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Mancos Valley Resources names 2017 project of the year

Pay It Forward honored for Western Excelsior fire aid
Clara Martinez, front right, gives the Project of the Year award plaque to Dana Weaver, left, and Patricia Burk, center, of Pay It Forward.

On Thursday, the charitable group Mancos Valley Resources presented its annual Sponsored Project of the Year award to local nonprofit Pay It Forward.

Pay It Forward, one of about 15 nonprofits supported by MVR, has raised money for Mancos families in need for about six years, according to a news release from MVR board member Mary Brisson. In 2017, the group distributed about $16,800 to people in need, including about 16 families affected by the Western Excelsior plant fire. MVR board members presented an award plaque to Pay It Forward’s leaders during a potluck dinner at the Mancos Visitor Center.

“We would like to honor you with this plaque to commemorate your efforts and love, and the importance of your commitment and your service to the community,” MVR president Clara Martinez said. “We’re so happy to be part of your organization.”

After the Western Excelsior plant in Mancos burned down, leaving about 100 people in the Four Corners region without jobs, Pay It Forward volunteers raised money to pay for affected families’ rent, utility bills, gas money and other expenses. One of the nonprofit’s leaders, Dana Weaver, said much of the money also pays for non-medical expenses, like transportation, for people dealing with unexpected health emergencies.

“It’s quite needed,” she said. “I just hope that we can keep the money coming in and keep the thing going.”

Pay It Forward was founded in 2011 by Tami Graham, who is now a member of MVR’s board of directors. According to Brisson’s release, she helped to start Pay It Forward after Mancos-area residents raised money for her during a health crisis.

“I wanted to create a fund that would support others in time of need, as the community supported me,” she wrote in the release.

Now the fund is managed by Weaver, Patricia Burk and Gwen Hawkins, and runs primarily on donations from Mancos-area individuals and businesses.

MVR is a fundraising organization that benefits Mancos-area nonprofits. This is the third time it has honored one of those nonprofits with its Project of the Year award. The first organization to receive the award was the Mancos Valley Chorus, and last year’s recipient was Chicken Creek Nordic Trails. Joan and Peter Brind’Amour, who lead that group, said they believed receiving the award last year was instrumental in helping them win a grant to purchase ski trail maintenance equipment.

Anyone can donate to Pay It Forward, or the other organizations Mancos Valley Resources supports, by mailing a check with the name of the beneficiary on the memo line to P.O. Box 204, Mancos, CO 81328. Residents of the 81328 ZIP code can apply for aid through Pay It Forward by getting an application at www.mancospayitforward.org or the Mancos Visitor Center on 101 E. Bauer Ave.

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