“I just needed to make it through this month, and without FIRC’s help, I don’t know how I would have gotten my children through this situation, the mother stated. “It’s very humbling to have everything one day and now be in a situation like this, another. With my deepest gratitude, thank you to all who donated to this fund. I don’t think donors realize the true impact their money can make on a family’s life. I just needed a little help to get back on my feet. FIRC and these donors have truly made a difference for me and my children.” – Monica

“Thank you ever so much for helping me with rental assistance. I am a single mother with a two year old and eight year old. I am a teacher, but haven’t had much work this summer. I am forever grateful for your generosity.” – Jane

“I want to extend my deep gratitude for such a wonderful Families United program. We feel very fortunate to have a team like you available to help us build stronger families.” – Maria

“I would especially like to thank our Parent Educator, Rosie, for such excellent and professional work in her home visits with us. During each visit, we receive wonderful instruction through topics ranging from physical and emotional development of our two small children along with covering other issues of great importance to me as a wife and mother.” – Alejandra

“Thanks so much for your time and flexibility in working with Jackson and I. Thank you for all of your ideas and the information you gave us. It has really helped me be more confident as a parent and answered many questions. We’re very lucky to have this resource in our community.” – Karen

“I have really benefited from the ideas, handouts and conversations with my Parent Educator. The interactions inspire me to be a better parent.” – Jennifer

“The needs that FIRC fulfill are the basic needs of humanity for a decent quality of life….food, shelter, heat, medical, freedom from abuse and education of life skills. What better accomplishment than to be a part of those helping those who need a hand up!” – Kay

“I’ve been volunteering at FIRC for years, and the people who use the food bank sincerely need our help. They didn’t choose to be in this position and without the food bank, I don’t know where these families would turn.” – Margery

“I have been volunteering weekly at the food bank for the last two years and I just love it. To see the children go through the shelves with their parents is moving. I wish I could give the families so much more.” – Barb

“I appreciate the fact FIRC works so “hands on” with so many local families. I appreciate knowing that all of my donations help our Summit County residents no matter who they are and what they might need. I love being able to donate my time, money and helping in any way I can…it is such a good feeling dropping off food or making a donation of clothing or household goods at the FIRC thrift store, you know that it is going to make a difference for someone going through a difficult time.” – Marge

Staff and Board members:
“I am extremely proud to represent an organization with a mission that has always been a passion of mine – to empower our community’s families.” – Linda

“I like working at FIRC because it allows me the opportunity to interact with the diverse populations that make up Summit County, and because I enjoy being part of an organization that works to continually make Summit County a better place.” – Rob

Community Support Success Stories

Rent Assistance
The Summit County Cares emergency assistance fund helps so many facing hard times, and the following is a story to remind donors of the difference their gifts are making:

In January, a local family’s one-year-old daughter suddenly became very ill and had to be hospitalized at Children’s Hospital in Denver. Rita and Thomas went down to Denver to be with their child and Thomas informed his job of the situation. After missing three days of work because of his daughter’s critical condition, the employer chose to let Thomas go from his job.

Thomas was the sole provider for his family and now the combination of hospital bills and unemployment put the family in a dire financial situation. They had no way to pay their rent and would have lost their house if it were not for the emergency assistance of FIRC and the Summit County Cares fund.

A month later, life is improving for this family. Little Emily is out of the hospital and recovering and Thomas has found a new job and will be able to pay his rent for the upcoming month.

“With out FIRC’s support, my family would be homeless and who knows what would have happened to Emily when she got out of the hospital,” said Thomas. “I felt like my world was crumbling apart, and I will forever be grateful for my child’s recovery and everyone’s support through this month.”

CHP+ Enrollment
Local small-business owners, Sally and Jim, saw a steep decline in profit over the last year as the economy declined. As a result, their private health insurance became unaffordable. In order to continue to afford their other basic expenses including housing, utilities, and food, they were forced to drop their children from the plan. The family came to FIRC after hearing about CHP+, the state’s low-to-no cost health insurance plan for children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. FIRC was able to guide them through the application process, and the children were enrolled in CHP+. Now, Sally and Jim no longer have to worry about being unable to afford health care for their children while they weather the current economic storm.

