Gobble, gobble, gobble! Remember when Thanksgiving was just one day? Then it was Thursday through Sunday. Now, we seem to celebrate the whole week. I guess spending more time focusing on all that we are grateful for is not a bad thing!
Among many other things, I’m very thankful for this project. I have learned so much and met many great people who are working hard everyday to make our community a better place. I’m excited to share these agencies with you, so you too can be thankful! If you find their work interesting or compelling, please reach out and make a connection.
Thanks so much for reading! Please share with others who you think may be interested. Help me spread the word about the impact these amazing agencies are providing to our community.
The Arc Pikes Peak Region
If you’re like me, when you hear about The Arc, you think of the thrift stores. And, that’s okay. The thrift stores are an important part of the work of The Arc. With 24 stores across our state, they are the primary funding source for the agency. In addition, they employ over 300 individuals with varying abilities, with a job that pays above minimum wage. Revenue from the thrift stores enables The Arc to focus on the critical work of promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Wilfred Romero, Executive Director for the Pikes Peak Region chapter of The Arc, shared their vision of a community where all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are embraced and respected. They work tirelessly to enable their clients to experience full inclusion and participation in our community throughout their lifetime.
The Arc provides so many services to support their clients and their families/caregivers! Some of the ways they do this is through public policy work, training clients for job readiness and careers, advocating in the schools and judicial system, education and empowerment, social opportunities, guardianship, and future planning. I found it very interesting that The Arc has helped save our community over $2.5M in costs associated with jailing individuals who really need support navigating their community, rather than incarceration.
Here are a few things that Wilfred wished people knew about The Arc. He wishes people would come to them sooner, rather than waiting until they are in crisis mode. They can begin helping a family as soon as they receive a diagnosis. He wishes that more people in our community understood, valued and appreciated their clients. And he wishes for disabilities to be included in conversations around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. If you would like to learn more or get involved, check out their website or reach out to Wilfred directly.
Crossroads Ministry USA
Before visiting with Assistant Director, Tina Banister, I knew exactly zero about Crossroads Ministry, USA. After learning that approximately 85% of the men and women who reside in care facilities rarely have a one-on-one visitor and 50% have no living relatives, it was great to hear about the work they are doing. Crossroads improves the spiritual and emotional care of the elderly who are living in skilled and assisted living centers.
The vision of Crossroads is to mobilize local churches and individuals to help those who are feeling lonely and forgotten, in order to help them regain hope, love and purpose in their lives. They do this by delivering training for care center visitation; providing Bible studies, praise, and worship through music and Sunday services; training chaplains for ongoing ministry and spiritual guidance, Celebration of Life services, and end-of-life preparations; and providing ministry – not only the residence – but also to their families and the care center staff.
The biggest challenge this agency continues to face comes from the pandemic. In care facilities the rules and protocols are constantly changing. There are firm restrictions. And the relationship building, that is crucial to their work, has been severely sidetracked.
To get involved with this non-denominational ministry, go here. On Saturday, December 4th there will be a drive-thru donation event at New Life Church. Rumor has it, Santa will be there! Email Tina for more information.
Colorado Health Network
I was very excited to visit with my friend Bill Scharton and his dedicated co-workers at Colorado Health Network. I was aware that their work supported people living with HIV in our community, but I had no idea the extent of the services they provide!
Through case management, transmission and overdose prevention, testing, medical support and access, behavioral health management, food and transportation, and much, much more, the Colorado Health Network provides services for Coloradans living with HIV who fall below 500% of the federal poverty level. Since 1986 this state-wide agency has sought to innovatively and equitably meet the evolving needs of individuals in Colorado living with, and at risk of acquiring, HIV and other health conditions. The Southern Colorado Health Network serves 25 counties and around 700 individuals.
I found the person-centered philosophy of this agency to be one of their most beautiful assets. Staff work hard to create a non-judgmental, shame-free environment for their clients. Many people become disenfranchised due to grief and shame associated with their diagnosis. The team at SCHN help them to see past their prognosis to find hope. Lead Case Manager, Victoria, told me that the most rewarding part of her job is when a client makes the decision to make positive changes to grow and improve their lives.
One of the biggest challenges they experience at SCHN is the stigma around HIV. It makes it harder to connect people with the help they need. The sooner someone is connected with their services, the better support they can provide. Learn more at: https://coloradohealthnetwork.org.
Status: Code 4, Inc
After a Dispatcher has not heard from a unit for awhile they ask: “Med unit, what’s your status?” If everything is all right, the unit answers: “Code 4.” According to Dr. Ann Rush, wife of founder Dr. Dan Crampton, the goal at Status: Code 4 (SC4i) is to help all First Responders they serve get to the point where their status is Code 4. SC4i was founded in response to a gap in mental health services for First Responders in our community.
One in 4 of our First Responders suffer from PTS; left untreated this may progress to PTSD. 25% suffer from depression, 25 to 35% struggle with substance abuse, up to 95% experience divorce, and sadly, over 90% of these agencies have less than $8,500 budgeted per year for mental wellness. Colorado ranks fifth in the nation in suicides. El Paso County is #1 in the state. 57% of our suicides are veterans.
Through 1:1 counseling, group work, marriage and relationship workshops, and education, SC4i is working to provide trauma healing counseling and mental wellness education services to First Responders and their families. They envision a world where our First Responders have the necessary supports to build and maintain healthy mental resilience. In an industry where these folks may see more traumatic events in one day than most of us will experience in a lifetime, these services are crucial to their mental health.
According to Ann, the biggest challenge SC4i faces is that people don’t reach out early enough. Due to feelings of shame and guilt, First Responders often put off seeking help until it’s their last resort. The earlier they connect with individuals and families, the better they can support them. Ann and Dan encourage people struggling to ask for help. Just like the flight attendants say, take care of yourself first, so you can help others. If you would like to help, there are funding and volunteer opportunities available. Go to their website to learn how you can help our First Responders to put their own masks on first.
Imagine…a community brimming with music, scientific exploration, theater, innovative engineering, dance, painting, thoughtful invention, sculpture, poetry, folk art, literature, enticing architecture and engaging ideas. Imagine…people using their creativity and applauding the creativity of others. Imagination Celebration exists to connect people of all ages to the brain-stimulating, life enriching power of creativity.
Leaders in Fortune 500 companies list creative problem solving and critical thinking among the top skills they seek in their team members. Yet, according to Deborah Thorton, Executive Director for Imagination Celebration, creativity is being squashed in our children. In fact, since 1990 creativity has been declining.
Imagination Celebration works to expand creativity through dance and theater. Through providing educational resources. Through the What If…Festival of Innovation and Imagination. And through their interactive Portal, where you can walk into the internet! Deborah wishes that more people understood that imagination and creativity are worth celebrating throughout our whole lives. Collaboration, connection and curiosity are critical skills for all ages.
At Imagination Celebration they are continually looking for gaps. They evolve as needs evolve, allowing them to remain relevant to our community. With a staff of one, support is always needed in the form of volunteers and funding. Learn more and get connected to help with this cause by going here: https://www.imaginationcelebration.org.
Want to learn more about how you can have a lasting impact on your community? Email me at email@example.com to connect for a free 30-minute discovery call or check out this article on how to be a community superhero. In order to save the world, nonprofits need superheroes like you to help them have the kind of impact they exist to deliver.
Kim is a mom, wife, lover of being active and the outdoors,
and helper of small businesses and nonprofits.