Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Enter Applewood Plumbing Heating & Electric’s $12,000 in 12 Months Giveaway!
To enter your favorite local nonprofit group to receive $1,000 scroll down to the bottom of this page and Leave a Reply. Please include the name and contact information of the local nonprofit organization you are nominating to win $1,000.
We will be accepting nominations here on the web or through the mail. There will be a new drawing every month for 12 months, so be sure to nominate your favorite local nonprofit organization today. This is a random drawing and only one win is allowed for a local nonprofit group during this 12 Month program. Winners from our previous Crazy $12,000 in 12 Months programs are eligible to win again.
Previous winners include: Hope House, The Wheat Ridge Foundation, Lost & Found, Colorado Freedom Memorial, Metro Food Bank, Josh & Gus’s Run for Reason, the Jefferson Symphony and many more.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
A victory for hope: Two area women fight for expanded coverage of mental disorders
By Pamela Lawson
Once a month on a Monday night, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas and a handful of friends share their memories of Sally’s brother, Carson, a talented, charismatic 34-year-old who took his own life in 2004.
They do so by conference call, from various states — for they are all board members of the Carson J Spencer Foundation, which was formed after his death.
Nowadays, conversations are about the progress of the foundation, a growing nonprofit that promotes mental health awareness. But in the months that followed Spencer’s death, the conversations were about immense loss.
“I couldn’t believe he did it. We loved him so much; we were a really close family,” Spencer-Thomas said this week. “I was really mad at him, mad at the mental health system, mad that people were not listening to me when I was screaming that we needed to get him help.”
Spencer-Thomas, who lives in Conifer and serves as director of leadership development at Regis University in Denver, is one of two area women who worked to support legislation signed in May by Gov. Bill Ritter that requires insurance companies to cover more mental health disorders.
The second, Evergreen resident Jeanne Rohner, was heavily involved in promoting the bill, Spencer-Thomas said.
The passage of Senate Bill 36 expanded mental health insurance coverage to include nine additional disorders: post-traumatic stress disorder; drug and alcohol disorders; anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa; social phobia; panic disorder; general anxiety disorder; agoraphobia; and dysthymia and cyclothymia (both depressive disorders).
The bill affects any entity regulated by the Colorado Insurance Commission, which includes government agencies and private companies in the state. Also covered are children whose parents do not have insurance but make too much money to receive Medicaid.
“It’s a huge thing for us and the whole mental health community,” said Rohner, president and CEO of Mental Health America of Colorado.
“I have been to a few (bill) signings, but this one — it was a major celebration. There were probably 100 people in the rotunda of the Capitol, a huge splash,” Rohner said.
The legislation was a long time coming, Rohner said.
In 1997, a bill was passed requiring equal status for six biological-based mental illnesses. But it took 10 more years to expand on that despite repeated attempts, she said.
As of Jan. 1, 2008, health insurance companies that offer insurance to businesses with more than 50 employees must offer policies that cover the additional illnesses. But a lot of workers still aren’t covered.
“Our next big hurdle is to get this implemented to users of all insurance — it makes good business sense to cover mental health and substance abuse issues,” Rohner said. “There are so many people in the workplace that have these issues — it comes into play in absenteeism and loss of productivity.”
The new law ensures that people with mental illnesses will not be treated differently than those with a heart condition, as far as co-pays and number of visits, Rohner explained.
Coverage for substance abuse is an important piece of the bill, Rohner believes. Addictions can be very progressive, affecting families and jobs, she said.
The mission of her nonprofit organization is to lead in the promotion of mental health, to transform systems of health care and expand access to services.
Rohner herself is no stranger to the topic. Years ago, she and her husband adopted a 2-year-old child that had severe mental health problems.
“We literally paid thousands and thousands out of pocket to get him the treatment he needed,” Rohner said. “Luckily, we could, but many people are not that lucky.”
Rohner gets calls at her agency frequently from people frightened that their children do not have the necessary insurance coverage during life-threatening situations or the necessary information or support.
Spencer-Thomas knows that feeling well.
By the time her only sibling, Carson, who had bipolar disorder, died in 2004, he was the father of a 2-year-old daughter and had become highly successful in the insurance business.
He was passionate about developing new ways for employers and health care providers to offer coverage for uninsured workers, and he formed a company to that end during the last year of his life.
But he could not save himself. When he began making erratic decisions in 2004 — severing ties with friends and family and spending wildly — a million-dollar loft, an $80,000 car, laptops for friends — his parents and sister knew something was terribly wrong. They went on round-the-clock watch and sought help any way they could find it, but it wasn’t enough.
