DMEA FUNNELS $20K INTO LOCAL MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS
Co-op donates to CASA, Dream Catcher Therapy, and The Dolphin House
Delta-Montrose Electric Association has awarded approximately $20,000 in grants to three local organizations committed to improving mental health services in Montrose and Delta counties. CASA’s Youth & Family Advocacy Services, The Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center, and Dream Catcher Therapy Center each received a donation of $6,666 from the local cooperative.
“Each year, DMEA participates in a grant program with our funding partner, CoBank. They provide matching grants to clients, like DMEA, to improve the quality of life in our local communities,” explained Kent Blackwell, DMEA interim CEO and Chief Technology Officer. “With all that has happened over the past few years, we were compelled to support mental health resources. It’s a critical healthcare need that is often underserved in most areas.”
DMEA, with CoBank’s added match, donated approximately $20,000 to three crucial agencies that provide mental health support during times of crisis.
CASA Youth and Family Advocacy Services
Photo by Kevin Martins, DMEA: DMEA Board Member Ken Watson and DMEA Interim CEO Kent Blackwell (back row) present a donation to CASA of the 7th Judicial District. Pictured are (back row) Karin Slater, CASA Chief Financial Officer; Ken Watson, DMEA Board Member; Kent Blackwell, DMEA Interim CEO; (front row) Axia Powell, CASA Chief Research Officer; Alex Gray, CASA Therapist; Chantel Martinez, CASA Youth Support Specialist; Chere’ Fisher, CASA Program Manager; and Kaycee Maurer, CASA Therapist.
Karin Slater, Chief Financial Officer of CASA, stressed the importance of building solid relationships with local teens before a crisis. “Our teen center is a safe haven for many local teens after school. We aim to build relationships with kids before a crisis hits, so they feel comfortable and confident in asking for help when they need it.”
CASA’s teen center is located at the Montrose facility at 147 N. Townsend. It comes complete with a stage for live music and open mic nights and a smoothie bar. Geared for ages 14 to 18, the center provides a safe after-school hangout where teens can do homework, seek counseling, and learn new skills. CASA also offers teen therapy sessions, confidential family visitations, and advocates for children in the foster or court system.
“Just like everyone, we’re building back after the pandemic. And we’re finding that teens are particularly struggling to come out of isolation and reconnect with their peers. Our teen center and mental health services are helping teens reengage and learn important resilience and coping skills,” said Slater.
Community members interested in supporting CASA can make cash donations online at https://www.casa7jd.org/support-us-1. The need for volunteers and youth advocates is also significant. Individuals interested in volunteering at the service counter or learning more about becoming an advocate, can contact Chere’ Fisher at email@example.com or 970-615-9163.
The Dolphin House
Photo by Kevin Martins, DMEA: DMEA Board Member Ken Watson and DMEA Interim CEO Kent Blackwell (top row) present a donation to Jenny Franklin, Forensic Interviewer, and Michelle Gottlieb, Executive Director of The Dolphin House.
At first glance, the unassuming bungalow on South First Street looks just like the other homes on the block. Looks are deceiving though, because out of this small home comes immense services. The Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center is a child-focused organization that supports child abuse victims and their non-offending family members.
“Our children come to us from law enforcement or child welfare referrals, and we focus on ensuring they are protected and supported. Our center is a neutral and, more importantly, safe space for them to share their story and get help,” explained Michelle Gottlieb, The Dolphin House Executive Director.
As an emergency-based organization, The Dolphin House is there for children through every step of an abuse investigation. The accredited staff conducts forensic interviews with alleged abuse victims, partners with local pediatric physicians to conduct forensic medical exams, and provides mental health and crisis support. The team also offers rigorous trauma and mental health support for non-offending family members.
“There can be immense guilt and trauma for non-offending family members, and it is critical that we provide support for them to ensure abuse doesn’t cycle back into the next generation. The more we can support the caregiver, the more they can support the victim,” said Gottlieb.
The Dolphin House provides child advocacy services for youth ages 0 to 18 within the 7th Judicial District, including Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. Last year alone, the center supported more than 600 primary and secondary victims of child abuse, all from its 100-year-old bungalow. Space, just like funding, is a challenge, and the agency will soon begin a capital campaign to expand and renovate the center.
“We are fully funded by donations and grants. Even the original home was donated, but we’ve outgrown it. We all agree, keeping the feel of a home is important to serving our clients, and we’ve decided we’re staying put and adding on,” said Gottlieb.
Community members interested in supporting The Dolphin House can make monetary donations at https://www.coloradogives.org/organization/DolphinHouse. The center also needs volunteers and in-kind contributions. More information is available at https://www.casa7jd.org/home.
Beyond that, Gottlieb stressed, “We need the community to understand the importance of reporting suspected abuse. If you see something, say something. The children we work with are here with us, getting the support and care they need. It’s all the children we don’t see, who need our services, that worry us most.”
Suspected or known abuse and neglect can be reported by calling 844-CO-4-KIDS (844-364-5437) or 911.
Dream Catcher Therapy Center
Photo by Kevin Martins, DMEA: From L to R: DMEA Board Member Kevin Williams and DMEA Interim CEO Kent Blackwell present a donation to Lori Silver and Ferrari of Dream Catcher Therapy.
Situated on 36 acres just west of Montrose is Dream Catcher Therapy Center, an animal-assisted therapy facility that brings horses and patients together for healing. Kathy Hamm founded the therapeutic center 23 years ago after struggling to find resources and support for her disabled daughter. Initially, the center focused on hippotherapy, an equine-based therapy geared toward physical disabilities.
“Back then, there weren’t any resources for children with disabilities, so we created our own. We’ve expanded our therapy options from hippotherapy and now offer full equine therapy for all ages,” said Kathy Hamm.
Dream Catcher Therapy is now a licensed, certified mental health clinic offering hippotherapy and equine-assisted therapy for individuals with mental and physical challenges, trauma and sexual abuse victims, and veterans. With two licensed therapists on staff and 45 horses dedicated to therapy, the center currently supports more than 50 clients, most of those children. Hamm is working hard to expand services to local veterans.
“By nature, horses are therapeutic, and equine therapy is essentially non-verbal. That’s why it’s so powerful for veterans. The horse and the client teach each other to be calm,” said Hamm.
The center takes client referrals from organizations across Western Colorado and also supports walk-ins. It also has numerous partnerships with local agencies. Colorow Care Center brings a group of senior residents out weekly to experience the fresh air and reap the therapeutic benefits of watching the herd. Later this month, the center will also begin working with Pomona Elementary of Montrose to provide therapy and social skills training for a group of elementary children.
Community partnership is key to the center’s success, says Hamm. “This is hard work, keeping mental health funded. So, let’s work together, and we can help people everywhere. I can’t control the trauma people go through. But I can be here to pick up the pieces.”
Community members can support Dream Catcher Therapy Center in various ways, including monetary donations, pasture or hay donations, and volunteering. Donations can be made online at https://dctc.org and cover expenses, such as feed, hay, or medical care for the horses, as well as upkeep and maintenance of the facility.
Delta-Montrose Electric Association is a member-owned rural electric cooperative. Located in southwest Colorado, DMEA provides safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to approximately 29,000 members, primarily in Montrose and Delta counties. DMEA is a progressive and forward-thinking electrical distribution cooperative dedicated to meeting the diverse energy needs of its members. Learn more at www.dmea.com.