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MEEKER I More than 80 people toured five featured homes in Meeker Sunday, Dec. 2 during the first annual Little Points of Light home tour. The event, which complemented Horizons Specialized Services’ annual Little Points of Light mail campaign, raised awareness about, and funds for, the non-profit organization.
“Horizons has wanted to have more of a presence in Rio Blanco County, to let people know who we are,” Horizons speech therapist Natosha Clatterbaugh said. “We…wanted to offer something new this year, to try to give back to the community. People are really willing to support Horizons when they know what we do. The services we offer are really critical for the kids in the community.”
Horizons provides child and family services, including developmental screenings, motor, speech, and cognitive therapy, and other support services in a five-county area. In Routt and Moffat counties, Horizons also offers vocational and residential services to adults with developmental disabilities.
“The gap between state and federal funding is always shifting, but state and federal funding is never enough to meet the needs of either program,” Horizons grants and publications coordinator Deirdre Pepin said. “A couple of years ago, Horizons was cut by 50 percent in one year…since Horizons makes a pledge to serve all kids regardless of families’ ability to pay, we just absorb the cost.”
Pepin said local fundraisers like the Little Points of Light campaign keep every dollar in the county in which it was donated. That means all proceeds of the home tour will go to Rio Blanco County’s early intervention and family support programs.
Not all Colorado counties are as lucky as Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties, the areas served by Horizons.
“In some communities around Denver, kids are on a waiting list — there aren’t enough therapists or (the organizations) are underfunded,” Clatterbaugh said. “That doesn’t happen in any of our five counties. Horizons is always coming up with creative ways to fund services they’ve committed to help provide…we also have other supporters, like the county commissioners, who help out. They believe the mission of Horizons is an important one.”
Sunday night’s event featured tours through Clatterbaugh’s home, along with the homes of Joe and Linda Holeyfield, Dick and Cindy Welle, Anthony Gianinetti and Sparky Pappas, and Tim and Cindy Nelson.
Pepin felt that the event helped spread the word about the services Horizons offers and its role in Rio Blanco County communities.
“We had so many questions from people who just didn’t know who we were and what we did,” Pepin said of selling tickets at November’s Capitol Christmas Tree sendoff. “Until you have the need, you don’t really see us in the community….but if you read the mail campaign year after year, you can see that every dollar makes a real difference to these families. Every way that Horizons can help these families makes a big difference.”
After the home tour, several dozen people gathered during special hours at Cuppa Joe and Wendll’s Wondrous Things. There, Pepin and Horizons executive director Susan Mizen shared more about Horizon’s vision, followed by parents explaining how early intervention services had affected their children’s lives.
“People are aware of developmental delays and disabilities, but they don’t always know what to do about them or who to call,” Pepin said. “People’s questions (at the Capitol Christmas Tree event) indicated that there are probably some individuals who have needs, and we can help them. You don’t need to be labeled or diagnosed, but if you have questions or think you have a need, give us a call.”
Clatterbaugh attributed the fundraiser’s success to Bobby and Wendi Gutierrez, who hosted open hours and provided drinks for the event, along with Ma Famiglia restaurant, which donated the appetizers. The host families, the Meeker Chamber of Commerce, and sponsors Ducey’s Electric and Trina Zagar-Brown also helped bring the event together. Clatterbaugh hopes to make the home tour an annual event and possibly coordinate a similar tour in Rangely in the future.
“Lots of people are really generous and help Horizons pull off a big event like this,” Clatterbaugh said. “It’s easy to make happen as long as we have people willing to open their homes…the feedback I’m getting is that everyone felt really welcome when they went into the host families’ homes.”
To support Horizons, individuals can make donations via Paypal at www.horizonsnwc.org or “like” the organization’s Facebook page at “Friends of Horizons.” For questions about local services, evaluations, or referrals, contact Rio Blanco County service coordinator Rose Cochran at 878-3196.