Friday, March 21, 2014

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Want to help victims of sex assault in the region, but aren't sure how? April is your month. Not only can you benefit TESSA of Colorado Springs, the only such organization of its kind in El Paso and Teller counties, but you can have a little fun too. And who knows, maybe it'll lead to something bigger (like volunteering).
  • Courtesy TESSA
Denim Day Jeans Campaign (April 1-30): Local boutiques including Barracuda BazaarNice N’ Naughty, and Terra Verde will donate a portion of their jean sales to TESSA. A few other retailers will also sell Demin Day pins, in honor of the April 23 date (info below).

Brewer’s Dinner (April 2): A five-course paired dinner featuring beer from Red Leg Brewery, hosted by Old Chicago (the 4110 N. Academy Blvd. location) A portion of the $60 per person tickets will benefit TESSA and are available at TESSA's main office or at Old Chicago.

Tap Takeover (April 4): Two days later, that same Old C's will let the local Lofty Brewing Company take over the taps for a day at Old Chicago (Austin Bluffs & Academy) to raise money for TESSA. At 5:30 p.m., co-owner and head brewer Matt Tussey will visit. 

Crimes Against Nature (April 16): A solo comedic performance piece at Stargazers Theatre & Event Center about the "absurdities and contradictions of masculinity in our society" by author and actor Christopher KilmartinTickets are $10 and they, too, benefit TESSA.

T-Party Benefit (April 16): The Women’s Club of Colorado Springs is sponsoring a party to benefit TESSA and Partners in Housing with door prizes, food and drink and shopping at the location, the Little London Market at 109 S. Sierra Madre St. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, plus a 20-count box of tampons or pads. RSVPs are requested by April 11 to

Denim Day (April 23): Wear your jeans and visit any of the 14 local Starbucks locations to raise awareness about sexual assault and help kill sex assault myths, with TESSA, the El Paso County Department of Human Services and the COLSA Corporation. TESSA explains the history of Denim Day this way:

In 1999, an Italian Supreme Court decision overturned the rape conviction of a 45-year-old driving instructor, who raped and abandoned an 18-year-old female student in an alley. The head judge released a statement arguing that the victim's jeans were so tight that she must have helped the perpetrator remove the jeans; therefore the incident was no longer rape but consensual sex. Enraged by the verdict, the women of the Italian Parliament protested the decision by wearing jeans to work. This action led the California Senate and Assembly to join the protest — and an international movement was born.
Tough Guise II (April 25): A 7 p.m. screening of this documentary by Jackson Katz (whom the Indy interviewed here) "about how violent masculinity is perpetuated in American culture, and its effects on men, women, and society at large in the form of sexual and domestic violence, as well as school shootings and gang violence." Co-hosted by the Independent Film Society of Colorado. It's free to attend, but limited to 75 guests. RSVP to 785-6842 or
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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Drum up dollars for recovering high-school dropouts

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 4:42 PM

  • screenshot

As with doing martial arts, or learning a craft, practicing music often takes on a greater meaning than you might expect. Take the badasses at the Taiko Society of Colorado Springs, province of Carla and Jesse Maddox (who also expertly craft the giant drums). Jesse talked to the Indy about the taiko practice in 2012:
Maddox says those in his school's performing group, both men and women, routinely warm up for practice with multiple sets of push-ups, tricep dips and three-minute plank exercises; one practice for a certain piece that requires the drummer to hold his or her body at a 45-degree angle for four minutes is often rehearsed for more than 90 minutes at a time.

And though beginners get off a little easier, everybody is expected to treat the dojo with deliberate respect — from arriving early to sweep the playing space, to saying certain phrases when entering and leaving. It takes the whole thing from part musical performance, part theater, all the way to a kind of lifestyle.

"[Students] enter into the classes thinking it's just a fun thing to participate in," Maddox says, "and then they realize it kind of spills over."
Though I've never done it, I imagine discipline, dedication and respect all enter into the picture somewhere, all facets useful to, say, a struggling high-schooler.

Toward that end, the Youth Transformation Center is partnering with Taiko Society and the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association in an attempt to offer an after-school music program to at-risk students in the Engage-Educate-Employ Program. But they need cold, hard help, so enter the Indiegogo campaign, which has so far raised $475 of the hoped for $4,500 with 34 days left.

