General Colorado Center Information Independence Training Program

Ending the Year with a Holiday Party at CCB

Stephannie, Brett, Myra and Delfina wrapping final gifts

The Colorado Center for the Blind students, staff and seniors were deep into the holiday spirit for the final three weeks before the holiday break. We all wish the happiest of holidays to all in our CCB family!

Even as this was being written, our Martial Arts teacher from ATA Karate Denver, Rachel, delivered a box of cookies and home-baked breads for everyone! She nearly had to remind everyone that those martial arts moves she taught them were for self-defense, not for fighting your way to the front of the line.

Last Friday afternoon we delivered cookies and such to the City of Littleton Police , City Manager, Economic Development and Public Works offices. Another group headed north on Federal Blvd. to the Federico F. Pena Clinic to drop off some more treats. Our students have been using the Pena Clinic this year for all the standard reasons – colds, flu, etc.

Secret Santas served up stealth and sweets for the past three weeks. Every day brought new surprises to someone at the Center – candy, cookies or an ornament. And in the center of the flurry was our own Ironic Elf, Robert Dyson. The culmination was Wednesday, our final day before the break. That’s when we gathered for awesome breakfast burritos from Littleton’s own GraceFull Community Cafe, and the final gifts were distributed from under the tree. This year, Brett and Mayra were the morning’s Santas. Recipients make up to three guesses about the identity of their Secret Santa. By tradition, Julie Deden warns that anyone who fails to guess after three tries forfeits their final gift to her. Of course, that never happens, but this year it seemed like there was a higher percentage of correct guesses.

By the way, we have five graduations since Thanksgiving: Kirk and Brad last week, Faye the week before, and the week before that Annette and Abdi graduated.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Finally, motivated by Littleton Mayor Debbie Brinkman’s call to help, students and staff collected $308.00 to assist the residents of the Windermere Apartments in Littleton, who have all been displaced because of a November 17 fire. The CCB Student Association gave $150.00 and the rest was collected from individuals. As our students prepared to leave Littleton to return to their own homes elsewhere, the thought of our neighbors being displaced from their homes for the holidays touched a chord. Donations can be made through three groups at this link. Along with the money, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Windermere residents this holiday season!

Students will start back on January 4. Happy Holidays all!

Myra passses Saul his final Secret Santa gift
Duane beams as he opens his final Secret Santa gift - a Denver Broncos blanket


Stephanie P. and Delfina arrange trays of home made cookies, candy, muffins and other treats before breakfast
Jodi reaches for a breakfast burrito


Stephannie B. opening her Secret Santa gift with Brett and Myra
Rudy gets a wide smile when he opens his Secret Santa gift - an Echo Dot


Decorating happened when Robert was out, and this is his chair decorated with bright colored ribbon and gold bells

Senior Programs

Our New Senior Team Has Its First Meeting

There was excitement in the Senior Resource Room this morning as Senior Services Director Duncan Larsen met with a reconstituted Senior Team. Joining her and Anahit LaBarre were Carina Orozco and Chris Parsons, who are filling the two positions left open by the departures of Chris Kinney and Wayne Marshall earlier this fall. Both women are graduates of our Independence Training Program (ITP) and have been teaching at the Center for several years.

Four smiling women stand together in the Senior Resource Room
Our new Senior Team held their first meeting together this morning. Left to right are Carina Orozco, Chris Parsons, Duncan Larsen and Anahit LaBarre. Carina and Chris will move full-time into their new positions in 2019.

“I’m really excited,” Duncan said after the meeting. “With our new team we’re going to work on new initiatives, reaching out to more Spanish-speaking seniors and doing more multi-generational activities.”

Carina has been teaching Braille since April, 2015 and worked in our summer youth program in 2014. She will become the Senior and Student Services Specialist, working with Seniors part of the time as well as doing case management for ITP students. She’s also attending Metro State of Denver part-time, working toward a degree in Social Work. She is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Chris Parsons has been teaching assistive technology in the ITP program since March of 2015. Chris has a degree in English and worked for two years after college as an online writing tutor. She will become the Senior Outreach Specialist, leading support groups and making home visits in an eight-county area.

The positions became vacant when Wayne Marshall left the Center in September after eleven years to move to Georgia to be nearer to his aging mother and other relatives. Chris Kinney worked at the Center for seven years, mostly as Wood Shop & Home Maintenance Instructor before moving to the Senior Outreach position in 2017. He accepted a position with Denver Public Schools in October working with blind youth and is pursuing a master’s degree to become a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.

Carina and Chris Parsons will assume their new positions full-time after the first of the year.

General Colorado Center Information

It’s #ColoradoGivesDay! Please make a donation to CCB!

CCB Wreath with Freedom Bell centered and photos of People from each CCB Program area

These are the faces of just a few who have benefitted from previous Colorado Gives Day donations. They range from ages 5 and up and their circumstances are all a bit different, but all have gained the skills and the confidence to “Take Charge with Self-reliance!”

This year our Confidence Camp for Kids (CC4K) had 11 elementary school kids for this two-week day-camp. They worked on Braille and cane skills all the time, but also learned to make their own lunches, traveled on the light rail and bus, went canoeing and rock climbing and gained a peer group of other blind kids.

In our summer residential youth programs, we had one middle-schooler for three weeks, 24 high school students for eight weeks and had a blast! These older kids either worked on college prep activities or had their first work experiences. And one of them, Kameron, had the fastest time for all ages in the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado’s first annual 6 Dot Dash 5K in June! In fact, he left his running guide in the dust over the final 50 yards.

Throughout the school year, we’ve worked with 50 kids in our Fun Skills and Activities Training (FAST) once a month, and also provided over 930 hours of mentoring time to high school and middle school students at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind in Colorado Springs.

At the time of this writing nearly 25 Independence Training Students will have received their Freedom Bell, meaning they’ve completed all of the demanding requirements, such as the Monster Route (a one-day trip on public transportation to four places they’ve never been before, each in a different Denver Metro city), and cooking a grad meal for sixty. And we still have a couple more graduations before we break for the holidays.

Our Senior programs hold three weekly support groups in the Center each week, and another 10 groups are held across an eight-county area, though some meet only once a month. In all, counting individual home visits for training, we serve over 330 seniors who are blind or in the process of losing vision.

In all our programs our positive philosophy about blindness is the foundation we build on. Blindness doesn’t mean that expectations should be lowered for you, that your usefulness is ended or that you can’t even expect to have fun. The opposite is the truth – we keep expectations high and know that blind people can live full and useful lives – the lives they want. Success takes a lot of hard work, but it can also be a whole lot of fun!

So, thanks for past support of our students and our mission, and please remember us today on Colorado Gives Day!

Colorado Gives Day Logo
General Colorado Center Information

Our Elf Encourages you to Make a Recurring #COGivesday18 Donation!

Our elf encourages you to give a gift that lasts all year for Colorado Gives Day – set up a recurring monthly donation. It’s less pain for you and more gain for our students in their pursuit of independence and self-reliance! And by setting up a recurring donation on Dec. 4, the whole year’s total is eligible for a percentage of the $1 Million Incentive Fund from First Bank and the Community First Foundation. And thanks!

Colorado Gives Day Logo