History of Gunnison Valley Mentors
In the mid-1980’s, a mentoring effort called “Children’s Champions” gained traction in Gunnison County. From this effort, Gunnison Hinsdale Youth Services, Inc., dba Gunnison Country Partners was founded in 1990 by a group of local citizens – Tim Holt, Nick Lypps, Steve Patrick, Nancy Riemer, Janet Reinman, Tina Swift and Kathy Young – who believed that caring adults can make a positive and tangible difference in the lives of youth. GCP affiliated with Partners, Inc. that same year, adopting the Partners Inc. model of formal mentoring. In 2014, the dba changed from Gunnison Country Partners to Gunnison Valley Mentors (GVM).
In the early years of GVM, mentoring services were based within the juvenile justice system. The program generally served those youth at high-risk for a multiplicity of influences including delinquency and substance use. GVM expanded its role to serve children and families with a variety of positive, educational programs and services which included Senate Bill 94 Community Evaluation Team and in-take screening, Bright Beginnings / Warm Welcome for newborns and toddlers, Restitution Work Crew for juveniles sentenced to community service hours, an outdoor wilderness experience program for youth ages 14-18, Summer Youth Program, parenting classes and workshops, a teen pregnancy prevention program, a Community Assets Coalition, and a program with paid mentors for those youth already involved with the justice system.
Over 90% of funding during these early years came from state government sources. State funding cuts became fierce in 2003, and many of the above services disappeared. Mentoring, BB/WW and Senate Bill 94 remained somewhat intact.
A change in leadership in 2006 ultimately put the organization on its current path. The board of directors at that time compared the list of services to the mission and to funding. The board made the difficult decision to release programs and services peripheral to the mission and truly concentrate on becoming the best mentoring organization in the world. With renewed focus and commitment to the mission, the number of youth served in mentoring relationships increased from 37 in 2006 to 229 in 2014.
GVM also continues to operate a summer day camp for local youth. The Summer Youth Program serves 100 children ages 6 to 11 each summer. This is a leadership-skills based day camp, with a variety of fresh air activities, all designed around building self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. in 2016, GVM began a Youth Townie Work Corps. Taking on various projects around the valley, this opportunity gives youth ages 12-15 practical job skills and insights into future career paths.
With all of our programs combined, GVM serves over 325 young people each year.
This shift in board culture and the focus on mentoring has led to a more diversified funding base, a permanent home, the 8th St School Mentoring Center, increased impact for the youth served and amplified community presence.