Impact Cares

The staff of ‘Impact Cares’ pauses during a clean-up day at Cherry Acres mobile home community. From left, Heather Blanks, Tory Wilson and Jan Ooms.

Across Colorado, mobile home communities have closed leaving former residents without affordable housing options, but a Cedaredge corporation is bucking that trend. Impact Communities LLC began modestly in 1995 when Dave and Terri Reynolds purchased a small mobile home community in Limon, Colorado.

While managing their first property, the Reynolds learned first-hand about the challenges of operating and maintaining a mobile home community. If there were repairs to be done, they did them. If there were problems, they addressed them. Over time, the couple acquired more properties until today, their company manages 200 mobile home communities in 25 states including Colorado where — between properties in Austin, Clifton and Grand Junction — they manage 13 sites. And throughout this period of tremendous growth, Dave Reynolds, who now lives in Cedaredge and serves as president of Impact Communities, has maintained the same goal.

“We provide affordable housing where people are proud to live and call home,” he said.

The main office of Impact Communities is located in downtown Cedaredge, a small Western Slope town of 2,200 souls, and that location’s 49 employees makes it one of the town’s largest employers. Nation-wide, Impact Communities employs 500 people.

Sites where trailers and manufactured homes cluster have inherited unsavory reputations and yet such places remain a major source of affordable housing. Because residents are often low income households or retirees or other people with fixed incomes, mobile home communities tend to fall into disrepair. As trailers and manufactured homes and their surrounding grounds age, the challenge has been to maintain not only individual residences but also the sites themselves.

Rather than using the term “trailer park,” Reynolds prefers to think of his properties in terms of people — a viewpoint which led him to add “communities” to his corporate name. And it was this same focus on community that led him to establish his newest venture.

For years Reynolds and his wife have devoted their personal resources to helping residents repair and maintain their mobile homes and improve their surroundings. Last year, they made their commitment official by creating an entity entitled “Impact Cares” and hiring a staff of dedicated folks to expand their vision.

“It’s our way of giving back to the communities,” said Reynolds. “The mission of Impact Cares is impacting lives and improving homes.”

Tory Wilson serves as Impact Cares (IC) project leader. Heather Blanks works as IC executive assistant and Jan Ooms is IC administrative assistant. And those three have hit the ground running.

Wilson ‘s background in construction and home inspection made him a natural choice to take a leadership role in implementing the IC mission. Plus, as Blanks points out, “Troy has the heart and he loves his job.”

That’s a good thing, because Wilson has a demanding job.

To learn about the needs of residents, IC distributes brochures to the properties managed by Impact Communities and they also receive nominations from on-site neighbors, managers and maintenance people. Then, one by one, Wilson travels to sites, often towing IC’s new trailer filled with tools and supplies.

Prior to his arrival, IC staff members contact area businesses to line up donated and discounted materials. Staff also works cooperatively with local communities to round up volunteer workers. In addition to residents from the community itself, church and youth groups are a source of volunteers, as well as local service groups such as Rotary Clubs.

The work to be performed at each site varies widely but it can include improvements to individual homes such as building decks, repairing roofs, building fences, replacing windows, repairing flooring and fixing plumbing. Grounds improvements can include general cleanup and building or renovating community resources such as playgrounds or recreation centers. In addition to rallying local businesses and volunteers, IC also partners with other agencies to aid residents. An example is a recent joint venture with the American Red Cross to install smoke detectors at the Cherry Acres mobile home community in Austin.

All IC work is performed without cost to residents. People served include low income families, widows, disabled individuals, veterans, and others who depend on affordable housing but may be unable to manage home repairs. Improvements to existing mobile homes enhance the lives of individual residents and entire communities benefit from improvements in shared facilities.

The work of IC is personally funded by the Reynolds family who also work with suppliers to obtain donated or discounted materials. Reynolds feels that IC’s approach to supporting and aiding mobile home communities is unique. He is aware of only one other company, Equity Lifestyle, which provides similar services. His hope is to encourage other management firms to adopt the IC model in order to maintain and preserve affordable housing.

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