NewsMarshall Fire


East Boulder County community center continues helping hundreds of Marshall Fire victims

sister carmen helping marshall fire.jpeg
Posted at 8:21 AM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 10:21:03-05

LAFAYETTE, Colo. — Over the past nearly two months, hundreds of people have stepped up to help victims of the Marshall Fire. Organizations have done their fair share, too, but one went above and beyond to help those it has served for dozens of years.

Sister Carmen's Community Center has been a one-stop-shop for those in need in the community, for years.

"Our number one thing is that we put people first," said Kristen Bohanon, the director of development at Sister Carmen's Community Center.

Since the Marshall Fire burned more 1,000 homes and businesses, the priority turned to helping victims.

"Serving East Boulder County means that, typically, we serve Superior, Louisville, Lafayette and Erie. So, pretty much 100% of the fire in those affected have been in our service area," Bohanon said.

The community center has been able to provide hundreds of food items off the food pantry shelves, clothes and even a roof over victims' heads.

"Through a food bank, we're able to provide food, obviously, but also hygiene items, baby items like diapers, formula, that sort of thing," Bohanon said. "We've helped, so far, over 600 families with things such as the thrift store vouchers, $500 per person in a voucher to get whatever household goods they need, or clothing, access to our food bank."

"We've also been helping people with getting into hotels. I think we've helped over 70, if not 80 families now, with at least a week stay in a hotel," Bohanon said.

Though what's proven to be the most popular form of help for the people affected by the Marshall Fire has been access to gift cards.

"We've distributed over $250,000 in gift cards, and so that's been gift cards to, you know, Visa, Target, Walmart, Costco grocery stores, local restaurants," Bohanon said. "That's been really important for families because it gives them both the flexibility and the dignity to get what they want when they want it and when they need it most."

A big part of Sister Carmen's mission with fire recovery has been helping all victims, including those who may not have the same kind of access to help as others.

"As a nonprofit organization, we have a little bit more flexibility. Because people who are undocumented, for example, don't have access to the same resources as people who have a social security number," Bohanon said. "So, we're able to provide that assistance, even if families are undocumented, because, as I said, our mission is to help people, regardless of their situation and without discrimination. We have to help them a little differently."

The help for all of the people impacted is helping provide a bite more light at the end of the tunnel.

"It feels really awesome to be able to help them in a situation just because they're people," Bohanon said.