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Winter 2022 Newsletter

A Letter from our CEO

Dear Tennyson Community,

When kids fall on a trampoline, they bounce right back up. As I lead Tennyson into a new year, I want to ensure every child in Colorado has that same feeling of resilience, security, and joy. Although we all want to see every child reach their highest potential, there are still too many gaps.

There are the school achievement gaps, which widened during the pandemic. There are gaps in the behavioral healthcare system, which contribute to the youth mental health crisis. There are gaps between the people who want to give back and the communities who need our support. Finally, there is the gap between what is and what could be.

Each article in this newsletter features a program that fills a unique need in our community. They might serve an often-underserved population. For example, our evidence-based Child First program supports families with children under five-years-old or even families expecting a child. During home visits, we treat parental isolation, increase access to basic needs, and promote bonding to reduce the number of children entering the child welfare system.

Other programs may provide a unique service. Operation Santa delivers presents and basic needs to ease the stress of the holidays. Life Skills gives kids in our Day Treatment School the opportunity to practice vocational and independent living skills. They learn to work as a team and give back to their communities. Trauma-informed therapy will always be one of our primary services, but complex needs call for a variety of approaches.

None of the amazing work we do at Tennyson Center would be possible without your support. Thank you for partnering with us to fulfill our mission: supporting every child forever. I look forward to filling you in on all the gaps we are working to close in 2022.

With gratitude,

Mindy Watrous
President & CEO

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Program Spotlight: Child First

Leticia and Ben were reluctant to reach out for help, but their fighting was starting to affect their children. Leticia’s alcohol abuse often led to aggressive behavior and sudden disappearances. This was especially hard for their three-year-old daughter, Lía. Studies show that stress in the environment can damage a child’s emotional development, mental health, and even the ability to learn.

Denver Human Services referred the family to our Child First program in September 2021. Since then, a mental health clinician and a family support partner have provided weekly home-based treatments, including Parent-Child Psychotherapy. In these sessions, the children play out family scenarios and learn to express a range of difficult emotions such as missing their mom.

Colorado is the fourth state to have a Child First program. The goal is to prevent abuse and neglect by partnering with the most vulnerable families early in a child’s life. In the words of Crystal Christensen, Child First Manager, “We can either prevent the problem now or pay for it later.”

toddler in overalls leaning on a swing

We can either prevent the problem now or pay for it later


Families with children prenatal to five-years-old who encounter:

  • Fighting in the home
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Housing and food insecurity
  • Behavioral issues or delays in development

  • Mental health treatment
  • Parent education
  • Care coordination for doctors, dentists, food, housing, and other basic needs

Moment of Gratitude

Thank you to everyone who supported Operation Santa! This program brings joy to families who often feel additional stress and disappointment during the holidays.

Thanks to you, we raised over $90,000 of presents, food, household supplies, and other necessary items. Volunteers like Mariah, Souhair, and Jamie from K&G Petroleum made the day extra special by wrapping gifts for our kids and families.

One of the kids served through this program was ten-year-old Katie. She picked a bicycle for her little sister. When asked if they would ride bikes together, she said no because she did not have a bike of her own. Later that week, Santa Claus himself wheeled in a brand new bicycle for Katie. She and her sister can now pedal from one adventure to another.

22 New Monthly Donors in 2022

Here in Colorado, there were 6,344 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect during the first half of 2021. As one of the most established treatment providers in the state, it is our responsibility to ensure these children receive the level of care they deserve.

To continue meeting the need, we are looking to recruit 22 new monthly donors in 2022. Monthly giving spreads out your gift and supports Tennyson kids all year long.

For $10 a month, you can provide a therapy session for a child recovering from severe trauma. If 22 donors give at the same level, that would provide a full year of therapy for a Tennyson client!

Staff Spotlight

Meet Greg Holloway. He’s the Director of Life Skills and the manager of Denver’s most exclusive coffee shop.

Q: Describe the Life Skills program in your own words.
A: We give kids in our middle school and high school the chance to learn vocational and independent living skills. We run a coffee cart and a drink cart for the staff on campus…actually, they run it and I hover. They plan menus, navigate a grocery store, bake, cook, greet customers, take orders, and handle money. They also help with the recycling program and set up school events like Operation Santa. The goal is to help them become independent adults who take care of themselves and the community.

Q: What does success look like?
A: There’s been some good, warm fuzzy moments. There was a student who spent a lot of time helping with Operation Santa, moving tons and tons of gifts, and he mentioned how good it felt to play a role in providing that experience for all the other kids and families.

Q: What would you like everyone to know about the kids you partner with?
A: There are a lot of kids here who are really hard workers and who contribute a lot to this place. Life Skills is kind of like a bonus. You have to be on track with your academics and show good behavior, so the kids work hard to be a part of this program, and they love doing it.

Q: How would you like to expand the program?
A: I would love to start getting kids into the greater community more through service learning. It’s empowering to give back.

Parenting Classes

Parenting classes are now available for all caregivers looking to fine-tune their skills. These classes use the evidence-based Connect Parent© model, which teaches basic concepts of attachment theory that can be applied to a variety of situations. The 10-week online program begins in February and May. Email [email protected] to learn more.

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