Linda Roper, 61, lives in the Horizons Specialized Services group home at 50 W. 13th St. in Craig. She's one of about 30 Moffat County adults the nonprofit organization serves. A week from today, Horizons will take part in its biggest fundraiser of the year, the Yahoo Golf Tournament & Golf Ball Drop. Money raised at the event stays in the county, organizers said.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Linda Roper, 61, lives in the Horizons Specialized Services group home at 50 W. 13th St. in Craig. She's one of about 30 Moffat County adults the nonprofit organization serves. A week from today, Horizons will take part in its biggest fundraiser of the year, the Yahoo Golf Tournament & Golf Ball Drop. Money raised at the event stays in the county, organizers said.

Golf fundraiser to benefit Moffat County Horizons

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If you go

What: Yahoo Golf Tournament & Golf Ball Drop

When: 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13

Where: Yampa Valley Golf Course

• The golf ball drop entails dropping golf balls from a crop duster airplane over the 18th hole.

Balls closest to the hole win prizes. Golf balls may be purchased from the golf course pro shop or at Horizons, 439 Breeze St.

Proceeds benefit Horizons of Moffat County. For more information, call 824-7804.

— The sun shines through the back bedroom window at the converted group home on 50 W. 13th St., in Craig, and it's through the glass that 61-year-old Linda Roper looks out and finds enjoyment in nature's creatures.

"I watch the deer out there," said Linda, her words slow and broken, but the meaning high-definition clear. "Every morning and every evening."

"There's a momma dear and a couple of fawns out back, and Linda considers them her pets," adds Pauline Godfrey, group home supervisor.

Roper, originally from Nampa, Idaho, is mentally disabled and lives in the Horizons Specialized Services group home with four other adults, ages 28 and older. Each of the adults has his or her own room, and they have arranged the space to match their personalities.

For Linda, that means filling her room with pictures of family, of Jesus, of the people she loves. It means adorning the living room outside her doorway with a handmade quilt.

It means displaying books and cards she's collected over the years, the Cabbage Patch and Raggedy Ann dolls her mother once made her and the framed picture behind her bed stating what love is and isn't.

Love is patient, kind, does not envy or boast, isn't proud or rude, always trusts and hopes and most importantly, never fails, the picture reads.

"Most of the time she's pretty positive, pretty upbeat," said Godfrey, the home staffer closest to Linda. "She likes to keep busy. She quilts, embroiders, does puzzles. : She's very family oriented."

For Godfrey, working for Horizons is a labor of love.

"I love my job and I love what I do and I feel privileged because not everyone can say that," she said.

"I think when people hear DD (developmentally disabled) or MR (mentally retarded), they have a tendency to think worst case. They don't realize how independent our clients can be."

Assisting clients gain independence, or helping make their lives easier, is what Horizons focuses on, said Godfrey, an employee for about 14 years.

Horizons, a nonprofit organization, serves five counties - Moffat, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Rio Blanco - and about 60 developmentally disabled adult clients in Moffat and Routt counties.

The group home on 50 W. 13th St., is one of three the organization operates in Moffat County. All told, more than half of the 30 adult Moffat County clients live in the homes.

But, running the organization, which provides year-round and in some cases, round the clock, supervision and assistance to its clients isn't cheap. The state and federal funding Horizons receives isn't always enough, and the organization looks toward other revenue streams for assistance, officials said.

One of those outside sources is fundraising, and a week from today, Horizons will benefit from its biggest fundraiser of the year.

The Yahoo Golf Tournament & Golf Ball Drop is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13 at Yampa Valley Golf Course. For the second time in three years, Horizons will benefit from the annual fundraiser.

In 2006, the tournament and ball drop raised $27,000 for Horizons.

"This is really important to us," said Susan Mizen, Horizons Specialized Services executive director. With the additional funding, "we can offer a lot of activities that help (clients) become more a part of their community and a better part of their community."

Michael Toothaker, Moffat County adult community coordinator, said the fundraiser will provide money needed to make improvements to the group homes and service an aging fleet of vehicles.

"We have probably $14,000 to $18,000 in capital expenditures on the group homes and then vehicle maintenance," Toothaker said. "It's pretty crucial for us."

The money raised in Moffat County from the tournament and ball drop stays in the county, Mizen said.

"We've made that commitment," she said.

Horizons board president Don Roth said he originally set a $50,000 fundraising goal. And, though he's skeptical Horizons will hit that mark, Roth said the community is responding well.

"We've still got a week to go," he said. "We're not there yet, but we're working on it. The community isn't really hard to sell on the benefit of it."

Roth said the tournament and ball drop is a "very worthy cause" and that he's proud to help support an organization that allows people with disabilities to "enjoy life, too."

"There are a few of those people in the county not as fortunate," he said. "I feel if there is something I can do to help, I certainly want to go all out."

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