"The Taiko Society introduced drumming to the E3 students in early February 2014," reads the summary. "The students are excited about the chance to participate. With your support, an E3 student class can be arranged with rehearsals, once a week, after school. The budget is $500 per month for a pilot project extending for up to nine months for a total of $4,500. It is expected that after two or three months the E3 student troupe could present a short Taiko drum performance. The project is slated to kick-off in April if the necessary funds can be raised. If more funds are raised than budgeted, the pilot program will be extended."

For a look at just what exactly the kids might be doing, see the below video:

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bob Holmes resigns from Homeward Pikes Peak

Posted By on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Bob Holmes - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • Bob Holmes
Bob Holmes, the executive director of Homeward Pikes Peak for 11 years, has resigned his position.

Homeward Pikes Peak has long served as the umbrella agency for the local homeless service providers. But Holmes says that the organization is moving out of that role and focusing more on the homeless programs it runs including Housing First Pikes Peak, Homeward Pikes Peak Residential Addiction Recovery Program, Harbor House Clinical Services Program, and an addiction recovery program for mothers that is under development. 

Both the city and United Way have been moving into leadership roles,
 as the city seeks to redirect grant funding to its homeless priorities and bring the city into compliance with new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations. In the future, that will likely mean that Homeward Pikes Peak has less of a role to play as a leadership organization.

“I’ve had a good 11-year run coordinating homeless services and it's a good break point for me," Holmes told the Indy. "I’m very happy with what we’ve accomplished.”

Holmes' last day is March 28. He plans to start a for-profit addiction recovery program in Cascade at the end of the month. After his exit, Homeward Pikes Peak will be led  by interim executive director Laura Fonner, the organization's Director of Operations, while a permanent replacement is sought. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Re: Resignation of Bob Holmes as CEO of Homeward Pikes Peak

Below is Bob’s letter of resignation to the HPP Board, which was accepted March 5, 2014. Laura Fonner, Director of Operations, will assume the duties of Interim Executive Director beginning March 29, 2014, during the time of the board’s search for a successor.

Homeward Pikes Peak, in deference to the recent interest of the City and Pikes Peak United Way in the planning for and coordination of homeless services, will concentrate on its four direct service programs to homeless and addicted clients, and will continue to innovate programs to address the needs of underserved citizens in the Pikes Peak Region.

A representative of the City has stated that 24 x7 emergency services offered by HPP over the past decade will now be offered by the Homeless Outreach Team.


After more than eleven years of service as the CEO of Homeward Pikes Peak, it is truly with mixed emotions that I tender my resignation from this position, effective close of business March 28, 2014.

I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of Homeward Pikes Peak through the combined efforts of staff, board and funders, most especially the El Pomar Foundation. From the early management of the Continuum of Care and the maximizing of Super-NOFA Grant funding to the Gulf Coast Hurricane Relief Program; from the Homeless Tent Campers in our downtown to the implementation of needed homeless service programs as follow-ups; from the rescues of bankrupt homeless service agencies and programs to our decision to concentrate solely on programs for the homeless of the Pikes Peak Region…. I am grateful to have been a part of this history.

I could never exit without a most profound and humble thank you to the board of Homeward Pikes Peak. They all have always been there for me with understanding, support, wise counsel and humor.

As Homeward Pikes Peak enters another era, and a second decade of service, I know that the same board members will be there to support the new leadership of Homeward Pikes Peak in exciting accomplishments wherever service to our fellow citizens is needed, and wherever other agencies hesitate to venture.
I am so humbled to have been a part of the remarkable history of Homeward Pikes Peak and will always remember that literally thousands of homeless and addicted individuals were given opportunities for hope in our programs.

I leave you all with memories of cherished relationships and best wishes for future successes.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Out of India: two public events

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 4:42 PM

As part of our cover story in the Indy this week, the following two events are free and open to the public. 

