March 15, 2011; Source: The Gazette | With the eyes of the world focused on Japan, it's easy to forget or overlook serious problems that also need immediate attention here in the United States. Even when our focus isn't elsewhere, these problems frequently don't attract the kind of urgent support they need.

That's not the case in Colorado, where the El Pomar Foundation has made its fourth distribution since 2008 of $1 million in emergency funds to help nonprofits struggling to serve people who themselves are struggling. Some 140 groups got the surprise news – delivered via phone calls – earlier this week about the unexpected grants.

"Oh my gosh – it was totally out of the blue,” said Carey Adams, president of God's Pantry's Ministry, which provides free food and clothing to the needy. “I wasn’t expecting it and I didn’t ask for it, and those are always the best blessings. Times are hard, and we’re grateful.”

According to The Gazette, "Demand for assistance with such basics as food and utilities remains strong three years after the start of the recession in late 2007 – something El Pomar trustees discovered when researching needs throughout the state. They heard from representatives of their nine advisory councils, which cover the state’s rural areas, and looked at a survey conducted late last year showing 95 percent of Colorado organizations saw increased demand for their services from the previous year."

The foundation, which made the awards through its Colorado Assistance Fund, has made it clear that money must go directly to people their grantees serve. We monitor the CAF program to make sure they’re not buying automobiles or furniture for the office,” said El Pomar Chairman and CEO Bill Hybl. “This all has to go for direct services.”—Bruce Trachtenberg