July 19, 2011

Valley Life for All

This is the letter I sent out a few weeks ago to my family and friends about Valley Life for All. It was started by me and another mother of a young adult with disabilities. We have been working hard on this organization, and based on my previous entry, our goal is to make our grass the greenest!

Dear Friends and Family.

First, please excuse this e-mail, I’d much prefer to speak to each of you in person, but unfortunately that is not possible. I want to share some very exciting news with everyone and as quickly as possible!

For the last six months I have been working on one of my greatest passions, creating a not for profit dedicated to creating opportunities for people with disabilities in our beautiful valley. We are called Valley Life for All, I am a co-Founder and Executive Director, and this is my dream job.

By way of background, Valley Life for All (VLFA) is a grassroots movement created by concerned citizens throughout the Roaring Fork Valley who are empowered to build a bridge between people with and without disabilities from Aspen to Parachute. We are a community of parents, self-advocates, community organizers, service providers, business owners, educators, professionals, and government organizations who joined together in November, 2010 to work together to create awareness and opportunity. This collaboration
is a first of its kind.

We are based on the philosophy of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) a methodology of community involvement and collaboration that is proving successful in communities across the country as we feel the effects of budget and service cuts.

In a few shorts months VLFA has connected families in need of adult services with the local CCB. We have engaged a local Rec center, not for profits and government agencies in our mission and become partners as services and policies are revisited. We have recognized and are working on the following issues:

• Attitudes and awareness
• Career and Recreational opportunities
• Housing and Transportation, Waiting List (for services), and
• Respite, Families in isolation that need support

There are so many opportunities and such potential to create a positive change in our Valley. We have identified over 400 students who receive special services within the school district, 200 young adults who are in isolation and countless others. The national average for people with disabilities is 20% of the population and in our case that is approximately 4,000 community members.

We strive to make sure each and every member of our community who wants to be included has the opportunity. For example, we recently met with the Aspen and Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission to request approval to review the Aspen Area Community Plan to ensure the plan is disability friendly and inclusive We were given permission to edit the entire document which is a huge accomplishment.

However, as with all young organizations, what we need next is funding. We are actively seeking operating support and appreciate your commitment to helping people with disabilities. Help us, help our valley shine for all people with disabilities.

I am happy to report that we received our 501c3 tax exempt approval in record time from the IRS, only five weeks. Therefore, your contribution is tax deductible and can be made through PayPal:

Valley Life for All

Or by check:

Valley Life for All
PO Box 110
Basalt, CO 81621-0110

Thank you for your support as we set out to make a difference in the lives of so many!

Best regards, Gary

Margaret Bender
Executive Director
Valley Life for All
PO Box 110
Basalt, CO 81621-0110

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