A Time of Giving, Oskar Blues: beyond beer

While the holiday season is unfolding in brightly colored ribbons, papers and lights, there are still those on the Front Range trying to rebuild their lives from the devastation of the mid-September flood. The town of Lyons, a stone’s throw up the road from Boulder and home to the original Oskar Blues Brewery, was nearly wiped off the map by the raging waters.


Lyons is a lot like Crested Butte, a small, close-knit community about the same in size, with people who love their kids, dogs, mountain bikes, outdoors, parties, music and brews. Although the Brewery weathered far better than most, the roads to the town were obliterated, its businesses closed for eight weeks and its residents cut off from the world.
Aid can be slow in getting to those who need it immediately and that’s where Oskar Blues (OB) founder Dale Katechis decided to step up the time frame and get the funds directly into his neighbors hands.
Creating a charitable foundation had been a long-time goal of Katechis, who said, “In our 16-year history, we’ve supported hundreds of worthy nonprofit organizations across the country, with both product and cash donations. Creating a foundation that could make a bigger impact and deepen partnerships across the country just seemed like a logical next step to keep pace with our growth.”
Their focus areas were just beginning to take shape when the floodwaters ripped through Oskar Blues’ hometowns of Lyons and Longmont. “The CAN’d Aid Foundation was born as an immediate response to that flood, and our first initiative is to raise funds to help the very people and businesses who’ve been supporting us since the beginning,” Katechis said. And it’s already made a world of difference in the victims’ lives.
Diana Ralston, executive director of the CAN’d Aid Foundation, explains, “With one owner, decisions can be made quickly. Dale personally donated $100,000 to CAN’d Aid when he heard from Lyons businesses that the zero-interest loans being offered weren’t going to help them re-open or make it through the long off-season. These businesses were already so leveraged that the thought of taking on additional debt was a non-starter. So he stepped up and we’ve been able to offer small business grants averaging $10,000 and have heard from those businesses that they wouldn’t be open if it weren’t for this funding.”
The CAN’d Aid Foundation has funded small businesses, families and organizations, giving them outright grants that they don’t have to pay back. “We cut through the red tape, getting the money into the hands of those who needed it the most,” said Ralston.
With a goal of $500,000 by the end of this year, OB has raised over $325,000 to date. Others across the country have been anteing up as well. “We’ve been working with our distributors, partners, restaurants, stores, and people who reach out, some of them even have no connection to us as a brewery,” Ralston says.

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