Senate Bill 36 may be a small step, but it is one more step, Spencer-Thomas believes, toward demystifying mental illness. And so is scientific research that is uncovering biological connections and other components to mental health.
“It sends a message,” Spencer-Thomas said of the bill. “I feel like mental health and suicide is where cancer was 50 years ago — people didn’t understand it. People are (beginning to) say, ‘Oh, OK, it’s a human condition. It’s not something evil or criminal.”
It is one more piece of hope for her — along with time spent, one night each month with friends, reminiscing about the moments when Carson made her laugh.
For more information about Mental Health America of Colorado, visit www.mhacolorado.org. For more information about the Carson J Spencer Foundation, visit www.carsonjspencer.org.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
First lady steps up for mentally ill
By Diane Carman
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Article Last Updated: 07/25/2007 10:32:33 PM MDT
Jeannie Ritter still breaks into a sweat when the spotlight shines her way. Seven months after her husband took office as governor, the former teacher and mother of four gets a case of nerves every time she steps before a microphone.
She does it anyway.
"I have a great opportunity, and if I don't take advantage of it, it would be a huge loss," she said. So she musters her courage and faces audiences that she said have been "lovely and very forgiving."
For a vast community of people who feel neglected by the state that ranks 49th in mental-health-care funding, it's not just being polite. She's their hero.
Last week when a man in the throes of a delusional episode brandished a gun outside her husband's office, Ritter was on the road in northwestern Colorado, meeting with people who struggle to deliver mental-health services with severely limited resources. When she heard what happened at the Capitol, she canceled an appearance in Meeker to be with her family.
"It was hugely ironic, wasn't it," she said. "It made the discussions that are already poignant even more so."
For Ritter and other advocates for mental-health care, the incident also presented a challenge. A lingering prejudice against the mentally ill stems from the impression that they are prone to violence. In fact, statistics from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill show they are 2 1/2 times more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
It's just one obstacle.
The biggest hurdle, Ritter said, is to help people overcome the stigma that prevents them from seeking treatment.
"We're talking about a huge percentage of people who can be reached. There are resources" in schools and workplaces, she said, "if only they would use them."
Ritter told a story she heard about two ranchers who came into a Southeast Mental Health Services clinic with a folded copy of a poster in their pockets. Both were contemplating suicide and decided to seek help after they saw the picture of a local rancher on a poster for the mental- health clinic.
Produced under a grant from The Colorado Trust, it showed rancher and former County Commissioner Harry Doak leaning against a fence.
Over the years, Doak had known ranchers who took their lives when economic or family pressures overwhelmed them, so he volunteered to be the face of rural mental-health outreach.
"That guy should be championed," Ritter said.
While services often are more accessible in urban areas, tragedies here still are all too common. Ritter cited the suicide of Larry Manzanares last month as an example.
"We lost a good judge in our community," she said. "It's heartbreaking, but it's also another opportunity to raise awareness and push the heartache to the forefront."
Lives can be saved, she said.
"There are great services; the difficulty is getting people to use them. Why aren't we nudging each other more?"
Ritter is cautious about advocating legislative initiatives or government action.
"I'm not throwing words like 'policy' around," she said.
But she is working to get mental-health professionals, business leaders, politicians, law enforcement officers and health care advocates in the same room to exchange ideas and encourage one another to take action.
"At some point, something needs to be done with this information," she said. "It's not just a first-lady thing."
For now, though, she's satisfied with encouraging the dialogue.
On Saturday, Ritter will overcome her anxiety once more and take the podium to speak at a fundraiser for the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention and treatment for the mentally ill. (For information, call 303-458-4323 or go to CarsonJSpencer.org.)
She'll likely tell the story of a friend she's known for years who only recently revealed that her father took his own life. The memory had been buried deep in her psyche, a secret kept from almost everyone close to her.
"It's something we don't exchange information about," Ritter said. "But survivors need to tell their stories.
"If we can just listen and keep linking arms, we can make a difference."
Diane Carman's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 303-954-1489 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Trent will receive a $4000 a year scholarship from CJSF and JARM for each of the next four years at Denver University.
It was one of Carson's wishes to sponsor young people with such an award. The Carson J Spencer "Rising Star" Scholarship considers entrepreneurial spirit, motivation, and creativity in business and community as it's primary selection criteria.
Chosen from a group of over 60 extremely talented applicants, Trent impressed us with his social entrepreneurship founding "B.I.O.N.I.C." (Believe It Or Not I Care) which now involves 180 people from 9 elementary schools. BIONIC brings outreach services to children who are missing school due to sickness. They provide homework, tutoring and support to help boost spirits to keep the students functioning at their class level.