Fair Trade: Connecting Colorado Springs to India
Tuesday, March 4, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Yobel Market’s Sarah Ray and Kylie Grader and Independent reporter Matthew Schniper will join members of the 2014 India Exposure Trip for a presentation featuring slideshows, a moderated Q&A, and personal stories regarding fair trade’s ability to impact poverty and unjust labor practices in India’s red-light districts and rural tea villages.
Cafe 225, 225 N. Weber St.
Ethically traded Darjeeling tea will be served and fair trade Indian handicrafts will be available for purchase. For more, see

Two India: Photography by Anthony Delao Adams and Matthew Schniper, capturing recent travels in India with Yobel International
Opening reception Friday, March 7, 5:30 p.m. to midnight; show runs Fridays through March 28, 5 to 10 p.m.
S.P.Q.R., 17 B E. Bijou St.
Ten percent of proceeds will be donated to Yobel International. For more, see

  • Anthony Delao Adams
  • Anthony Delao Adams
  • Matthew Schniper

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Teachers can 'shop' for field trips Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 3:11 PM

  • Fine Arts Center

With schools facing budget cutbacks, many student activities that were once routine have become a luxury. One example is field trips.

But Warren Epstein, spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, says field trips offer irreplaceable experiences for kids, helping them better understand the world around them. That's why the FAC is hosting a "shopping" opportunity for educators from 4 to 6 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20. Teachers can simply stop by to check out booths representing top destinations for field trips from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo to the United States Olympic Committee.

Read on for more details:

Shopping for Field Trips Just Got a Lot Easier

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is offering educators a free one-stop shopping opportunity to choose future field trips, Feb. 20, 4-6p.

Whether students are interested in science, sports, nature, history, literature, Western culture or the arts, we’ll have options for them, some displayed in a series of expo-like table displays and others more theatrical.

Fine Arts Center docents and our partners from Colorado College will create immersive experiences throughout the FAC galleries that will give glimpses into the many tours available at the Fine Arts Center. Among the highlights will be an appearance by nationally acclaimed playwright and CC instructor Idris Goodwin, whose students will perform spoken word pieces inspired by FAC art.

Our other partners include:
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Catamount Institute
Chico Basin Ranch Bird Banding
Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum
McAllister House Museum
Money Museum (American Numismatic Association)
Pikes Peak Library District
Pikes Peak Coalition for Elementary STEM Education
Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame
Space Foundation Discovery Center
United States Olympic Committee
Western Museum of Mining and Industry
Water Education - Colorado Springs Utilities

The top teachers in the region know that field trips can offer many ways to extend educational opportunities beyond the classroom. 

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Kaiser gives back in El Paso County

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 4:55 PM

In a time when money is running thin in many sectors, health giant Kaiser Permanente is lending a hand through a series of small grants in Southern Colorado.

The organization donated more than $450,000 to 41 nonprofits and organizations in our half of the state, the vast majority in El Paso County.

To learn more, read on:

COLORADO SPRINGS — Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, today announced that it donated more than $450,000 to 41 nonprofit and community based organizations located in Southern Colorado in 2013.

These charitable donations were distributed to support organizations and programs that aim to improve community health. Kaiser Permanente’s charitable donations support evidence, population and/or prevention-based initiatives that seek to create improvements in sustainable systems. Since 1997, Kaiser Permanente has addressed pressing health and social concerns in Southern Colorado through charitable contributions, sponsorships, preventive health education, community service work and community health initiatives.

Recipients of Kaiser Permanente Southern Colorado charitable donations in 2013 include: 


Charitable donations by Kaiser Permanente to these organizations are being used to support a variety of social, physical and governmental projects and programs that seek to increase health knowledge, improve healthy behaviors and create community change. Kaiser Permanente funding will also be allocated to initiatives that are focused on improving access to health care for those with limited financial resources.

“Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to improving the health of our members and the communities we serve,” said Holly Kortum, Kaiser Permanente’s executive director of operations in Southern Colorado. “One way we are able to accomplish this is by funding and partnering with organizations located right here in Southern Colorado that provide comprehensive, effective and culturally competent services to meet the diverse needs of the community. Our targeted approach to funding these 41 organizations allows for increased support of their efforts to improve community health and well-being, while aligning with our mission to spread health to all.”

