Grant helps Westsiders with lost wages from Waldo fire

       Westside residents who lost wages as a result of the Waldo Canyon Fire may qualify for a one-time stipend of up to $400 from Westside CARES.
       The money comes from a grant of $112,000 from United Way, which in turn had received about $900,000 in private donations after the June-July fire.
       Individuals should be able to verify their place of employment and weekly wages. Self-employed people can also apply. The maximum amount is $400, or a week's wages if that amount is lower, Steve Brown, executive director of Westside CARES, ex-plained in an interview this week.
       Especially welcomed are calls from employers with lists of workers who lost time during the fire because of scaled-back hours or days the business couldn't open, he said.
       Typical situations are people employed at restaurants or tourist-related stores. Brown said one applicant had worked at a business that shut down because of the fire and the employer then left town.
       CARES staff has also been trying to find impacted businesses through such entities as the Manitou Springs chamber and the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group.
       The chief goal is to help the “significant part of the population that's living paycheck to paycheck,” Brown said. “Losing a week's pay can be real hard on these people.”
       For more information, call 389-0759 x112.
       Headquartered in the basement of Bethany Baptist Church, 1930 W. Colorado Ave., Westside CARES is a non-profit agency, supported by 21 churches, which provides emergency assistance to residents in the Westside area and up Ute Pass.
       The United Way grant was received in September. The word is just starting to get out, with roughly 45 people helped so far and less than $10,000 spent, Brown said.
       The grant “is a big chunk of cash and we are now doing our best to spend it as quickly as possible,” he writes in the current issue of the Westside CARES Connection, the agency's newsletter.
       A smaller part of the United Way grant allows Westside CARES to give help to people for fire-caused losses related to housing or miscellaneous issues. Brown said a couple of these cases have involved people in Ute Pass whose houses didn't burn but were hit with mud flows because of post-fire flooding.
       The grant overall “is not in our primary 'palette' of services,” Brown adds in the newsletter article, “but because of our relationship with the community we felt it was important to use our position and existing structures to help. This task is squarely in the center of who we are as a conduit of resources, receiving from those who choose to give and distributing to those who need.”

Westside Pioneer article