Unless you have a relative, friend or have had experience in a setting working with people who have special needs, it is hard for many of us to imagine what life would look like in their shoes. Most have been through a school system that has tried to help them develop knowledge of the world and life skills until they reach an adult age. After which these now young adults then go back to live with their parents to live a life with little socialization and intellectual growth, lacking independence from their parents full-time supervision.
So then what? Are there alternatives and resources out there to tap into so they can still enjoy a life of enriching activities and interaction with other adults with learning differences? Thankfully, yes.
Established in 2007, Wellspring Community in Castle Rock is positively impacting the lives of adult with disabilities and their families. “That’s how we (Wellspring) got started. This idea was such a great opportunity for this population, to give them a chance to do something that no one would normally give them have the chance to do,” said Marti Jones, Director of Business Development. The center gives those who attend the chance to continue growing and ‘hang out’ and laugh with their peers in a safe, nurturing environment.
Sharing a building with Castle Oaks Covenant Church, the facility now offers a work enrichment program, has established an active choir, lets those enrolled enjoy a safe, fun weekend night out with their friends, and spends time in their commercial kitchen, teaching these adults how to bake. Rather than being lost in the shuffle and put on waiting lists for government services, the adults at the center are engaged and taught skills in a work-like setting. “In our Best Buddies Bakery, adults with special needs are trained in baking, packaging and marketing baked goods. Our product is now available in several area businesses, including Tony’s Market. We have grown into a full-fledged wholesale bakery and sales are increasing daily!”
With contributions and some generated income from sales of their products, Jones has seen it evolve firsthand. Wellspring has now grown to have around 30 participants, so other than staff, volunteers have been a huge part of their success. “I volunteered for the first year, trying to help grow the company. We had to first rent a commercial kitchen, so we had 2 hours to drive, set up, bake and clean up. Now we have our own kitchen and about 20 volunteers that rotate on a weekly basis to help with supervision.”
But Wellspring has ambitious goals for the future. Currently they have one van to aid families in transporting participants – who live further from the facility – and taking them on field trips around town. They hope to raise funds for a second van soon or have one donated to assist them with their growing numbers. Jones would also like to have a bakery/cafe for sale their goods. “Eventually we want a storefront for our products and we’d like to stay in Castle Rock,” Jones happily states.
For now, they too are staying busy with the holidays – assembling their crafts, cards and baking their gourmet dog biscuits. “This is our busiest time of year. We do more in the this weeks than we have in the last two months.” And they will continue taking it day by day in hopes of filling a need locally. “The businesses or organizations in Castle Rock have been very supportive of our program. It’s important for us to give back to the community. That’s the reason why we are all here.”
If you would like to know more about the Wellspring Community, their services and/or how to volunteer help, please visit:
826 Park Street, #200
Castle Rock, CO 80109