Kaiser Permanente has provided high-quality, convenient health care to more than 56,000 members living in Southern Colorado since 1997. The health plan offers members access to more than 800 affiliated providers in southern Colorado, along with a medical office in Pueblo and the Briargate Senior Health Center in Colorado Springs. Visit to learn more about Kaiser Permanente.

To learn more about the Kaiser Permanente community benefit program, go to

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Warming shelter opened, donations needed

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 2:04 PM

  • Anthony Lane

The weather outside is frightful.

And while that might be an excuse for sledding and a cozy fire for most of the city's residents, for the homeless it's life-threatening. Shelters can accommodate the homeless at night, but there are few places for the unsheltered to go on cold days. Thankfully, the Springs Rescue Mission has opened a daytime warming shelter for people who need to come out of the cold during the day. The shelter opens only when highs reach 20 degrees or less for two consecutive days.

Opening the shelter is an expense for the nonprofit, so residents are being asked to support the program through donations. To give go to

In a recent announcement, Mayor Steve Bach said his administration will be providing leadership and funding to nonprofits that can achieve certain goals to help the homeless. One goal is the opening of a permanent day shelter. You can read more about that plan in Wednesday's paper.

Read on for more information about the temporary shelter:

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Springs Rescue Mission has announced it will reopen its Winter Shelter in the daytime for homeless men and women in the Pikes Peak Region during this week’s frigid weather. The daytime warming shelter will be open from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm at least through Friday, February 7. The daytime shelter was last opened for eight days in December.

The warming shelter is located at 25 W Las Vegas Street, the same location as the overnight Winter Shelter. Coffee and hot drinks are available throughout the day, and a simple lunch is served to warming shelter guests over the lunch hour. Pets are also welcome.

“The Warming Shelter at Springs Rescue Mission will open during the daytime when the outside temperature high is 20°F or less on two consecutive days,” said SRM President and CEO Larry Yonker. “Cold weather like this reminds us all of how important it is to help our homeless neighbors get out of the elements into a warm place. Otherwise they’re really vulnerable to hypothermia, frostbite, and compromised health from the cold.”

The public is invited to support the Warming Shelter through contributions to SRM’s cold weather initiative “Project 32” online at
Springs Rescue Mission has served the hungry and homeless in the greater Pikes Peak Region since 1997. To find out more, please visit

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mayor to announce new homeless plan

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 2:34 PM

Mayor Steve Bach
  • Mayor Steve Bach
Mayor Steve Bach's long-awaited plan to address homelessness in Colorado Springs will be unveiled on Wednesday, January  29 at a special media briefing.

We last told you about the plan here. The Independent will be reporting on the plan once details are released.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Region prepares for 'silver tsunami'

Posted By on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 10:11 AM

  • Garry Knight

Local organizations that help seniors are bracing for a crisis.

According to the Colorado State Demography Office, El Paso County’s population of those 65 or older will increase by 179 percent in the next 30 years — a far larger increase than is expected in the nation as a whole. And yet local service providers have done little to plan for the increase until recently, when the Innovations in Aging Collaborative and Peak Vista Community Health Centers led a six-month project involving 52 service providers and senior stakeholders that focused on aging well in the Pikes Peak region.

Topics included community awareness, the insurance system, care coordination/navigation, and affordable housing, among many more.

Recommendations, which are laid out in a consultant’s report titled “Convening to Support Aging in Place for the Pikes Peak Region,” focus on bringing in different perspectives, developing expert groups that can help solve and give advice on age-related issues, and increasing awareness of programs for seniors. Some examples are the proposed development of a hub for senior services, an education and navigation system for Medicare, and a better way to identify and meet mental health needs. To read the report, see
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Inside Out starts over with new downtown location

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Eric Pizana says he thinks kids will grow to love the new location. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Eric Pizana says he thinks kids will grow to love the new location.

Last year wasn't a lucky one for Inside Out Youth Services.

The LGBT youth nonprofit lost executive director Shawna Kemppainen to a job at Urban Peak early in the year, just as it was preparing to relocate out of its long-time home in the Independent's basement. By late summer, the nonprofit had a new home and a new executive director, Chris Robertson

But on the eve of its grand opening, the new location burned down for reasons that are still unknown. (Arson is not suspected at this point.) Robertson announced he had accepted another job at the Southern Colorado AIDS Project soon after.

