Nonprofits

Friday, April 12, 2019

Salvation Army gets new disaster response vehicle from FedEx

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 11:05 AM

COURTESY SALVATION ARMY
  • Courtesy Salvation Army
When someone loses their home to fire or flooding, they need help.

Now, the Salvation Army has a new vehicle to help in times of disaster, thanks to a $114,000 disaster response vehicle customized and donated by FedEx, the agency announced in a news release.

The new vehicle is more than just a sleeker version of The Salvation Army’s current disaster response fleet, the Salvation Army said. It also will save the agency money because it's more economical to operate and maintain.

From the release:
The vehicle’s smaller size and 4-Wheel drive capabilities allow us to respond in areas we cannot reach with the large mobile feeding units or during severe winter weather.

“With the addition of the new disaster response unit, we will be better prepared to serve than ever before.” says Major Mike Dickinson, The Salvation Army Intermountain Divisional Commander.

FedEx has a long history of supporting disaster relief and recovery efforts including assisting with The Salvation Army’s relief efforts following last year’s wildfires and March’s bomb cyclone.

“FedEx is proud to support The Salvation Army’s emergency response programs through our FedEx Cares Delivering for Good initiative.” said Jenny Robertson, vice president Corporate Communications, FedEx.
 
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Urban Peak will bring mental health care to homeless youth on the streets

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 4:06 PM

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Barriers to mental health care exist for everyone, but people experiencing homelessness — and especially homeless youth — have the odds stacked against them.

"While close to half of youth in homelessness struggle with mental illness and substance abuse, the support they need is too far away, takes too long to schedule, and is often with clinicians who lack specific expertise working with youth in homelessness,” Urban Peak Colorado Springs Executive Director Shawna Kemppainen was quoted in a recent statement from the nonprofit, which serves homeless youth.

A $5 million federal grant, announced April 9, could help address those challenges in Colorado by bringing mental health care directly to teens and young adults on the streets.

Over the next five years, the funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will pay for mental health clinicians to provide street outreach for youth ages 16 to 25 in Denver and Colorado Springs. The providers will contract with Urban Peak in both cities, which will, in turn, contract with the state's Office of Behavioral Health on the project.

The project is driven by three major goals, according to a statement from that state office: 1) identify homeless youth suffering from serious mental disorders and/or intellectual developmental disabilities; 2) promote collaboration across state agencies to increase youth access to mental health treatment; and 3) connect homeless youth to "public benefits, employment and social support and recovery services."


In Colorado Springs, the funding will allow Urban Peak to embed two clinicians in street outreach and add a case manager to provide wraparound services.

"While some of the help will look like traditional counseling in an office-type setting, much will happen in varied chunks of time across varied environments," Urban Peak's statement explains.

Urban Peak Colorado Springs already has an outreach team that hands out resources and connects youth with housing services (including the nonprofit's own transitional housing program and 20-bed shelter), but the team currently doesn't provide mental health care.

The grant will allow Urban Peak to begin contracting with clinicians this summer, Kemppainen says.

“The whole premise [of having providers do outreach] is to meet youth where they are, when they need it," she says. "...Mental and behavioral health support is crucial to creating the housing stability, employability and self-reliance youth need to exit homelessness.”
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Historic downtown church hosts benefit concert to pay for repairs

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 3:31 PM

Chadbourn Historic Mission Church survived the razing of a neighborhood. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Chadbourn Historic Mission Church survived the razing of a neighborhood.

Chadbourn Historic Mission Church, which survived the razing of a neighborhood to make way for America the Beautiful Park, has suffered vandalism and flood damage in recent years. It’s hosting a benefit concert and bake sale on March 31 from 2 to 6 p.m. to raise money for unbreakable Lexan window covers to protect its stained glass, as well as for flooding-related repairs.

The total cost of America the Beautiful Park — previously "Confluence Park" — amounted to more than $11 million by the time it was completed in 2005, an amount approved by Colorado Springs voters. That included more than $3 million spent on acquiring around 30 properties before construction began.

Rev. Christie Emery, a minister at the church, says she's heard one of the former ministers "literally put himself between a bulldozer and the church" to save it from demolition.

While the details of that incident are hard to verify, the national record shines some light on the building's history.

The benefit concert will raise money for window covers to protect its stained glass. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • The benefit concert will raise money for window covers to protect its stained glass.
The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, as the last remaining link to the Conejos barrio, a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood that was otherwise completely demolished to make way for the park. The church itself was built in 1910 or 1911, according to the Register, and originally used as a grocery store until it was rented and eventually purchased by missionary Ruth Chadbourn, along with two other trustees, in 1934 for $425.

The non-denominational church became an anchor for the neighborhood and offered services in both Spanish and English. It hosted Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts meetings, community events, and adult education classes.

In 1939, a few years after Chadbourn's death, its trustees remodeled the building to resemble a Spanish mission church. The stained glass windows were donated by the First United Methodist Church, just one of many collaborations between the church and other congregations.

Rezoning by the city resulted in many of the neighborhood's homes being replaced by commercial buildings, and by the 1990s, when the city began acquiring properties for the park, only the church and a few houses were left in the Conejos barrio.

"In October 1998, the City of Colorado Springs offered the Mission Trustees $125,000 for their property and up to $10,000 for the cost of relocating their operations," according to the building's entry in the National Register of Historic Places. "The city intended to demolish the Mission and incorporate the property in the development of the park. The Trustees rejected the City’s offer but eventually agreed to allow the city to move the Mission to a new location."

