Resource Center: Who’s Who, How Fling Funds Help

Resource Center: Who’s Who, How Fling Funds Help

jpg copyCan you picture the face of respect, whether it’s self-respect or respect for others? It looks exactly like the faces of the staff at the San Miguel Resource Center, the Telluride region’s only nonprofit in the business of helping people in trouble help themselves.

Each of the six women who steer the Resource Center responded to a calling to do whatever it takes to promote healthy relationships by ending domestic violence and sexual assault in their own backyard.

The mission of the Resource Center is to put itself out of business by ending interpersonal violence in our extended community. According to the experts, abuse is anything from a vague feeling that something is wrong to battering – or worse.

Saturday night, February 1, the Resource Center hosts it only major public fundraiser, the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling, an all-out bash featuring the region’s best professional chefs competing to create the most decadent chocolate desserts, prizes for Best Dressed and Amateur Chocolate, a silent auction, a wine toss, a 50/50 cash raffle, and dancing to the sounds of DJ Harry.

Proceeds from the Fling represent 1/3 of the Resource Center’s annual budget of $110,000. Funds raised at the party, one of the biggest parties of the winter season, are particularly important because they are unrestricted.

Unrestricted funds – as opposed to restricted funds through grants from government entities, which come with strings – allow the nonprofit to meet the ever-changing needs involved in crisis response.

Which brings us right back to the Resource Center’s staff.

Like any organization – only more so because of the nature of the business – the Resource Center is only as good as the people who run it. And these professionals are as good as it gets.

Get to know them and how they used the funds from last year’s Fling, then show up ton Saturday to support their work.

Angela Goforth has been with the agency over 14 years and is the backbone of the SMRC.

“The amount of knowledge she has in the field of victims’ services is astounding,” said co-director Melanie Montoya.

Angela is Co-Executive Director. Her responsibilities include overseeing grants and staffing the SMRC West End office in Nucla.

Funds raised from the 2013 Fling allowed Angela to provide the West End with a women’s support group for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The group met over the course of eight months and focused on empowerment, prevention, and healing.

Melanie Montoya is Co-Executive Director. She oversees the day-to-day operations and is fluent in Spanish, which allows her to actively and easily work with both English- and Spanish-speaking clients.

With funds raised from the Fling, Melanie facilitated two support groups over the last year. One was specifically focused on sexual abuse survivors; the other more broadly focused on all SMRC clients.

Kara Johnson is Prevention Educator for the Resource Center. Kara provides violence prevention education presentations and programming for all of the schools Pre-K-12 in the Resource Center’s service area. Kara gave 531 talks. Last April, Kara was awarded the Rocky Mountain PBS “Be More Award” for her innovative programming and for the remarkable impact she has had on the lives of children. She is a trusted figure among school staff and students. She has given many the courage to speak out when they are suffering.

Funds from the Fling provided the additional funding needed to increase Kara’s hours and made it possible for her to provide over 100 more prevention education programs in 2013 over 2012. Several of the schools Kara visits had critical incidents last year, which led to a significant increase in demand both for Kara’s work in the classroom as well as her advocacy services for individual students.

“Much of the overall increase in clients has come from students and parents referred through the schools, largely due to the immense trust developed by Kara,” added Melanie.

Emily Robinson is Cultural Outreach Coordinator for the SMRC. With her fluency in Spanish and outstanding awareness of cultural diversity, she is perfect to work with the immigrant population in the service area. In 2013, that population constituted about 20% of  overall clients. Emily regularly organizes and facilitates monthly support groups for Hispanic Women, Mujeres Hispanas, and plays a hands-on role in the broader Hispanic community.

Emily had some major successes over the last year helping many women who were victims of specific crimes clarify their documentation status in the U.S. Under the Violence Against Women Act, immigrant women who endured certain crimes can qualify for various types of visas. Emily’s expertise in this area has been a major reason why many women in our community can now proudly say they are documented.

Elly Johnson is Advocate Manager. Elly organizes and facilitates three 40-hour volunteer trainings annually, each of which qualify participants and domestic violence and sexual assault advocates in the state of Colorado. She manages the crisis hotline, ensuring that 24-hour help is always available. She also organizes Phenomenal Women’s Week, which takes place the week of March 8, International Women’s Day, and promotes gender equality. Additionally, Elly is fluent in Spanish and acted as a co-facilitator for a women’s support group in 2013.

Funds from last year’s Fling helped Elly meet the impressive demand to participate in the Resource Centers Advocate Training Program, when potential volunteers (students, active community members and survivors) showed up in record numbers. Elly served as the primary advocate in several of the more involved and challenging cases that arose over the last year.

Rachael Cooke is the newest member of the SMRC staff, but a veteran volunteer advocate for years. As the Client Services Manager, Rachael will oversee the broad array of services offered to Resource Center clients, including personal and legal advocacy, safe housing, client financial assistance, and our sexual assault response team. Rachael comes to victims services with an impressive background in volunteerism and theatre.

The Client Services Manager position saw the largest increase in demand for resources generated from the Fling because the SMRC served 33% more clients in 2013 than any year in the nonprofit’s history. Client-centered discretionary funds were applied to financial assistance, transportation (often to or from forensic exams for sexual assault), relocation (helping victims in grave danger relocate to other cities or states), art therapy for teen and child victims or witnesses of violence, and technological resources to boost the 24-hour crisis line coverage.

 “If the month of January 2014 is any indication of how the New Year will go, I think it is a safe bet to assume our client demands will once again break records,” said Melanie. “We are on the cusp of dealing with some major issues in our service area and finding funding to meet these extreme needs will  once again be essential. I am adamant that we not just adequately meet the needs of survivors, but meet them with excellence. That is really the only way if we intend to have a lasting impact and provide survivors with a realistic community framework for long-term healing.Attend the Fling. Help us make a difference.”

Visit to learn more about how you can help and to buy tickets to the Chocolate Lovers’ Fling.



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