That left only the board, volunteers, and volunteer program manager Eric Pizana to deal with a bad situation. Pizana says the nonprofit lost everything in the fire including furniture, photos, awards, a pool table, and a beloved stuffed lizard named "Mike."

The nonprofit moved into a temporary home at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media, where members could meet in the evening hours. Pizana says he was deeply appreciative of the free space, but this wasn't a home for the nonprofit; they couldn't store furniture or other items there. 

Thus Pizana is incredibly excited about the nonprofit's new downtown location, at 412 S. Tejon St. Painted in bright primary colors, and decorated with an array of donated furniture, the new spot offers a fresh start. That's especially true since the board plans to announce a new executive director within the coming days. Pizana, who has worked at the nonprofit for three years and was a participant at Inside Out when he was a youth, is among the candidates.

"I have such a tremendous passion for this organization," he says. "Being a youth back in the day, I know what it's like to have a responsible adult in your life." 

Right now, Pizana says his goal is to let youth know that Inside Out has a new home. He says he's excited that the location is once again downtown, because it provides better access to homeless youth, who in the past made up 1 in 5 of the program's 500 participants. 

"Isn't it ironic that an LGBT organization almost became homeless?" he says. " That is such a problem with LGBT youth." 

Speaking of which, Pizana says Inside Out is still in need of financial help, especially with a downtown rental payment. He urges supporters to give online and/or attend two upcoming fundraisers at Ivywild School. "Love Curses All" will be held Feb. 13 as a celebration of broken hearts. "Love Cures All" is planned for Feb. 14 as a celebration of love. Each event will cost $15.

The new location also has a kitchen. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • The new location also has a kitchen.
The main room is large with plenty of seating. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • The main room is large with plenty of seating.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Center opens for parents about to lose their minds

Posted By on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 2:50 PM

There are other options. - SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock
  • There are other options.

The headlines pop up throughout the year: Babies shaken to death and kids beaten to death all because a frustrated parent "lost it."

Everyone understands how anxiety can peak when a child won't stop screaming. And most parents have run into situations where there was no one they could call to take over for a few hours and give them a break. That's why it's great news that Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains is reopening the  KPC Respite Center as of January. The center is a place for parents to take kids when they're at their wits end, and fear they may lash out at the child.

Such centers can be a valuable last resort, and protect kids. Read on:

Colorado Springs, CO] On October 1, 2013, Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains (LFS) assumed the name and operations of the KPC Respite Center and plans to reopen its services in January, 2014.

To celebrate the planned re-opening of the KPC Respite Center, LFS is hosting an open house on Thursday, November 14th, 2013. Tours of the KPC facility will begin at 4:30pm, followed by a program and refreshments at 5:45pm. KPC supporters, board members and community leaders will be in attendance as well as LFS staff, board members and donors. The media is invited to attend at Ascension Lutheran Church located at 2505 North Circle Drive, Colorado Springs CO 80903.

Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner says, “KPC Respite Center is a critical resource for child abuse prevention in our community and we are so thankful for the work Lutheran Family Services has done toward reopening the wonderful facility. Parenting is a hard job. Being able to provide a break for families when they need it most can mean the difference between life or death for a child. Having this resource available in our community again will help get us closer to the goal set forth by the Not One More Child Coalition of not seeing one more child in El Paso County die due to abuse or

LFS has been providing adoption, foster care and refugee resettlement services in Colorado Springs for many years and is privileged to be operating the KPC Respite Center. “We are extremely proud and excited to continue this cherished community resource”, says Jim Barclay, LFS President & CEO.

The KPC Respite Center was created by a family whose infant son, Kevin Patrick Callum, died from Shaken Baby Syndrome at the hands of his frustrated grandparents. The respite center provides temporary respite care for children ages 0-6 years when families are experiencing a crisis, need a break or are considered high risk. KPC is the only respite center in Colorado Springs with a 24-hour crisis phone line and in extreme cases can provide up to 72 hours of free care for children. The center provides services to single parent families, foster/adoptive families, military families and families experiencing marital challenges. In 2012, the center provided 4,038 hours of care to 501 children from 304 families.