In 1999, however, the city made changes to the original park plans that allowed the church to stay.

"All of the roads and the property to the north of the Mission were torn up during construction of the park, making it difficult to drive to the building," the entry reads. "The congregation persevered and Sunday services were held throughout the project."

But the challenges continue: Emery says the terrain changes made for the park have led to flooding in the basement, and the stained glass windows — "although they're not Tiffany glass, they are Tiffany-era" — have been repeatedly vandalized.

The necessary repairs and window covers are too expensive for the small, aging congregation to shoulder alone, Emery says.

So she and her husband, local musician Bill Emery, came up with the idea for a benefit concert. It's scheduled for March 31 from 2 to 6 p.m.

Along with a bake sale and silent auction, the event will feature performances by Bare Bones Trombone Choir, Bill Emery and The Stardust Jazz Orchestra and violinist Cynthia Robinson.

A suggested donation is $10, and you can RSVP on Facebook here.

"It's a little piece of history over there, that's just, when it's gone, there will be nothing left of that actual neighborhood anymore," Emery says. "...That little area has a lot of heart and I would hate for it to just be forgotten."
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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Kyle Hybl to succeed his father as El Pomar Foundation CEO

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2019 at 11:15 AM

Kyle Hybl: Following in  his father's footsteps. - PHOTOS COURTESY EL POMAR FOUNDATION
  • Photos Courtesy El Pomar Foundation
  • Kyle Hybl: Following in his father's footsteps.
Kyle Hybl will succeed his father, Bill Hybl, as president and CEO of El Pomar Foundation, the benevolent organization announced Feb. 28.

The younger Hybl joined the agency in 2000 as general counsel.

The elder Hybl served as president and CEO of El Pomar for 45 years and will remain as chairman of the board, managing the governance and affairs of the board of trustees in partnership with R. Thayer Tutt, Jr., the foundation's vice chairman and chief investment officer, El Pomar said in a release.
The release quoted William Ward, vice chairman, saying:
Since joining the Foundation in 2000, Kyle has established himself as a trusted and talented leader and has demonstrated the strong management skills necessary to lead the organization smoothly into the future. Kyle engages others with skill and grace, makes sound decisions, and demonstrates exceptional integrity. The Trustees place the greatest importance on honoring the intent of our founders, and we are confident that Kyle along with Matt Carpenter, who will succeed Kyle as Chief Operating Officer, will lead the Foundation with a shared vision and commitment to the Penrose legacy. We are excited about the next generation of leaders at El Pomar.
Bill Hybl: Ending 45 years as CEO.
  • Bill Hybl: Ending 45 years as CEO.
Regarding Bill Hybl, Ward said:
The Board of Trustees and El Pomar staff wish to extend our deepest gratitude to Bill Hybl, who has led El Pomar with poise and passion since joining the Foundation 45 years ago. Bill’s commitment to the communities of Colorado and the Penrose legacy established El Pomar as a pillar of the Colorado philanthropic community. With his leadership, the Foundation has distributed over $500 million in grants and built a number of invaluable and innovative programs, networks, and resources that benefit all of Colorado. He has personally and professionally made innovative and enduring contributions by championing many impactful projects. We are thankful for his continuation as Chairman of the Board, and know his legacy as CEO has made a permanent impact on the state of Colorado.

Other promotions and hirings announced by El Pomar:

Matt Carpenter will assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. Matt joined the foundation in 1999 as a participant in the Fellowship program and has since risen to the role of Executive Vice President, overseeing the grants office operations.

Devanie Helman, Vice President, is the director of the Fellowship and is the senior staff member for the North Region and the Sally Beck Fund. She joined the Foundation in 2012 as a participant in the Fellowship program.

Dave Miller, Associate Vice President, oversees the Foundation’s IT operations. He originally joined the Foundation in 2015 as an on-site contract employee, and joined El Pomar full-time in 2016.

Kaitlin Johnson, Associate Vice President, is the deputy director of the Regional Partnerships program and serves as the senior staff member for the High Country and Central Peaks Regions. Kaitlin joined El Pomar in 2015 as a participant in the Fellowship program.

Julia Lawton, Director of Communications, oversees the Foundation’s communications, and represents El Pomar on the Empty Stocking Fund staff. Julia joined El Pomar in 2015 as a participant in the Fellowship program.

Diane Riggenbach, Investment Specialist, came to El Pomar in January 2019 after 13 years with UBS Financial Services.

Eleanor Martinez, Executive Assistant, oversees the administrative duties for the offices of Kyle Hybl and Matt Carpenter. Eleanor joined the Foundation in January 2019. Eleanor previously served in roles at the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC and Colorado Thirty Group.

Samantha Knoll, Assistant Curator of the Penrose Heritage Museum, joined the foundation in December 2018 after completing a degree in anthropology and museum studies at University of Colorado Colorado Springs.

Established by Spencer and Julie Penrose in 1937, El Pomar was started with an initial endowment of $21 million. Today, it's grown to nearly $600 million. El Pomar's mission is to enhance, encourage and promote the current and future well-being of Coloradans.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Homeless deaths: the impact on friends, siblings, parents

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 at 4:53 PM

The bus stop where Calvin Reeves was found dead on Jan. 22. - BRYAN OLLER
  • Bryan Oller
  • The bus stop where Calvin Reeves was found dead on Jan. 22.
As the Independent was going to press this week, we heard from Shawna Kemppainen, executive director of Urban Peak, which serves homeless youth.

