Home of the brave: Grand County nonprofit Project Sanctuary gets featured on ‘Today’ show
How Project Sanctuary helps
Figures are as of March 2018
1,165 families, comprised of 4,481 individuals, served
90 percent of families served are still intact
100 percent employment rate of all service men and women who wish to work
142 retreats hosted since being founded
89 percent of all funding directed to Mission in 2017
Wait list of more than 2,200 families
Visit Project Sanctuary’s website at www.projectsanctuary.us.
“From battle ready to family ready.”
That is the tagline for Project Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization founded more than a decade ago in Grand County. The nonprofit’s aim is to help military families cope with issues such as post-traumatic stress and more.
The nonprofit was thrust into the national spotlight Tuesday after being featured in a special segment honoring the nation’s military on NBC’s “Today” show, with veteran journalist Maria Shriver highlighting the organization’s commitment to military families from around the country. The organization offers six-day, outdoor, therapeutic retreats in a healing environment and ongoing family support services for two years following each retreat.
Shriver, who joined the televised morning program Tuesday as a special anchor, interviewed one family who was on one of the nonprofit’s retreats at Winding River Ranch in Grand Lake.
“It looks like the perfect vacation spot,” Shriver said over video of Winding River Ranch as she began the segment, “but the brave families who come here to the Colorado mountains are on a mission.” Those families are part of Project Sanctuary.
It was in 2007 when Heather Ehle founded Project Sanctuary, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, in Grand County. She had worked as a nurse at a free clinic in Estes Park during the Gulf War and encountered recently deployed veterans and their families who would seek medical aid, support and answers.
“I was wondering why military families were showing up at my clinic and not at the VA,” Ehle told Sky-Hi News in 2015. “It made it clear to me that the whole family serves and we needed more military family support services.”
After the Afghan and Iraq wars began, Ehle, began talking with local veterans about creating an organization to support military families. Ehle wanted to create a safe place for military families to heal together, as Shriver explained in the segment.
Project Sanctuary would go on to help more than 1,100 families, as of March 2018, according to the organization. That accounts for more than 4,400 individuals.
In the “Today” show segment, Shriver interviewed the Galloway family, one of the military families served by Project Sanctuary.
“Coming back … is almost overwhelming,” Keith Galloway, who had spent 10 years as a Naval officer on active duty and then eight years on reserve, told Shriver.
Galloway, his wife and their two teenage daughters were featured in the segment after having spent time on a retreat in Grand Lake. The daughters told Shriver they adopted a mentality that their father would “come and go,” which led to frustration in the family. It was something they felt they needed to talk through.
As part of the retreat, counselors are available to help answer tough questions and lend support to the families.
“Our classes are really emotional; they’re heavy,” Ehle said during the segment. “We’re dealing with some pretty tough subjects.”
Help from the counselors extends two years beyond the six-day retreat, in any way possible. Galloway mentioned that one of the counsellors had even offered his mobile phone number and told him to call anytime, even at 2 a.m.
Most of the counselors are veterans themselves, continuing their service to their country, as Shriver explained.
The Galloways said they walked away from the retreat feeling they had already made progress. More than 2,200 other families are hoping they get the same experience once their names are selected from the organization’s lengthy wait list.
“That piece is just so moving,” Shriver said following the segment.
The “Today” show hosts agreed, with Hoda Kotb commenting that Project Sanctuary “is incredible” while her co-hosts began to tear up.
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