Advocates Mark 30 Years of Service to Lake County
Last Saturday, April 13, The Advocates of Lake County held a 30th Anniversary Celebration at the National Mining Museum in Leadville. The program included a tri-decade overview of the organization, presented by past and present board members and volunteers, including Carolyn Perna, Bud Elliott, Mary Ann Best, and Gretchen Scanlon.
The evening was emceed by Board Member Donna Axel and included an educational presentation on domestic violence in Lake County by Jennifer McConnell with St Anthony Summit Medical Center. The Advocates of Lake County served 300 victims last year.
And while the subject of domestic violence generally leaves people with a heavy heart, last Saturday’s celebration uplifted attendees by highlighting the notable successes and strides the organization has made over the last 30 years.
Ultimately, the wish would be for The Advocates not to exist. After all, that would mean that domestic violence would have been eradicated in Lake County. But the recent downturn in the economy in many ways created the same kinds of situations and crimes that led to the creation of the non-profit organization thirty years ago when Leadville has dealing with the massive layoffs from the closing of the Climax Mine.
“We have a high rate of domestic violence in Lake County,” noted Gretchen Scanlon, Executive Director of The Advocates of Lake County in an earlier interview with Leadville Today. Most of the variables, Scanlon explains, are economic. Whether it’s the present rate of unemployment or the fluctuating income associated with seasonal jobs, financial hardship is often at the top of trigger points.
Established in 1983, the Advocates of Lake County’s mission is to assist victims of domestic violence and their families through prevention, education and, with the recent completion of The Alder House, a place where victims can call home during their transition to a new, secure life. Initially an all-volunteer organization, the Advocates now consists of 3 full-time staff and countless volunteers.
During last Saturday’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, each speaker told their decade’s story about the journey of a small, volunteer organization that fought the scrappy fight for victims of domestic violence. Starting in a basement office at the Lake County Courthouse, rising to the second floor of Leadville City Hall, and culminating with the completion of The Alder House last year, the evening’s theme of dedication, hard work, and commitment not only rings true for the organization, but for the manner in which they have served victims in Lake County as well.
Which leads to today’s needs and ways you can help. Whether it’s assisting directly with victims or through fundraising efforts (pancake breakfasts, etc), your time commitment helps local families. In addition, the Board of Directors has a couple of open seats, so please consider making a bigger commitment.
If you’re interested, contact Gretchen at 719-486-3530. Those interested in donating can do so by mailing a check to Advocates of Lake County, P.O. Box 325, Leadville, CO.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, please contact the Advocates at (719) 486-3530.
SOS Graduates First Class of 4th Year Students!
By Leadville SOS Coordinator Sara Pederson
On March 30, twenty-nine local students and their families gathered at Colorado Mountain College to celebrate the end of Winter season with outdoor nonprofit SOS Outreach.
The students, ranging from elementary to middle school, spent the winter skiing and snowboarding at Ski Cooper with adult mentors from the community. SOS students are under-served youth identified by partners in the school as benefiting most from the SOS curriculum.
While honing their skills on the slopes, they also learn about leadership, character values, and community service.
Every day these youth spent on the mountain this season introduced a new core value, progressing through Courage, Discipline, Integrity, Wisdom, and Compassion. Students are encouraged not only to learn the meaning of these terms, but to put them into practice. They participate in leadership workshops and complete service learning projects.
Leadville youth gave back to their community by volunteering at the animal shelter, serving meals at the Elks Lodge and St. George’s, helping to shovel Harrison Ave after a snow storm, and participating in the annual 10th Mountain Division day honoring WWII veterans at Ski Cooper.
The March 30 graduation ceremony marked the 5th anniversary of SOS programs in Leadville and Ski Cooper. Support from the resort has allowed the nonprofit to serve over 50 youth since 2009.
The 29 students who graduated this week are long-term participants. Ten students completed their 5th year in the program, becoming the first Leadville kids to complete the entire SOS University curriculum. Next year, these students will have the opportunity to return to the program as peer mentors, passing along five years of SOS experience to younger students.
