Buying time

Program finds partners in residents, foundations

Running a 24-unit motel takes nearly all of Randy Looper's time. So when he wants to contribute to the community, Looper gives money.

And, although there's a need for adult mentors, Looper's $1,500 contribution to Moffat County Partners came at a critical time.

The program, which works to pair adult mentors with at-risk youths, has for weeks teetered on closure because of funding cuts. But last week, the agency learned it would receive $30,000 in state and federal grants.

Meanwhile, the program has raised $3,000 from community donations, including Looper's contribution.

Show of support

With fresh funding, the program can continue for another six months, officials said.

In November, Moffat County Partners Director Tara Jenrich said the program did not receive any state or federal funding for 2004-05, leaving it $55,000 short of the $120,000 it needs to operate.

Moffat County Partners has served more than 350 children since its inception seven years ago. Of those, 82 were paired with an adult mentor. Partners also organizes events in which teens learn about community service and life skills, such as drug and alcohol education, social skills, cooking and safety.

In November, Jenrich said the program needed $10,000 to make it through January.

Looper's contribution was a strong show of support for the program, Jenrich said.

"Partners is a great thing," Looper said. "It's a wonderful organization that's well needed in this town, and it's hurting."

Still serving children

Looper said he has friends who are adult mentors. He said hearing about their experiences and seeing the changes youth undergo through the program inspired him to contribute.

"It's just an amazing program," he said. "(Partners) is an organization I don't want to see disappear."

Because of budget constraints, Moffat County Partners has cut Jenrich's full-time staff position to part-time and eliminated a part-time position.

With those cutbacks and the $33,000 the program will receive, Moffat County Partners can continue another six months, Jenrich said. "We're still serving kids, we're still getting referrals, and we're still recruiting adult mentors," she said.

Positive thinking

Jenrich has applied for more grants to keep the program going. But large grants are hard to come by, she said. She said she has applied for grants in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

Although future budget issues loom, Jenrich said she's focusing on the positive.

"This was an exciting week for me," she said. "It's still a scary time for nonprofits, but it's looking brighter."

Contributions can be sent to the Moffat County Partners office, 439 Breeze St.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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