She had something to add after our interview about the death of Calvin Reeves at a bus stop at Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard.

Her thoughts:
As with each of us, the death of a person who has been homeless affects many others. This person had friends, siblings, parents or children. A young person we work with at Urban Peak discovered their mother dead one morning last year. The mom was living in her car parked not far from our youth shelter, and the young person would go to the car each morning to say hello. As you might imagine, it has taken a deep toll on the youth who is processing all aspects of grief, including guilt. In another instance, a young person surviving outside was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Too old for Urban Peak’s shelter but too afraid to stay at the adult shelters, this youth traveled sidewalks and streets most of the day and night. The day before they died, our street outreach team had helped the youth arrange to get their hearing aids fixed.

Second: People surviving outside face the same illnesses as people who have a traditional roof overhead, but the rates of sickness are much higher and the threat of death greater. Imagine facing the flu or even heart disease when you cannot get enough rest, stay warm and clean, or maintain medications. The conditions of homelessness exacerbate all health challenges. Even when someone exits homelessness, the toll of street life can quickly catch up.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Independence Center celebrates accessible health care

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 12:53 PM

Betty Jo Sjoberg, center, nominated Matthews-Vu Medical Group to receive an accessible table and lift from the Independence Center. RMA Manager Brandy James, left, and Director of Operations Paul Novotny represented Matthews-Vu at a luncheon celebrating the equipment giveaways. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Betty Jo Sjoberg, center, nominated Matthews-Vu Medical Group to receive an accessible table and lift from the Independence Center. RMA Manager Brandy James, left, and Director of Operations Paul Novotny represented Matthews-Vu at a luncheon celebrating the equipment giveaways.

It's a widespread problem: The majority of medical providers lack the proper equipment and training to give patients who use wheelchairs a complete check-up.

The Independence Center sought to change that this fall by using $75,000 from its board-run IC fund to buy accessible medical equipment for providers serving Medicaid and Medicare recipients in Southern Colorado.

Available items included the UpScale accessible exam table, which has an adjustable height and built-in scale; Hoyer-type lifts, devices used to transfer patients from wheelchair to table; and the portable loop system, a listening device that feeds audio directly into hearing aids.

Back in June, we reported that the Independence Center planned to donate accessible tables and lifts to at least seven medical clinics in El Paso County, and use the remaining money for loop systems.

The nonprofit ended up donating tables and lifts to nine medical practices, and gave portable hearing loop systems to three, CEO Patricia Yeager announced at a luncheon Feb. 8 celebrating the donations.

The providers who received the equipment were selected from a list of 23 nominees, Yeager says. Patients submitted the nominations to the Independence Center.
"To come into a setting that is already accessible says that somebody thought ahead of time and made arrangements for everyone to be cared for," says Sharon King, who nominated her doctor at Sunrise Health Care to receive a table and lift. "[My doctor] has always been wonderful to me and unflinchingly creative in making ways to care for me, but I'm really grateful to have been able to be a part of giving her something back as kind of a thank-you for the level of care and concern that she provides."

Paul Novotny, director of operations for Matthews-Vu Medical Group, said that in addition to helping patients who used wheelchairs — such as Betty Jo Sjoberg, who nominated the office — the accessible table's built-in scale had also come in handy for patients who used walkers.

"Before we had the table, they would bring the walker and they would stand on our scales," Novotny says. "And it wasn't always the safest, most accurate measurement for their weight."

The Independence Center's website now has a map of providers in the region with accessible exam tables and hearing loops.

Yeager says the nonprofit plans to focus on dental offices this year.

"We'd really like to see if we can create a few accessible dental offices," she says. "I have no idea what that looks like. So that'll be some research we'll be doing, and putting a call out for nominations."
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Friday, February 8, 2019

Backpack Challenge to raise awareness around homelessness

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 9:55 AM

COURTESY OF DONNA WINTZ
  • Courtesy of Donna Wintz
In honor of International Random Acts of Kindness Week, local nonprofits are challenging Colorado Springs residents to walk a mile (or any distance, really) in their homeless neighbor's shoes.

But walking around homeless usually means hauling around more than the clothes on your back and shoes on your feet. If you don't have a car, or a safe place for your stuff, you're probably carrying all of your personal belongings with you, too.

That's the premise of the Backpack Challenge, which runs from Feb. 9 to Feb. 15. Participants are encouraged to wear a backpack for a day while they walk around Colorado Springs, then share their experience on social media, with the goal of promoting empathy and raising awareness of the challenges faced by homeless people in our community.


According to the event announcement, the idea was born when Donna Wintz, a volunteer for Westside Cares, was walking in Old Colorado City wearing a backpack. She noticed that some residents looked suspicious or disdainful as she passed.

“I think criminal activity in the city has homeowners on edge,” the announcement quotes Wintz as saying. “I understand the caution, but I don’t like my first interaction with a stranger to be negative, as if I am assumed a criminal simply because I’m wearing a backpack.”

Wintz spoke with Kristy Milligan, the CEO of nonprofit Westside Cares, about launching a campaign around the idea to coincide with International Random Acts of Kindness Week.

“There is tremendous need for caring services and housing in our community,” Milligan says in the announcement. “But the single greatest need is for a collective, community-wide commitment to seeing our neighbors in need as they actually are: our brothers and sisters.”

Other nonprofits promoting the challenge include Ecumenical Social Ministries, Urban Peak Colorado Springs, Homeward Pikes Peak, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado and Community Health Partnership.

