Wellspring Community Embarks on Another Year of its Progressive Plight to Love and Enlighten the Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled

Wellspring Community’s morning meeting is unlike any other. Positivity, inspiration and respect hang in the air like bright balloons, holding the promise of yet another fun day of activities and classes for these STARS. These Specially Talented Adults Raising Standards, who begin every day with an hour of this utter joy and reflection, have blossomed beyond expectation in the care of Wellspring’s innovative service model. These extraordinary people have pushed past society’s conviction of their capacities and continue to forge upward, guided by those who constantly reaffirm their potential. The executors of this program have continually raised the bar, and with that, the magnitude of achievement and confidence experienced by their STARS.

The perspective of family is everything, and Wellspring is heralded by a concentration of grateful families who see the nonprofit’s reflection in their children, some of whom are STARS in their 50s. Families praise the “professional commitment from the staff and volunteers” and genuinely rave over “the most caring, positive and professional staff we’ve worked with” who “truly want every STAR to be productive and successful.”

There have been many firsts for these families since enrolling their child in this innovative nonprofit, from the pleasure of seeing their child with limited language skills speak in sentences to the unadulterated joy of hearing their child burst into “How Great Thou Art” when it wasn’t known that stringing words together—much less singing—was even a possibility for their child. What heavenly phenomena that must be to behold for the parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and extended family of these men and women. According to Wellspring, God certainly has a hand in it.

“God put us here for a reason,” executive director Bob Bush says.

Crediting the Almighty Himself, the staff at Wellspring has persevered to create specially modified business enterprises that engage those with intellectual and developmental limitations cognitively, emotionally and spiritually. Special emphasis is paid to positive reinforcement, respect, dignity and atmosphere, and everything is modified to fit the individual participant, so there is that integral “fit.”

“Everyone individually fits because the tasks and the equipment are adjusted to the fine motor skills and issues of the participant,” founder Mary Lou Fenton says.

There isn’t much that can’t be modified to better serve the STARS, and Wellspring goes to great lengths to ensure the students’ successful participation, from modifying a task in the Artbeat workshop to purchasing a talking scale for a blind woman measuring ingredients for banana bread in the Best Buddies Bakery.

Four young women founded the Best Buddies Bakery, including Mary Lou’s daughter Emily, baking cookies in Mary Lou’s kitchen. The Best Buddies Bakery has evolved into a full-fledged, specially modified bakery in a commercial kitchen where participants learn food preparation and kitchen safety, as well as packaging, marketing and delivery skills. A cafe in the Emporium was added in 2016, resulting in the Best Buddies Bakery & Cafe where the STARS host and serve their way to satisfaction and joy every weekday. The regulars might tell you the homemade quiche and bourbon salmon are particular favorites; you might find you prefer the fresh fajita chicken flatbread. And if you’re in the market for something sweet to take to book club, they take orders for their delicious cookies, cakes, bread and bars. 

Five days a week Wellspring paves the way with the Enrichment Program, offering forth a mix of meaningful classes that teach social, math and leadership skills, art, sign language, science and drama, among other subjects. In addition, partnering with Castle Rock Adventist Hospital and Colorado Agriculture Leadership Foundation has prompted the development of the horticulture program designed to train the STARS in planting and harvesting vegetables and herbs, while the Artbeat studio provides instruction in woodworking, ceramics and assembly work. Club 21 rounds out the offerings, lending the members a weekend outlet to let loose and have fun with friends.

The community response from Castle Rock has been both overwhelming and serendipitous, and the nonprofit is humbled by the individuals, local institutions and the 170 personal volunteers who support it, a list now too hefty to name in a brief exposé.

This benevolent generosity is allowing Wellspring to grow the base of the people it serves, granting more families the miracle of seeing their loved ones flourish in this special service delivery model. This selfless openhandedness has also gifted Wellspring a plot of land in Castle Rock, upon which a facility that houses all local programs and enterprises will eventually be constructed. Moreover, a church partner in Colorado Springs has been identified as a satellite location that will allow the nonprofit to serve up to 40 families, with more waiting in the wings for this God-centered service from which so many can benefit. The icing on the cake comes as the donation of a new 14-passenger van and the grace of more than $46,000 raised on Colorado Gives Day.

Wellspring holds donation events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year but lovingly accepts gifts at any time. The nonprofit’s appreciation is palpable; however, watching these extraordinary adults hold their heads a little higher is a mighty reward for all.