You have to admire local philanthropist Doe Browning’s commitment.
Two years ago Browning committed $1 million toward building a new Vail Valley emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
It’s not easy to find a place for that sort of facility, so the Bright Future Foundation spent a couple of years looking for the right spot. They found it, and Saturday kicked off the foundation’s $3.4 million campaign for its new BrightHouse.
Browning’s $1 million donation is a huge jump-start. They hope to break ground in the spring, said Bright Future Foundation CEO Sheri Mintz.
Bright Future Foundation made the announcement at the Vail Health Foundation’s Winter Celebration.
“Bright Future Foundation will build a shelter in the purest form for any and all who seek safety, counsel and healing in the wake of extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” Browning said in a press release. “Our shelter will bring dignity back to many who suffer, enabling them to live, work and play in our beautiful valley with trust and without fear.”
You gotta go
The current safe house is on federal land in Eagle County. It’s not that the land cannot be occupied, but it has to be used for that agency’s purposes. A safe house doesn’t fall into those parameters, Mintz said.
About five years ago that agency told the Bright Future Foundation that its the safe house would have to go.
The Bright Future Foundation was not collectively heartbroken. The main part of the building was more than 100 years old and looked every year of it. It was expanded several times over the ensuing century.
“We’re grateful to have what we have, but it was time to move,” Mintz said.
The BrightHouse will provide small apartments, offices and other services all in one location. It will still maintain confidentiality for the families who are there, Mintz said.
“Doe spurred us on to proceed with this campaign with her enormously generous contribution,” said Lissa Tyler, Bright Future Foundation board president. “We are a grassroots organization serving our Eagle County community, and Doe’s commitment puts us on the path to safety and freedom for our clients.”
Browning is BFF’s BFF
Browning’s pledge is the single largest donation to Bright Future Foundation since the organization’s inception in 1984.
For nearly 20 of its 25 years, Bright Future Foundation has operated the Freedom Ranch safe house, a leased facility at the western end of the valley. Victims can leave an abusive situation and protect their children from witnessing or experiencing further abuse while remaining within the community.
BrightHouse will be a welcoming place for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, their children and even pets, a restriction at the current location. The facility will include gardens and safe outdoor play areas. It will feature efficient residences, enhanced security systems and common living areas, as well as expanded offices and counseling and meeting rooms so victims can receive services on site.
The Bright Future Foundation’s programs include: Freedom Ranch, Advocates Ensuring Freedom, Rapid ReHousing, a 24/7 crisis hotline, Buddy Mentors and EmpowerMENt Youth Violence Prevention.
The nonprofit served 750 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the past year. Bright Future Foundation was named the 2016 Nonprofit of the Year by the Vail Valley Partnership.
“It is remarkable to see the power of the community coming together to heal survivors and the positive change that can be made in their lives as a result of these support systems,” Mintz said.