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Handy Chapel Gets a Hand Up

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Stephanie South

On a street called White Avenue, in the rural Colorado town I grew up in, you will find a little white church called the Handy Chapel. Despite its small size, Handy Chapel has played a big part in the local community.

Built in 1892, the church was a safe place for the African-American community on the Western Slope. Black travelers who passed through and found themselves in need of a place to stay because hotels would not welcome them, as well as those community members who just needed a bit of help, could take shelter at Handy Chapel. But even with this rich history, Handy Chapel made the list of Colorado’s Most Endangered Places in 2011. And ever since then, organizations and individuals have been offering the little white church a hand up.

Earlier this year, a group of local preservationists applied for grant from the State Historical Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Handy Chapel was awarded $210,000 to support restoration efforts. However, the money is contingent upon the community securing matching funds in the amount of $46,855. Today, the great-granddaughter of one its builders, Josephine Dickey, who has been caring for Handy Chapel in recent years, accepted a check from Northwest Regional Council member and Grand Junction resident Tillie Bishop on behalf of El Pomar Foundation. The $10,000 given by the trustees of El Pomar will count as part of the needed matching funds and has helped garner support from another local foundation—Bacon Family Foundation.

Bishop, a man known for his commitment to Grand Junction nonprofits, said that he was very proud to present the check to Dickey while her family and members of the local news media looked on and that there could not be a better time to make such a gift.

“This is the time of year we need to remember what we are thankful for and express our gratitude to those who make a difference in the community,” said Bishop.

To read more about Handy Chapel, read the article about it in the Denver Post.