Former Mayor Nancy Heil would be proud of the recent milestone accomplishment of the Westminster Legacy Foundation. The foundation - a non-profit organization incorporated in 2001 to raise funds for good works strictly targeted in Westminster - was the brainchild of Heil.
At the time, the city did not have a tax-exempt charitable foundation that could attract tax-deductible contributions and grants from various foundations and corporations.
This additional asset has played a solid contributing role to the community over the years since its beginning. However, it has needed more horsepower to increase fundraising and play a more vital role in the community.
An intent to ramp up
The foundation's board of directors decided a couple of years ago that it was time to ramp up its efforts and expand its contributions to the Westminster community.
The organization has established a track record of being able to raise approximately$50,000- $60,000 per year and in turn distribute the funds to worthy non-profit human service-oriented organizations and the city for services to different Westminster populations.
However, the board wanted to do more and make a more meaningful impact in the community. The concept of a significant project was embraced, but with the caveat that a full-time development coordinator was paramount to achieving a higher level of fundraising.
At that point, conversations were held with the city and foundation to forge an agreement on jointly funding the desired position.
City agreement and staff
The city council and the foundation's board of directors executed an intergovernmental agreement in October 2016 which spelled out the cost-sharing approach and provided office space for the new full-time person.
A national recruitment effort was conducted and the board and the city found the best candidate right here in Colorado.
Laura Mulkey brings over a decade of non-profit leadership to the foundation. She most recently served as the executive director of LiftUp of Routt County in Steamboat Springs, which serves low-income residents. Prior to LiftUp, she was executive director for Routt County Council on Aging which provides meals, transportation and social opportunities to senior citizens throughout the county. She also worked for Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation managing grants and public relations as well as the Town of Estes Park performing administrative duties.
Hit the pavement running
Mulkey really hit the pavement running in February, according to Jason Genck, Westminster's director of parks, recreation and libraries who also serves as the foundation's president.
"She is quickly getting familiar with Westminster, the foundation's 25 board members and is already shaping the foundation's efforts on fundraising, which includes the Nature Play signature project at Westminster Station Park," Genck said.
Station Park is located adjacent to the B-Line at 3200 Westminster Station Drive.
Mulkey has expressed her enthusiasm for the community and the foundation's work.
"Westminster has so much to offer residents and businesses and I look forward to expanding the foundation's role in the community," she said. "The mutual goals of the city council and the board of directors in funding a full-time development coordinator position is unique among cities and demonstrates the cooperative spirit here."
The Nature Play signature project is the vision of the Westminster Legacy Foundation to be one of the finest nature playgrounds in the United States and the first of its kind in Westminster. The foundation is seeking community and business support to raise funds for this project.
Thank You to the two Lauras
During the Westminster Legacy Foundation's existence, approximately $800,000 has been raised and distributed to roughly 25 different non-profit organizations which serve and assist a variety of Westminster residents.
Funding since the Great Recession has focused on basic living needs. Also, special projects - like Jessica Ridgeway Park, the Armed Services Tribute Garden and Nancy Heil sculpture at the Irving Street Library - have received foundation funding, according to Laura Magnetti, who served as the foundation's part-time executive director for the past 13 years.
So thanks, Laura Magnetti, for being the glue at the foundation and welcome Laura Mulkey to exciting next chapters in guiding and strengthening the foundation and its stellar community support. And thank you, city council and WLF Board of Directors, for your cooperative spirit and financial support, which translates into helping make Westminster a better community.
Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.