The Colorado Tourism Office is marking the 37th annual National Travel and Tourism Week by highlighting organizations that have taken extraordinary steps to support their communities and others in addressing unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass is using 3-D technology to create personal protective equipment, including face shields and visors, to donate to medical professionals.
Carbondale Arts started the Artist Relief Fund to allocate donations to local creatives who need help covering essential costs during this unprecedented time. It is also planning to host Virtual First Fridays to enrich the community.
History Colorado repurposed its digital learning platform for classrooms for at-home use. It launched Hands-On History @ Home, an educational resource to assist families with children out of school, and consists of programming designed with elementary-school students and their caregivers in mind, but suitable for anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to unwind with history.
MakerLab in Durango has partnered with Alpacka Raft, located in the Mancos Creative District, to manufacture thousands of hospital gowns for local community hospitals.
Redline Contemporary Art Center in Denver launched the Makers for Masks program, which employs artists to provide the local homeless communities and shelters with cloth masks.
Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs)
VISIT DENVER stepped up to support Denver-metro-area and Boulder restaurants by launching ToGoDenver.com, a microsite with a collection of takeout, delivery and curbside options. The organization also cleared all bookings through June for the Colorado Convention Center so it could be transformed into an overflow medical facility.
The Breckenridge Tourism Office created toolkits and resource centers to help partners navigate the rapidly changing landscape of guidelines and support programs.
The team at Visit Durango has been an integral part of the region’s Economic Recovery Task Force, volunteering its staff and resources to lead disaster and recovery communications.
The Chaffee County Visitors Bureau created an online auction and storefront for businesses in the county to sell gift cards, products and services and generated $116,514 with 100 percent of sales going directly back to each business. It became a trendsetter, with other counties and towns across Colorado using Chaffee County’s online auction as a model for their own.
The Montezuma Task Force was created when three neighboring Chambers of Commerce — Cortez, Dolores and Mancos — joined forces to share resources to support local businesses with surveys, trainings, meetings and more.
Food and beverage
In Colorado Springs, Chef Eric Brenner launched Meals to Heal as a way to provide food to healthcare workers, first responders and emergency services personnel while simultaneously supporting local restaurants. What started as a local fundraising effort has blossomed into a nationwide grassroots initiative with communities all over the country joining together to feed frontline personnel by supporting local restaurants.
Sage Restaurant Concepts started the “Keep Calm and Carry Out” campaign to support both the restaurant community and those most impacted by COVID-19. For every carry out order placed at participating restaurants, the organization donates $1 to Feeding America, an organization helping local food banks respond to COVID-19.
Kevin Gabala of the non-profit Friends & Family partnered with Zeppelin Station and other sponsors to provide free meals to service industry workers impacted by lay-offs or furloughs. Friends & Family is a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide educational events and programming for members of the food and beverage industry in Colorado.
Anthony DeSousa and the team at Antonio's Real New York Pizza in Estes Park offered free or discounted food to community members in need while sharing messages of hope, positivity and reassurance on its social media networks. DeSousa also shares posts from other businesses that are supporting the community.
The Colorado Brewers Guild and Left Hand Brewing Foundation launched the Colorado Strong Fund, a program that supports Colorado craft breweries and suppliers while raising funds for impacted workers across the state. Colorado Strong Pale Ale, a benefit beer made entirely with Colorado ingredients by Colorado breweries, is at the center of the campaign. Participating breweries across the state will brew Colorado Strong Pale Ale with 20 percent of sales going to the Colorado Strong Fund.
Codi Manufacturing, based in Golden, lent its canning equipment to small breweries that normally rely on in-person sales and enabled them to package and sell beer for curbside purchase.
Elevation 5003 Distillery and Steamboat Whiskey Company are just a few of many distilleries around the state that sprung into action to make hand sanitizer from the alcohol they distill.
Gilded Goat Brewing Company and CopperMuse Distillery teamed up to make 1,000 liters of hand sanitizer for Colorado State University.
In Cortez, Osprey’s pack repair team transitioned its daily operations to solely create fabric masks for its region’s healthcare workers and first responders.
Topo Designs and Phunkshun Wear are making cloth masks and partnering with the Colorado Mask Project to protect frontline essential workers and vulnerable populations.
Venture Snowboards, based in Silverton, has shifted its production to create face shields for the medical community.
Aspen Skiing Company employees are volunteering to manage the Basalt Food Drive while others volunteer with Pitkin County to assist with the abundance of emergency financial relief requests.
As ski resorts closed in early March, Vail Resorts took immediate action by donating any excess perishable food to its mountain communities, including local food banks, schools and community organizations. In total, more than 25 non-profits and community organizations received donations from Vail Resorts locations. Additionally, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, donated more than $2.5 million to provide immediate support for both Vail Resorts employees and the mountain towns where the company operates.
Other noteworthy initiatives
Forced to suspend its camp programs, the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park shifted gears and began providing discounted childcare for the region’s working parents. It also created the COVID-19 Sustainability Fund to support its full-time staff and the local community.
VistaWorks, a destination marketing agency in Buena Vista, began offering pro bono services to the small communities it represents across the state. Its leader, Bryan Jordan, is volunteering to serve on the Cañon City COVID-19 Business Leaders Taskforce to help protect the area’s local businesses and economy.