In the eyes of our clients – How are we doing?

In the eyes of our clients – How are we doing?

Periodically, we like to know how we are doing and what impact our programs and services have on our clients’ lives. In order to capture this information, we conduct periodic anonymous surveys, asking clients questions on how the help they received made a difference in their lives.

Check out this cool infographic created by Francisca Blanc, our Development Associate, to visually show some of the results from our most recent survey.

Too much Zucchini? Share the bounty!

August 8th is National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day!

Ah Zucchini! Easy to grow and quick to take over the garden of an unsuspecting gardener (especially the novice), the ubiquitous zucchini is a summer squash that can be served up in so many ways – sautéed, roasted, boiled, fried, added to bread recipes, muffins and other baked goods. A search on Google quickly turns up nearly as many recipes as a single plant does zucchini.

Seriously, access to fresh fruits and vegetables is often difficult for those with limited means, including the individuals and families who come to Tri-Lakes Cares. Through our “Help Yourself Market” and the generous donations of our food rescue partners, we are able to offer a wide variety of produce – both familiar and sometimes odd – that many of us take for granted.

If you are a gardener, you can help by donating any extra tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, green beans, and yes, even zucchini! And, you don’t even have to sneak it onto our porch – ring our doorbell and we will gladly take it in.

Do you have a favorite zucchini recipe? Share it in the comments section and we will re-share with our clients, volunteers and staff.

“Volunteering is a calling” by Kelly Bryant

  Merriam Webster defines the word ‘volunteer’, as a person who does work   without getting paid to do it.  Although the definition put forth by dictionary.com says virtually the same thing, I prefer their verbiage – a volunteer is a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.   Why would anyone is his/her right mind be willing to do this?  Volunteering is a great way to fills one’s time in retirement, and it’s also an easy way to meet others in your community – whether it be at school, at church or just in the local neighborhood.  Some people volunteer in order to develop new skills and others do it because of the proven health benefits it provides.   While giving their time benefits volunteers in many ways, it is not why they do it.  I believe it is a calling – a calling to help others who are not as fortunate as they are; or to participate in the education and enrichment of their children; or to raise money for an organization for which they are passionate; or to aid people who have survived disaster.  The list goes on and on.  Yes, volunteers seem to be fueled by compassion and a deep desire to make the world a better place.

Americans volunteer in huge numbers.  According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63 million Americans gave 8 billion hours of volunteer service in 2016.  Using the national estimated per-hour value assigned to these hours by Independent Sector*, the total monetary value of that service is a staggering 193 million dollars.

Taking that down to a local level, our Tri-Lakes Cares volunteers worked a total of 15,894 hours in 2016, which averages out to just under 75 hours per volunteer.  The 2016 per-hour volunteer value in the State of Colorado is $25.97.  A quick calculation shows us that just one volunteer working an average number of hours annually, saves Tri-Lakes Cares nearly $2,000 each year.  As a result we are able to make those funds available to clients by way of added services.  The $2,000 saved might enable us to provide school supplies for 160 kids.  Or, we may use it to cover the cost of our entire Snack Pack program for ten weeks.  Again, this is the impact of just one volunteer.

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is Sunday, April 23 through Saturday, April 29.  It’s a time to thank volunteers everywhere for a job well-done.  A simple thank you hardly seems adequate, but it’s all we’ve got.

To our TLC volunteers:  You come and faithfully serve our clients week after week, month after month, year after year.   We are inspired by your grace and professionalism.  We are awed by your generosity and commitment.  We are amazed by your talent.  You are stellar, and we are honored to know you.  From the bottom of our hearts……THANK YOU!!!


*A national membership organization that brings together a diverse set of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to advance the common good.

By Kate Lythgoe, Food Programs Manager

Nearly 1 in 7 Coloradans struggle with hunger, sometimes not having enough money to buy food. Devastatingly, 1 in 5 Colorado kids may not know when or where they will get their next meal.  1 in 7 seniors struggle choosing between food and medication.

September is “Hunger Action Month” – Feeding America’s nationwide awareness campaign designed to take action on ending hunger. During the month, Tri-Lakes Cares will be running its own awareness campaign found here.

But what is Tri-Lakes Cares doing about hunger in our community? How are we hoping to lift the 1 in 4 working families in Colorado who do not have enough food to meet their basic needs out of poverty?

