Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Nation's first parrot cafe to open in the Springs

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2016 at 12:44 PM

Next Saturday, April 30, at noon, The Perch will host its grand opening celebration at 1515 S. Eighth St., complete with High Grade Food Truck as well as a birds of prey meet-and-greet (including a bald eagle) courtesy Nature’s Educators.

The Perch will function as both a limited coffee and tea shop and bird adoption center and retail supply store, says founder Erik Wolf, citing other "pet cafes" around the world, like dog, cat, and even hedgehog cafes. But he and his wife Michele believe The Perch to be the U.S.'s first bird cafe, as they know of only one other in Japan. 

"We aren't technically a food-service establishment," he clarifies, "as we're only serving hot-brewed beverages and baked goods made elsewhere — we're making nothing here."  
Coffee amidst bird song, coming soon to Eighth Street. - COURTESY ERIK WOLF
  • Courtesy Erik Wolf
  • Coffee amidst bird song, coming soon to Eighth Street.
That means he reports to the agriculture department, not health department, for inspections, as any pet shop would do. 

But guests will be able to buy drip coffee from area roaster Spanish Peaks, plus sweets from the nearby Old School Bakery. And for no admission fee (unlike many other pet cafes), guests can socialize with the birds while enjoying their food and drink. To be clear, the birds are not flying free, but are caged near a seating area. Guests may request to handle them though, and staff will place the birds on play-stands for more intimate viewing. 

The Wolf's, relocated from Atlanta four years ago, co-launched the Metro Denver Parrot Rescue two years ago, and that nonprofit is actually who'll host the birds for The Perch and handle all matters related to adoption. The Perch will act as the for-profit arm to hopefully create a sustainable future for the all-volunteer rescue, as all monies that go to it go into supplies, feed and veterinary care — The Wolf's receive no salary. 

"We want people to feel free to come sit with the birds — it's a novelty for most folks who don't have parakeets or a parrot in their house," says Erik. "But the real mission is to find the birds homes. By serving food and drink, it makes it possible for someone to sit comfortably and spend a few hours with a bird if they're interested in adoption. They can take their time and not feel rushed. We want this to be more than a pet store. We want people to hang out, and for this to become a community center." 

Erik say since launching MDPR, they've placed upwards of 250 birds in homes. "People don't realize how many parrots are being given up to rescues," he says. "It's not as big as the dog and cat problem at shelters, but it's hundreds of birds annually." 

He expects The Perch to have around 20 adoptable birds on display at a given time, with another 30 in a quarantine area that newly surrendered birds must first pass through for necessary health monitoring. 

Adoptions will run as little as $10 for a parakeet up to $500 for a macaw (which sell new in pet shops for upwards of $2,500, he says). But even a couple bucks spent on a cup of coffee will support the rescue and The Perch's overall mission. 

We'll have a little more info in next week's Side Dish column. 

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hunger, the Onion, Seth MacFarlane, and one surprised local woman

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2016 at 5:22 PM


The woman in this Onion  screenshot is Jenny Bealis-Schell, the co-owner of Design Rangers, a local Colorado Springs mom, and, apparently, something of a sudden celebrity.

In the last month, Jenny, who says she generally dodges cameras, has been featured in a web commercial seeking to raise money for hungry people and been featured in the aforementioned satirical article on the Onion, a story that was retweeted by Seth MacFarlane (the television producer, filmmaker, actor and singer who created Family Guy). She's also been the subject of many a commenter, including one who has insulted her "acting" and another who called her "annoying."

To say this has been surprising for Jenny is an understatement.

The genesis of this brush with fame began in the late 1970s. Jenny was 4 years old when her parents divorced. She says her dad didn't pay child support, and her mom, who worked as a waitress, often had little money. Mother and daughter moved to a piece of property that her mom got in the divorce, which was located in a ghost town just outside Victor, Colorado.

The cabin home had an outhouse, and no electricity or running water. For five years, mother and daughter scraped by, living in many ways as though it were the 1800s. Because money was scarce, Jenny was sometimes hungry. She fondly remembers neighbors who invited her to their homes for holiday meals, and a store that once gave her a bag of Christmas presents.

Her friend's family, she says, often watched her in the mornings before school when her mother worked early shifts. She remembers her friend's father making sourdough pancakes every morning. The food was a gift, as was the relief from her rugged circumstances.

“We didn’t have a TV and we had like kerosene lanterns," she recalls, "so just to walk into a house with electricity was a big deal.”

Because of her upbringing, Jenny has been eager to help the local food bank, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. Last year, she was the keynote speaker at Care and Share's fundraising luncheon and she says she was thrilled that the nonprofit was able to surpass its goal. Afterward, she said people would sometimes come up to her at random and tell her they heard her speech and were touched by it.

