Jo Waldeck’s daughter, Susan Diaz, worked for 37 years in human services, administering public support and welfare programs for the economically disadvantaged.

Of her mother she notes, “Mom has always had a very large heart for those who don’t have very much…My mom is leaving the world a better place – helping people she doesn’t even know – now and 50 and 100 years from now. This is what she wants her gift to do.”

Click above to watch our 2015
Waldeck Fund Anniversary Presentation

Featured Stories


Lifelong Mesa County resident Ellen Jo Waldeck established a legacy fund in 2010 to provide nursing scholarships at Colorado Mesa University and grants to eight of her favorite nonprofit organizations. Her donation was unique; a company which holds mineral interests that provides regular monthly payments to our Community Foundation for disbursement.

The eight organizations benefiting from Jo Waldeck’s generosity are: Grand Valley Catholic Outreach, Habitat for Humanity, Hilltop’s Latimer House, HopeWest, HomewardBound, Marillac Clinic, Mesa County Partners, and Roice-Hurst Humane Society.

February 2015 marks the 5th anniversary of the establishment of this legacy fund. WCCF evaluated the eight nonprofits in 2014 to understand the impact the Waldeck Endowment Fund has had on them and the clients they serve. Common themes emerged; the first grants from the fund were provided shortly after the economic downturn of 2007-09, a point in time when nonprofits were still recovering from decreased donations and cuts in federal and state funding streams. Several of the recipient organizations noted that the Waldeck Endowment Fund enabled them to not only keep their doors open, but to stabilize operations. Several other organizations noted that the funding enabled them to focus on program delivery and provided them with needed flexibility. All eight of the organizations noted the importance of collaboration with other area providers; partnering enables them to keep apprised of needs and concerns in their respective fields and also keeps them informed of other organizations who are providing similar services if they are at capacity.


To convey the many ways in which western Colorado’s nonprofits are changing lives for the better, we invite our grant recipients across our region to tell, in their own words, how their grant from a WCCF Fund changed one life for the better. Please click here to submit your story of impact and a photograph that conveys the work you do.

Here are just a few of those stories. Click on the organization name below:

The Abraham Connection
Volunteers preparing meal

Volunteers preparing meal

Serving Delta County

The Abraham Connection offers emergency overnight shelter to Delta County families, women, and men. The shelter has operated out of the basement of the Delta United Methodist Church since 2000. In the past four winter seasons, volunteers have provided nearly 2,500 shelter nights and served over 4,300 meals to more than 200 people. Need for shelter has continued to rise, prompting the board of directors to undergo a capital campaign in order to build a 30-bed shelter. Cheryl Oeltjenbruns, board member, describes the Abraham Connection as, “Very much a community shelter — organized by the community, staffed by the community, and supported financially by the community.” Fundraising efforts have been successful and the new shelter is anticipated to be completed in November, 2015. The shelter will include laundry facilities, showers and dedicated space for families.

Grand River Health – Meals on Wheels

Resident receiving Meals on Wheels delivery

Serving Garfield County

Grand River Health began offering Meals on Wheels in 1976, providing nutritious food to people living in Battlement Mesa, New Castle, Parachute, Rifle, and Silt. Meals are delivered to elderly, disabled, homebound, and recovering individuals. In 2013, Grand River Health’s Meals on Wheels delivered over 13,000 meals to people in need. The program does more than just support individuals; it also provides meals to feed pets that belong to clients. A monthly bag of dog or cat food is provided, amounting to over 6,000 meals for pets in 2013. The Meals on Wheels program relies on hundreds of volunteers who deliver food. One client who became disabled from illness and injuries due to a prior motorcycle accidents states, “It’s a really good blessing. The food is good and it’s refreshing to see a smile.”

Grand Valley Catholic Outreach
Soup Kitchen at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach

Soup Kitchen at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach

Serving Mesa County

Grand Valley Catholic Outreach was established in 1988 by the four Catholic parishes of western Colorado’s Grand Valley. It continues to be a collaborative effort of many churches and individuals, offering a range of services from the soup kitchen, to the day center, the food pantry, a clothing bank, assistance in securing affordable housing, and financial aid support. Sister Karen, Executive Director, conveys that there are many different faces of homelessness. When the word “homeless” is raised, many tend to envision someone who sleeps under bridges or stays at shelters, yet today’s homeless include those who need to stay with friends or live in their vehicles because they have lost their home. The fastest growing group that are finding themselves homeless includes families with children.

Haven House
Family receiving services at Haven House

Family receiving services at Haven House

Serving Delta, Montrose, and Ouray Counties

Haven House is a faith-based nonprofit organization that provides safety and security for homeless families, offering them opportunities to find permanent housing. It opened its doors in Olathe in 2011, working to create a transitional living program for the homeless of Montrose, Ouray and Delta counties. The organization can house up to 20 families and in the three years since it opened, it has provided over 38,000 shelter nights to over 300 people, including 140 children. Haven House sees many families that are in need of housing; according to survey results from the Montrose School District, over 200 children reported housing issues. Haven House reports that in the last two years there have been over 600 foreclosures in Montrose County, forcing some of these families to seek support at the organization.