In addition to our supplemental food programs and Help Yourself, TLC is expanding food assistance through:

  • With the funding assistance of Kaiser Permanente, Case Manager Paula is participating in community outreach to screen our  community for food insecurity.
  • Two SNAP Ambassador volunteers, Wanda and Karen, are on-site during client service hours to help our clients apply for SNAP. Colorado currently ranks 45th in SNAP/food stamp access for those eligible
  • Expanding the Snack Pack program to include free/reduced lunch students in District 38 high schools with funding provided by Nutrition Camp School Foundation
  • Hosting CSFP (Commodity Senior Food Program) at Tri-Lakes Cares to increase nutritious food access to our senior clients
  • Providing senior resources through “Senior Brown Bag” lunch to increase awareness and availability of senior programs in our community

Whether it’s by raising awareness, participating in the SNAP Challenge, advocating, donating or volunteering, find a way to make a difference in our Tri-Lakes community. Together, we can tackle hunger!

For more information on the food programs and food assistance, please contact Kate Lythgoe, Food Programs Manager, foodprogramsmanager@tri-lakescares.org or 719.481.4864 x111

We couldn’t do it without you! (Part 1 of an occasionally series)

We are so thankful for our partnerships with our local community through service-oriented clubs and organizations, youth groups, churches, businesses and others, who live and work in the Tri-Lakes Region.

In an effort to acknowledge all these wonderful groups, we will be posting periodic blog postings and also updating the “Our Supporters” section of our website.

For this first posting, we are high-lighting the various service clubs in our region who support us. These organizations, and their members, host fund-raisers that benefit Tri-Lakes Cares, volunteer, donate goods, services and advocate for the work we do in the community.

Monument Hill Kiwanis Club: Their motto is Helping Kids & Youth, Building our Community, and Having Fun while doing it” and this is epitomized each year in October when they host their “Empty Bowls” fundraiser bringing the community together. Attendees select an empty bowl, crafted by local potters, and sample soups donated by local restaurants. In conjunction with the Empty Bowls, Tri-Lakes Cares hosts the silent auction portion of the event. Without the tireless work of the members of the club, this event would not be as successful as it is. You can view photos from last year’s event here – scroll down. And THIS YEAR’S EVENT on October 5!

Beyond “Empty Bowls,” the Kiwanis conduct food drives for us with a huge focus on “Harvest of Love.” Members of the club help with holiday distributions in November and December. And, this year, they helped facilitate the donation of desktop computers and monitors for our clients in partnership with Blue Star Recycling.

Tri-Lakes Lions Club: We have enjoyed a great partnership with the Tri-Lakes Lions Club. They provide financial support for clients who are seeking assistance with vision needs as well as to our “Help Yourself” area of the pantry, providing funds to purchase fresh produce.

In June, they hosted a fishing derby at Palmer Lake (scroll down to see photos), collecting canned food donations as the entry fee for the kids who participated. And on September 19th, they are hosting a golf tournament at The Club of Flying Horse with a portion of the proceeds designated for Tri-Lakes Cares.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club: The mission of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is to support the Tri-Lakes community through charitable and educational endeavors by raising and distributing funds to assist qualified organizations and promoting the education of its members and the community through instructional programs.  For the past 40 years they have held their annual spring event – Pine Forest Spring Show – to raise funds. In addition, they hold a fall event – this year a food and wine tasting event to be held at Spruce Mountain Ranch in September called “Harvesting Hope.” The funds raised at these events, they support various organizations through a grant-making process. We have been fortunate to receive funds to purchase items (carts, filing cabinets, tables, etc.) for both Tri-Lakes Cares and Hangers to Hutches to help with daily operations.

Additionally, the members of the club have conducted numerous food drives to benefit our pantry and have participated in the annual “Giving Tree” program which helps us provide gifts to children and senior citizens in need in our community.

American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11: For the past three years Post 9-11 has provided us with grants to specifically help with the emergency financial needs of our military and veteran clients. In order to raise funds, they conduct weekly bingo games on Saturday nights in The Depot Restaurant at Palmer Lake (did you know that the Post 9-11 actually operates the restaurant?). Visit their website for details on how to participate!