Utility Assistance
John is a local self-employed single father struggling to make ends meet in a tough local and national economy. He found himself in the difficult position of having to choose which bill not to pay because of a lack of sufficient income. As a result, John’s heating bill fell far behind, to the point that he was in danger of having his utilities disconnected. John came to FIRC for help and was able to receive enough assistance with his bill to keep his utilities from being disconnected so his son and himself never had to face a night without heat or electricy.
Rent Assistance
Judy came into our office seeking assistance with rent, but as she explained her need we discovered she had many other needs like past due utility bills, medical bills, affordable housing needs and information to apply for disability benefits since she was very ill. Her family is bringing in very little money and struggling to make ends meet. We started out with some of the basics like giving her a list of affordable housing options and referring her to social services for assistance in applying for disability and health insurance.

Our agency partnered with a local church to help pay for her rent and medical equipment needed. We knew she just needed help until her disability and health insurance started. Her future medical bills will be covered and the hospitals assisted her in applying for financial aid for her previous bills. This case was very successful and the client was very happy to have help sorting through all of her needs.

Medical Assistance
When we met Karen, she was a recently divorced single mom living in Summit County with 2 kids and was pregnant with her third. She was working full time and made sure her 11 and 14 year old daughters got to school on time everyday.

Things were going well for the family and Karen was looking forward to finding out the gender of her third child, but as she was coming up on the appointment Karen lost the baby due to medical complications. As a result, Karen needed medical attention and the bills added up quickly, soon reaching nearly $35,000.

Karen came to FIRC unsure of how she would be able to pay the medical bills and support her two children. FIRC was able to advocate for Karen and her family by working with medical providers to reduce the bills by nearly 80% and set up a reasonable payment plan. With FIRC’s help, Karen was able to pay the remaining amount in under a year while continuing to take care of and support her daughters.

Rent Assistance
John and Monica have been Summit County residents for 5 years and were hoping to stay in the community to raise their 2 year old son, Sam. They live in one of the affordable housing communities here in the county, still the high cost of living has made it a bit of a struggle for the couple since their daughter was born but they had managed to get by until now.

Unexpectedly, John was laid of from his job as a waiter due to a lack of business at the restaurant. At the time, Monica was still looking for employment and weighing her options between paying for childcare or staying at home with Sam.

By the time John and Monica came to FIRC they had both found employment with hours that did not overlap, allowing them to take care of Sam without the need for daycare. Still, the lapsed time between having jobs was putting severe strain on the family as they had fallen behind on their mortgage.

The couple had proven they could stand on their own two feet, but found themselves in a pinch that could potentially leave the whole family homeless. FIRC was able to provide a portion of their late mortgage payment to the bank.

Since their visit to FIRC John, Monica and Sam have been doing well, the family has gotten caught up on their mortgage payments. Thanks to the help of donors and foundation funds, FIRC was able to give them a stepping stone to get back on their feet.

Utility Assistance
Janet has lived in Summit County for the last 25 of her 72 years of life. She moved here long before it was a tourist destination, when it was a place to get away and live a more quiet life.

She has been living off of a fixed income for a number of years and it has been enough to pay the bills and enjoy her time with friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, the rise in energy costs recently was more than she had planned for and put a squeeze on her ability to pay her bills.

Janet came into FIRC after last winter’s record breaking cold days left Janet with a bill that was much higher than she could afford to pay. She had received a disconnect notice was in danger of having her heat turned off.

FIRC was able to provide enough funds to the energy company to avoid the disconnection. FIRC provided Janet with information on how to weatherize her home and created a plan help her lower her energy costs for the next winter. Janet is now more prepared for the winter season and will be better able to afford her future energy bills.

Food Bank & Rent Assistance
Rick is the sole provider for his wife and three children, but he recently lost his job due to the lack of tourism. FIRC was able to help them through their transition with food bank and rent assistance. It is the several bags of food a month that helps them keep food on the table until Rick finds new work.

Prescription Assistance
Veronica is a client with a rare medical condition that lands her in the hospital often due to fainting and other conditions without notice. This happens frequently when she is not taking a special kind of medication. For many years she has taken this medication but it became discontinued from her affordable pharmaceutical discount program early last year and generic brands don’t work for her. Unfortunately she stopped taking it because it is very expensive. As a result, she had several hospital trips last year and has racked up many medical bills.

She finally sought medical help at the local clinic who then referred her to FIRC for prescription assistance. When she came to us we looked to all the local pharmacies to help her find the lowest price, but it was still an amount that she could not afford to pay. We were able to help her out with a few months supply of her prescription. Now that she is caught up on paying her medical bills, she can afford her medication.