Homeward Bound

Aaron, at Homeward Bound

Serving Mesa County

HomewardBound was formed in 1998 and provides overnight shelter for families, women, and men who are without housing. One client, turned employee, Aaron, became homeless in 2011 after suffering from an injury and losing his employment as a result. He came to HomewardBound, receiving a hot dinner, shelter, breakfast and enough stability to get him back on his feet. Staff noticed the initiative that Aaron was taking to improve his situation. They hired him as a safety coordinator; he now assists with facilities, oversees volunteers and ensures that residents are safe. Aaron notes, “I’m very blessed considering where I was and where I am now…If I can do it, anybody can. If it’s your mindset to be homeless for the rest of your life, you’re going to be homeless for the rest of your life.”


Healing with Horses

Serving Delta, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, and Rio Blanco Counties 

HopeWest, formerly Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado, has been serving the counties of Delta, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray and Rio Blanco since 1993. The organization provides comprehensive hospice, palliative care and grief-related services to residents. HopeWest also offers the Kids Grief Program, the largest program offered within Colorado to support grieving children. It is open to all children within the community who have lost a loved one, providing them with the tools to cope with their grief and receive the support they need. A component of this program is Healing with Horses, using horses to help clients navigate through their grief. One participant states, “It’s nice to talk when no one else says anything. Everyone grieves differently and people will say they understand what you’re going through, but they don’t. The horse just listens. It doesn’t say sorry.”

Marillac Clinic
Marillac- DDS Dr Hart w patient

Dr. Hart, DDS, with one of her pediatric patients

Serving Mesa County

Marillac Clinic was established by area physicians in 1988 and offers medical, dental and optical care to underserved people. Marillac utilizes an integrated care model, where medical and behavioral health services are offered during the same patient visit. Staff frequently work with children who have been brought into protective custody; one child came in for a dental visit with teeth in such poor condition that they met the child’s gum line. The young patient noted they had tooth pain and had a difficult time eating. The dentist performed baby root canals, completing them with crowns. The patient’s new foster parent was educated on oral hygiene and healthy nutrition, ensuring that the child received the new start they deserved. When the child returned for his re-check appointment, he was transformed. He let the dentist freely examine his mouth and his foster parent said he was eating a healthy diet, growing and gaining weight.

Mesa County Partners
Western Colorado Community Foundation

Western Colorado Conservation Corps crew working on the Grand Mesa

Serving Mesa County

Mesa County Partners has been pairing at-risk youth with mentors since the 1970s. Today, Partners supports youth in a variety of ways, continuing to provide one-on-one mentoring, while also offering restitution and community service programs, engaging students in afterschool programs, and providing employment and training to youth through Western Colorado Conservation Corps (WCCC). The WCCC provides young men and women, ages 16-25, with the chance to learn about regional conservation projects in Delta, Mesa, Montrose and Gunnison Counties, all while gaining skills and accreditations. Chris participated in the WCCC to experience western Colorado and improve the community, all while getting paid. Chris reflects, “…I became a part of something bigger than myself… I was now a part of something that doesn’t just give self-satisfaction…There are thousands, if not more, kids that could benefit from what the Western Colorado Conservation Corps has given me.”

Ouray County Performing Arts Guild

Serving Ouray CountyOCPAG

Ouray County Performing Arts Guild (OCPAG) has been bringing quality events in music, dance, theater and other genres to Ouray and Ridgway since 1983. OCPAG sponsors presentations and performers of the highest caliber in the performing arts for the enjoyment of Ouray County’s residents and visitors, including their flagship event the San Juan Chamber MusicFest.

Reach Out Colorado

Serving Garfield CountyTotes for Hope

Reach Out Colorado (ROC) serves as resource and referral center for Garfield County, connecting people in need with appropriate services, through an extensive network of nearly 100 volunteers. ROC programs include the Totes for Hope backpack program, distributing a weekend’s supply of food to children who may otherwise suffer from hunger over the weekend. Currently, 250 elementary school children in Rifle receive food weekly. ROC also collects school supplies and winter coats for children in need. ROC also strives to ensure that seniors who are living independently are not isolated, checking on them during extreme weather conditions of cold or heat and connecting them with existing resources, such as Meals on Wheels

Roice-Hurst Humane Society


Serving Mesa County

Roice-Hurst Humane Society has been providing safety, shelter, and basic veterinary care for homeless dogs and cats since 1963, working to place them in loving “forever” homes. One puppy that was sheltered was Bo, abandoned at three-months-old. When he arrived at Roice-Hurst, he was timid and fearful, making him difficult to adopt. That all changed when Bill Lukes walked through the door; Bill recognized Bo’s full potential, seeing a svelte, athletic dog that needed some love and care. He worked to socialize Bo and eventually enrolled him in agility training, where Bo qualified for a national meet in Denver.  Bill notes of his canine companion, “Bo has taught me that true strength and leadership comes from within, expressed in everything one does. Also, that trust and loyalty to others may be the most magnificent and rewarding aspects of all kinds of relationships.”

Walking Mountain Science Center

Serving Eagle CountyWalking Mountain

 The Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon, CO has been providing a gathering place for environmental learning since 2011. The Center showcases sustainable design and green building, and the campus provides various opportunities for natural science education through school programs, summer youth science camps, adult seminars and year-round interpretive programs. Working with the local school district, Walking Mountains Science Center’s goal is to engage youth in experiential learning, foster critical thinking and enhance scientific and environmental literacy.  The Center also offers community programs throughout the year and offers graduate programs and internships.