticipate other great Dreaming Forward projects that are in process right now. And we thank our donors for their generosity and investing in this community, its nonprofit programs, and the services that make life better for the people of western Colorado. Thank you for joining us in Dreaming Forward! 

-- Anne Wenzel

The Western Colorado Community Foundation is confirmed in compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations by the Council on Foundations.
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