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A Letter from our CEO
Dear Tennyson Community,
The season of giving is quickly approaching. I’ve always wondered why this time of year brings out our most generous instincts. Many say it’s because the feelings of joy and gratitude make us more charitable—but what if it’s the other way around? What if it’s the act of giving that makes this time of year so joyful?
Right now, there is a record number of children and families in crisis who need our support. Mental health continues to decline with children’s visits to emergency rooms for depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide still up over 100% compared to 2019. Families in poverty are now facing even more stress as they are the hardest hit by inflation.
Last year, we were able to help many of the families we serve with food and gifts for their children. As I was helping a dad take some gifts to the wrapping table, he started to cry and shared that he wouldn’t have a single gift for his son without Tennyson.
As you plan your charitable giving this season, I hope you will consider the kids and families of Tennyson. I’ve heard from many we serve that Tennyson is the first place where they felt successful, where they experienced compassionate treatment to help them heal from trauma. Your gift today will ensure Colorado kids impacted by trauma receive the critical services they need to heal. Thank you for bringing joy, compassion, and generosity to families in need
President & CEO
Hai, Sabina, Nicholas (age 16), and Nalani (age 4) are a typical Colorado family who love hikes, board games, and movie nights. For eight years, Nicholas has been a student in Tennyson’s ASPEN program for kids with mental health needs and one or more learning disabilities.
Nicholas was referred to Tennyson after struggling in his elementary school. He was placed in a program for kids with autism which failed to meet his individual needs. “It was the exact same for every child,” Sabina recalls. “I had to leave work every day because they’d put him in what looked like a little jail cell with no windows. One time he smashed his head against the wall until he was bleeding. His teacher told me, ‘He won’t make it in middle school. They’ll eat him alive.”’
Nicholas was falling so far behind in his traditional school that he was almost nonverbal. At Tennyson, he received more intensive and personalized support right away. “If he needed to move around, they would go on a walk with him. If he needed time to himself, he wouldn’t be punished for it. Whatever he needed! He loves Transformers robots, so the kitchen even made him a Transformers cake for his birthday. The staff are so remarkable at meeting the needs of each individual student. As a mom, that’s what I was looking for.”
“He has warmth and a sense of identity now. Tennyson Center gave us our son back.”
Nicholas’s greatest achievement was learning to communicate. “It was traumatic what he had gone through, but he wasn’t able to express himself in full sentences. I used to cry about it. I never thought I’d get to hear what my son is feeling. Then one day in the car he said, ‘I’m just a weirdo. I don’t have any friends. No one likes me.’ It was painful to hear but it was also the first time he showed me what was bothering him.”
Tennyson has focused on Nicholas’s social development. He dances and sings karaoke with the kids in his class, and he thinks of his teachers as his friends. “He has warmth and a sense of identity now,” his father says. “Tennyson Center gave us our son back.”
Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) selected Tennyson to be one of three pilot programs to use gardens as therapeutic spaces for students with unique educational needs and differing abilities. With support from DUG, Tennyson will explore new ways to make the garden into a space for respite and sensory learning.
Tennyson kids, families, and staff celebrated Halloween with a Monster Mash on October 29th! Kids were entertained by bouncy castles, pumpkin painting stations, sack races, and more. All of these activities were generously donated by Propel Insurance and K&G Petroleum.
Thank you to everyone who attended the FORE Our Kids Golf Classic and the Mile High Country Q & Brew. Together, these events raised over $400,000 to improve kids’ lives. We look forward to seeing you at our next event: the Spring Luncheon to Benefit Kids and Families on April 27th. Details coming soon!
Tennyson’s Child First program will be expanding into Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties! Child First works with kids 0-5 and parents in their homes to protect developing brains from the long-term effects of trauma. Many rural, mountain areas like Gilpin and Clear Creek lack reliable access to mental health services. “Our families must drive about 45 minutes or longer to access the closest services,” says Laura Solomon, Gilpin County’s Human Services Director. “By having services and supports here in Gilpin, families will be more likely to access the help they need.”
Give Hope, Healing, & Happiness for the Holidays
Our New Chief Clinical Officer
Jacki Kennedy (MA, LPC, CAS) joined Tennyson on October 10th as the Chief Clinical Officer. This new position is responsible for leading our clinical services, staff trainings, and the continued implementation of Trauma-Informed Care. She will ensure Tennyson provides the most effective care for kids and families.
Jacki has many years of experience with community mental health and youth residential programs. Joining Tennyson brings her closer to the work she loves, and she is “excited to join one of the best treatment centers out there!”