Craig In the history of the Independent Life Center, Executive Director Evelyn Tileston has never seen as much federal funding as she did Friday.
ILC, which provides resources for people with disabilities across Northwest Colorado, received its largest contribution of $460,000 in loan and grant money to help preserve its services.
The Division of Rural Development, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, loaned the center $391,000, supplemented by a $69,000 grant.
The loan will be used to purchase the building it currently occupies on Yampa Avenue, which Tileston said will give the organization security and hope for the future.
When Red Cortner, owner of Homemaker Furnishings, bought the building, he offered immediate support to Tileston’s efforts.
“He bought it so we would have a place to operate,” Tileston said. “He remodeled the second floor and put in an elevator for us and didn’t charge for it. He was so supportive of us helping people with disabilities.”
Last year, when it was time for Cortner to sell the building as he moved toward retirement, he wanted to continue supporting ILC’s progress.
He offered to let the organization buy the building at what Tileston called an “advantageous” price.
She said she knew the organization didn’t have the funds but was worried for ILC’s future if someone else bought the building.
“We were worried someone else would raise the rent to where we couldn’t afford it or just flat out make us move,” Tileston said.
For about eight months, the organization worked on a plan and wrote grant requests.
On Friday, Tileston and her staff learned their hard work had paid off.
They plan to close on the building before the end of the year.
The deal includes the offices of the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition and Transformationz Salon, both located on the building’s first floor, which will pay rent to ILC to help them repay the loan.
“It gives us security that we have a home,” Tileston said. “We don’t have to worry about anything. It gives us equity, so if we need to borrow money again for any reason, we have equity in the building.”
In a news release sent out Friday, U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said he was glad the federal government could help Northwest Colorado.
“There is no mission more noble than providing supportive services to our neighbors, friends and family who are members of our community with disabilities,” he said.“I honor the mission of the Independent Life Center, and I’m glad that this federal funding will help them continue and grow their important work.”
The $69,000 grant, however, has a few strings attached.
Those funds must be used to bring the building up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
ILC will have to redo its parking lot and create a wheelchair-accessible entrance to Transformationz.
Tileston said the planned upgrades would help provide beneficial services to the community.
“It’s going to make it easier for people to visit our office,” she said. “It’s going to give us some security, and we’ll do the bid process and hire local people to work. The town has been so helpful in so many ways; this way we can do something back by putting people to work.”
She said the renovations and equity will make it easier to receive grant money in the future because organizations will see ILC as an established institution in Northwest Colorado.
“It will show granters we’re stable,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere. Now, we’re going to survive.”