So when Care and Share called her again early this year, saying they wanted to submit her story for a commercial, she was excited. Every year, Walmart does a fundraising campaign with Care and Share's parent organization, Feeding America. Walmart stores send a portion of the proceeds from certain products, as well as donations made at cash registers, to Feeding America, which uses the money to buy food. The campaign is called  "Fight Hunger, Spark Change."  

This year, Walmart wanted to film profiles of people who volunteered with a Feeding America food bank and run them as ads on the web. After a national search, Walmart selected two stories from Colorado Springs, including Jenny's. A director from London and a film crew from New York came to the Springs to film the spots.

They even took Jenny back to her old hometown for part of the shoot.

“Having the film crew with me was so surreal and emotional,” she says.

In late March, the web ads started popping up. Then, on April 18, friends alerted Jenny to the Onion article.  Despite the less-than-generous headline, Jenny says she was thrilled. She and her husband love the Onion, as does her college-age son. And she was also excited about being in a MacFarlane tweet.

“It still think it’s like pretty cool," she says of the Onion article.

Adding, “Finally I’m going to get cool mom points.”

As for the negative comments, Jenny says she isn't really hurt. 

 “I'm not an actress," she says. "So I don’t care if [a commenter] calls me a shitty actress, because I’m not an actress.”
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Thursday, April 14, 2016

GOCO shows us the money

Posted By on Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 1:47 PM

  • City of Manitou Springs
Lottery money from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) will go to fund the reconstruction of a baby pool in Manitou Springs, the expansion of sports fields in Ellicott School District, and a "facelift" for the county fairgrounds.

In all, the projects have been granted $699,413.

GOCO's board allocates funds from the Colorado Lottery around the state to preserve and enhance parks, trails and other outdoor spaces. 

Here are the details:
GOCO awards nearly $700,000 to El Paso County outdoor recreation projects

DENVER – The Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board awarded three grants totaling $699,413 Thursday to El Paso County communities. The City of Manitou Springs received $80,500 for the reconstruction of the public baby pool. El Paso County was awarded a $343,913 grant on behalf of the Ellicott School District to expand sports fields and a $275,000 grant for the county fairgrounds.

In Manitou, the existing pool for the city’s youngest swimmers is 44 years old, with unsafe and grossly inefficient structural issues. The pool, which is part of the larger community aquatic center, currently leaks beyond what yearly patching can fix. The pool was also designed with a hole built into one end that presents additional safety issues.

After having to turn away half of the families wanting to use the pool, GOCO funding will allow Manitou to accommodate up to 40 children. The larger pool also means new swimming classes for babies and preschool children. The GOCO grant will also build a kid-sized entry to the pool and update plumbing.

Manitou aims to have the project finished in fall 2016, aided by the local swim team that raised $1,000 for the new pool and will assist with minor construction and clean-up. Troop 18 of the Boy Scouts of America has also offered their support, including an Eagle Scout hopeful interested in the project.

In Ellicott, the school district partnered with El Paso County to receive funding for new sports fields. The current fields are at capacity, with football, baseball, and soccer all sharing fields. Expanding the athletic fields will impact the more than 1,000 students at the shared elementary, middle, and high school campus.

The school district site also serves as a community gathering place in this rural, unincorporated area of El Paso County. Many families of students come from nearby Schriever Air Force Base, and the school district serves a diverse, low-income population; 70 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch.

In addition to accommodating more student athletes, the new fields will also create the opportunity for outdoor science classes and will be used by Ellicott Metro District sports leagues. Sports fields at the school district site are the only public fields in the community.
Students will help with fundraising efforts for soccer nets and bleachers, with the school district hoping to have the project finished by September 2016.

In another rural El Paso community, the county fairgrounds will be getting a facelift to incorporate more outdoor recreation options. Located just south of Calhan, the fairgrounds support a variety of programming including El Paso County 4H, Calhan Schools, Eastern El Paso County Senior Services, and more.

Existing facilities at the fairgrounds are geared primarily toward agricultural and equestrian programming and the county fair, but the county intends to create a year-round hub for residents across the county. GOCO funding will construct an open-air pavilion, playground, splash pad, shade and landscaping, and picnic tables in addition to bringing electricity to the fairgrounds campground, fixing drainage issues on the dirt race track, and improving accessibility to the entrance.

The new pavilion will host events, including environmental educational programming, for up to 400 people, and the new playground and splash pad will be ADA-compliant. The county anticipates finishing the upgrades in September 2017 with the help of local boy scouts and 4-H members.