Here's some guidelines for Backpack Challenge participants:

BACKPACK CHALLENGE
  • Backpack Challenge
Wintz, a graphic designer, created a "Try a Little Kindness" emblem in honor of the event, available on T-shirts, posters, mugs and more on RedBubble. She'll donate the proceeds to Westside Cares.

Businesses interested in obtaining the emblem for a fundraiser can contact Wintz at 970/682-0075 or donna@arttomarketdesign.com.
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Independence Center to host watch party for Disability Integration Act

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 12:33 PM

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  • Shutterstock.com
People with disabilities who need longterm services are often forced to leave their homes for assisted living facilities because Medicaid won't pay for at-home care. Disability rights activists say that legislators in Congress can change that by passing the Disability Integration Act, set to be introduced in both the House and Senate on Jan. 15.

Disability rights supporters will be watching across the country — including at the Independence Center, a local nonprofit for people with disabilities.

The bill, introduced last spring in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and in the House by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, would require states, local governments and insurance providers to provide community-based services for people with disabilities as an alternative to institutionalization.

States and local governments would be required to work with housing authorities to ensure sufficient quantities of affordable, accessible, integrated housing where people can receive services while remaining in the community.

The list of Senate cosponsors includes Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner. Gardner, the latest cosponsor to sign on, was the only Republican to do so as of Jan. 8.

It's possible that pressure from disability rights organization ADAPT, the legislation's main backer, led to his decision. ADAPT supporters were arrested multiple times in Gardner's offices where they were pressuring him to cosponsor the legislation, according to a statement from the organization. And in November, the statement says, ADAPT had an airplane bearing the message “GARDNER SUPPORT S910 DIA FREE OUR PEOPLE!” fly around Gardner's Washington, D.C., office building. That evening, ADAPT projected the same message "shining like a bat-signal" on the front of the building. Gardner added his name a month later.

Last legislative session, all of Colorado's House representatives also signed on as cosponsors.

Neither the House nor Senate bill made it out of committee last session, but advocates are hopeful that this year, things will be different.

“The Disability Integration Act (DIA) is the next step in building a fulfilling and sustainable world for persons with disabilities," Becca Michael, advocacy manager at the Independence Center, said in an emailed statement. "...The Independence Center is excited about this legislation, as our mission is to work with people with disabilities, their families, and the community, to create independence so all may thrive."

The Independence Center, located at 729 S. Tejon St. will host a watch party Jan. 15 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. to livestream the bill's introduction and discussion. The event is open to the public, and snacks will be provided.

"The Independence Center is hosting this watch party, not only because it is important for our consumers and employees, but because it is gaining momentum, and we want to make sure it makes it over the finish line," Michael said. "For now, we want to raise awareness of the legislation, and celebrate the effort!”

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Man who died days after finally getting off the streets is remembered

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 5:18 PM

Paul Gabrielson in his new apartment. - COURTESY OF RICHARD JOHNSON
  • Courtesy of Richard Johnson
  • Paul Gabrielson in his new apartment.

The day Paul Gabrielson moved into his own apartment, the first address to his name in years, he was glowing.

Within a few hours, the 50-year-old had put on music and decorated the space with a few spare belongings, recalls Richard Johnson, a relative who helped Gabrielson move.

"He was like a little kid," Johnson says. "He was so excited about this brand new home, his new start on life."

But two days after Gabrielson — who had been chronically homeless since at least 2013, couchsurfing and frequenting the Springs Rescue Mission when he wasn't camping outside — gained the keys to his own apartment, tragedy struck.

While the coroner's report isn't finalized, word is that an undiagnosed condition, possibly related to Gabrielson's alcoholism, took his life.

Gabrielson was a frequent patron at Westside Cares, a nonprofit that provides food and services for people experiencing homelessness. At a Dec. 20 memorial service for Gabrielson, the nonprofit's building was packed with those who knew and loved him: family members, friends who had lived with him on the streets, volunteers who'd felt appreciated by his kindness, and others who knew him in passing but felt the impact of his loving personality.

"We’ve had a lot of memorial services, but none as big as this," one volunteer remarked to Gabrielson's sister in passing.

It's not surprising, given the impression Gabrielson clearly left on the homeless outreach community. He received services, but gave what he could himself, too — like the Broncos cap he gave to Pastor Eric Sandras, who led the memorial service, and a beanie sported by Kristy Milligan, CEO of Westside Cares, as she delivered opening remarks. Gabrielson often helped serve meals at Sandras' The Sanctuary Church, Sandras says. And those he met on the streets recalled his habit of lending a helping hand when he could.

"Paul had a really big heart and he inspired a lot of people, whether to become Christian or be thankful for what you have," says Janeice Queen, Gabrielson's sister. "... He didn’t have a lot, but he did have a big heart, and we’re going to miss him."


At Westside Cares, Gabrielson took the VI-SPDAT housing assessment, which looks at a variety of factors to determine level of vulnerability and potential for placement in permanent supportive housing. After a long process involving heaps of paperwork and doctor's appointments, he eventually was selected for an opening in one of Homeward Pikes Peak's permanent supportive housing units — like "striking gold in this town," says Deb Mitguard, Westside Cares' director of volunteer engagement.

"We saw him really working hard this last year to create a different kind of life for himself," Mitguard says, "and of course it took him making up his mind about that, but it also took several people walking beside him and helping him just kind of jump through all of the hoops that had to be jumped through to get from here to there."