Medical Assistance
Dan was temporarily disabled due to a recent accident and unable to work for several months. He was struggling to keep up with the bills and fell into debt. Dan tried to find new ways to offset some of his expenses but in the meantime he was able to utilize the food bank to keep his cupboards stocked and divert all financial resources into making his rent and utility bills.

FIRC was also able to provide him with a wheelchair and crutches to help him through his recovery.

Families United Success Stories – Parenting Education and Early Childhood Development

Bright Beginnings – Education for New Parents
Natalie and her husband found out they were pregnant and were very excited to welcome the new baby to their life. Though they were young, both only 23 years old, they wanted to start a family and felt financially secure enough to raise a child.

Still, they did not have family in Summit County and were the first of their friends to become pregnant. A little scared and worried that she had a lack of support and knowledge, Natalie called FIRC for advice. FIRC provided a free Bright Beginnings home visit for Natalie and her husband, giving her much needed information about the pregnancy, what she can expect the first of months after birth, important information on development and other resources available in the community.

FIRC remained in touch with Natalie and found she and her husband felt more prepared to be parents. Natalie can still use FIRC and Bright Beginnings as a resource and she can schedule two more free secondary home visits over next the two years help her through the most critical years of the child’s life.
Families United – Parental Needs
Alicia had been referred to FIRC’s Families United program by a friend who saw that Alicia’s bitter divorce was causing her to have trouble connecting with her daughter and that she could potentially become neglectful.

Alicia did well with the home visit provided by a FIRC parent educator and began to understand important aspects of being a parent and how her daughter was developing. Still, the divorce had a large effect on her and the parent educator noticed Alicia beginning to have trouble in their sessions and quickly recognized the signs of depression. Looking at the other resources available at FIRC the parent educator was able to get a grant for Alicia to receive therapy and address the depression. Through the therapy session and continuous support from the FIRC Families United program, Alicia has become happier is able to really enjoy time with her daughter.

Bright Beginnings – Early Childhood Development
When Keith and Stacy were expecting their first child, they did what any other parent would do: educate themselves. They enrolled in Summit Medical Center’s Prepared Birthing Class, where they received a free bag of materials from Bright Beginnings about child development and resources available in the community. After their son Brody was born, they followed the parent handbook to monitor his development. As Brody approached 12 months, they noticed that he was not speaking as much as his peers in his play group. Because Keith and Stacy were able to access the developmental information in their Bright Beginnings Handbook, they were able to identify this possible delay in their son.

Keith and Stacy called FIRC to request the second set of Bright Beginnings materials for children 12 to 24 months. During their Part B visit, Keith and Stacy were given many activities, games, and information to help stimulate the development of Brody’s language. Their visitor stressed to them that while Brody may be ahead of the game in his large motor skills (as he was running circles around the house to catch the dog), his language development may just be a little behind which was completely normal.

After the visit, Keith and Stacy worked with Brody on many activities to stimulate his language. FIRC recently contacted them for and update, and both parents were happy to report that Brody is steadily catching up with his peers, and still enjoys playing his language games.

Families United – Development Diagnosis
One of the top priorities of the FIRC Parent Educators is to monitor their client’s Early Childhood Development. If a delay is noticed they have the understanding and resources to encourage the family to seek help.

A Parent Educator expressed this type of concern to a family whose two-year-old was not yet talking. After consideration, the family agreed to meet with a speech therapist where a speech delay was diagnosed. Now the child is taking effective steps towards talking and will be more properly prepared to enter pre-school.

Families United – Improving life at home
One of our Parent Educators in Families United worked out a plan with a single mother raising three boys. The family was living with her parents and had expressed to the parent educator many times she would like to live in her own house. It was so difficult to find a place that she could afford on her salary. Although she was grateful for her parent’s generosity, it was hard for this mother to really be the mom she wanted to be with her parents always telling her what to do and how to raise her children. During the FIRC home visits the parent educator encouraged and supported her to move out on her own. By giving her ideas on how to save money and resources on how to be an independent and confident parent, she was able to afford her own place.

Now when the parent educator visits the family in their new home, she sees the mother full of pride. When the parent educator asked the mom how she felt about having her own place said, “You have no idea, it feels great! When I first walked in to my own place I immediately called my sister and started crying because I was so happy!”