To date, GOCO has invested nearly $51 million in El Paso County has conserved more than 8,000 acres of land. GOCO funding has supported the reconstruction of the Manitou Incline, flood restoration at Harlan Wolf Park , and recovery from the Black Forest Fire. The Pikes Peak Region was also recently named a GOCO Inspire pilot community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 4,700 projects in urban and rural areas in all 64 counties without any tax dollar support. Visit for more information.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Care and Share's annual Recipe for Hope luncheon

Posted By on Sun, Mar 13, 2016 at 9:52 AM

This year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon at The Broadmoor. Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado raised more than $200,000 to help feed the hungry in Southern Colorado. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • This year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon at The Broadmoor. Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado raised more than $200,000 to help feed the hungry in Southern Colorado.
Every year I look forward to photographing Care and Share’s Recipe for Hope luncheon and fundraiser at The Broadmoor. This year the Recipe for Hope luncheon raised more than $200,000 for Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. More than 1,000 people attended. It’s a huge event for this community and it’s for a very good cause.

One of the things that’s make Care and Share so special to this community is it dedication to get food into the hands of school children who need it. They have a wonderful program called “Send Hunger Packing” and it allows school children to take home a backpack with food for the weekend that will feed a family of four.

‘We send backpacks home with about 30 sites throughout our service area, 600 backpacks home a week,” explains Care and and Share communication director Shannon Brice.

This year Care and Share began a school pantry program. In addition to the backpacks, families can pick up food from the schools their children attend.

Domanic Lopez, seventh grader at North Middle School, was one of two keynote speakers at this year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon. Lopez volunteers at the pantry and also uses the pantry to help feed his family. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Domanic Lopez, seventh grader at North Middle School, was one of two keynote speakers at this year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon. Lopez volunteers at the pantry and also uses the pantry to help feed his family.

Domanic Lopez was one of this year’s keynote speakers at the Recipe for Hope Luncheon. He’s a seventh grader at North Middle School, one of the sites for the new pantry program. He began volunteering to help in the pantry and he also collects food for his family there.

Domanic Lopez, seventh grader at North Middle School, speaks during this year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Domanic Lopez, seventh grader at North Middle School, speaks during this year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon.

“I like working in the pantry because I know I’m helping other kids and families like mine,” he said. “My family needs food from the pantry. I live with my grandma, grandpa, two brothers, two sisters, my aunt and two dogs.”

Domanic Lopez's grandmother listens as Domanic talks about the importance of the North Middle School food pantry program during the Care and Share's Recipe for Hope Luncheon. Lopez volunteers at the pantry and also uses the pantry to help feed his family. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Domanic Lopez's grandmother listens as Domanic talks about the importance of the North Middle School food pantry program during the Care and Share's Recipe for Hope Luncheon. Lopez volunteers at the pantry and also uses the pantry to help feed his family.

Domanic is proud to work for the program and he says it gives him a sense of accomplishment to help others.

Domanic Lopez, seventh grader at North Middle School, receives a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 1,000 after his keynote address during this year's Recipe of Hope luncheon. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Domanic Lopez, seventh grader at North Middle School, receives a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 1,000 after his keynote address during this year's Recipe of Hope luncheon.

Dana Adoretti was the second keynote speaker. Dana talked about growing up hungry. He also talked about the importance of giving back. Adoretti owns Sprinklers, Etc., a successful local business, and is the Chair of UpaDowna, a local non-profit to help kids get outdoors.

Dana Adoretti, owner of Sprinklers, Etc., was one of two keynote speakers at this year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon at The Broadmoor. Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado raised more than $200,000 to help feed the hungry in Southern Colorado. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Dana Adoretti, owner of Sprinklers, Etc., was one of two keynote speakers at this year's Recipe For Hope Luncheon at The Broadmoor. Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado raised more than $200,000 to help feed the hungry in Southern Colorado.

When he works on a sprinkler system he always asks the owner make a food donation to Care and Share and he recalled how growing hungry affected him and his family.

“The people around us are greatly important to who we are and what we become. I’m now lucky and humbled to be a volunteer and the board chairman of another local non-profit where we can give back to our wonderful community,” said Adoretti.

Sponsors of Care and Share’s Recipe for Hope luncheon gave $38,000 to help put on the event.

Colorado Springs wedding photographer Sean Cayton loves remarkable photographs and the stories behind them. You can see his wedding work at, his personal work at and his editorial work in the Colorado Springs Independent. Submit your photo and the story behind the image - no more than two a week, please - to for consideration in upcoming blogs.
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Friday, February 26, 2016

Be part of Concrete Couch's "mega mural"

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Come the week of April 25, Penrose Library will benefit from a new "mega mural" created by Concrete Couch and large groups of volunteers. 

The installation is happening as part of the Community Built Association 2106 Conference and Bootcamp — Concrete Couch is hosting the Oakland-based nonprofit, devoted to the transformation of public spaces.  

Here's a complete schedule of events:

But work's already underway with five Hub Groups who are creating the individual panels of the larger mural — meetings take place once a week (schedule below) and are free to participate in (those under 13 require an adult helper — please RSVP with or 561-400-2275). 