Gabrielson was enrolled at Pikes Peak Community College from 2010 to 2014, according to a PPCC spokesperson, but never got a degree. Johnson says he had planned to complete the remaining courses needed for an associate's degree and transfer the credits to Colorado State University at Pueblo in the summer or fall.

COURTESY OF WESTSIDE CARES
  • Courtesy of Westside Cares
He loved dancing and martial arts, Queen says, and had a job interview scheduled the last time she spoke with him.

"I don’t understand why it takes some people and doesn’t take others, the alcohol," she says. 


Through everything — decades of alcoholism, the deaths of two of his friends last year, and a recent beating that landed him in the hospital — friends, family and acquaintances agree that Gabrielson put others before himself, sometimes to his own detriment. And contrary to one stereotype of chronically homeless people, it was clear he didn't choose the lifestyle he led. That much is evidenced by his 2017 interview with Milligan for a video series promoting Westside Cares.

"I’m a wuss on the streets. I hate the cold," Gabrielson says. "I don’t want to be out there for anything. I just sustained some medical issues and a [traumatic brain injury] and I just had some problems that unfortunately I found myself on the streets, and you know, it can happen to anybody... Sometimes I get in dire straits. I just, I’ve gone through this before and I’ve learned how to survive and take care of myself and what have you, but not everybody knows how to do that. And I’m just trying to do my part to do whatever I can to help anybody that needs the help utilize the resources that are available."

Johnson hopes Gabrielson's journey out of homelessness will inspire other patrons of Westside Cares, even if it did end in tragedy.

"Folks working here can say, 'Remember Paul? How he made changes in his life? There's hope.'"

Francie Crary, a volunteer who helped Gabrielson with his housing assessment, says she remembers a visible change in his appearance the last time she saw him at Westside Cares. It was a few days before he would receive the keys to his apartment.

"He was floating," Crary says. "I mean, he was so full of light anyway, but he was floating. He was absolutely floating."

Milligan takes comfort in one outtake from the interview that she still recalls.

"
I asked him what gave him hope, and he said God gave him hope," Milligan says. "Which makes me feel better about losing him... He believed that he was wrapped up in God’s arms, and that’s what I would wish for someone at their last moment."

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Give! to local charities through Dec. 31

Posted By on Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 6:00 AM

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The Indy Give! campaign is in its 10th year and has a lofty goal: raising $1.8 million for 93 local organizations that make the Pikes Peak Region a great place to live.

We know, you've been a little busy. It's easy to get caught up in the holiday rush.  But why not take a few minutes and use our easy platform to give back to your community. Here's the cool part: Give! allows to you donate to multiple organizations at once, ALL your money goes to the charities of your choice, and since many charities have matching grants, your dollars go even further.
Here's a message from  Give! Executive Director Barb Van Hoy:

More Donations Needed to Reach 2018 Give! Campaign Goal
93 local organizations featured in community-wide giving effort ending midnight Dec. 31st

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — With just four days left in 2018, the Give! Campaign is appealing to the Pikes Peak region with their “Live Here Give Here” message to support 93 worthy nonprofits. Last year Give! raised $1.5 million for local nonprofits. This year’s ambitious goal is $1.8 million. We’re asking our community to step up and help us change lives by supporting these important causes

In its 10th year, Give! is raising awareness and funds for a diverse variety of local causes, from children and families, to the arts, animals, the great outdoors, veterans and more.

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It’s really easy to give, and we make it fun, too. Just go to indygive.com, where you’ll likely find some of your favorite nonprofits, as well as new ones you didn’t know were here. Many nonprofits have matching challenge grants that will double your donation. You can choose how much and to which groups you want to donate, and check out each group’s progress on the leaderboards. Donors help nonprofits compete for cash prizes and receive thank-you rewards from local businesses including Bristol Brewing Company, The Mining Exchange, La’au’s Taco Shop, Axe and the Oak, and many others. This year’s campaign kicked off on November 1 and ends at midnight December 31, 2018.

Give! is a year-end philanthropic initiative created to encourage everyone in the Pikes Peak Region to give back and get involved with local nonprofits, with a particular emphasis on catalyzing philanthropy from those 36 and younger. Give! is the nonprofit civic arm of the Colorado Publishing House and receives support from the Colorado Springs Independent, Colorado Springs Business Journal and the Pikes Peak Bulletin. For more information, please visit www.indygive.com.
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Thursday, December 20, 2018

5 mental health tips for the holidays

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 5:43 PM

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Contrary to one myth that's been perpetuated in mainstream media, suicides don't increase around the holidays. In fact, November and December have the lowest monthly average suicide rates, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

But the holidays can come with unique mental health challenges.

"I think it’s reconnecting with family members when there’s unresolved issues," says Lori Jarvis-Steinwert, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Colorado Springs. "I think it’s just that whole notion of going home, wherever home is. And I think it’s also, we’ve created expectations around the holidays as this joyous time of year. And so if your life isn’t particularly joyous, for whatever reason...things that you might be coping with OK on a day-to-day basis, it’s just everything’s in stark relief during the holidays."

The Indy asked locally based mental health advocates and providers for advice on maintaining mental health this holiday season, and recommendations on where to get help. Here's what they had to say:

1. Try not to isolate yourself. It helps to spend time with healthy, supportive people — who may or may not be your relatives — during the holidays, says Charlton Clarke, director of health care services at AspenPointe. If you can't or don't want to be around others, Jarvis-Steinwert suggests scheduling time to do something you enjoy, like going to the movies.

