Valley First Created with Community Children in Mind
7/27/22, 10:00 PM
Valley First, a 501c3 nonprofit group, has been making a huge impact on the Greenhorn Valley
Valley First, a 501c3 nonprofit group, has been making a huge impact on the Greenhorn Valley. Organized in 2021, but just applying for nonprofit status in January of 2022, Valley First was born with a mission: ‘to do for the community, especially the children’. The organization announced efforts to raise funds dedicated to supporting the development of a multi-use sports field in Greenhorn Valley Park, a project that was abandoned over 17 years ago due to the market collapse and insignificant funding.
Misty Sprague, Valley First Executive Director, shared, “With a population of approximately 2500 people, more than 50% of the youth are on free and reduced lunch. With no local field for soccer, football, and other recreational activities, these same children must rely on their parents to drive 60 miles round trip to play in a larger town, and many can't afford that. In a time when today’s kids have to overcome the obstacles brought on by the pandemic, inflation, and soaring gas prices, it’s more important than ever to provide them with a safe place to play, cultivate rela-tionships, and to just be kids. Since we don’t have a field, the kids have to practice on a dirt patch with vole holes and rattlesnakes. There have been many injuries, and last year one boy was rushed to the ER with a rattlesnake bite.”
Valley First kicked off their activities in the public eye with a Swing into Spring event on May 14. This was a huge, free, open-to-all community event with kickball, cornhole tournaments, vendor booths, music, and food. The event was attended by Senator John Hickenlooper and United States Senator Michael Bennett.
Since their initial event, Valley First has also teamed up with the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment in getting out a public survey about what residents would like to see happening in the community; supported the Pueblo County City Library District to kick off their summer reading program and promoted the Fire Fit Kids for a firefighter obstacle course. They also teamed with several local organizations to present the recent Community Clean Up Day and filled six, 40-yard dumpsters, two trailers with appliances and many tires.
The foundation is made up of a small group of community members, who hope to foster inclusive community participation by providing environmentally sound facilities and outdoor locations for recreation in Colorado City and Rye, Colorado. The foundation and its members are determined to improve the lives and safety of the youth and adults in their community.
The Valley First board is made up of members from widely diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and experience. Misty Sprague is Executive Director and has a background in grant writing and business; Jeff Menegatti is the Board President and has anextensive background in ranch management. Vice-President Jay Nielson has a business background and board members Toby Stinchcomb and Josh Briggs have knowledge of the local area and youth. The group is currently seeking volunteers to serve as treasurer for their group and possibly more board members.
The foundation is proposing its project in three phases:
1. Finish the football field on the west side of Greenhorn Valley Park, including turf installation, bleachers, goal posts, landscaping, and possibly lighting and American Disabilities Association approved access.
2. Add a smaller softball field/little league field, refurbish the playground, and improve the trail system around the park.
3. Build a community center that will have a gym, classrooms, exercise room, community rooms, and potentially an indoor pool/waterpark.
By phase three, Valley First is also planning to partner with the Health Department and Workforce Planning to offer local community resources within the center. Colorado City is unincorporated, so the community does not have the ability to leverage any local sales tax for such projects.
Valley First has applied for many grants and will continue to apply. “The needs are so great everywhere,” said Sprague. “Rural communities are often not prioritized because they are considered less impactful, but a child’s hometown should not be the determining factor on their ability to have a successful future.”
If you’d like to donate and support Valley First, please go to www.valleyfirst.org/donate-now. If you’d like additional information about the initiative or to get involved in other ways, contact email@example.com.