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Holiday Season at the Center

The holiday season is always a busy time as well as a family time, and it’s no different with our Colorado Center for the Blind family.

Two people roll cookie dough into balls
Travel Instructor Steve Patten always volunteers to take a hand helping with Christmas cookies. He and student Natalya look sharp in matching red aprons.

While many were preoccupied with Cyber Monday, we brought in our tree and decorated it in the meeting room. Cookies were baking in all three ovens in the kitchen. Even Travel Instructor Steve Patten donned a red apron to help out. Meanwhile, out at the front desk, Robert solemnly presided over the drawing of names for the Secret Santa exchange as he does each year.

One of the most popular activities every year is led by Senior Services Director Duncan Larsen – she teaches any who want to try how to string popcorn and cranberries, which of course encircle the finished tree – though not so much as half of the popcorn popped gets onto the tree. It’s a mystery where the rest goes.

In December there are always a number of graduations. This of course means big graduation meals, the bittersweet “so longs” to friends and mentors, but it also means that we’re out and about anywhere in the Denver Metro area for Monster Route parties.

A smiling woman displays items she is about to deliver
Vicki took toys and more to Littleton Adventist Hospital’s Children’s Ward, and to Children’s Hospital South Campus in Highlands Ranch as part of her Monster Route. She met with volunteer coordinators at both hospitals and told them about the Center.

The Monster Route consists of going to four places never visited before in four Metro cities, and this year two of Vicki’s sites are hospitals, where she’ll deliver toys, coloring books and crayons to the children’s wards. All the items are from donations from the Center and others – $225 in total! Every year Toys for Tots has a box in our lobby for us to fill, and they’ve already whisked it away.

Our staff and students always give of themselves each year. Tragically, our student Yasin’s mother was killed in a car accident over the Thanksgiving break, and his 17-year-old sister spent a week in the hospital. Though only 23 himself, he is now the guardian for his sister and 12-year-old brother. Our students and staff members have contributed nearly $1000 to help Yasin and his siblings, and there is a GoFundMe page for Yasin as well.

Baking, baking baking! Cookies, brownies, fudge and more! Students prepare and bake all manner of special holiday treats for a week after Thanksgiving. Then they are arranged on platters and wrapped in colorful foil and delivered to the Cities of Centennial and Littleton as our token of thanks – we love our community and they repay us with affection and respect!

There are also plenty of youth and senior activities to which Independence Training Program students give of their time. This year a group of students formed themselves into a choir, for example, and they led Christmas carols at the annual Senior Holiday party on December 11. The next day was a FAST Saturday (Fun Activities and Skills Training) for youth, and many students were there as volunteers, along with a number of staff members and even CCB alums. The kids did crafts, wrapped gifts and baked cookies.

Oh yeah, somewhere in the middle of all this is at least one more party – the NFB of Denver Chapter party attended by many CCB students, including a white elephant exchange and more carols, not to mention holiday eats.

We manage to get a little exercise to counteract all of this food, in case the reader is worried. The Urban Adventures program with the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) had our students going out for boxing and Progresh fun, not to mention the NSCD Moves obstacle course. In fact, some of our staff and students were seen on 9News, the local NBC station running the course on Colorado Gives Day. We also had yoga and cardio dance classes once a week after the regular school day.

And suddenly it’s Friday and the final holiday breakfast.  The Secret Santa excitement has been building for three weeks by now, with the fun of giving and the excitement of a surprise enlivening each day.  Students have been preparing breakfast burritos and baked French toast and a lot more, freezing them since Thanksgiving.  Sometime after 9 everything is set out for our last gathering of the year.  We have a brunch buffet with the tree lit and the final Secret Santa gifts piled beneath.  A couple of elves call out names from the packages, gifts are opened one by one, and recipients get three guesses at the identity of their Secret Santa before the secret is revealed.
All this takes a couple of hours, and then it’s time to clean up and – alas – take down the tree and pack up the decorations and make a final round of hugs and holiday wishes before students head back to the apartments or the airport, and staff leave for our own Christmas breaks with our “other” families, or to finally get started with the rest of our holiday shopping.

“… and to all, a Good Night!”

Two young women manage gifts beneath a lighted tree
Braille Instructor Jen Spears and student Tabea served as the elves at the Christmas brunch, passing out the Secret Santa gifts from beneath the tree.
From The Director General Colorado Center Information In the Media Independence Training Program Senior Programs Youth Services

Holiday Message from the Director

Two men and a womanadd sleepshades and white cane to their snow person that has a carrot nose.
Marcus, Mo and James mentor their snow person that is indeed respectable to be blind.

We at the Colorado Center for the Blind appreciate your support! As a result of Colorado gives day we raised over $20,000. These funds will make it possible for us to serve more kids this summer in our Confidence camp and will also provide us with funds so that we can meet more seniors who are losing their vision and show them that they can still enjoy their lives and be independent.