Key supporters who make the SOS Leadville program possible most notably includes Ski Cooper which has donated over $20,000 in in-kind support since 2009, covering the cost of lift tickets. The program also receives considerable support from Bill’s Rentals, who supplies the group with seasonal rentals every year.
The true heart of SOS Leadville, however, lies in the mentors who give their time to build relationships with these youth. Terry Ploot has spent five years investing in SOS kids, and the profound impact he has made in their lives was evident graduation night. As he referred to them as “my surrogate grandkids” and told them how proud he was of how much they’d grown – both in the sport, and developmentally – they responded with heartfelt thanks for the “best teacher ever”.
It is through this mentor-student relationship, along with the support of the community, that SOS is able to make a difference in the lives of Leadville youth. Lauren Kuhn commented on the growth she saw in her students over the year, saying they “taught
me a lot about facing fears and what good friendship is about”. SOS is so grateful to all the community members, and especially Ski Cooper, who make these impacts possible.
SOS Outreach is a national youth development non-profit which utilizes adventure sports to engage at-risk students in long-term mentorship relationships. The SOS curriculum encourages responsibility, self-confidence, service, and leadership skills by instilling five core values: courage, discipline, integrity, wisdom, and compassion. Since 1993, we have inspired positive decision making for healthy and successful lives.
LiveWell Leadville Launches Photovoice Project
By Katie Baldassar, Lake County Build a Generation Program Director/LiveWell Leadville Coordinator
If you see people around Leadville taking pictures with disposable cameras, they might be part of the Livewell Leadville Photovoice Project. This spring, more than 20 youth and adults will participate in a five month project to use photography to think about how Leadville residents can eat better and exercise more.
Trained volunteers will be documenting barriers and motivators to eating healthy and being active. The issues that emerge from the images and community gatherings will contribute to LiveWell Leadville’s Community Strategic Plan to make Leadville one of the healthiest communities in Colorado—and guide Livewell Colorado’s investment in that plan.
The volunteer photographers attended a kick-off meeting and Photovoice training on March 12, 2013. During the training, all volunteers received a disposable camera and learned about how documentary photography and photojournalism have changed local, state and national affairs. They also learned how similar Photovoice projects have driven change in other LiveWell Colorado communities. Many communities have witnessed significant, positive community changes within months of a Photovoice project.
Photovoice is a tool that has been used all over the world to allow citizens to drive the conversation about a particular issue in their community. Leadville Photovoice photographers will be taking pictures related to health, nutrition and physical activity in the places they live, work, study and play. Photos will help identify key themes around healthy eating and active living in Leadville–and possible strategies for making Leadville an even healthier community. Photovoice photographers will follow strict protocols requiring them to respect privacy and seek permission before using photographs of others.
In late June, the LiveWell Lake County Photovoice images will be exhibited. On July 1, 2013, community photographers will hold a forum called “Image to Action” to elicit innovative ideas about how to achieve a higher level of health for all residents of Leadville. Citizens will consider how to build on past successes and expand community participation in order to address obstacles that prevent people from living a more active and healthy lifestyle.
The Photovoice project is supported by LiveWell Colorado, a statewide organization whose mission is to inspire and advance policy, environmental, and lifestyle changes that promote health through the prevention and reduction of obesity. The project is receiving technical support from Elaine Borton of Sage Health Consulting, who has many years of experience in Photovoice research. LiveWell Leadville is a joint project of the Lake County Health Department and Lake County Build a Generation. Residents are invited to contact Erin Allaman, Julie Lundgren or Katie Baldassar, at Lake County Build a Generation 719-486-4114, to learn more.
Advocates Receive El Pomar Grant
The Advocates of Lake County recently received a $3,500 grant from Colorado Springs-based El Pomar Foundation. The grant was recommended by El Pomar’s High Country Regional Council, a local advisory board representing five counties in Colorado’s rural resort region. Locally, Lake County Commissioner Mike Bordogna is a member of the High Country Regional Council. The Council recommends up to $200,000 in grants each year to the trustees of El Pomar Foundation.
Advocates of Lake County works to assist any victim of a crime, violence, or other traumatic event; the organization works primarily with domestic violence and sexual assault cases. The Advocates work for positive social change, seeking to promote a safe and healthy community.