Horizons Specialized Services kicks off annual fundraising campaign

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At a glance …

• Horizons Specialized Services opened the 2011 Little Points of Light fundraising campaign Dec. 1 by mailing an appeal letter to residents and supporters.

• Donations benefit the organization’s Early Intervention and Family Support Services programs.

• Funds are used to help offset shortfalls created by funding cuts and high demand.

• Appeal letter: Funds help organization fulfill commitment of providing “Early Intervention to every eligible child regardless of funding.”

To donate …

To make a donation to Horizons Specialized Services’ Little Points of Light campaign, visit www.horizonsnwc.org, or mail checks to Horizons Specialized Services, P.O. Box 1483, Craig, CO 81625.

December is an important month for Moffat County families who rely on Horizons Specialized Services.

Deirdre Pepin, Horizons grants and publications coordinator, said an annual fundraising campaign organized by the nonprofit group every December helps determine the extent of services it can offer developmentally disabled residents and their families in Moffat, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand counties.

Due to a mill levy, the organization cannot solicit donations in Routt County.

Horizons kicked off the 2011 Little Points of Light campaign Dec. 1 by sending an appeal letter to residents and supporters asking for donations to help fund the organization’s Early Intervention and Family Support Services programs.

“The donations help us at least reach all the families that need it,” Pepin said.

According to Horizons’ website, Early Intervention is a program designed to help developmentally delayed children from birth to age 3. Services include development screenings and family-oriented therapy.

“Because the first three years of life are a critical window for development, Early Intervention has a significant impact on future services and support needs,” the organization stated on its website.

Family Support Services is a program designed to help families of developmentally disabled or delayed children by defraying “costs that are beyond those normally experienced by other families,” according to the website.

In 2010, Horizons provided 1,567 hours of Early Intervention services to eligible children in Northwest Colorado, the organization stated in its appeal letter. Of those, 339 were not covered through traditional funding sources — the state and Medicaid — creating a need for outside funding.

Adding to the agency’s tight financial situation, funding from the state is decreasing, Pepin said.

“There are cuts every year,” she said. “We expect cuts.”

Last year, state funding for the Family Support Services program was cut by 52 percent, Pepin said. While the Early Intervention program wasn’t hit as hard, it too felt the effects of statewide budget cuts.

While funds can dry up, Pepin said one thing never runs short: The number of children in need of Horizons’ services.

“We have more need than funds,” Pepin said. “There’s no shortage of kids. This allows us to provide as much service as we can.”

Part of the reason such demand exists stems from Horizon’s policy of never turning an eligible child away.

“Horizon’s board of directors made a commitment years ago to provide Early Intervention to every eligible child regardless of funding,” the organization stated in its appeal letter. “Contributions through Little Points of Light have helped us honor that commitment.”

When it comes to donating, Pepin said Moffat County residents have answered the call.

“Moffat County is very generous,” she said. “They give what they can.”

Of the $17,195 raised between the four eligible counties in 2010, $7,675 came from 51 Moffat County donations. And, since the money raised in Moffat County stays in the county, Pepin said it is a good way to immediately impact the local community.

“The money (raised) goes directly into the programs,” she said.

To donate, residents can go to the organization’s website, www.horizonsnwc.org, or mail checks to Horizons Specialized Services, P.O. Box 1483, Craig, CO 81625.

“Literally every dollar counts,” Pepin said. “When it comes to families with kids who have special needs, anything we can do helps.”

Jerry Martin can be reached at 875-1792 or gmartin@craigdailypress.com

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