Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center expands, aids more families |

Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center expands, aids more families

La coordinadora del Centro de Recursos Familiares Garfield Re-2, Amanda Vaughn, abre la puerta de una despensa en el centro el miércoles.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

For most students, a shower separates bed from classroom desk. But what if you sleep on a van seat and you have no running water?

There are students currently enrolled at Garfield Re-2 District schools living in these conditions, according to Family Resource Center Coordinator Amanda Vaughn.

But since the center, connecting students and adults to various academic, mental health and home-life support services, opened its physical Rifle location at the Annex Building on Railroad Avenue in 2021, those students are now one door away from shampoo, soap and warm water.

“We see families living in their cars,” Vaughn told school board members last week. “What’s been really helpful for some of those families, they come in and they do their laundry for free, they have a warm place to be, they get a shower, they can get their kids to school.”

A shower where students and families use at the Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

The center, already supported by $227,000 allotted from the Aspen Community Foundation, this year has seen 80 students and 64 siblings directly referred to services. It has also received about $8,000 in donations — funds in which Vaughn used to purchase things like a washer and dryer.

Last school year ended with 148 student referrals — 63% of those were for mental health services alone.

Vaughn said on Monday that by August 2021, all school counselors were aligned with her (there were 14 counselors across the district last year.) Using the counselors as her staff in the schools, they would connect families to Vaughn directly to case manage. In January 2022, Vaughn hired two bilingual liaisons under the One Door Family Resource Center to assist her with the case management piece. 

“Over the summer, we looked at what positions were in the schools that we could also align with me,” she said. “We identified the staff in each building that were designated as the building’s main go to for interpreting or translation needs. Using these five identified staff members, in addition to the two bilingual liaisons hired under the FRC, we opened the school year with these liaisons in almost every school.”  

Currently, each school has a designated building liaison or they get support directly from Vaughn or Cristal Aguirre. Aguirre was the first liaison Vaughn hired last year. She is the main building liaison for One Door, as well as for the district office.

“So, today we have a team of eight bilingual liaisons,” Vaughn said. “We are currently hiring for two more to join our team.”

Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center Coordinator Amanda Vaughn gives a tour of the center on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Last school year was especially rough on students throughout the Colorado and Roaring Fork valleys. Twelve students died from either accidents, suicides and even homicides — causing an emotional ripple effect. This, paired with the district’s heightened goal of bolstering student mental health through its newly passed strategic plan, prompted what’s called a three-year mental health vision.

Vaughn said this includes closing gaps in district-provided mental health services. And to get there means answering the increased need for universal processes, more mental health and crisis response mechanisms, mental health training and bilingual liaisons — all of which continues to be extended.

Vaughn also said the district’s One Door Family Resource Center now has special education social workers, psych providers, family liaisons and more certified in suicide risk and community threat assessments.

A washer at the Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Any student making suicidal statements automatically prompts a suicide assessment. With this crop of newly trained workers, they can ask the at-risk student specific questions to determine whether that student is a liable threat for self-harm. Parents and administration are also notified, while the district can connect the student to Aspen Hope Center for further assessments. 

“This is huge,” Vaughn said. “This is over 50 people in our school district that can assist and support a kiddo going through a suicide.

“We have teams now.”

In addition to offering more mental health intervention avenues, One Door offers a fully functioning pantry. Laundry resources, shower, clothing, food and hygiene products are all available.

One Door is offered free to anyone and not just for people affiliated with the district. An average of five people come into One Door per day, numbers show.

A child’s jacket hangs on clothes rack inside the Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Board President Tony May said the Family Resource Center’s continued success raises the bar for the community and better connects families to education.

“I think that it’s wonderful that this Family Resource Center is here and that we’re putting so much effort into it as a community,” he said.

The set goal for the center is to have the means necessary to help up to 835 students and families by the 2025-26 school year.

“We’re saving their lives. Kids are finding people to talk to,” Vaughn said. “It’s pretty powerful.”

For the Center’s assistance, call 970-665-7555.


Want to donate to the Garfield Re-2 Family Resource Center? Call 970-665-7555. Here’s what the Center is looking for:

  • Monetary donations to help support family needs (cash donations, gift cards for gas or food) 
  • Food donations, like easy-to-make instant noodles or ravioli, culturally sensitive foods like beans, rice, chiles
  • Hygiene produces, laundry soap, coat hangers
  • Clothing for all ages and sizes. The Center helps with everything, so Vaughn said underwear and socks are great, too. The Center is also looking for formal wear, like prom dresses, suits, dress shoes and more
  • With the Center looking to open a new outdoor education program, it seeks tents, fishing gear, sports equipment and more

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