Concrete Couch encourages families to attend though, and helpers will learn how to design and create a mosaic and ceramic tile mural; there's also opportunities to work on a metal relief element (Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Manitou Art Center). 

Here's the Hub schedule:

Manitou Springs High School, noon to 1:40 p.m.
PPCC-Downtown Studio, 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

Community Prep School, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
Will Rogers Elementary, 2:45 to 4 p.m.
Colorado College, Morale House, 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

The large wall in the parking lot will be transformed in late April. - COURTESY CONCRETE COUCH
  • Courtesy Concrete Couch
  • The large wall in the parking lot will be transformed in late April.

An example of Concrete Couch's mural prowess. - COURTESY CONCRETE COUCH
  • Courtesy Concrete Couch
  • An example of Concrete Couch's mural prowess.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wounded Warrior Program criticized

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 12:11 PM

We snapped a picture of this business card, because we wanted to show the logo for WWP. But since WWP has been touchy about use of the logo, we figured this might be the better avenue.
  • We snapped a picture of this business card, because we wanted to show the logo for WWP. But since WWP has been touchy about use of the logo, we figured this might be the better avenue.


We just heard back from Rob Louis, public relations specialist with Wounded Warrior Project headquarters in a statement labeled, "WWP response to false news reports." Note that he doesn't say what exactly was false about those reports.
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is a leader in nonprofit transparency and the public reporting of the organization's independent financial audits. We are an open book. We owe that to those who support us and to those we serve - wounded warriors.

The chair of Wounded Warrior Project's Audit Committee, Richard M. Jones, a prominent tax attorney and certified public accountant, is the Executive Vice President, General Tax Counsel, and Chief Veteran Officer at CBS Corporation. Mr. Jones stands by our financial statements, our reporting methods, our public filings, and our independent audits.

CBS News did not reach out to Mr. Jones prior to airing a story with false information about our finances.

Wounded Warrior Project provides more than 20 needs-specific, free programs and services to more than 83,000 wounded veterans, who we call Alumni, and more than 15,000 family support members. We are constantly expanding our services to better support warriors. We just launched the Warrior Care NetworkT to help provide world-class mental health care for wounded veterans. Warrior Care Network represents a $100 million investment to ensure warriors struggling with the hidden wounds of war get the help they need. We have already committed $110 million to our long-term support initiatives - the Independence Program and Long-Term Support Trust - two programs that directly help the most severely injured veterans.

To be clear, Wounded Warrior Project is trusted by nearly 100,000 veterans, their caregivers, and families, to provide them with critical care programs and services every day. Alumni regularly praise our organization for making a life-altering impact. The demand for our services continues to grow as evidenced by the more than 1,200 new registrations we receive from the wounded each month. And, we are proud to welcome so many of our Alumni as WWP staff. Their belief in - and passion for - who we are, what we do, and why it matters, is evidenced in their very lives.

Many people like to talk about the need to support wounded warriors - Wounded Warrior Project is actually doing it - every day and in record numbers.

As for the Daily Beast, I am not familiar with any new reporting from them. 


Dave Philipps, a former Gazette reporter now working for The New York Times, filed this story on the WWP controversy:

——————-ORIGINAL POST 12;11 P.M. WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27, 2016—————————————————-

A year or more ago, Leslie Coleman, PR specialists with the Wounded Warrior Project in Colorado Springs, called asking for a "get acquainted" meeting. Sure, we said.

Today, we can't reach her. The office phone rings and rings before going to a message saying the number has no voice mail set up. The mobile phone number rings to someone else entirely, so that number apparently has been reassigned. The office is located in a swank building at 1 S. Nevada Ave. and is staffed by 10 to 12 people, according to receptionist.

There's no PR person locally, the receptionist said, and after we asked her three times if she'd attended a WWP party at The Broadmoor, she finally said, "It wasn't a party" but rather "some of it" was a team-building exercise that she said was "a lot of work."


CBS News reports that the WWP parent organization raised more than $300 million last year and spent freely on parties and "team building" for staff, which included that Broadmoor resort event.

According to CBS News:
Former employees say spending has skyrocketed since Steven Nardizzi took over as CEO in 2009. Many point to the 2014 annual meeting at a luxury resort in Colorado Springs as typical of his style.

"He rappelled down the side of a building at one of the all hands events. He's come in on a Segway, he's come in on a horse."

About 500 staff members attended the four-day conference in Colorado. The price tag? About $3 million.

"Donors don't want you to have a $2,500 bar tab. Donors don't want you to fly every staff member once a year to some five-star resort and whoop it up and call it team building," said Millette.
The story is accompanied by a photo of The Broadmoor.

Here's the board, according to the WWP local website: Anthony Odierno, Roger Campbell, Richard Jones, Guy McMichael III, Justine Constantine, Robert Nardelli.