Our message got out to the Denver Metro area as we also appeared on 9News the morning of December 8 in seven segments with the National Sports Center for the Disabled, showcasing our students and staff running the NSCD Moves obstacle course, as well as working in the shop and talking about seniors.

There are so many ways that we receive support from all of you from financial assistance to telling others about the center so that they can find the training, confidence and community that they need to move forward in their lives.

We wanted to share a slice of the holiday season at the Colorado Center with all of you! We hope you watch the holiday greeting on YouTube from the choir our students formed this year, and check back for more posts on this blog for a taste of what this holiday season has been like at the Center.

Remember, with a positive attitude anything is possible!

Again, I cannot express how much your support means to all of us!!

Julie Deden
Executive Director

Six people surround a Christmas tree, adding decorations.
Julie with staff and students decorating the tree for 2015.
General Colorado Center Information In the Media Senior Programs

Seniors: The Work Goes On After the Camera Goes Off

Senior points to the furry white fringe of the Christmas stocking as a man holds the red toe
Judy shows Dan the stocking she sewed for her great-granddaughter.

While we received exciting coverage on 9News at the Center along with National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) for Colorado Gives Day, and tracked our total as it rose, Tuesday, December 8 was a lot like every other day at the Center.

That is, business as usual while potentially life-altering – one small step at a time.

That was certainly the case for our senior program. Duncan Larsen, Senior Services Director, and Senior Volunteer Janet Williamson appeared in the final of seven live segments from the Center on the morning of December 8. That final segment with 9News reporter Tarhonda Thomas focused on Seniors and vision loss, and the services the Center provides for seniors. Then the camera went off and there was a lot of hand-shaking and thank-yous and the truck pulled away. A few minutes later, Janet was back in the Senior Resource Room helping fellow seniors to learn Braille, just like any other Tuesday, and Duncan was getting ready for the Tuesday morning group.

As it happened, a new couple came that morning. The group went around the table, each introducing him- or herself and stating why they were there. When it came to the newcomers, the emotion was obvious for at least one of them.

“I just want to assure everyone,” said the newcomer, “that these are tears of joy.”

For our Senior Services staff members, as well as the seniors who come each week, it was another of those moments of awe and recognition at the importance of what we share at the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Another of those moments came later that afternoon. Tuesday afternoons Duncan leads a new sewing class for seniors who are interested. Afterwards, Judy proudly showed me the Christmas stocking she finished that day.

“For a grandchild?” I ventured.

“Great-granddaughter,” she replied. “She’s 18 months.”

Duncan quickly filled me on on a little back-story. Judy brought in some old curtains she wanted to fit to a different window. She cut and sewed the hem, then wondered what to do with the remaining red material.

“It’s just wonderful to have someone (like Duncan) who who has the patience to work with you and teach you,” she said.

Judy had sewn before becoming blind, and this stocking for her great-granddaughter carries on a tradition of sorts.

“I sewed one for my granddaughter when she was a baby,” she revealed, “and it’s the only one she’s ever hung up for Christmas.”

Bet this one’s going to be just as well-loved.

Events General Colorado Center Information

“White Christmas” from the CCB Student Choir

As the air warms and the snow begins to melt, as our students and some staff head for the airport after the delays and canellations of mid-week’s storm have sorted theselves out, here’s a holiday message from (most) of our self-assembled student choir at the Center:

General Colorado Center Information

Help Our Students Hit Their Mark on Colorado Gives Day!

Vicki and Mo making and throwing snowballs A snowball is flying out of Vicki's hand right toward usThe Colorado Center for the Blind uses innovative techniques to teach proven blindness skills to our students, but the secret to our success is the confidence our students gain in themselves – the confidence to take aim at their dreams and hit their mark!

December 8 is Colorado Gives Day, and you can help our students hit their mark with a donation on our CO Gives page at

Your donation on Colorado Gives Day qualifies for the $1 Million Incentive Fund offered by Community First Foundation and First Bank. The Colorado Center for the Blind receives a percentage of the CGD total!

Jenny C. raises her arms in victory as she goes through the finish line of the obstacle course

Take aim at success!

Take charge with confidence!

Give where you live!

Colorado Gives Day

December 8, 2015

General Colorado Center Information

Watch us on 9News with NSCD on Colorado Gives Day!

NSCD-Logo-Large9News will be with us at the Center for Colorado Gives Day tomorrow morning! Our long-time collaboration with National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) will be spotlighted between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
on 9News. The NSCD Moves obstacle course will be featured in a couple of segments, with Center students and staff in action!

Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning to see NSCD and the Center, and don’t forget to make a donation on our Colorado Gives Day page!