Sertoma: We have been grateful and fortunate for the support of two Sertoma clubs in our area. Sertoma is an international service organization whose members are dedicated to volunteerism and philanthropy in SERvice TO MAnkind. Their main focus is assisting individuals with hearing and hearing loss issues, but their support goes beyond their primary mission.

Legacy Sertoma: Legacy Sertoma continues the legacy of the Sertoma mission and support for the community in the Tri-Lakes area. Traditionally, they have raised funds to support our holiday programs in November and December ensuring that those in need or financial stress can enjoy a holiday meal and gifts (for youth and seniors).

Gleneagle Sertoma: In response to the growing Gleneagle neighborhoods in the mid-1980’s, Gleneagle Sertoma was formed. It is the largest Sertoma club in the immediate region and hosts its annual “Spirits of Spring” event to raise funds to benefit a number of non-profits in the area. We are grateful to have been the beneficiary of past events. Members of the club have also collected school supplies and held food drives to fill our pantry shelves.

Knights of Columbus, St. Peter’s Council #11514: The Knights are a fraternal order of Catholic men who work to support various charitable organizations in the community. Each year they provide financial support to our programs and services, while 12 of their members volunteer on a regular basis in our food pantry. Other causes they support include Special Olympics, School District 38’s special education department  and St. Peter Catholic School. They also provide scholarships to students to attend the parochial school. Funds are raised through pancake breakfasts Sunday mornings following mass at St. Peter Catholic Church and spaghetti dinners. Their biggest fundraiser is the pancake breakfast they host each year at the Fourth of July parade.

Thank you to all of these groups for their support! We couldn’t do it without you!

Please watch for future posts thanking other groups and donors!

Learn the Magic of Couponing

By Guest Blogger, Michael Brom
District 38 Teacher & Couponer Extrodinaire

Since my initial couponing blog in June, Tri-Lakes Cares has been receiving coupon inserts. Thank you so much for helping get this project going!

In addition, in late June I approached my principal, Mr. Seann O’Connor, at Lewis-Palmer Middle School about having students participate in this project during the 2016-17 school year. Throughout my experience at LPMS, I have found students, parents, and colleagues to always be genuinely interested in ways we can support others in our community. This coupon project and partnership with TLC will provide LPMS students with an invaluable community service opportunity. This kind of undertaking requires volunteers and time to cut, sort, and organize the coupons to help coupon distribution be more efficient, and I know our students will rise to the occasion!

I will begin offering couponing classes at the end of August at TLC to anyone interested in learning how to coupon. The focus of the initial classes will be for beginning couponers. The most important part of couponing is getting started. As one gains experience in couponing, it becomes easier to be more effective and efficient.

One simple couponing strategy that I use as often as possible is to focus on purchasing items that are on sale and I have, or can, obtain a coupon for those items. Of course, it’s not possible to buy every item that way; however, targeting sale items helps narrow the focus when it comes to finding and using coupons. Having a partner to coupon with is also helpful – both in gathering coupons and also when doing the actual shopping. Having both a navigator and a driver when shopping makes couponing less stressful and the shopping trip more efficient.

I look forward to sharing my couponing knowledge and helping others in the Tri-Lakes community save money.

Michael Brom


Coupon Classes: First Class on Monday, August 29 @ 7:00 p.m.

The initial class will accommodate 12 people. If more than 12 people are interested, we will open a second slot at 7:30 p.m., also for 12 people.

Each class will be 30 minutes. It will be an introduction to couponing with future, additional classes for those who might be interested in learning more.

You are asked to bring a copy of an average grocery shopping list – what items to do you buy most consistently? Michael will use your lists as examples along with grocery store sale inserts and coupons to show how much you could save.

Your legacy is our future!

What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.
Albert Pine

August is “What Will Be Your Legacy?” month.  Take the month to reflect on your past, consider your present, and plan for the future to make positive changes that will affect generations to come.  Some things you can do are write out your family history for your children, grandchildren and other young people in your family; plan how to implement your long-term goals (what is on your bucket list?); and update or complete your will or estate plan.

A common misconception is that wills are just for the wealthy. But in reality everyone, even those with a modest income, has assets. Consider: if you own a car or a home, you have assets. If you have a life insurance policy or an IRA or other type of retirement account, you have assets. If you own family antiques or jewelry, you have assets. A will or estate plan can protect those assets and help your heirs understand your wishes for distribution. This is part of your legacy.