The local receptionist referred us to the PR person for the parent organization, Joanne Fried. We've placed a call to her and if and when we hear back, we'll update.

The Daily Beast reports WWP intimidates other organizations who help soldiers.
Wounded Warrior USA, a small Colorado charity with a $15,000 operating budget, had a Wounded Warrior Project lawyer reach out to them to demand they change the free clip art they were using as a label on coffee packages they were using for fundraising. “They got really nasty with us,” said Wounded Warrior USA founder Dave Bryant.
According to the WWP tax report for the most recent year available, the only Colorado entity receiving money from the parent organization was the Vail Veterans Foundation, which received $100,000.

CEO Steven Nardizzi, the form shows, was paid an obscene $500,000 in salary and benefits, including an $88,000 bonus. He's founder, according to the WWP bio available for him, which also says,
For more than 10 years prior to joining WWP, Steve worked as an attorney representing disabled veterans for several veterans service organizations. He spent nine years with the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA), taking on increasingly responsible roles. He eventually became director of EPVA’s benefits service department and subsequently served as associate executive director of member services.
Read the 990 tax form here:

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Why you can't drop off stray animals after hours

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 12:31 PM

  • Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region
Years ago, if you found a stray pet wandering your neighborhood at night, you could simply take it to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and drop it off.

Even when the shelter was closed, there was a line of kennels where you could lock up the animal, along with paperwork you could fill out to leave with it. It was pretty easy, and the staff would pick up the animals come morning.

Those kennels are long gone. Personally, I was unaware of their absence until I tried to drop off a stray kitten at 3 a.m. over the summer. I was surprised to find there was no place to leave the little bundle. I mentioned it to a coworker, who said she found a stray dog after-hours and ended up keeping it in her backyard because the Humane Society wasn't open and could not take it.

We both wondered what had happened to the old system, but we shrugged it off. Yesterday, I got to thinking about it again. See, the Humane Society is part of the Indy Give! campaign. I wondered if, perhaps, the lack of kennels was a budget issue. I rang up Gretchen Pressley, the Humane Society spokesperson.

Pressley got back to me this morning. The kennels, she says, have been gone since about 2010. It wasn't a budget issue, she says. It was a safety issue. Some people were leaving extremely sick or injured animals in the kennels, which should have been taken to an emergency vet. Other times, people were putting cats and dogs in the same kennel. 

Removing those after-hours drop-off kennels was meant to keep animals safe, Pressley says, and it's a trend at shelters across the nation and considered a best practice. The Humane Society does accept animals every day of the year, generally from  8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Animal law enforcement works from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the winter, and calls after-hours are routed through the police (though animal enforcement officers still respond if there is truly an emergency).

In most cases, however, the Humane Society is asking citizens to keep stray animals until they can be dropped off during business hours. 

“We're just really asking the community in those cases to help us out and keep those animals safe," Pressley says.

She adds that the system seems to work pretty well.

“Most people are happy that they’re giving the best care to that animal,” she says.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Give to Give! on Colorado Gives Day

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 3:32 PM

Look, I know how you feel.

I too have had to watch my back at the local Michaels to avoid being plowed over by shopping carts full of glittery bulbs, ribbon, and fabric poinsettia wreaths. I too have stared apathetically at shrink-wrapped turkeys and hams in overcrowded grocery stores. I too have looked at walls laden with every conceivable configuration of Legos and wondered, "Seriously, didn't these things used to come in a bucket?" 

We all get holiday burn out, and we all go broke this time of the year. So sometimes it's easy to forget to donate to your favorite charities. I've been there.

But here's the thing: this is supposed to be the season of giving. And I'm not talking about giving $80 Lego sets to the kids in your family. I'm talking about giving to people who are suffering, or giving to support your community. Not only is this easy (you can do it online), I can tell you that it's enjoyable. Knowing that you've just given a gift to a deserving cause gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. 

And let's face it, we all have too much stuff anyway. So why not celebrate Colorado Gives Day today by donating to the Indy Give! campaign? The campaign aims to raise $1.8 million for 88 local nonprofits this holiday season. The Indy its partners pay all the costs of the campaign, so 100 percent of your gift goes to the nonprofits of your choice. Give! distinguishes the various nonprofits by assigning each to one of the following categories: animals; a hand up; home safe; inspired learning; see art, make art; big ideas; build community; veterans and their families; youth in action; get well; and great outdoors. Give! also vets the nonprofits that it supports so you don't have to. 

So seriously, folks, don't be grinches. If you can, give a little something back this holiday season, either through Give! or another nonprofit of your choosing. 
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A night in the cold for a good cause

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 at 8:25 AM


If you shiver when you get into your car in the morning, imagine what it's like to have to sleep outside with nothing but a blanket to protect you from the frigid wind.