2. Now's not the time to take a break from therapy, even if it seems like a good idea, Clarke says. "This is a time when you should really continue to engage with therapy, if that’s what you’re doing, or if people have never thought about therapy and they’re feeling depressed and the holidays are stirring that up, this is the perfect time to actually begin to engage with mental health services." (See a list of resources below.)

3. If your therapist will be out of town, make a backup plan, says Brenna Sturgeon, a licensed professional counselor and level 2 certified addiction counselor at Peak Vista Community Health Centers. That could include checking whether they have someone else on call you can reach, or asking them to recommend other mental health resources.

4. Know the numbers. Call 1-844-493-8255 or text "TALK" to 38255 to connect with Colorado Crisis Services' trained counselors for free, 24/7. TESSA of Colorado Springs has a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and their children: 719-633-3819.

5.  In crisis? Visit a walk-in center. AspenPointe operates two walk-in crisis centers for Colorado Crisis Services. One, at 115 S. Parkside Drive, is open 24/7. (Locations and hours below.) "That’s probably the best first step, is if someone feels like they’re in crisis and they don’t know what to do, to go to one of those places to try to start the process," Clarke says.

Resources around town (in alphabetical order):

AspenPointe offers counseling, therapy, medication services and substance use treatment at locations around Colorado Springs. Call (719) 572-6100 for more information.

AspenPointe walk-in crisis centers:

115 S. Parkside Dr. (Open 24/7)

6071 E. Woodmen Road, Suite 135 (Open 7 a.m.-11 a.m., 7 days a week)

Brain and Body Integration, located at 1115 Elkton Dr. #300, offers counseling, biofeedback treatment and medication management. Call (719) 357-6471 for more information.

Insight Services, located at 212 E. Monument St., offers individual and group therapy (including yoga therapy) and substance use treatment on a sliding fee schedule. Call 719-447-0370 for more information.

NAMI Colorado Springs, located at 510 E. Willamette Ave., offers free support groups and classes for those experiencing mental illness and their loved ones. Call (719) 473-8477 for more information.

NAMI Colorado Springs support groups (do not meet Dec. 24-25 or Dec. 31-Jan. 1):

The non-faith-based Connection Support Group meets Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. on the second floor of First United Methodist Church, 420 N. Nevada Ave. A group for family members of those living with mental illness meets across the hall.

Thrive Connection Support Group, a faith-based group, meets on second and fourth Mondays from 6:30-8 p.m. at Woodmen Valley Chapel, 290 E. Woodmen Road, Room 115. A faith-based support group for family members meets in Room 114.

Peak Vista Community Health Centers offers counseling, therapy, psychological exams and psychiatric support at locations around Colorado Springs. Call 719-632-5700 for more information.

Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care, located at 2550 Tenderfoot Hill Street, offers grief support groups for both adults and children, and individual grief counseling for individuals. Call 719-633-3400 anytime for more information or to speak to a grief counselor.

TESSA of Colorado Springs, located at 435 Gold Pass Heights, provides emergency shelter, food, case management, counseling and victim advocacy for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and their children. Call 719-633-1462 for more information or 719-633-3819 for the 24-hour SafeLine.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

USA Gymnastics refuses to relinquish governing body status, triggering hearing process

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2018 at 2:43 PM

Who will manage the USOC gymnastics stars of tomorrow? - DONALD JUDGE/FLICKR
  • Donald Judge/Flickr
  • Who will manage the USOC gymnastics stars of tomorrow?
USA Gymnastics has refused to relinquish control of the national governing body to the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Olympic Committee, triggering a hearing process that USOC CEO Sarah Hirshland says could take weeks or months to complete.

USOC's complaint, filed on Nov. 5, stems from USAG's failure to act to protect gymnasts from sexual assault by doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced earlier this year to essentially life in prison for his molestation of dozens of gymnasts.

In a statement, Hirshland wrote:
As we’ve said before, this is a situation in which there are no perfect solutions. Seeking to revoke recognition is not a decision that the USOC came to easily, but we continue [to] believe it is the right action. While there are important questions to answer as we move forward with this process, we are eager for the hearing panel to begin its work and for our board to come to a final determination.
In a letter to gymnasts and the gymnastic community dated Nov. 21, Hirshland notes that the USOC's complaint filed on Nov. 5 seeks to revoke USA Gymnastics' recognition as the governing body in the United States, which allowed USAG to surrender its recognition.

But on Nov. 19, the USAG refused to relinquish control and instead asked questions about the hearing process. A series of questions and answers about the process are below.

She says in her Nov. 21 statement the next step requires her to choose an independent, three-person hearing panel with representatives from the USOC board of directors, the NGB Council and the Athletes’ Advisory Council. The panel will review her complaint and USAG’s response, hold a hearing, create a report and make a recommendation for the full USOC board, which will then take action.

"A formal timeframe is not described in our bylaws, so I don’t know exactly how long this process may take," Hirshland says. "At minimum, we expect it will take several weeks, perhaps a few months."

If the process concludes by USAG losing recognition, the USOC, on an interim basis, would assume control of USAG’s program. From Hirshland's letter:
The USOC would remain in that role until a new or existing organization has been identified to assume the responsibility of serving as the recognized NGB for gymnastics. It will be the critically important responsibility of that organization to lead gymnastics in the United States and rebuild a supportive community of athletes and clubs that can carry the sport forward for decades to come. The USOC is prepared to identify and help build such a culture for current and future generations of American gymnasts.
Read the Nov. 21 letter here:
The Q&A issued by the USOC:
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Springs announces Homelessness Action Plan

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 10:23 AM

Mayor John Suthers announces the city's plan to fight homelessness. - FAITH MILLER
  • Faith Miller
  • Mayor John Suthers announces the city's plan to fight homelessness.

