Raising big bucks for youth mental health
The Aspen Effect (TAE) held its annual fundraiser, Cars & Cowboys, on September 9. Through a variety of programs, the nonprofit strives to build resiliency in youth by forming a mentor team in an environment working with horses and other farm animals.
The event was held inside a beautifully refurbished barn on the west side of Castle Rock in a rural setting. The evening began with a greeting at the gate from TAE’s Teen Advisory Board, teenagers who are working to improve mental health in youth in Douglas County. Guests entered through an authentic 1950s diner and were invited to meander around a display of classic cars.
Bureau Chief Kevin Duffy, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, shared that he will be supplying nearly 20 employees from his department to serve as mentors at TAE. He challenged other organizations to do the same.
The event raised more than $60,000, exceeding last year’s donations. One hundred percent of the funds will go toward the growth and maintenance of TAE programs: Farm Lovers Volunteer Club, Healing Horse Connections, Teen Advisory Board and Mini Horse Leadership School.
“The Aspen Effect family is so appreciative of all those who spent time with us on a Saturday evening, donated items, purchased tickets, provided the facility and services for the evening and donated funding for our cause,” stated Jerry Van Leuven, founder and executive director. “We pledge to be good stewards of this generosity and do our best to manage, grow and improve the programs we offer in order to strengthen the mental health of our youth in Douglas County.”
Responding to a growing mental health crisis, TAE was launched at the Bell Mountain Ranch Equestrian Center in 2020. They operate out of SkyView Farm now. “Lack of connection to an adult (or an adult who will just listen to them) was one of top risk factors cited in the Colorado Attorney General’s report on youth suicide, and one cited by numerous Colorado school counselors and school psychologists,” according to TAE’s website.
To learn more about TAE, visit www.theaspeneffect.org. To learn how to become a mentor, visit https://theaspeneffect.org/be-a-mentor.
By Hollen Wheeler; photos courtesy of The Aspen Effect