Eagle, Colorado is the county seat of Eagle County. This small rural town has a population of approximately 3,000 and is located in the Eagle River Valley. In the fall of 1998, Eagle County Health & Human Services entered into a partnership with the Eagle Volunteer Fire Department, the effects of which would make a major impact on services to and livelihood of seniors in the community of Eagle. It is one of eleven communities, which lie along the I- 70 Corridor, a principal highway that connects eastern with western United States. The region is most noted for famous ski resorts located in Vail and Beaver Creek.
The ski resort industry employs a significant number of Eagle County’s workers directly and indirectly and contributes a significant percentage to the county’ s economy. While only two communities offer ski opportunities the industry has a tremendous impact on the cost of living index throughout the entire valley. Over the last 10 years, cost of living, housing, and health- and home-related services have increased so greatly that many seniors must struggle to retain their independent living status. In particular, services to remove snow provide minimal yard care or home upkeep, and appliance repair are no longer affordable to most seniors on limited incomes.
The goa1 of Health & Human Services’ volunteer program, Homemaker & Chore Services, is to respond primarily to needs of low-income seniors and disabled adults. In 1998 many clients seeking yard clean up and home winterization had approached the program. At that time, the program lacked the volunteer capability to fulfill those requests. Program supervisor, Nettie Reynolds, was aware of the Eagle Volunteer Fire Department’s regular use of Work Release Program trustees to complete various community service projects. Ms. Reynolds approached the fire chief with a proposal to join forces with the county to solve this community need.
Chief Jon Asper and his staff were immediately excited about the offer. The department had endeavored in the past to offer their services to seniors in the community but did not have the resources to identify those needing the services. Ms. Reynolds was that missing link, and the partnership has blossomed into one that is admired by other communities in the Eagle River Valley.
Seniors and disabled alike are so grateful for walkways shoveled and de-iced, autumn leaves raked, windows covered against the winter cold and uncovered to let in the spring warmth, and on and on. These little things bring peace of mind to people who would otherwise have to figure out how to get them done on their limited incomes. Since October 1998, 112 volunteers have contributed $1,018 worth of service. The plan is to continue offering services to seniors and disabled persons. The department is a model nonprofit organization that has captured the respect and admiration of the entire Eagle County community.