Lutheran Family Services believes that all people, from the newborn to the most elderly, are valued members of our community. Every day we provide help and support to children and families, because everyone deserves HOPE during the most challenging times of their lives.

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The Black Forest shooter, TESSA and silent witnesses

Posted By on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

People visit the Silent Witnesses at Cottonwood. - TESSA
  • People visit the Silent Witnesses at Cottonwood.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and TESSA — the local nonprofit that works to end the crime and help victims — was once again out in force.

For years now, TESSA has picked a day in October to set up dozens of wooden, life-size cutouts on the lawn of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Painted red, each silhouette represents a local victim of a fatal domestic violence attack. Plaques attached to the back tell their names and stories.

This year, there were 76 cutouts. But instead of another tragic display in the same spot, TESSA decided to move the figures around, taking handfuls for short displays at the city's colleges, military installations and libraries. Most of them, however, spent the month at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts, where they will continue to stand until Nov. 20 as a part of the Dia de los Muertos display.

Michelle Schaunaman, spokesperson for TESSA, says the displays have been a popular attraction for visitors, who have been moved by the stories. And they're part of the healing process for the families of the victims, who come to visit the silhouettes every year.

But over the weekend, the display seemed to take on a special significance, after Black Forest resident Kenneth Lankford allegedly shot and killed his wife and a female neighbor, and gravely injured the neighbor's husband. Stories following the shootings stated that Kenneth Lankford faced animal cruelty charges, and that his wife, Terry Lankford, may have feared his violent temper. Neighbors also said they feared Kenneth Lankford.

Janet Kerr, executive director of TESSA, says that those stories point to domestic violence that's spinning out of control.

“One of the things that we’ve known for years about domestic violence is that it is highly correlated with both animal abuse and child abuse,” she says. “... They’re just all very high indicators of each other.”

Kerr says that neighbors, coworkers, or loved ones who see those signs in someone's life should offer their support, and be nurturing. This helps because abusers often isolate their victims and make them feel as if they have no one to turn to. If you're close to the victim, it also helps to say things like, "He seems violent" or, "I'm afraid for you," because those statements help ground the victim in reality, and abusers often try to manipulate their victim's ideas of what normal behavior is. But the most important step, Kerr says, is to call TESSA's crisis line at 633-3819. Trained counselors can help to form a plan that fits the victim's needs and does the most to keep them safe.

Kerr says that 75 percent of domestic violence homicides happen when the victim is trying to leave their abuser, so it's important to have professional help. In the most extreme cases, TESSA can help victims change their names and Social Security numbers and protect other information that might help their abuser find them.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Inside Out exec makes quick exit

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Let's not mince words: It's been a lousy year for Inside Out Youth Services.

Early in the year, the LGBT youth nonprofit announced that Shawna Kemppainen, it's executive director of three years, would be leaving to lead Urban Peak. The shelter was already planning to move out of its longtime home in the basement of the Independent when its lease ran out.

Inside Out weathered those changes, leasing a new location and hiring Chris Robertson as its new executive director. But last month, the new offices were destroyed by an overnight fire, leaving the program homeless. Robertson said at the time that the nonprofit was moving to a temporary location and that he'd be working hard to find it a permanent home. But now Robertson has announced he'll vacate his position at the beginning of December.

Amy Dinofrio, Inside Out's board president, says Robertson has accepted a position at the Southern Colorado Aids Project. The board is looking for a replacement. Hopefully, they can find someone who is up for a challenge.

Friends of Inside Out-

As the President of the Board of Directors, I am writing to share news of some changes coming up in the leadership at Inside out Youth Services. Chris Robertson will be leaving the post of executive director at the beginning of December.

We hold deep gratitude for Chris's service to empower and advocate on behalf of LGBTIQ youth, and for his passion to engage people in our work! Even though it has been a tough battle for us recently Chris took the flag and led us! I am very proud of the successes he has accomplished in just a short time!

We all wish Chris well, and please join us in thanking him for the positive energy and excellence he provided as a leader!

Change always brings opportunity, and we are committed to getting the right next leader on board as a full-time Executive Director. I will be honest in stating I don't know what this search will look like just yet. I am meeting with some partners, and stakeholders, and I will update you as we move forward. Although advantageous, I would like to have a replacement picked by the first week in December.