For many locals, that's reality. That's why more than 40 people are leaving their warm beds behind on Thursday to sleep on the streets. The annual Night Out to End Youth Homelessness gives the more fortunate a taste of what it's like to be homeless. Participants seek donations that go to Urban Peak, which provides safe shelter to homeless youth. The goal this year is to raise $50,000 in support of the 20-bed shelter.

You can go to" target="_blank"> to donate to the cause. Read on to learn more:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 40+ People Choose to Sleep Out in the Cold Thursday To Bring Youth in from the Cold This Winter

November 9, 2015, Colorado Springs, Colorado – Between 40 to 50 people are volunteering to sleep outside in freezing weather on November 12 in order to bring attention to the issue of youth homelessness. Urban Peak Colorado Springs’ Night Out to End Youth Homelessness happens during November, National Runaway and Homeless Youth Month.

Volunteers sponsor their “night out” by raising money and taking part in a learning experience aimed at creating awareness about some of the challenges youth face when trying to exit homelessness. Among those sleeping out include the Manitou Springs High School’s Gay Straight and Transgender Alliance, the youth pastor from First United Methodist Church, and the CEO of the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership.

Night Out To End Youth Homelessness 2015 — Event Details

What Urban Peak Colorado Springs Night Out to End Youth Homelessness
Between 40 to 50 people sleep outside in freezing weather to raise awareness
about youth homelessness and to raise money for Urban Peak’s youth shelter.

When Thursday November 12th at 6pm to Friday November 13th at 6am
(Sleepers head outside for the night at approx. 9pm Thursday)

Where First United Methodist Church
420 North Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Why To help hundreds of youth experiencing homelessness in our community by supporting Urban Peak Colorado Springs shelter program. Donations can be made at

No tents are allowed during the night out, so people will use sleeping bags, cardboard boxes, and tarps to weather the night in the elements. “We know youth in the experience of homelessness do not have the fancy sleeping bags and warm clothes that we’ll have,” says Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of Urban Peak. “We don’t pretend it’s just like spending a night in the shoes of one of our youth. Instead, our goal is to raise awareness that in our community on any given night there are close to 100 young people sleeping in alleys, parking garages, abandoned buildings, or staying in the few shelter and housing programs available to them. This one night out for volunteers in the cold brings youth in from the cold this winter.”

The group’s collective goal is to raise $50,000 in support of Urban Peak Colorado Springs’ 20-bed shelter for youth ages 15 through 20. It costs about $50 per night to provide youth shelter at Urban Peak, so if the group reaches its goal it will mean 1,000 nights of shelter for youth in our community.

About Urban Peak Colorado Springs

Urban Peak Colorado Springs helps youth experiencing homelessness to get off the street and build a better future. Our programs include a 20-bed shelter with meals and support programs, street outreach for youth living on the streets, and housing assistance so youth can move off the street. All youth can access job-readiness training to create stability, support to further educational goals, life skills and case management, as well as access to healthcare. In fiscal year 2015, Urban Peak Colorado Springs assisted 528 young people. For more information, visit

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Put on your sneakers and stripes

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 11:32 AM


If you're a runner or walker and like wearing funny clothes, here's an event for you. The Waldo Waldo 5k Walk & Run is in its fourth year and is coming up in a couple of weeks.

Here's the release:
Last year over 3,100 participants dressed as Where's Waldo to raise money for Waldo Canyon restoration and trails and open space maintenance in Colorado Springs. The event has raised more than $100,000 since 2012!

This year, the 4th annual Waldo Waldo 5k Walk & Run will be in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs. Join thousands of Waldos and Wendas on October 17th at the Pioneers Museum where the walk and fun run starts and finishes. Exhibitors, food trucks, Bristol beer garden and music will add to the festivities.

Day of event registration opens at 7:30 a.m., huge group photo at 9:30 a.m. and first wave starts at 9:45 am. The $35 registration fee ($40 morning of event), includes a "Where's Waldo?" costume kit with Waldo glasses, beanie and long sleeve shirt. Wenda costume kits and mini-Waldo kits for kids ages 6-12 are also available. Kids 5 and under are free (but do not receive a costume.) The Waldo Waldo 5K is open to all ages and all abilities.

The Waldo Waldo 5K was set up as a response to the Waldo Canyon Fire in 2012. The 5K raises money for The Waldo Waldo Fund, a fund of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which supports natural disaster and fire recovery efforts, and trails and open space maintenance in Colorado Springs and the surrounding community. Money is granted from this fund to the primary event beneficiaries Trails and Open Space Coalition and Rocky Mountain Field Institute.

