*Photo courtesy of The Denver Post
Within hours of the start of the Cold Springs Fire Foothills United Way staff began supporting the response effort. Foothills United Way participates with Boulder County in the Emergency Operations Center [EOC] which is activated during a disaster. Our team was present in the EOC during the fire to bring coordination to financial contributions, donated goods and volunteering for the Cold Springs Fire. Government and voluntary organizations have to work together seamlessly to address needs in the midst of chaos, and Foothills United Way is trusted to take on that role.
The coordination between local government, voluntary and nonprofit agencies and local community leaders during a disaster is an integral part of response and recovery during a disaster. In early 2015 we helped form and currently provide leadership to the Boulder County VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters). This group has built relationships and systems that make local agencies effective in disasters. Over 20 nonprofit and faith-based organizations have been working together to help people affected by the Cold Springs Fire. BoCo VOAD agencies staffed shelters, offered emotional care, provided leadership for local community volunteers, helped those who are returning home after the evacuation, collected grocery gift cards for residents, cleaned up homes and properties, and performed ash-out for structures destroyed in the fire.
We have also partnered with 2-1-1 so that residents who have property damage from the fire can register their clean-up needs and get connected with a voluntary agency through the Boulder County VOAD. Through a platform called Crisis Cleanup we are able to effectively pair residents with volunteers who are eager to assist them.
Foothills United Way in partnership with BoCo VOAD members also launched the Mental Health Voucher program which provides up to $500 for individuals to meet with a mental health professional of their choosing. This program was created during the Fourmile Fire and used again during the floods of 2013. We recognize the importance of this program to an individual’s recovery and resilience and are pleased to be able to offer it to those affected by the Cold Springs Fire.
We have also participated in a community meeting in August Nederland and will be present for a second meeting in October where we have been able to listen to residents needs, connect them with resources and learn about the unmet needs that we can help support with the Cold Springs Fire Recovery Fund.
An emergency response fund has been set up through Foothills United Way in collaboration with Boulder County for the collection of financial donations to help residents impacted by the Cold Springs Fire.