Our search will be inclusive of the opinions of Inside Out's youth and volunteers, as well as external stakeholders.

Right now, I want to ask for your support for Chris, as he closes out his chapter here with us, and for Eric Pizana, Program Manager at Inside Out, who has led the internal programs and volunteer work and continue staff leadership for the Pikes Peak Safe @ School Coalition's advocacy efforts. Eric is extremely dedicated to the youth at Inside Out, and we are grateful for his leadership. You can reach Eric here: Without Eric's work and dedication to our mission, Inside/Out would not be where it is today!

Because of your support and advocacy for young LGBTIQ people, we are headed in the right strategic direction building more safety, acceptance and possibility for youth. Your support is so very appreciated.

If you need to reach me, please contact me at, or my cell 719-352-8674.

Thank you for all you do,


Amy Dinofrio
Board President
Inside Out Youth Services

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Your weekend cuteness overload

Posted By on Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Earlier this week, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo debuted three Canada Lynx kittens born at the zoo May 8.

And with their tufted ears and huge paws, they are freakin' cute.

  • Matthew Schniper

Lead Animal Keeper for the zoo's Rocky Mountain Wild exhibit, Rebecca Zwicker, says that mom Majina and dad Kajika have been together since 2007. That they took to one another is a bit unusual because Lynx are normally solitary in the wild — which is also why success in breeding within zoos is not super-common, adding to the local excitement about this little family. (Canada Lynx are considered "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.)

Dad's still not quite sure what to make of the kittens. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Dad's still not quite sure what to make of the kittens.

Zwicker says in general, zoo staff are "pretty hands off" with the kittens. It's mom's job to raise them, she says, and right now staff only get involved when it's time for physical examinations, vaccinations and the like. As the kittens grow, the keepers will start doing some training with them, as public relations manager Erika Meyer says, primarily "to help facilitate positive veterinary care." They'll also be trained to get used to crates, because they'll likely be transferred to another zoo in a few years. 

In the meantime, Zwicker and the other staff are having fun with the kittens. "We're seeing personalities," she says, adding that "they're pretty avid climbers" but "still have their clumsy moments." 

  • Matthew Schniper

Mom watches her playful bunch, a trio including two boys and one girl. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Mom watches her playful bunch, a trio including two boys and one girl.

It should be noted that now's a good time to get in your squee quotient at the zoo — they've had a huge baby boom. A porcupette was born the same day as the kittens; a Red River hoglet arrived the day after; a baby giraffe arrived Aug. 1 (the third in the past year); and seven peachicks have taken over the ground in the past few months.

One of the seven "little peas" born this year. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • One of the seven "little peas" born this year.

And one more completely unrelated "cat" note, if you'd like to add your own kitten (albeit domestic, not Lynx), to your family, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region is at "cat-pacity" and waving all adoption fees this weekend.

You know you need more cuteness in your life.


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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Run will help community centers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Community centers give kids a better shot at success.
  • Community centers give kids a better shot at success.

The second annual Blue Moon Trail Run on August 30 will benefit local community centers.

Nearly closed during the recession years, the city's four community centers provide a safe place for youth to congregate, affordable day care, programs and meals for seniors, and a place for community members to work together. Each is located in a low-income neighborhood. 

Though the budget has improved, the centers still struggle to make ends meet, and have had to find creative ways to meet their budget.

2nd Annual Blue Moon Trail Run To Benefit Community Centers

The 2nd Annual Blue Moon Trail Run takes place the evening of Friday, August 30 in Piñon Valley Park, 5585 Mule Deer Drive 80919. Featuring a kids race at 5:45 p.m. and followed by a 5K/10K run through adjacent Ute Valley Park, this race is suitable for all competitive levels. A post-race barbecue is available to all registrants and volunteers, featuring Bristol Beer for all adults. Childcare is also available. All net proceeds benefit the community centers of Colorado Springs. 5K and 10K: $30.00 through August 29 / $35.00 on August 30. KIDS Races: $5.00 for ages 10 and under / Two distances: 400m and 800m. The race is presented by UpaDowna; Pikes Peak Community Foundation; and Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services. For more information, visit or contact Brian Kates at 385-7940.

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