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Rural Philanthropy Days will be held in June

In June 2010, Rural Philanthropy Days returns to southwest Colorado.

What is Rural Philanthropy Days, and how does it affect our community and the nonprofit organizations here?

Rural Philanthropy Days is held in different areas in the state every four years or so. It is a superb opportunity for nonprofit organizations to meet with most of the major funding entities in Colorado.

This year, the event will be held in Mancos, June 9-11.

With a combination of paid personnel and full-time volunteers, the nonprofit sector in Colorado is the third largest industry in the state in terms of employment; it accounts for $4.2 billion in wages and compensation, with $240 million in sales and income tax revenues for Colorado governments.

Human services and education-oriented nonprofits are the largest overall producers of positive economic impacts. Southwest Colorado is one of the regions in Colorado that contributes an above-average share of the total nonprofit employment (7.2 percent). It is very important, therefore, that Archuleta County gets involved in Rural Philanthropy Days.

If you have participated in Philanthropy Days before, get ready for some changes, and with grant money tighter than ever, this event will give you a chance to meet the major Colorado funders.

Funders will not make a trip to Pagosa, so we must put together a compelling presentation for them in Mancos. In preparation for RPD and in an effort to further community collaboration, the Chamber will host a non-profit networking and planning session on Jan. 19, from 4-6 p.m. We would like to continue the work started at the Bridge-a-Palooza meeting where many great connections were made and ideas were initiated. We would like to build on this community effort. It is important that we identify gaps in services, funding or other issues and take steps to improve on some of the concerns.

At Rural Philanthropy Days in Mancos, Pagosa will have a very short time to make an impression on the funders and we need to make sure that we are prepared as a group to communicate the needs, great growth opportunities and successes in our community.

Representatives of all local non-profit organizations are invited to the Ross Aragon Community Center on Jan. 19. We will build on the work done at Bridge-a-Palooza and develop a strategy on how to move forward and demonstrate our initiative to the funders in Mancos.

We encourage all nonprofits to send a representative to this meeting at the community center. We will provide some refreshments and there will be lots of conversation.

For more information, contact me at 264-2360, or Julie Simmons with Colorado Housing at 264-6950.

Chamber annual meeting

The Chamber Annual Meeting, a Winter Wonderland, will be a fun and elegant evening on Saturday, Jan. 23, at Winslow on the Shire, three miles south of town on U.S. 84. This event is put on for the entire membership to enjoy.

There will be fabulous and plentiful food, supplied by the Alley House Grille. There will be a cash bar, numerous giveaways awarded throughout the evening and, of course, the award ceremony for Citizen and Volunteer of the Year.

After the award ceremony, you can dance to the music of a popular local band, Leadfoot Ruthie.

This will also be the final time you can vote for candidates vying for a three-year term on the Chamber board. Three people will be selected from a list of nine candidates.

The candidates this year are: Paul Boyd from Wells Fargo Bank; Thaddeus Cano, manager of Ski & Bow Rack; Lauren Cohen, owner of Life Expansion Center, Erin Jeansonne, with Cloud 9 Chiropractic; Madeline Lyons, owner of Wild Spirit Gallery; Wendy Saunders, owner of Artisans of the Southwest Gallery and Wine Tasting and Wendy Saunders Companies; Bill Schwab, owner of Piedra Automotive; Todd Starr, Archuleta County Attorney; and Jon Zissman, optometrist and owner of Mountain Eye Care. This is a full slate of candidates, all of whom are qualified to serve on the board and are eager to work!

The annual meeting is open to everyone in Pagosa, whether a Chamber member or not. Only Chamber members, however, can vote in the election. This is a great time to network, give yourself an evening out, enjoy the successes of the community and find out more about what is happening with the Chamber.

We chose the theme, A Winter Wonderland, because we are very thankful that we have this winter wonderland in 2009/2010 to assist with our economy and provide a vacation destination for so many visitors. In addition, this winter wonderland will provide for tourism activities in the spring with the rise of the rivers and, of course, water for crops and irrigation throughout the summer.

Tickets are now on sale at the Chamber office. The cost is $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Treat yourself and your employees to an evening of good food, good fun, and good friendship as we review the business year and ring in a new one with great plans and hopes for 2010.

For more information, contact the chamber at 264-2360.

Membership news

We close out the year with three renewals: Pagosa Rooter; In Balance Physical Therapy with Nathan Trout; and The Durango Herald.

The Chamber of Commerce wishes everyone a healthy, successful and happy New Year. We will continue to work hard to support the community, move it forward during these difficult economic times, and work with other entities to promote a healthier business environment. We encourage all businesses to rally around a cooperative spirit this next year and generate some great business ideas and strong community effort. Happy New Year to all the businesses and residents in Pagosa Springs and thanks to all the visitors who grace our community.