Windsor doesn’t come off as a place where an individual or a family could be facing a homeless situation.
For the board of directors at Stepping Stones of Windsor, they see those situations more often than not.
As a result of Stepping Stones helping residents in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District with eviction notices or utility cutoffs since 2004, the nonprofit organization was recognized by the Windsor Community Foundation for its efforts.
The WCF recently awarded Stepping Stones a $1,000 grant. It was the first grant awarded by the WCF.
Stepping Stones helped out about 70 families and individuals in 2013 and dispersed about $25,000. The mission statement for Stepping Stones, which has an all-volunteer board of directors, is to assist people within the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District community who are facing eviction or the possibility of having their utilities discontinued due to a temporary financial crisis.
Stepping Stones board president Eldon Schmidt said it’s been a busy summer so far and that the $1,000 from the WCF came at the right time.
“We’ve had a pretty high demand for the summer season, so it’s come at an opportune time,” Schmidt said. “It’s a real blessing to be on the receiving end of it. We need all the help we can get. A significant percentage of our people are working people who’ve had a temporary setback of some kind like unusual medical bills or a car expense, or they’ve had some hours cut back if they’re working. It’s hard to meet all the expenses, especially if there is one income.”
Schmidt said Stepping Stones can give a family or individual up to $550 during a 12-month period.
The WCF conducted an online survey earlier in the year that contained questions on three needs categories — education opportunities, basic needs (nutrition, health and safety) and arts, culture and recreation.
Forty-five percent of the respondents felt the most important of these was basic needs. The primary need indicated in the basic needs category was for emergency assistance, secondary was elderly assistance.
Twenty-nine percent of respondents felt education opportunities were most important and 26 percent of respondents thought arts, culture and recreation were the most important needs of the Windsor area.
After discussing the results of the survey, including the individual comments, the WCF board decided to focus its attention first in the basic needs category since the majority of respondents thought this was most important.
“We have been raising some money and we wanted to find the best way to give back to the community and so we performed the survey earlier this year,” WCF board president Mark Brase said. “It came back loud and strong that basic needs seemed to be the focus of all the respondents. With that in mind, we put the grant application out there. We had good response and we unanimously chose Stepping Stones for what it does for our community and felt that Stepping Stones’ mission and vision was closely aligned with the basic needs that our survey was looking for. We feel that it will help change lives within our community and, hopefully, help the recipients and make them better and in turn improve upon our community.”
Stepping Stones member Barbara Goff was excited to learn of the $1,000 grant.
“It’s indescribable. Our whole goal is to be there to help people with their needs, and we go through those resources very quickly because we do have a lot of needs in the community,” Goff said. “These are people who are in crisis. They’re at their worst possible situation. The eviction is in hand and the shutoff is in hand. That $1,000 will help a number of individuals within families to cut down on the stress and make things better for them.”
Brase said the grant is the first of what the WCF hopes to be many in the future.
To award more grants such as the one Stepping Stones received, the WCF is always looking for donations from the community and will be holding its first major fundraiser in September. The inaugural Brews & Bites for Windsor, courtesy of Chimney Park Restaurant & Bar and High Hops Brewery, will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Chimney Park Restaurant & Bar, 406 Main St., in Windsor. Cost of the event is $100 per person and will include a silent auction.
Seating is limited and tickets must be reserved by Sept. 1 by calling (970) 304-9970 or by registering online at www.windsorcf.org.
Brews & Bites will feature an exclusive gourmet menu from Chimney Park Restaurant paired with hand-crafted beers from High Hops Brewery.
“We’re thankful for our two title sponsors — Chimney Park and High Hops — and we think this will be a great partnership and, hopefully, many more to come,” Brase said. “Please come and support the Foundation and two great local businesses, Chimney Park and High Hops. There will be plenty of food, drink and festivities for all.”
The WCF is also looking for sponsors for the event. Anyone interested in being a sponsor for Brews & Bites should call (970) 304-9970.