Growing to fruition: Sprout House provides safe haven for violence victims |

Growing to fruition: Sprout House provides safe haven for violence victims

R.C. Liberali
Special to the Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado

In early March, Grand County lost one of its staunchest “Advocates” when Marianne Klancke passed away suddenly – a loss felt countywide for her untiring work in support of the Advocates for a violence-free community.

Today, some five months later, and despite a difficult local economy, Marianne’s dream of the Sprout House has officially “opened for business.”

In the five short months following her passing, the Advocates – under the guidance of Executive Director Deb Bittner and the board of directors – successfully raised virtually all of the additional $95,000 needed to actualize Klancke’s dream-someday having a safe, secure facility to house victims of domestic violence and their children.

“In hearing (and learning of) Marianne’s commitment to the Sprout House,” Bittner said, “the community reached out and helped make that dream a reality through cash contributions and in-kind commitments, such as donated goods and services, that the Advocates were seeking in its capital campaign.”

According to Rich Devlin, past president of the Advocates Board of Directors (2007-2011), “many donated money in memory of Marianne; others donated furniture or household goods.”

“Another notable ‘friend of Marianne,’ ” Bittner said, “is interior designer Paige Heid of Fraser.”

She had learned about the Sprout House through her friends, Bob and Suzanne Fanch, the primary funders of the Sprout Foundation and owners of Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Heid not only made financial contributions in support of the project, she also offered her talents and services as an interior designer.

She and Klancke soon were exchanging e-mails and quickly became fast friends.

Devastated to learn about Klancke’s untimely passing, Heid immediately stepped up to help make Marianne’s dream a reality.

“Paige utilized a calming interior color scheme in conjunction with both donated and new furniture and tastefully placed objects’d’art to create a home steeped in beauty, comfort and serenity,” Bittner said. “And because of her talent, dedication and hard work, Sprout House is simply amazing. She was genuinely inspired by Marianne’s love and dedication to a violence-free community.”

Another staunch supporter during the capital campaign is “Neighborhood Ambassador” Julie Stephens. By chance, one day, she happened by the house and met Marianne, paint brush in hand, busily applying the finishing touches on the lower-level bedroom.

Needless to say, Stephens, too, was both shocked and saddened to learn of Klancke’s untimely passing. As the owner of a local landscaping company – Winter Park’s Terra Firma Custom Homes Inc. – Stephens “made it her mission” to beautify the appearance of the exterior of the Sprout House.

Stephens worked in concert with Tabernash’s Irene Cooke, the person originally responsible for coming up with the notion of a garden, creating in Klancke’s memory a safe, contemplative and tranquil place.

Although not a “trained Advocates’ volunteer,” per se, Cooke followed Daughter Jessica’s “lead” and first became involved with the organization through writing grants.

“At the funeral,” Cooke said, “I got this idea for a memorial garden. I wrote to Rich (Devlin) about it and the rest, as they say, is history!”

“By far and away, this was their most gratifying work,” Bittner said, “the creation of ‘Marianne’s Garden,’ a garden to honor the foresight, compassion and dedication of Marianne Klancke.”

“Thanks to her untiring effort, Marianne’s ‘legacy,’ this gem, the Sprout House, is today a fully functional, beautifully appointed facility providing an island of safety to Grand County’s victims of domestic violence and their children,” Bittner said.

“Prior to the opening of the Sprout House,” Bittner explained, “the only available viable solution for victims of domestic violence was a mere three nights of safe housing somewhere in the County.” And the location of the Sprout House, for obvious reasons, is a closely guarded secret.

“Unfortunately,” Bittner concluded, “the need for a safe place for victims of domestic violence and their families has never been greater. To date, the Advocates have provided some 192 nights of safe housing for the year.”

Marianne Klancke’s dream is now a bona fide reality – a safe place and something she’d be surely proud of.

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