A.J. balances his way across the quad-angles steps

Events General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Breaking Blind on “Shared Visions” Tactile Art Exhibit

The “Shared Visions” exhibit at Arapahoe Community College’s Colorado Gallery of the Arts on November 19 and 20 was a big success, featuring numerous multi-media and very tactile paintings by students in Nathan Abels‘ painting classes, as well as pottery pieces from joint activities between Center students in Ann Cunningham‘s art classes here and those in classes taught by Katie caron, Ceramics Coordinator at ACC.

In addition, the cooperative activities and exhibit were featured on the Breaking Blind YouTube channel in two videos. See what Maureen has to say and what she experiences:

General Colorado Center Information

Shopping Online? Choose Us on Amazon Smile

Make the most of your online shopping this year – buy the wonderful holiday gifts you want, and support the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Amazon’s Smile program contributes a small percentage of each eligible purchase to your selected nonprofit, and the Colorado Center for the Blind is on the list.

Just go to and search for the Colorado Center for the Blind. Then, any time you login and make a purchase on you’ll also benefit the life-changing programs at the Center – all year long!

Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

Events General Colorado Center Information

Happy 75th Birthday NFB!

A smiling man and woman stand on each side of a bronze plaque with print and Braille visible. Both hold long white canes.
Julie Deden and Dan Burke outside Gennetti’s Hotel in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where a plaque hangs commemorating the birthplace of the National Federation of the Blind on November 16, 1940.

The national Federation of the Blind turns 75 today!

The NFB was formed in 1940 to bring the collective voice of the blind into being. Blind people in 1940 had little chance to be employed in meaningful jobs or to attend college. Some did, and in a number of states the blind had organized. On this date in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania delegates from seven states gathered with the express purpose of creating a national voice. The constitution was written, voted on and accepted by the delegates and the National Federation of the Blind was born.

In that time the NFB has wrought enormous change in attitudes toward the blind, though we still fight for equality in employment, education, and access to technology and information.

Part of the significant accomplishments of the past 75 years has been the revolutionization of rehabilitation programs and services for the blind. That is how the Colorado Center for the Blind and our sister NFB Centers, the Louisiana Center for the Blind in Rustin and BLIND, Inc in Minneapolis, came into being. Tired of cajoling programs to do a better job, to believe in their blind clients, the NFB started its own programs. It turns out that it’s sometimes easier to pull than to push, and for the past three decades other programs across the country have striven and strained to match our pace of success.

This past weekend the National Federation of the Blind of Pennsylvania held its annual state convention in Wilkes-Barre at the same hotel where the delegates of those first seven states met 75 years ago. Featured on the agenda was a 40-minute talk by Jacobis “Dutch” TenBroek, son of our founding President, Dr. Jacobis TenBroek. Dutch gave us a picture of the man at home and with his family, but never at rest, never doubting his ability to do anything as a blind person, from cutting trees on the steep Berkeley hills where they lived to coaching President John F. Kenedy on oratory skills. For the TenBroeks, summer road trips were always trips to the National Federation of the Blind convention, wherever it happened to be that ear.

Executive Director Julie Deden and Public Relations Specialist Dan Burke traveled to Wilkes-Barre to attend this historic event, as well as to meet potential students.

“It truly was spectacular,” Julie told students and staff at this morning’s announcements at the Center. “I will always remember being there.”

And that’s about all the time there was for reflection, as it’s back to the work of the Center and of the NFB. There’s a lot of it to do, and with a belief in ourselves, our students and our purpose we look forward to the work and our centennary celebration!

Careers Events Youth Services

Shark Dissection Day This Friday!

the instructor stands and student sits,both have their hands in the shark's open stomach cavity
Arapahoe Community College’s Terry Harrison points out a part of the shark’s anatomy to a high school student in 2014.

For most of us, the run up to the Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t conjure thoughts of sharks, but it does here at the Colorado Center for the Blind. That’s because for nearly a decade, Arapahoe Community College’s Biology Professor Terry Harrison has been conducting his shark dissection here with blind kids from around the Denver Metro area as well as from the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB).

This year’s event is Friday, November 13, from 10 a.m. to noon in our gym at 2233 W. Shepperd Ave.

“We set out to show that blind kids can actively participate in STEM subjects in school, and even consider STEM careers,” says Youth Services Director Brent Batron. “Terry has been a great ally for us in accomplishing this critical part of that goal.”

The annual event sponsored by ACC, always just before Thanksgiving, has become a much-anticipated event in November. This year, 30 area students are on the list to dissect the 15 dog sharks that Harrison has ordered. In fact, the demand is so high that there is talk of doing another shark dissection event in February … Valentine’s Day maybe?

Some info about Terry Harrison from ACC’s web site:

Professor Harrison, who has taught at ACC since 1994, teaches all levels and disciplines of Biology courses at ACC.  He is a member of the Human Anatomy & Physiology Society, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and Nano-Link.

For mor information about this event or other Youth Services and SEM programs, contact Brent Batron at 303.778.1130, x222 or [email protected].