Tis Better to Give Than Receive

Tis the season to give and receive. We’ve found the more we give, the more we receive. Everyone on our staff takes time to give back to causes that are near and dear to our hearts. We all get out after hours, but we know Slifer supports volunteerism with its generous “Giving Back Policy.” Employees can volunteer 20 hours throughout the year.

“This program encourages Slifer Designs Employees to get out there and volunteer, it is not only good for the community, but good for Slifer Designs as well,” says Yvonne Jacobs, Slifer’s President. Whether it’s sitting on the board of a charity, helping raise funds for medical research or working in a school, we’ve all chosen to give back in our home community.

No doubt about it, this time of year life is hectic—baking cookies, going to children’s plays, hitting the holiday circuit, not to mention finding the spectacular gift for everyone on our list. But it’s impossible to truly ‘do it all.’ Instead of trying to meet unrealistic demands, we’ve decided to take a few minutes to breath, and try to make a difference around us.

One organization all of us have embraced is Roundup River Ranch. Our founder Beth Slifer is a founding Board Member of the Ranch, which is tasked with enriching the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses – free of charge. The camp, where kids with chronic and life-threatening illnesses can truly enjoy the joys of childhood for free, serves 11 states and more than 400 children. Roundup River Ranch, located in Dotsero, is a full member of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, which was founded by Paul Newman.

    
The group learns a bit about the Ranch (top and right), the cozy living room at Roundup River Ranch, designed by Slifer.

Yvonne Jacobs, Slifer Design’s president, is the new board president at Bright Future Foundation. “We help women and children who are dealing with domestic violence, run the only safe house in Eagle County,” she explains.

The grassroots organization was founded in 1983 in the basement of the Vail Chapel. The mission is to help women and children who were victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Today, Bright Future Foundation (BFF) strives to break the generational cycle of violence by delivering services that provide immediate relief to families in need. Yvonne is involved with BFF’s Buddy Mentors program too, which is based on the Big Brother/Big Sister model to provide consistent and trusting relationships to kids who need just that.

In 2011 alone, BFF provided 1,496 nights of safety and security at the Freedom Ranch Safehouse. This organization won a 2012 Success Award from the Vail Valley Partnership for best nonprofit for all the good they do—mostly under wraps and behind the scenes.

Yvonne also uses her artistic abilities with the kids at Edwards Elementary, where she runs an art program called Reflections. Finally, she is a board member of the Vail Valley Foundation, a nonprofit that enhances and sustains the spirit of the Vail Valley by providing leadership in athletic, cultural and educational endeavors.

Of course living in the heart of ski country, the mountains call to us… especially to Cyndi Gershenoff, Slifer’s HR Manager. Cyndi is on the board of Buddy Werner, a recreational race club for kids in grades 2 through 8. The club is named after Wallace "Buddy" Jerold Werner, an internationally renowned alpine ski racer who died trying to outrace an avalanche in the Swiss Alps in 1964.

       
Serious racers weather the storm at the start of a Buddy Werner race.

Sue Poisson, our behind-the-scenes accountant, has a roster of involvement including Religious Education Teacher for the Confirmation Program, Lector, Eucharistic Minister at St. Patrick’s Catholic Parish. In addition, she’s Achieved Competent Communicator, Vice President of Membership, Presenter of “How to Become a Better Speaker” with Eagle Valley Toastmasters Club.

Beth Slifer may have retired from the day-to-day operations, but as Creative Director and CFO, there's certainly no grass growing under her feet. She is the Chairman of the Vail Local Marketing District; in addition to being a founding Board Member of Roundup River Ranch, she is a founding Board Member of the University of Colorado Depression Center; governing Board of University of Colorado Hospital, University of Colorado Leeds School of Business and Vail Valley Partnership. Don’t forget, she also supports educational and health organizations AND is a booster for Town of Vail. Whew.

Designer extraordinaire Andrea Georgopolis is working on the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships, a huge part of a signature event put on by the Vail Valley Foundation. This will be the third time VVF hosts such a spectacular event—truly bringing the world to Vail!
        

Vivian Gallegos, the first voice you hear at Slifer, moderates the Leadville Free Cycle website—a web page designed to try to limit the amount of trash in the landfill by encouraging recycling and reusing. In a nutshell, one man’s trash is another’s treasure, and this site helps the two meet. She created the group six years ago, keeping numerous items from the landfill. Vivian is also the group leader for the Leadville MS Friends Support Group.

Amy Casey, another coast-to-coast designer is involved with her church and has been spotted helping with its annual Chicken Noodle Soup fundraiser.

With the holidays bearing down on us, sometimes it’s hard to remember the reason for the season. But giving back, giving time is not only for the serious—Kim Toms, one of our renowned designers, is ringing the bell for Salvation Army with her sons. She rings every year she even rubbed elbows with our celebrity Bachelor, Ryan Sutter.

Kim helps fill the infamous red kettle.

The Rhodes family gets out every year to help keep the Eagle River clean. It’s shocking to see how much junk is pulled from the river every year—tires, clothes, even (yikes!) toilets. It would be disheartening if we did not have so many volunteers to get out on the banks and pull the debris out, keeping a clean habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Who would litter after seeing those eyes?

Candy Kullas has volunteered for the last eight years at the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD), a nonprofit organization in Denver and Winter Park. It provides therapeutic sports and recreation for people with disabilities. Candy’s focus is with the NSCD Alpine Competition Center in Winter Park, with which her son Cameron races. The athletes have all different disabilities including paralysis, amputees, visually impairment and spina bifida. Athletes from all over the world come to NSCD to train.

“All of these athletes are truly inspiring. Each one has a different story and different challenges yet they never look at their disability as a disability. It is a pleasure being with them and they are always very appreciative of all the volunteers,” Candy says.
         
Candy started guided Jeff, a blind skier, last year.

As a group, Slifer Designs adopts a family from the Salvation Army. They find just the right gift for each child in the family, as well as clothing and household items. They work together to make sure no one in the family is left out, and even give the makings for a holiday dinner.

There are more than 100 nonprofits in Eagle County that rely on volunteers— no matter your skill set, time commitment or abilities, we are proud to be able to fill a niche. Cyndi might just sum it up perfectly, “It is so wonderful to work with people who give so much back to our community. Slifer Designs employees rock!”

 

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