“With thanks to the Downtown Partnership and the City of Colorado Springs, we’ve got a new course that stretches from the Pioneers Museum to Colorado College and back, and this will be the biggest, best, and most red-and-white-striped fun run yet” said Chelise Foster, event creator and organizer.

elope, Inc., a leading designer and distributor of costumes and accessories, has held the DreamWorks “Where’s Waldo” license since 2008. “The Waldo costume has been one of our best sellers for years,” said CEO Kevin Johnson. “We love contributing our passion and support to The Waldo Waldo 5K, and watching a sea of Waldos running together is an incredible experience for our team. It’s become a signature event, and it’s definitely one of our favorite ways to give back to our community here in Colorado Springs.”

This event has been made possible due to gracious support from presenting sponsor elope, inc., platinum sponsors Downtown Partnership and Whole Foods Market, and a whole host of other very generous sponsors, contributors and volunteers.

Online registration and more information is available at the

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Building trails with thrifted clothes

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Unfortunately, not everything sold at our yard sale. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • Unfortunately, not everything sold at our yard sale.
Over the weekend, my friends and I had a yard sale.

We thought we had done a pretty excellent job of it — placing signs at major intersections, letting our social networks know about the sale on Facebook and Twitter, pitching a big tent, and setting up an iPad for credit card sales. Despite our efforts, it was slow going throughout the day, and we eventually turned to our smartphones to post photos of our merchandise in an attempt to drum up sales.

It worked — to an extent. But at the end of the day, there were plenty of leftovers for the the thrift store. It was just a question of which thrift store to go to. Then I remembered that a new thrift store, Shift Thrift, had replied to one of my tweets, saying they'd love the leftovers.

I had recently heard of the store from a press release, and Susan Davies, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition, had also emailed me to tell me about the store. It was a new shop, she wrote, and a new concept.

Shift Thrift is a social enterprise. It gives 30 percent of its proceeds to local charities — and donors get to choose what nonprofit they want to give to. Right now, donors can choose Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Trails and Open Space Coalition, Kids on Bikes, The Home Front Cares, Blue Star Recyclers or Springs Rescue Mission.

Davies let me know that a similar model at Mountain Equipment Recyclers was feeding $300 to $400 per month into TOSC.

"For a small non profit like mine," she wrote, "that’s a big deal!"

Mike Mazzola, Executive Director of Shift Thrift Store, wrote that as far as he knows, this is the first thrift store of its kind in the country. He's hoping to grow the store and expand it regionally, or maybe even nationally.

For now, though, the store is just getting started in a temporary location at 218 W. Colorado Ave. (under the Colorado Avenue bridge). The store hopes to find a permanent downtown location soon. 

After we wrapped up the garage sale, my friends and I decided to reward Shift Thrift for their social media savvy. The friendly staff were excited to see us and more than happy to help us unload our bounty.

And since Davies bothered to email me, we chose to give the nonprofit proceeds to TOSC this time around. 

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Service before self

Posted By on Wed, Sep 23, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Cadet 1st Class Broam Hart helps move logs in order to prevent flooding after the Waldo Canyon fire in June, 2013. Hart is one of thousands of cadets who participate in a variety of volunteer work locally while at the academy. - COURTESY USAFA
  • Courtesy USAFA
  • Cadet 1st Class Broam Hart helps move logs in order to prevent flooding after the Waldo Canyon fire in June, 2013. Hart is one of thousands of cadets who participate in a variety of volunteer work locally while at the academy.

The Air Force motto is integrity first, service before self, excellence in all we do.

So to address the second part of that adage, about 3,500 Air Force Academy cadets will fan out over the region on Friday to perform volunteer work for 48 organizations along the Front Range, the academy said in a news release.

Here's the details:
Worksites for cadets will range in location from Peyton to Florissant, and from Monument to Widefield. Start times vary depending on the distance the work location is from the Air Force Academy, with cadets arriving at most El Paso County sites by 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. for other locations. Work will continue until 4 p.m., or until the work at each site is completed, unless otherwise noted.
Organizations the cadets will be working for include:
* American Red Cross, Southeastern Colorado Chapter, for its one-day Home Fire Campaign event, sending teams of cadets and other volunteers door-to-door to test, repair and install fire alarms at homes in El Paso, Douglas, Chaffee, Teller, Pueblo and Otero counties.
* Black Forest Together, helping with fire recovery and mitigation work at several homes within the area affected by the Black Forest wildfire.
* Coalition for the Upper South Platte, thinning overgrown trees and brush near Woodland Park to be used as firewood for the needy, as well as trail maintenance at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., for both events.
* City of Manitou Springs, removing debris from Fountain Creek and Williams Canyon to aid the city's continuing flood recovery and mitigation efforts.
* City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department, building a hiking trail at Ute Valley Park; clearing and maintaining Promonitory Point Open Space, and working at two other sites.
* National Dog Mill Rescue kennels in Peyton to clean, prep the kennel play yards for artificial turn, make blankets for adopted dogs, as well as socializing and walking some severely traumatized dogs.
* The Salvation Army in downtown Colorado Springs, cleaning and painting its Winter Warming Shelter, performing upkeep on its mobile canteen that provides meals to the homeless, and performing labor and setup for a senior citizens lunch.
Other organizations the cadets will work with include: Rocky Mountain Field Institute, Venetucci Farm, The Marian House, Rocky Mountain Veterans Village Foundation, Colorado Springs Utilities, Colorado Partnership for Child Development, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Flying W Ranch, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, Al Kali Shriners Mule Team, and several elementary and middle schools across the region.