Another aspect of your legacy can include our future. When writing your will or establishing your estate plan, consider leaving a bequest to Tri-Lakes Cares. In simple terms, a bequest is a transfer (a gift) of assets or property at by will to a specific recipient. You can also name Tri-Lakes Cares as a beneficiary on your life insurance policy or your IRA/retirement accounts.  Naming us a beneficiary will let your heirs and others know the importance you place on supporting us and ensuring our future.

If you have already named Tri-Lakes Cares in your estate plans, thank you! We would love to hear from you and learn your story. Don’t worry; we will keep it completely confidential.

If you want to include us in your estate plans, we can provide you with sample language, but make sure you consult your lawyer or financial advisor.

So, during August think about your legacy and begin planning how you want to be remembered.

will map

What is Food Rescue?

By Kate Lythgoe, Food Programs Manager

On average, over 190 million pounds of safe, edible food are thrown away every day in the United States.
(The Food and Agriculture Organization)

Bread Rack - Help Yourself

Bread Rack – Help Yourself


Have you ever wondered where all the food comes from that Tri-Lakes Cares distributes to clients?  All the food – breads, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, baked goods, etc. – in the “Help Yourself” area comes from “food rescue” efforts.

What does “food rescue” mean? Food rescue is the practice of gathering edible food that would otherwise go to waste from places such as grocery stores and other retail outlets which is then distributed to local food programs benefiting low-income individuals and families. In most cases, the rescued food is being saved from being thrown into a dumpster and, ultimately, landfills or other waste disposal.

What is Help Yourself?  Help Yourself is our food rescue program, with fewer restrictions than our other food programs.  The Help Yourself area is set up like a mini-market where clients can select their own breads, baked goods, fruits and veggies allowing them the dignity of self-selection. Dairy products and other similar perishable items are kept in a large refrigerator (purchased with the support of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club).  Clients experience a greater control over their own food selection and are more likely to eat what they take. It has the added benefit of offering more variety of fresh items with nutritional value.

Produce Food Rescue - Help Yourself Area

Produce Food Rescue – Help Yourself Area

On a weekly basis, twenty-three volunteers spread out across the community to pick-up donated food, set-up  the Help Yourself area and assist clients during service hours on Mondays and Thursdays. These volunteers give over 2,500 hours on a yearly basis for this particular program.

Who supports Tri-Lakes Cares through “food rescue”? We could not offer the Help Yourself program without community support. Since December 2015, our community food rescue retailer participation has increased by 63%. Our current food rescue partners include:


  • Care and Share of Southern Colorado, 2605 Preamble Pt., Colorado Springs, CO 80915
  • King Soopers, 1070 W Baptist Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • Safeway, 624 W Highway 105, Monument, CO 80132
  • Natural Grocers, 1216 W Baptist Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • Sprouts, 13415 Voyager Pkwy., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • 7-Eleven, 2650 Old North Gate Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • Penzeys Spices, 7431 N Academy Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80920
  • Panera, 1845 Briargate Pkwy., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • Kneaders, 13482 Bass Pro Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • Which Wich, 7640 N Academy Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO 80920
  • Kum & Go, 1206 Interquest Pkwy., Colorado Springs, CO 80921
  • Kum & Go, 1410 Cipriani Loop, Monument, CO 80132

Thanks to these generous retailers, 104,882 pounds of food rescue food was distributed to 1,689 clients during our last fiscal year (October 2014 to September 2015). And, Help Yourself continues to be a popular service with our clients.

But, is the food safe to eat? Rescued food is edible, but often not saleable.  Bruised fruit such as bananas or apples, day-old breads and baked goods, and products that are just at or just past their “sell by” dates are donated – but still edible. Other times, the food is unblemished, but the store may have made or ordered too much.  Rest assured, that Tri-Lakes Cares volunteers and staff carefully review all expiration dates and look over produce to ensure that only the very best is available! We follow best practices in food handling and safety, distributing rescued food the same day we receive it through the Help Yourself program.  In addition, retailers are protected by the 1996 Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which supports food rescue programs from liability lawsuits as well as offering tax benefits for their donations.

