Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and wife donate $250,000 to mental health efforts
Money will help start Communities That Care program in Summit County
April 18, 2017
In the months since the overdose deaths of two 13-year-old boys that shook the Park City community, organizations in the area have begun teaming up to provide better mental health and substance abuse services to Summit County residents.
Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, is getting behind the effort in a big way. Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, recently donated $250,000 to the Park City Community Foundation, which plans to use the money to start a Communities That Care program locally. Communities That Care is a model that has been used around the country to provide mental wellness services for children and to help prevent risky behavior before it starts.
It is at least the second large donation Katz and Amsterdam have made in Summit County within the last year. In October, they gave $250,000 to PC Tots, a Park City organization that provides affordable childcare for working parents. Katz was unavailable for comment.
Katie Wright, executive director of the Park City Community Foundation, said the money will be instrumental in getting the Communities That Care program off the ground.
"The goal is a really long-term program that serves the entire county," she said. "To get something like that up and going — prevention programs, potentially treatment programs — is a big undertaking. To get that seed funding that will put us in position to put this work together and continue it year after year is really critical."
The Communities That Care program is part of a larger mental wellness initiative led by the foundation, the Summit County Health Department and a handful of other groups in town. Ollie Wilder, the foundation's programs director, said some offerings could be rolled out as early as this fall.
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"(The money) puts us in a position to begin to implement some of those early recommendations really quickly," he said.
Wright said efforts to implement a Communities That Care program began nearly two years ago. But after the deaths of the 13-year-old boys in September, the discussions carried a new sense of urgency. She is hopeful the program will be comprehensive, providing both care for students who need it and prevention efforts to stop problems before they begin.
While there's no single solution that will solve the issue, she said, the program will go a long way to addressing what has been a glaring deficiency, she said.
"Everyone in the community would say that, when two young kids die, clearly we need to do something, and we need to change something to create something positive in our community," she said. "But even before then, we knew from our partners at the Health Department and other nonprofits that we are really underserved in terms of mental health services, and substance abuse is part of that. So this is a critical gap that we have."