LONGMONT, Colo.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--As the Town of Lyons, Longmont and surrounding communities mark the two-month anniversary of the floods that swept away many homes and businesses, Lyons-born Oskar Blues Brewery is putting its money where its mouth is to help its communities get back on their feet through the work of its nonprofit entity, the CAN’d Aid Foundation. To date, the foundation has raised nearly $250,000 and paid out in cash more than $195,000 total to 59 individuals, 14 businesses and four organizations.
“CAN’d Aid is a longtime dream of mine as a way for us to give back to the people and communities where we live, brew, serve food and play”
There are no corporate chain businesses in the town of Lyons. All the businesses are locally owned and operated and thrive with the summer tourism season. The slow winter months, however, are always a struggle. This year, the floods came through and shut down those businesses just as they were hoping for sales that typically carry them through the winter months. Losing the months of September and October will be too much for some businesses to handle which will likely lead to several businesses closing their doors. The CAN’d Aid Foundation is doing its best to help keep as many of them afloat as possible.
“Until the flood, Lyons was a success story of a small town with an eclectic bunch of entrepreneurs making their mark on a revitalized Main Street,” said Julie Van Domelen, mayor of Lyons. “Our businesses are all independently owned, without the deep pockets necessary to see them through a catastrophic loss of utilities and customers. CAN'd Aid Foundation has been the first on the ground to get them the vital help they need to see this through.”
The Black Bear Inn has been a Lyons fixture since 1977. In those 37 years, the Swiss-Bavarian restaurant has survived fires and floods, as well as those slow winter months. The flooding of September 2013 has been a particularly difficult one from which to bounce back. After filling out an application for aid, the CAN’d Aid Foundation gave the Black Bear Inn a $10,000 check that allowed the owners to make a down payment on the needed repairs.
“We were completely overwhelmed by the amount of destruction the flood caused. All the flooring has to be replaced, at least 50 percent of the drywall has been ripped out and much work needs to be done to secure the rock wall behind our building,” said Annalies Wyppler, owner and operator of the Black Bear Inn. “After being turned away by our insurance, FEMA and the Small Business Association, we were very worried about how we could begin to rebuild. The gift from the CAN’d Aid Foundation has given us a very good start and we are working to find the additional funds so that we can open back up soon. We could not have done this without the support and kindness of our community.”
"We love the town of Lyons though it has been hard to keep the business going during the winter months - even before the flood,” said Yumi Sueyoshi, owner of local restaurant, Sushi Matsuri. “The flood destroyed more than $20,000 worth of inventory we had purchased days before and we weren’t sure how we would recover. Thanks to the support of this community we have been able to make it out of total darkness and we finally feel like we see the light.”
The CAN’d Aid Foundation was developed with the intention of building national partnerships in a variety of focus areas including outdoor recreation, arts, music and environmental sustainability. When the floods hit the Front Range, however, Dale Katechis, founder and owner of Oskar Blues, knew that their immediate focus would be on maximizing fundraising efforts for the expedited distribution of monies to the communities of Lyons and Longmont, Colo.
“CAN’d Aid is a longtime dream of mine as a way for us to give back to the people and communities where we live, brew, serve food and play,” said Ketechis. “I never expected that our first initiative would be something this huge, but when we saw how much damage the floods caused – not just to structures but to lives and livelihoods – we knew we had to help. And this is money that’s going back to local businesses immediately. We haven’t held on to donations for more than a week before writing a check.”
Money raised to date has come from a variety of sources - donations from businesses and individuals, fundraising events hosted by Oskar Blues, and a personal donation from Katechis. The foundation is seeking additional funds with the goal of raising $500,000 by the end of the year. A CANiversary event in Lyons on December 6th is the next opportunity to raise significant funds locally, but fundraising events are happening in communities all over the country. See a full list of events or make a donation to the Oskar Blues Colorado Flood Relief Fund at https://www.foundation.oskarblues.com.
About Oskar Blues Brewery
Founded by Dale Katechis in 1997 as a brewpub and grill, Oskar Blues Brewery launched its craft-brewed beer canning operations in 2002 in Lyons, Colo. It was the first American craft brewery to brew and hand-can its beer. Today there are more than 200 craft breweries canning beer. The original crew used a hand-canning line on a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont packaged 59,000 in 2011 and grew to 85,750 in 2012 while opening an additional brewery in Brevard, NC, in late 2012.