by Rachel Cruz, RDS Foundation Executive Director

We reached many milestones in 2016, accomplishments we only hoped we could achieve when the year began. And yet here we are now in 2017, strong in our convictions, stable in our focus that we will continue to be here to serve this community, and hopefully move beyond our own borders to help a wider world! Let’s take a look at what happened last year that brought us to this point….

Our initial challenge actually began in October 2015 when our biggest angel donor, the Colorado Grand, said we had to raise $80,000 by the end of 2016 in order to unlock their annual gift to us. The Board knew this was a crucial year.

In January, we were very fortunate to welcome the experience and enthusiasm of our new Volunteer, Lat Epps, a retired consultant and highly experienced in non-profit management.

February was all about strategic planning, goals, tasks, and renewed commitments. We knew we had to get out there and start talking to others about who we are and what we do. And boy, we met A LOT of people on the same path, sharing our same vision.

Through the year we connected with folks at NAMI; DBSA; Mental Health Partners; Boulder County Jail; Rotary Club of Boulder; National Behavioral Health Innovation Center; Carson J. Spencer Foundation; Community Foundation of Boulder; Longmont Community Foundation; Johnson Depression Clinic; Hopelight Behavioral Health Clinic; Jeannie Ritter, the former First Lady of Colorado, now Ambassador to the Mental Health Center in Denver; and of course, the Colorado Grand.

In March, April and May, we began to adopt a new fundraising model. And in June we started sharing our information at monthly meetings at the Boulder Public Library. These 30-minute presentations are open to anyone interested in learning about the Foundation and the services we offer. In this same month, we officially added our DBA to the Colorado State records: The Sutherland Bipolar Center.

In July we welcomed two new Board Members to the organization: Lat Epps and Amy Metz. We also finished editing and made available our Fall 2015 Sutherland Seminar Series as audio downloads to anyone that has access to the internet. This was a huge accomplishment for us, allowing those who have been unable to attend the Series a chance to hear the full Seminar on their own, any time they wanted. (You can buy them by clicking here.) Then we finalized the date and place of our next event, received confirmation for our guest speaker (watch his talk here), and then the fall months went by in a flash as we prepared for our first ever Breakfast Fundraiser on November 10th.

Through our Library Information Meetings we gained new Volunteers. We held Volunteer Training sessions. We invited guests. We met with even more people, and invited them to our event, and pretty soon, November 10th rolled around. The room was filled with more than 140 people, and the 60-minute Breakfast came and went, and WE DID IT! At that event, we met the $80,000 goal that the Colorado Grand set for us! Money had been trickling in all year, but that event just put us right where we needed to be. To date, the CO Grand has gifted us almost $600,000! The event also allowed us to reach more people in our community, people who work in the behavioral health field or have a strong interest in the mental well-being of Coloradoans.

But the year wasn’t done. We met with the kind folks over at Hopelight Behavioral Health Clinic located in Longmont, and they will be hosting the next 8-week Sutherland Seminar Series starting January 30th (see more information here). This change in venue will allow so many more people easier access to the lecture series, and we are thrilled! Hopelight is both a medical and behavioral health clinic serving those residents, mostly in Longmont, who do not have the financial means to receive the treatments they need.

In our last month of 2016, we participated in our fourth Colorado Gives Day event, the largest single-day of giving in the state, and you continued to support us, giving generously from your coffers so you could help improve the lives of those with bipolar disorder. Finally, we took part in our first-ever Conference Expo, the Colorado Rotary’s State of the State Symposium and Luncheon in Denver. Our network is growing, and we look forward to meeting even more people in 2017, helping those we talk to in whatever way we can.

So thank you! 2016 was a tremendous year, and we have so much to be grateful for after 15 years of service to the community. And we have more to share with you in the coming months. One major project launching soon will involve a very famous British rock band. No, not the Fab Four, but pretty close. Think on the color “Yellow.” Stay tuned!