An assortment of cold city officials and nonprofit workers lined up underneath a highway-side billboard Oct. 9 to announce Colorado Springs' new Homelessness Action Plan. On the barely-above-freezing Tuesday, the timing couldn't have been better.

"The change in the weather highlights the ongoing need in our community for low-barrier shelter beds," Suthers said.

The city's action plan outlines eight steps to keep people experiencing homelessness out of the cold:

1. Continue "educating the public" via the HelpCOS campaign.

Advertising for the HelpCOS fundraising campaign, which the city launched May 31 in partnership with Pikes Peak United Way, has until now consisted mainly of signs posted near locations frequented by panhandlers. The signs tell commuters that "Handouts Don't Help" and encourage them to instead donate spare change to HelpCOS.org for the benefit of local nonprofits fighting homelessness. One hundred percent of donations will now benefit the expansion of low-barrier shelter facilities at Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army, Mayor John Suthers said.

Lamar Advertising has donated four billboards to promote the campaign, the first of which was unveiled at the Oct. 9 event.

The city does not have an update on donations through HelpCOS, says Andrew Phelps, the city's homelessness prevention and response coordinator.

"We do expect that donations will increase as publicity increases, because we live in a very giving community," he says. (You can donate by texting "HelpCOS" to 667873.)

2. Add an additional 370 low-barrier shelter beds.

Hours after the Homelessness Action Plan was released to the public, City Council voted to approve $500,000 to help fund 370 low-barrier shelter beds at Springs Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army, both religious nonprofits. The rest of the funding for the beds will come from grants and donations.

Of those beds, 120 will come online at the Salvation Army and 100 at Springs Rescue Mission in November, Phelps says. The remaining beds will be available at the turn of the year.

Springs Rescue Mission CEO Larry Yonkers said his shelter had its first full-capacity night of the year on Oct. 8.

"This can't happen fast enough," Yonkers said, adding that Springs Rescue Mission also hoped to expand its kitchen and welcome center to accommodate more clients.

3. Implement a Homeless Outreach Court.


People experiencing homelessness often can't pay fines for crimes and misdemeanors often committed as a result of their circumstances — trapping many in the criminal justice system. The idea of a Homeless Outreach Court, according to the city's action plan, is to connect people with "case managers who can help guide them to the services they need" instead of charging them money that won't be paid. "By doing so, our Homeless Outreach Court will address the root causes of the offending behavior and empower individuals to take concrete steps to move out of homelessness," the plan says.

4. Establish a veteran housing incentive fund.

"This is the least that we can do for those who have served our nation," Phelps said.

The fund will encourage more landlords to rent to veterans who get vouchers through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, a joint program between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. HUD recently announced $782,000 in additional funding for Colorado veterans.

"What often happens in our community is a homeless veteran receives a HUD-VASH voucher for an amount that is below a market-rate rent for a one-bedroom apartment," Phelps said. "So this fund will make up the difference and hopefully incentivize landlords to rent to homeless veterans with these HUD-VASH vouchers."

5. Develop a Comprehensive Affordable Housing plan.

In his State of the City speech last month, Suthers suggested Colorado Springs "make it a community goal to build, preserve and create opportunities to purchase an average of 1,000 affordable units per year over the next five years." That ambitious goal will be met in part by incentivizing private developers, he said.

The city's Homelessness Action Plan asserts that the city will begin developing a plan to address the affordable housing shortage next year. Nonprofit workers frequently cite the shortage as a contributing factor to homelessness: A 2014 Affordable Housing Needs Assessment by the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County predicted a deficit of 26,000 available affordable units by 2019 for households making up to 120 percent of the area median income.

6. Support funding for a homeless work program with area nonprofit(s).

Programs like Albuquerque's "There's a Better Way" employ people experiencing homelessness on a day-to-day basis, doing jobs like picking up trash. The city's new plan says Colorado Springs will "investigate the feasibility" of such a program "via a competitive RFP process." Ideally, the plan says, the program would be within an existing local nonprofit and would involve the cleanup of parks, trails and illegal campsites. Funding is yet to be determined.

7. Add Neighborhood Services staff to aid in cleaning up illegal camps.

The mayor's proposed budget calls for hiring three full-time Neighborhood Services employees to work with the Colorado Springs Police Department's Homeless Outreach Team and handle camp cleanup. Two will be maintenance technicians solely responsible for cleaning up vacated homeless camps, and one will be a senior technician who can assist with larger cleanups or facilitate other needs identified by the HOT team. The proposed budget calls for $171,000 to fund salaries, benefits and overhead, city spokesperson Jamie Fabos says.

8. Develop "HelpCOS Ambassador Team" for downtown and Old Colorado City areas.

Such a team would consist of people who greet visitors in public spaces, providing maps and answering questions. The "ambassadors" would also help connect people experiencing homelessness with shelters and services.

The Homelessness Action Plan points to the San Antonio Centro Ambassadors as an example. According to the plan, San Antonio, Texas, has 85 ambassadors who "work every day to keep the vibe alive and make San Antonio 'The Friendliest City in America.'" Phelps says Colorado Springs probably won't need that many ambassadors.