How can you help?

Say “Thank you!” to our current Food Rescue partners by shopping in their stores. Be sure to thank the store managers and other workers for their Food Rescue participation and partnership with Tri-Lakes Cares! If they know the community values their efforts, they will continue to donate and assist us.

If there is a food store not on our current list, let the store manager know you’re passionate about reducing food waste and hunger in our community and that what may seem like an “insignificant amount” of food waste to them, can be extremely valuable to the needy in our community. Be clear that what you’re proposing requires almost no additional work from their employees, and over time can help save a substantial amount of food. If they need more reassurance, refer them our Food Programs Manager.

For more information on our Food Rescue efforts, contact Kate Lythgoe, Food Programs Manager at 719.481.4864 x 111 or foodprogramsmanager@tri-lakescares.org


Learning How To Survive

On Wednesday, February 24 several staff members of Tri-Lakes Cares and Hangers to Hutches took part in a “poverty simulation” presented by Pikes Peak United Way. It was an eye-opening experience.

Developed by the Missouri Association for Community Action, the simulation invites community members (from non-profits, businesses, private citizens) as “participants to role-play the lives of low-income families from single parents trying to care for their children to senior citizens trying to maintain their self-sufficiency on Social Security.”

Everyone was split up into family groups or as individuals and supplied with some necessary documents such as identification cards, transportation passes and items which could be pawned. Family groups and individuals are of various age groups with real-life problems – in a homeless shelter, living in their own home but facing eviction due to failure to pay the mortgage, children with health issues, etc. – were asked to resolve those issues and survive during a four-week period.

Facilitators acted as service provider agencies, the school system, banks, lending institutions, places of employment, rent/mortgage companies and utilities. Others played the role of the police, drug dealers and other people in the community. Within a set period of time, participants navigated the system to try and survive.

And, the name of the game was survival. Nearly everyone who participated were of middle-class backgrounds and to suddenly be thrust into survival mode and to try to get all the necessary resources for the survival of the family helped to illustrate what so many people in poverty go through.

Panicked. Scared. Unsure. Confused. These were all terms that came out during the de-briefing to help understand the simulation. People reported feeling rushed and struggling to understand a system which doesn’t always respond to the immediacy of the need. Those who had “children” had to deal with truancy, theft and drug dealing. One “mother” said she was appalled that her child sold drugs, but was more than willing to take the earnings to help pay the bills. A “homeless couple” staying at the shelter came to the conclusion that it was easier to stay there rather than find their own place because they didn’t have to pay rent or for food and it made survival easier. A “senior citizen” who lived alone, reported feeling lonely. One “family” was evicted from their home for non-payment of the mortgage.

It is easy for many of us to judge those living in poverty. “Why don’t they get a better paying job.” “Why are they still staying at the shelter.” “Why are they homeless?” “What bad parents! The kids were arrested again.

The poverty simulation exercise made us realize how difficult it can be for those living in poverty. It is not an easy world in which to survive.


Fox 21 News did a news story on the event: http://fox21news.com/2016/02/24/pikes-peak-united-way-holds-poverty-simulation/

From the Food Pantry: Thank you to our faith and community supporters!

Tri-Lakes Cares is ever so grateful to the many faith and community groups that regularly hold food drives for our pantry. In 2015, together they helped to provide for 568 families and raised over 72,000 pounds of food! What a wonderful way to help care for our neighbors in need! We certainly couldn’t do it without you!

Thank you to these churches and community groups collected food for TLC in 2015!

Apostolic Christian Youth Group
The Ascent Church
Benet Hill Monastery
Cathedral Rock Church
Church at Woodmoor
Church of Latter Day Saints (CR 105)
Monument Community Garden
Family of Christ Lutheran Church
First United Methodist Church
First Baptist Church of Black Forest
Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Kiwanis Club – Monument Hill
Light House Christian Fellowship
Little Log Church
Living Word Chapel
Monument Hill Baptist Church
Monument Community Presbyterian Church
Mountain Community Mennonite
New Life Church
Northland Community Church
St. Peter Catholic Church
St. Matthias Episcopal Church
Tri-Lakes Church of Christ
Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church
Tri-Lakes Reformed Church
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club
Trinity Lutheran ChurchThankYou2