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Help still available for fire victims

Black Forest Together, a 501(c) 3, charitable organization, was formed in August 2013 after the Black Forest fire. Located at the Black Forest fire station off Teachout Road, the mission of the organization is to help people ìrecover, rebuild and restoreî through a sense of community and in line with the natural environment, said Ed Bracken, one of the organizers. BFT works with about 20 charitable organizations, such as Catholic Charities, Salvation Army and Lutheran Family Services Disaster Response Program. ìWe use caseworkers, who might be working with a family that needs a new roof ñ the checks are made to the roofer, not the family,î Bracken said.Each need is brought before a committee comprised of the charities, and a vote is taken on whether the organizations can meet that need. Bracken said decisions are made on various criteria ñ access to insurance is one. He also noted that everything can be done anonymously.For residents moving back to their rebuilt homes, BFT sends out welcome cards and provides discount and gift cards. ìWe have given out over $10k in discount and gift cards to people moving back in,î Bracken said. ìWe had a Christmas party for everyone.îThe Black Forest Together discount card is available to all who need assistance and live in the designated Zip codes. Many businesses offer their services at a discount to those affected by the fire. For example, La-Z-Boy offers a 5 percent discount and free delivery; Anthonyís Painting service offers 25 percent off a complete exterior paint job. Applications can be completed at the Teachout fire station ñ all that is needed is proof of address. The Zip codes included are 80908, 80106, 80132 or 80831.† Visit for a complete listing of the participating businesses.Future plans for the organization include tree planting, grass sowing and fire mitigation. Bracken said they hope Black Forest Together functions in the future similar to the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. ìWe want to help the community here, clean the black sticks up, which is approximately 1,700 acres,î he said. ìFuture mitigation is important.îContact Peggy Schnurr at the Lutheran Family Services Disaster Response Program at†or call her at 719-884-6115 for more information on assistance.

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