The program could be volunteer-based, contract-based or a mix of both, Phelps says, adding that the city is getting quotes from Block by Block, a company that provides ambassador services for downtown districts around the country.

The City of Colorado Springs and Council President Richard Skorman will host three town halls to gather public input on the plan. They are:

• Oct. 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W Bijou St.
• Oct. 25 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at City Council Chambers, 107 N. Nevada Ave.
• A third November event to be scheduled later
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Monday, September 24, 2018

Where to get free flu shots in Colorado Springs

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2018 at 4:02 PM

SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • Shutterstock.com
Last flu season, El Paso County Public Health recorded 489 influenza-related hospitalizations: a 35 percent increase from the previous year.

It's about that time again.

To stay out of the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says everyone 6 months and older should get an influenza vaccine, which can be life-saving for kids. It's best to get one by the end of October.

"When a person receives a flu vaccine, it causes the body to create antibodies,"  a statement from Penrose-St. Francis Health Services explains. "This process takes approximately two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection from this year’s anticipated strains of the flu virus. This is why people need to get a flu shot annually — the vaccination is based on the strains that research indicates will be most common for that year."

Getting a flu shot is especially important for members of high-risk groups, including children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, nursing-home residents, and those with certain medical conditions, the statement adds. People from these groups are prone to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections.

Try vaccinefinder.org to find locations near you with the flu vaccine. If you're uninsured or don't have vaccine coverage, never fear. Penrose-St. Francis Faith Community Nurses will stick it to you for free at the following clinics for adults and children over 4:

Saturday, Oct. 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. @ Mission Medical, 2125 E. LaSalle St.

Monday, Oct. 15 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. @ Dream Center Women’s Clinic, 4360 Montebello Dr. # 900

Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. @ Family Connections, 917 E. Moreno Ave.

Friday, Oct. 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. @ Connections 4 Life, 6436 US-85, Fountain

Friday, Oct. 19 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. @ Ecumenical Social Ministries, 201 N. Weber St.

Tuesday, Oct. 23 from 9 to 11 a.m. @ Westside CARES, 2808 Colorado Ave.

Wednesday, Oct. 24 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. @ Grace Be Unto You Outreach Church, 3195 Airport Road

Monday, Oct. 29 from 12 to 2 p.m. @ Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument

Monday, Nov. 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. @ Mercy’s Gate, 4360 Montebello Dr. #300

Tuesday, Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. @ Marian House Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs, 14 West Bijou St.

Tuesday, Nov. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. @ Iglesia Nueva Vida, 124 Delaware Dr.

Wednesday, Nov. 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Springs Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Dinner) @ Colorado Springs City Auditorium, 221 East Kiowa St.

On Sunday, Oct. 6 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., you can also attend the 9Health Fair at Mission Medical Center to get free flu shots, Pap smears, Body Mass Index tests, and foot screenings, as well as low-cost blood screenings ($20 to $40). Just make sure to register online.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Trump administration proposes historically low refugee ceiling for 2019

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 1:39 PM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks in Washington in May. - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks in Washington in May.

The State Department will accept a maximum of 30,000 refugees next year, breaking the record for the lowest cap on admissions for the second year in a row.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the new number — 15,000 under this year's limit — during a Sept. 17 media briefing, adding that the administration also plans to process more than 280,000 asylum cases. Historically, there has been no official limit on the number of admitted asylum seekers, and Pompeo did not provide an estimate of how many would actually be granted protection.

While refugees and asylees must both prove a "well-founded fear of persecution" in their country of nationality based on race, religion, nationality or social group, refugees must have their paperwork approved before entering the United States. Asylum seekers, on the other hand, ask for protection when presenting themselves at a port of entry or submit an application from within the U.S.

Currently, about 800,000 people already in the U.S. are waiting for a judge to rule on their asylum cases, Pompeo said. That's due in large part to an influx in Central and South Americans, including teenagers and young children, crossing the border to escape violence and extreme poverty.
"In consideration of both U.S. national security interests and the urgent need to restore integrity to our overwhelmed asylum system, the United States will focus on addressing the humanitarian protection cases of those already in the country," Pompeo said. "This year's refugee ceiling also reflects our commitment to protect the most vulnerable around the world while prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people, as President Trump has directed."

As of Sept. 14, with just weeks left in fiscal year 2018, the U.S. had admitted a mere 20,825 refugees, far short of the 45,000-person limit set by President Donald Trump's administration. The year before, President Barack Obama had set the cap at 110,000, but Trump cut that number in half with an executive order after Obama left office.

Normally, the total number falls no more than a few thousand short of the cap, but changes at the administrative level overseas, including a longer vetting process, have caused a shortfall unheard of since right after 9/11.

Pompeo says part of the reason the cap is lower this year is to maintain rigorous vetting: "The security checks take time, but they're critical."

Refugee program cuts have already taken a toll on Colorado's resettlement agencies, the Independent reported in June. At the time — about three-fourths of the way through the fiscal year — Lutheran Family Services in Colorado Springs had resettled only 40 refugees, compared to 110 total last year, according to volunteer coordinator Cathy Verdier.

Denver's African Community Center had resettled 134 refugees in June, though it had planned to accommodate 400 by the end of September, Managing Director Melissa Theesen said. Two years ago, ACC's total was 581.

The Department of Homeland Security unleashed another bombshell with the Sept. 22 proposal to more broadly enforce "public charge" as a criterion for temporary and permanent admission. Under it, people enrolled in programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) would have a harder time getting their immigration status changed or extended.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional reporting.
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