Trent also has an outstanding academic record, captained the varsity basketball team, was a "Class Senator" for the Student Government. and shows much promise as a future business leader and entrepreneur.
Please come to the Denver Benefit Auction Evening and meet this wonderful young man.
Denver –July 24, 2007– “Music saved my life,” says Troy Gray, a Colorado Nuevo flamenco guitarist with a story to tell. Troy was only 19 years old when he attempted suicide after experiencing unbearable psychological trauma. “I would escape behind doors for hours and play guitar. It helped me express the anger, the sadness, the emotions.”
Now almost twenty years later, he is a musician with a cause. His new CD released this year is entitled, “A New Beginning” and it celebrates his recovery through his music.
All proceeds from Troy’s concert will benefit the Carson J Spencer Foundation, a nonprofit sustaining a passion for life through innovative mental health promotion programs. The concert is open to the public and will be held at the Wynkoop Brewing Company (1634 18th Street, Denver) on July 28th at 8:00pm ($10 pre-register on www.blacktie-colorado.com or $15 at the door; free to students with valid ID).
The concert follows a Benefit Auction Evening featuring Colorado’s First Lady Jeannie Ritter (5:00-8:00pm, also at the Wynkoop).
“This is not your typical mental health awareness event,” says Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, executive director of the Carson J Spencer Foundation who is a psychologist and survivor of her brother’s suicide. “Troy’s story is inspirational, and his music rocks. Attendees will have a memorable, meaningful and fun time.”
For more information, please call Sally Spencer-Thomas 303-458-4323 or visit www.CarsonJSpencer.org.
About the Carson J Spencer Foundation: Sustaining a Passion for Life
The Carson J Spencer Foundation, a non-profit organization, was founded in April 2005 following the suicide of Carson J. Spencer. The Carson J Spencer Foundation helps people live their best lives by shining a light of hope and offering guidance during difficult times. The Carson J Spencer Foundation promotes entrepreneurial ideals through venture philanthropy, innovative mental health programming/advocacy and scholarships to individuals showing entrepreneurial promise.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Massaro: Tragic end didn't dim 'bright star'
And then her brother, Carson J. Spencer, did something that broke her heart. He killed himself.
He had suffered from mental illness - bipolar disorder. And it finally overtook him.
Monday, June 11, 2007
The law expands the number of mental health disorders covered to additional diagnoses including: eating disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorders and more. Senate Bill 36’s sponsors Senator Moe Keller and Representative Debbie Stafford will be honored during the evening for their efforts to shine a light on mental health advocacy.
Festivities throughout the evening will include 9News anchor Cheryl Preheim as emcee, a sponsored microbrew tasting and an array of items featured at a live and silent auction.
“This is not your typical mental health awareness event,” says Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, executive director of the Carson J Spencer Foundation who is a psychologist and survivor of her brother’s suicide. “The First Lady has an incredible way of inspiring people to get engaged in the cause of mental health advocacy. Attendees will have a memorable, meaningful and fun time.”
For more information, please call Sally Spencer-Thomas 303-458-4323 or visit www.CarsonJSpencer.org.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
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Sunday, May 27, 2007
Benefiting The Carson J Spencer Foundation
Monday, July 30, 2007
|Sponsored By:||The Carson J Spencer Foundation|
|Location:||The Ranch Country Club|
|Location Address:||11887 Tejon Street, Westminster, CO 80234|
|Attire:||Proper Golf Attire - no cutoffs or tee shirts please|
|Starting Time:||7:15 AM Simultaneous start - promptly at 7:30am|
This event is a Four Person "Best Ball" Scramble
at a beautiful private country club.
Price per person includes green and cart fees, range balls,
Note that Sponosorships of the event are also available.
|View Organization's Profile|
|Contact Name:||Carson J Spencer Foundation c/o Todd Krapf|
|Address:||P.O. Box 351418|
|Cost:||$125 per person|
|Online Tickets:||Click Here to RSVP or for Online Tickets|
The Carson J Spencer Foundation presents a Benefit Auction Event
Spread the word! Register today!
Saturday, July 28 from
Wynkoop Brewing Company ~
Cost is $75 until July 20 and $100 at the door.
Two ways to register:
Events Calendar for July 28th (credit card)
- Mail (check)
Checks should be made payable to The Carson J Spencer Foundation and sent to:
Additional Information: Joyce Spencer at Bob@CarsonJSpencer.org
Sustaining a passion for life.