Six Points celebrates 40 years as a nonprofit
Six Points celebrates 40 years as a nonprofit
Original Article: Gunnison Country Times, July 7, 2022
Jacob Spetzler, Photo and Sports Editor
Six Points Evaluation and Training celebrated a belated 40-year anniversary last week, marking four decades since the organization was officially incorporated as a nonprofit.
After being delayed a year due to the pandemic, the party was marked by sunshine, food, music, and a raffle.
When many in the community think of Six Points, they picture a comprehensive thrift store, affordably stocked with everything from furniture to appliances to clothing. In reality, the organization started the store as an off-shoot program to aid in their core mission of serving adults with developmental disabilities. The store was, and continues to be, a way for the organization to give job training and provide assisted employment to its clients — as well as serving as a main funding source.
Six Points was started in 1977 by Franny and Rob Harden in collaboration with a team of families and community members. For four years it functioned as a satellite program of the Developmental Disabilities Council — a federally funded agency based in Delta. The Hardens, originally from the south and midwest, discovered their passion for service in Wichita, Kansas, while Franny was earning her undergraduate degree. Rob worked as a sales forecaster then, and the couple began volunteering at homes for adults with disabilities.
“We were coming through Gunnison in 1976 and asked the Chamber of Commerce what services were available,” Rob said. “They said ‘we don’t have services, our community provides for themselves.’ I didn’t quite agree with that.”
The Hardens stayed in town and, with local community members, formed an “advisory board” that performed the first “needs assessment,” officially recording who lived in the community and what kind of services they might need. Over the next year, the group began providing six specific services: vocational evaluation, work adjustment, job training, work activity, job placement, and follow-along services. This led to the group naming itself “Six Points,” electing a six-point buck as mascot to represent their mission.
Rob says the early efforts of the organization were cobbled together, like so many startups in Gunnison, through pure force of will and on a very tight budget.
“We did whatever was needed, we did whatever we had to do,” Rob said. “I worked construction and taught finance at the college. Then, in March, we went to the Developmental Disabilities Council, (and) we started Six Points on $3,700 annually, to cover part of Franny’s wage. We said we’re gonna stay and make this work.”
And make it work, they did. Over the course of the next four years, the organization grew, and in 1981, Six Points Evaluation and Training filed articles of incorporation, establishing itself as a nonprofit. The Hardens stayed involved as the agency director and program director through 1983. Franny had earned her master’s at Western Colorado College while working at Six Points and had two kids. They moved away and Rob continued his career and became the CEO of Goodwill Industries.
Six Points continued to grow, eventually founding the thrift store as a clear and simple way to provide job training and assisted employment. For many years the store was located south of Tomichi in a small house which the organization quickly outgrew. In the early 2000s, groundwork began to be laid for a new building with space for both a larger thrift store and facilities for the other services the organization offers.
In 2013, ground was broken and the current building was finished a year later. Executive Director Daniel Bruce says the new facility has done wonders for their ability to provide exceptional services to their clients. It has also provided some added financial stability. Between the thrift store, a few other ventures and some grants Six Points is now 40% self-funded. Five years ago that number was closer to 25%. Bruce says that’s important because the money from government sources is very restricted in how it can be spent.
Now, 40 years in, Six Points has begun to outgrow the new building, and the board of directors has established a new five-year plan intended to map out what the future of the organization will look like. Since 2015, Bruce said, the number of staff members has jumped from 25 to 45. Each office is shared by at least two and sometimes three or four people. The organization has continued to take on more clients and extend services to existing ones.
Meanwhile, old heroes have rejoined the cause. The Hardens, now retired, are selling their house in Nevada and volunteering their time as contractors with Six Points. Rob has spent the better part of his career on the business side and is happy to put his skill set to use, particularly towards something he finds so meaningful.
“To us, seeing the community holding hands and working with Six Points is just a phenomenal feeling,” Rob said.
(Jacob Spetzler can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)
Six Points Provides