This cadet volunteer work is organized by the Air Force Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development center, via its Cadet Service Leadership program, which connects community organizations with cadet volunteers. Cadets performed more than 30,000 hours of community service during the 2013-2014 academic year. Academy cadets have averaged more than 30,000 hours of community service work each academic year, for the past decade.
Organizations that wish to request cadet volunteers for future community service efforts can request cadet volunteers online at: 

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Independence Center marks 25th anniversary of ADA

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 3:04 PM

The Independence Center drew a crowd at its luncheon. - J. ADRIAN STANLEY
  • J. Adrian Stanley
  • The Independence Center drew a crowd at its luncheon.

The Independence Center, a local independent living center that offers 14 programs for people with disabilities, held a luncheon yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One of the big announcements: both the city and county governments are "recommitting" themselves to fulfilling the promises of the ADA on its 25th anniversary. Largely, that means making it easier for people with a disability to traverse streets and sidewalks and to access buildings, particularly public ones. 

The luncheon, which packed the grand ballroom of the Hotel Eleganté, was a first for the nonprofit Independence Center. Dr. Patricia Yeager, CEO of the Independence Center, handed out awards to the county, city, the advocacy group ACT (Accessible Communities Today), the First Congregational Church (which recently installed an elevator for disabled parishioners), and Discount Tires on Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard (which responded to a complaint about being inaccessible by fixing the problem in three weeks).

The star of the show, however, was keynote speaker Richard Devylder, a retired government worker from California. Devylder was born without limbs and was rejected by his family, who believed his disability was repayment for sins. Raised in foster care, Devylder beat the odds and ended up advocating for disability rights. 

A video showed in detail how Devylder gets through his days — often with the help of technology he or friends have created. He has learned to brush his teeth and shave his face on his own. He even devised a tool that helps him remove and put on his pants when he needs to use the restroom. 

Devlyder drew applause from the audience by saying, "It's not that we need new laws; it's that we need to enforce the laws that exist."

He noted that when looking for a home, he had to rule out three condos because the sidewalks around them weren't accessible. And that impacts more than just people who use wheelchairs, he noted. Moms with strollers, and elderly people who have difficulty navigating stairs also benefit from ramps. 

Finally, Devlyder said that it was time for governments to get rid of "disability advisory groups." People with disabilities, he said, need to be integrated into the government. In his own community, he says, that means that there's not a group advising the planning commission on how to accommodate people with disabilities. There are people with disabilities on the planning commission.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Seniors, those with disabilities, welcomed to tour Bustang

Posted By on Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 2:10 PM

While many people of all walks of life are excited about the unveiling of the new Bustang interregional transit service, those who  lack other ways to get around the state may be the most delighted.

The bus, which is run by the state, will begin service on July 13. It will provide service between Colorado Springs and Denver, as well as to other cities, like Fort Collins and Glenwood Springs. Fare and ticket information is available here.  

Seniors and people with disabilities are invited to a presentation, Q&A, tour of the bus, and a short ride on the bus. The event will take place at the Independence Center, at 729 S. Tejon Street, on July 9 at both 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. 

Questions and concerns can be submitted at or


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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kids can get free lunch, breakfast over summer

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM

click image OĞUZHAN ABDIK
  • Oğuzhan Abdik

Needy families often rely on free and reduced-price school lunches to keep their children's bellies full. 

When summer rolls around, those free meals go away, creating a major strain for families. Colorado Springs School District 11 wants to make sure no child goes hungry this summer. That's why it's once again providing free lunches and breakfasts to kids over summer break - no questions asked. 

There's plenty of locations to choose from this year, so many local kids should be able to access the program. Read on for all the relevant details: 
Colorado Springs School District 11 Summer Food Service Program

Just as learning does not end when school lets out, neither does the need for good nutrition. Children who aren't hungry learn better, act better and feel better. During the school year, more than 18 million children receive free and reduced-price meals at school. During the summer, that number drops to about three million. Summer food programs provide nutritious meals to children.

Colorado Springs School District 11 will again offer an “open” summer food service program for children 1-18 years of age.

The program will provide free breakfast and lunch during the summer at the locations, dates, and times shown below. Please note: All sites will be closed Friday, July 3, in observance of the Independence Day holiday.

Please call District 11 Food and Nutrition Services, 520-2924, or go to for more information.


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