July 2023 Newsletter

A Lightning Rod for Goodness

Zachary's Journey

Zachary loves Coca-Cola and chocolate cake. At Wellspring, his favorite classes include activities where he can engage with animals or swim. While he can be soft-spoken, he is very adventurous.  

Zachary’s journey to Wellspring included multiple relocations, adversity, and a mother, Cathy, who never stops advocating for her son. When Cathy talks about Zachary, her eyes light up. Their story is one of challenges and hope.

In 1997 Zachary and his family moved from rural Texas to Puerto Rico, where he attended school with his sister. During his time there, he had many friendships and was embraced by the community he and his family had found. His mom recalls this being a great experience for him- where Zachary thrived.

When Zachary, Cathy, and his family moved back to the States, their experiences in the public school systems were quite different. Whether their journey brought them to Texas, California, Massachusetts, or Colorado, his schools were unable to meet his needs and he was faced with many obstacles. In one school, Zachary was the only student in his classroom. At another school, Zachary was placed into a segregated classroom with other individuals that had disabilities-, while at least he was not alone, he did not get to engage with peers outside of his classroom. Cathy believes that these experiences made Zachary feel secluded and not open to others.

Except for the brief stint in Massachusetts where Zachary and his family had access to resources and a support system, their public school experience worsened when life brought them to Colorado. With the exception of Zachary’s middle school teacher, Maggie who is still a beloved friend of the family.

Maggie found creative ways to support Zachary, especially when he first started wearing hearing aids. Many people in Zachary’s life did not think he’d be able to wear hearing aids. Today, you won’t see him without them (unless of course, he is swimming).

When Zachary started High School, Cathy wanted him to attend Plum Creek Academy instead of his neighborhood school. Having suspected for years that Zachary had autism and having noticed a change in his behaviors, Cathy wanted him to be in an environment where he’d have support and resources accessible to him. However, for years Cathy’s concerns and observations were not taken seriously and that would ring true when Zachary started high school. Often, Cathy would bring advocates with her to school meetings requesting that Zachary be transferred to Plum Creek Academy, however, she was told that Zachary did not need behavior support or intervention but was instead spoiled. Spoiled by his parents and by his middle school teacher who found creative solutions for him.

One day, Cathy received a phone call that there had been an incident and that she needed to come pick Zachary up from school immediately. As a school employee, she rushed to her son’s classroom and was shocked at what she found.

“I was so stunned; I didn’t know what to do.”

She saw her son restrained by the school’s resource officer atop of a desk in his classroom. Zachary had not wanted to return a ball that he had found on the teacher’s desk.

After this incident, finally, Zachary was able to transfer to the school his mother had been advocating for. He started receiving support and learning new ways to communicate his needs. Zachary stayed at this school through graduation and Bridge program. During this time, he and his mom met Wellspring’s founder, Mary Lou, at the Castle Rock Rec Center. She told Cathy and Zachary about this thing called Wellspring she was starting and asked if they would consider being a part of it. The answer was, “Yes!”.

“Wellspring felt completely different, as the years have gone by it has gotten better and better and better.”

Though Zachary and his family’s story includes chapters that have taken them across the US and Puerto Rico, they have decided that Colorado will be their forever home. “We have decided we’re never leaving Colorado. This is it. We are staying here; we’re retiring here and it’s because of Wellspring.”

At Wellspring, Zachary is learning new skills, experiencing adventure, has meaningful friendships for the first time since Puerto Rico, and has a bright future ahead of him. Zachary is also a loyal friend; often checking in with others by sharing a smile, a hug, or a pat on the head. His laughter is contagious and brings light and levity to anyone who hears it.

Cathy, like many caregivers or parents to adults with I/DD worries about what the future holds for her son and where will he go when she and her husband can no longer care for him. However, Wellspring Housing and the potential for residential services for Zachary give her family hope and peace that they have never had before.

“The road that we had to take to get here was worth it.”

When he is not at Wellspring, you’ll likely find Zachary traveling with his family; swimming in the ocean, spelunking in a cave in Arizona, making s’mores around a campfire, or playing with his niece and nephew. You can always find Zachary and his family living by their family motto, “Live life in color and out loud.”

15th Annual Evening of Inspiration

Join us Saturday, September 30th  for a special evening honoring the milestone of our 15th anniversary. We will celebrate the past 15 years, even as we write the future of this incredible community known as Wellspring. Registration is opening soon! 

Meet the Team

We are so excited to introduce you to the newest members of the Wellspring Team! Each new staff member answered a few questions to help you get to know them better. Not featured is Sarah Sawyer (Resource Coordinator) and Kari Russell (Shift Supervisor at Castle Rock Collective)


Coffee Cart Manager & Assistant Store Manager (Castle Rock Collective)

How do you like to spend your free time?

I spend my free time preferably outdoors with my husband and 3 kids. 

What is your favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is Halloween. I love to go all out with costumes and Halloween gives me an excuse to dress up for at least a week.


Opening Manager (Castle Rock Collective)

What is your favorite vacation spot?

My favorite vacation was The Bahamas. The weather was perfect and the ocean is crystal clear there. We had so much fun swimming with the pigs there too. 

 What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is,

“Just keep swimming” -Dory

because life is challenging and well…. if you don’t, you’re drowning.


Art Studio Manager / Teacher

What is your favorite vacation spot? How do you like to spend your free time?

I love to spend my free time with family and friends. We have a daughter in Argentina and try to get down there as often as possible! Now that we’re in Colorado we love hiking and playing with Quill!


Program Teacher

What brought you to Wellspring? 

I wasn’t aware that Wellspring existed until the day I witnessed and observed the Stars out in the community for the first time. I was inspired by their joy and immediately wanted to be involved and to be of service. I’m so grateful for that day.

Favorite Holiday and why? 

Christmas. It is always a very special time to gather with family and friends. 

Car Show

Mark your calendar for the Colorado Car Addicts Car Show benefitting Wellspring! 

Exceptional Rodeo

The Exceptional Rodeo is a free event tailored to children with I/DD between the ages of 4 and 12 because of the size of the obstacles, but all ages are welcome. Children will experience adapted events such as stick-horse barrel races, stuffed bucking bulls and broncs and try their hand at roping. Each participant receives a T-shirt, cowboy hat and a trophy.

All families are welcome to attend the Exceptional Rodeo for free and watch from the grandstands.

The Exceptional Rodeo is a program of Colorado State University’s Temple Grandin Equine Center. For background on the program, we invite you to read the following article from CSU.

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