Jen Karowe, Nederland. TEENS, Inc. hosted its first-ever Mix & Mingle fundraiser last week. The event included a cocktail party and guests included local supporters, business owners, families and youth who have participated in TEENS, Inc. programs over the years.
Executive Director, Stephen LaFavier welcomed guests, introduced board members and thanked Chef Jamie Berzinskas and her staff of six students from the Lookout Mountain culinary course who catered the event.
In 2015, TEENS, Inc. was awarded a state Division of Youth Correction contract to run the educational component of the Lookout Mountain correctional facility in Golden, CO.
TEENS, Inc. administers the high school at Lookout Mountain with the goal of ensuring that all youth leave Lookout with the academic and life skills to change the course of their lives. To accomplish this, TEENS, Inc. seeks to help students complete high school and enter a certificate earning program at Lookout where they can leave with job specific skills to enter the workforce.
At the Mix & Mingle, a couple of the students spoke of looking forward to careers as chefs and one spoke of his dream of starting his own catering company upon graduation.
While guests enjoyed savories such as beef wellington bites, ratatouille skewers, stuffed cherry peppers and sweets including Baklava, chocolate mousse cake shooters and homemade vanilla bean ice cream, TEENS, Inc. Restorative Justice Coordinator, Andréa Bianchi introduced three youth who had spent time at TEENS, Inc. as kids. Jaden Games, Katherine Harvey and Torin Perret were invited to the event and recognized for their participation in TEENS, Inc. programs and for their exemplary demonstration of TEENS, Inc. values. All three have worked hard to set personal goals, and practice perseverance and healthy risk taking.
In the past, they participated in a variety of TEENS, Inc. programs such as: Outdoor Leadership, Summer Venture, Peer Supervisor, Youth Corp., and TeamWorks. More info on these programs can be found at www.teensinc.org.
Today, Jaden is attending Fort Lewis majoring in Outdoor Recreation; Katherine is at CU and is employed as a youth advisor for Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment – Office of Children, Youth and Families; and Torin is at CSU pursuing a degree in Parks and Protected Area Management with a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability.
Jaden, Katherine and Torin all spoke with affection of their time spent at TEENS, Inc., the unique experiences and the respect and fondness they hold for their mentors. Each received a certificate which read, “In recognition of your exemplary character and leadership in furthering TEENS, Inc.’s mission and core values.”. They were also presented with wooden puzzles symbolizing having fun with ongoing challenges. It was a positive, fun and educational evening for all.
In the Fall, TEENS, Inc. will be celebrating 20 years of commitment to changing the lives of youth in the rural Nederland, CO/ Peak-to-Peak area by providing a safe, drug and alcohol free environment where disadvantaged, at-risk youth can socialize, strengthen peer and adult relationships, develop healthy self-esteem, and master the leadership, academic and job-related skills they need to become constructive and productive members of society.
(Originally published in the July 6, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)