My Turn: Gateway Mountain Center truly a great success story | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Gateway Mountain Center truly a great success story

Carla Beebe
Special to the Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE, Calif. and#8212; The vision and concept of the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation has had a profound influence on my community service perspective. I just completed my third year as a member of the Open Competitive Grant Committee. After 33 years of living in Truckee, serving on this committee has connected me to others in ways I never imagined. I have a much deeper understanding of the diverse needs of our community. I am both honored and privileged to work with the staff and volunteers of this great organization transforming lives in our community through grant making.

The open competitive funding category is one of several categories set up to fulfill the mission of generating resources to build a more caring, creative, and effective community. We receive a high number of proposals in this category. Each member of the committee is tasked with reviewing the proposals, interviewing the applicants and making site visits. Finally, we get together to make excruciatingly hard funding recommendations.

We can recommend awarding a grant to maintain an existing program or to fund a new initiative. The recent economic crisis has subjected community non-profits to considerable fiscal stress. Accordingly, the community foundation is now also awarding core operating grants.

Recently, I was asked by Program Director Phebe Bell if I was particularly touched by any one proposal. Until I became involved in this process, I had no idea we have so many non-profits … serving so many needs. Many of the organizations are worthy of recognition. That said, Phebe asked me to select one. The Gateway Mountain Center came to mind.

The Gateway Mountain Center was founded in response to the need for relevant, engaging adventure experiences for local youth that were not otherwise accessible. The curriculum focuses on ecological literacy, health and empowerment. By gathering volunteers, guides, educational institutions and participants, the Gateway Mountain Center has built comprehensive programs celebrating the connection between people and the environment.

Last spring, they sought funding to continue an existing Pass it On program open to both boys and girls, and to develop a Peak Health Class for young women of Sierra Continuation High School. The Pass it On program consists of five day trips, an overnight rock climbing trip and a back country skiing/snowboarding trip. The goal of the Pass it On program is for students to learn and grow in their abilities to manage the risks associated with adventure activities and to take increasing responsibility for safety and success of their teammates. The Peak Health Class works to address issues identified in a Truckee Tahoe Unified School District Healthy Kids Survey, including substance abuse, low self esteem, and to address indicators of depression. The target group was young women enrolled at the Sierra Continuation High School. This class seeks to develop healthy functioning in mind and body. The program plan was developed by Gateway staff member, Nancy Minges, in collaboration with school counselors. Nancy is well suited for this work; she holds a master of arts in Holistic Health Education, as well as multiple certifications in mind/body fitness disciplines.

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At the Sierra Continuation High School site visit, we met both Peter Mayfield, founding director of the Gateway Mountain Center, and Nancy Minges. After hearing their presentation, looking at program pictures, and feeling the warm ambiance of the school setting, I was deeply moved by this organization and its efforts to positively affect the lives of at-risk teens. Iand#8217;d only been inside a continuation high school one other time. There was absolutely no comparison and there was no question in my mind that this program clearly met the grant guidelines and the overall mission of the Truckee-Tahoe Community Foundation. We wholeheartedly recommended it for funding and it was later approved by the Board of Directors. You can learn more about the Gateway Mountain Center at http://sierraexperience.org.

In closing, I would recommend participating on any one of the foundationand#8217;s grant committees as a great way of connecting to your community.

Every holiday season the Sierra Sun and Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation team up to raise money through and#8220;Gifts for Goodand#8221; to support wonderful organizations such as the Gateway Mountain Center. To learn more about Gifts for Good, call 530-587-1776 or go to-www.ttcf.net.

Carla Beebe is a 33-year resident of Truckee and volunteers on Truckee Tahoe Community Foundationand#8217;s Grants Committee.