IFCS | A Denver Area Food Bank and More to Nourish Lives

The Human Touch

Today I am happy to introduce you to one of IFCS’ Corporate Partners: Empower. In this blog entry I share what I learned about this company through interviewing two Empower employees, named “associates,” Damian Bulf and Grace Randazzo, about their involvement with IFCS.
Empower associates have a huge heart for community outreach and invest a lot of time, money, and thought to every outreach program they are involved with. They are especially excited to connect with and volunteer with IFCS because they appreciate how meeting basic human needs such as food, shelter, and heat are key. Grace Randazzo is Empower’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, and she stated that because they are an institution that assists others toward financial freedom, it is essential that they also meet the needs of those who don’t yet have financial stability.

Damian Bulf is a Plan Setup and Quality Analyst at Empower and found IFCS during a life-change when he decided to start volunteering; he has continued for many years as a member of IFCS’ Volunteer Core. He wanted to step up his personal integrity, and IFCS appealed to him because he could see the support this nonprofit provides in the community. Once involved personally, Damian brought his interest to Empower, where he has initiated – and corporate support encouraged him to share – group volunteering opportunities with other Empower associates. Damian coordinates Empower associates to volunteer at IFCS’ enrichment program distribution events, including Ready, Set, School! (school supply support), Fresh Thanks (seasonal holiday meal support), and Helping Hands for the Holidays (holiday gift support).

Fresh Thanks is happening soon and Empower is sending over 32 volunteers to help build the 500 Fresh Thanks boxes to be given out to the people who need it! Damian stated that, in addition to serving the community, the Fresh Thanks event is also a great social outreach for those who volunteer with him. The event has grown over the years to be so big that IFCS moved the food distribution from the building in Englewood to the Arapahoe Community College parking lot to pack and distribute grocery boxes in a drive-thru style. He said many of his fellow associates get together for lunch after the work is finished.

Damian and Grace both attended IFCS’ 2023 Nibbles & Sips Fundraiser and Damian has served several years as a Table Captain, helping fill tables for the fundraising event. Empower was a long-standing winner of the “Community Cup Award” for having the most donations several years in a row, and they intend to regain this title at the next Nibbles & Sips. They are very passionate about contributing and being a part of this elegant and meaningful event.

Grace Randazzo brings the corporate support of Empower by building social responsibility and community outreach into the Empower work culture. She has worked hard to make Empower programs highly successful and stated that Empower matches volunteer hours and associate donations up to $5,000 for each associate, highly encouraging community volunteerism.

In her role, she facilitates and develops the social responsibility program for Empower and would like to say to other corporations who maybe don’t have a social responsibility program set up yet, that it is truly worth all the hard work. Corporate social responsibility programs require commitment and investment, but from a business standpoint the returns are worth it. For Empower, it makes a huge difference in associate retention, helping associates feel more connected to their communities, and making them more “human.” Community is one of the highest projections of longevity. Supporting community engagement can be tough to set up, but it is worth it when you review the outcomes.

Grace also stated there have been studies over the years, showing that connections with other people are just as important as good nutrition and exercise. We are human beings first. This is why Empower will have so many people showing up to help at the Fresh Thanks event. Many associates work remotely, which limits socializing; they thrive in opportunities for social connection and community involvement.

This is a busy time of year and we are so grateful for all who give of their time, hearts, hands, and monetary gifts to support IFCS. Fresh Thanks starts off the holiday season, and we are grateful especially to Empower and its generous associates who lead the way in showing the value and impact of corporate partnership and in-kind donations.

Thank you to all who are volunteering their time and efforts to sustain IFCS! Your help sustains the programs and staff of IFCS, and we remember that it takes a whole community of caring people to make it work. In our next blog entry, I’ll take a close look at some of the ways that individual donors contribute to IFCS.

 

Notable Quotes from my interview with Damian and Grace

“We’re human beings first, before we’re any color, sexual orientation, religion, background… we’re human beings first, and we need to take care of each other.” – Damian Bulf

“What’s most important to us is finding what our associates are really passionate about, and serving as a catalyst to elevate and share those things… Empower is here to empower financial futures and you can’t exactly focus on a stable financial future, or saving, unless you have your basic needs met… Supporting our associates, and also helping people meet basic needs and financial needs, is Empower’s two-pronged focus.” – Grace Randazzo


Kathryn Adams is a Nurse Freelance Writer who started out her career as a Firefighter EMT-B then RN and has transitioned to professional writing.  She started volunteering with IFCS in 2018 because she has a passion to help others. When she isn’t writing she enjoys hiking, yoga, skiing, and traveling. She lives with her husband, dog and kitty in the Colorado Mountains.

 

Non-Discrimination Statement

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or  retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. Mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. Fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or 
  3. Email:
    program.intake@usda.gov

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

This statement was updated 8.3.22 in accordance with USDA updates and guidelines.

Eligibility and Income Guidelines

Anyone experiencing food insecurity and self-identifying as meeting the Income Guidelines below is eligible for IFCS Food Market services.

Income Guidelines:
As of March 1, 2023, a household may meet income-based standards in either of the following two ways:

  1. Participate in one of these public assistance programs:
    • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)
    • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
    • Old Age Pension (OAP)
    • Aid to Needy Disabled (AND)
    • Aid to the Blind (AB)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Medicaid Eligible Foster Children
  1. If the household does not participate in any of the above public assistance programs, the household must meet the requirements based on the chart below, having a combined gross income not exceeding the maximum income limit for the applicable household size.

For IFCS Financial Assistance Programs (Rental and Utility Bill Payment Assistance), we have a service area of western Arapahoe (Centennial, Englewood, Glendale, Greenwood Village, Littleton, and Sheridan) and southwest Denver Neighborhoods. This includes Bear Valley, College View, Fort Logan, Harvey Park, Harvey Park South, Marston & South Platte (Southwest Neighborhoods further defined as being south of Jewell and west of Santa Fe). IFCS Rental Assistance Programs may be limited to the cities listed within Arapahoe County.

For IFCS Enrichment Programs, we have a service area covering:

  • Western Arapahoe County: Centennial, Englewood, Glendale, Greenwood Village, Littleton, Sheridan, and unincorporated Arapahoe County.
  • Southwest Denver Neighborhoods: Bear Valley, College View, Fort Logan, Harvey Park, Harvey Park South, Marston & South Platte (Southwest Neighborhoods further defined as being south of Jewell and west of Santa Fe).
  • Northern Douglas County: Highlands Ranch, Littleton, and Lone Tree.
  • Southern Jefferson County: Lakewood, Littleton, Morrison (Neighborhoods further defined as being south of Jewell and the C-470 Corridor – including Columbine, Bow Mar, Dakota Ridge, and Ken Caryl Ranch)

 Applications outside of these listed areas will not be accepted. (Central Denver, North Denver, and Aurora applications will not be accepted.)