Adams County's First Shelter for Displaced and Unhoused Youth Set for Ribbon Cutting Following Months of Planning and Preparation
January 17, 2024
Brighton, CO— Following months of planning, hiring, and preparation, Community Reach Center is set to host a Ribbon Cutting for The Empowerment Center for Adolescents on Monday, January 22, 2024, at 8801 Lipan Street in Thornton. CRC has been working for months to open Adams County's first shelter for youth in crisis following approval by the Thornton City Council in August of 2023.
CRC, District Attorney Brian Mason, Thornton Police, Adams County Commissioners, Thornton City Council, and others will host an official ribbon cutting for the press to attend on January 22, 2024. Those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to Chris Hopper, the Director of Communications for the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Reach Center, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason, Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon, the Adams County Commissioners, Thornton City Council
Ribbon Cutting for The Empowerment Center for Adolescents
9:30am on Monday, January 22, 2024
The Empowerment Center for Adolescents
8801 Lipan Street, Thornton, CO
Brighton, CO—Today, District Attorney Brian Mason, Community Reach Center, and Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon are pleased to announce that a youth shelter will be opening in Adams County later this year. After 18 months of work to secure funding and an available location, the Thornton City Council recently approved the re-zoning of an existing building that will allow for the rapid development of a shelter for youth in crisis.
On Tuesday, August 22, 2023, the Thornton City Council unanimously approved the re-zoning of a property at Lipan Street and West 88th Avenue that will now become a shelter for displaced youth. The shelter will be managed by Community Reach Center, a behavioral health services organization that has supported more than 22,000 children, adults, and seniors throughout the last 66 years in Adams County.
The shelter will be available to youth ages 12-18 who are experiencing homelessness, displacement from their family home, and are in need of behavioral health services and other resources. The end goal of this shelter is for the youth to secure permanent housing and, if possible, reunification with their families or guardians following their temporary stay. Youth can become displaced or estranged from a guardian for a variety of reasons including substance abuse issues, mental health challenges, high family conflict, or LGBTQ concerns. Currently, Adams County does not have a youth shelter to assist youth in crisis. This youth shelter will house young people experiencing homelessness or displacement, not juveniles who have been charged with crimes or who are being placed in a juvenile detention facility.
This process began in 2021 when Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon approached District Attorney Brian Mason regarding the need for a youth shelter in Adams County. The District Attorney's Office then engaged in conversations with Community Reach Center about opening a shelter on its vacant lot in Thornton. In 2022, the District Attorney's Office proposed the idea of a youth shelter bill to State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet who ultimately sponsored a piece of legislation with former State Senator Dominick Moreno. The bill, which allowed for the funding of shelter options for displaced youth in judicial districts throughout Colorado, was passed and signed into law on June 7, 2022. The bill also requires all Colorado communities to develop a comprehensive plan to address the needs of displaced youth in their communities, a need that has often not been met. The Adams County Empowerment Center for Adolescents is one of the first efforts in Colorado to meet the bill’s requirements, and the hope is it can be a model for other shelters specifically focused on the needs of young people.
Following the passage of this law, the District Attorney's Office applied for American Recovery Act grant funding through a program created by the Adams County Board of Commissioners and secured $1.2 million to fund one year of a youth shelter.On August 22, 2023, the Thornton City Council approved the proposal for Community Reach Center to operate the shelter within city limits on its lot at Lipan Street and West 88th Avenue. The shelter could be up and running in as little as three months from now.
"Youth experiencing homelessness or displacement are more likely to become victims of crime or to commit crimes themselves. We desperately need a youth shelter for displaced youth in this community and now we’re going to have one. This is a decision rooted in public safety and crime prevention and I’m very grateful to everyone who helped make it happen. I am particularly proud of the work of my staff and our partners, Community Reach Center and Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon, and I am thankful to Adams County for the grant to get this program up and running and to the Thornton City Council for their critical partnership in approving a location for the shelter." --District Attorney Brian Mason
"The Thornton Police Department would like to thank the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office and the Community Reach Center for establishing a safe place for juveniles who need shelter and services to get them and their families back together and back on track. 'Necessary and critical, but non-existent' is too often the case when it comes to essential services for kids and families, but instead of talking about what needs to be done, the partners in Adams County and the 17th are getting it done one step at a time." --Thornton Police Chief Terrence Gordon
"Community Reach Center is excited to be partnering with the DA's Office to provide this level of care and services for Adams County." --Community Reach Center Leadership
"I very much appreciate the effort to create this space that is much needed in our community and the thought and the data that was used to stand up something that can be successful instead of just a shelter to create a safe space to address the need of our youth experiencing this crisis is more than just a band-aid." --Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann
"As a youth who would have probably utilized this type of facility, it is something. We do not have resources for kids in need anywhere, and when they do have that need and there's nowhere to go it usually turns into something worse." --Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Sandgren, Thornton Ward 2
"We all know, we're in the same meetings, we're getting the same data, we're hearing the same information, there is a huge need. There is nothing like this in our entire county for youth. It's our most vulnerable age group. Most of these individuals who come are at no fault of their own. They could be escaping abuse, they could be escaping violence, and I am very very proud that we are able to offer this service now in the Ward that I represent." --Council Member Eric Garcia, Thornton Ward 1
"We all know the need is great to help our youth and our human services department, and I am confident that this is the right thing to help the youth in our community not only in Thornton but across Adams County. We have an opportunity to be part of the solution here, and I am proud to support this ordinance and this shelter for our unhoused youth to help them get back with their families and onto a better future." --Council Member Kathy Henson, Thornton Ward 1
"It's a service that is greatly needed in our community and in our county, and I am so grateful that the different entities have come together to create this solution. I am so glad that we are going to have this for our youth to help when they are in a difficult time and help get them out of their circumstances and back on the right track." --Council Member Julia Marvin, Thornton Ward 2
"Drawing from my experience as a police officer, I recognize the pressing need for a facility like this. Thornton has commendably stepped up to support our community's youth during challenging times. I applaud all the different government agencies for working together so effectively." --Council Member David Acunto, Thornton Ward 3
"The combination of a need for youth counseling, an available facility, grant funding and an experienced management company makes this an ideal opportunity. It was very gratifying voting in favor of the proposed youth treatment facility to be located in Thornton. " --Council Member Tony Unrein, Thornton Ward 3
"I really hope this is only the beginning. Adams County is a desert for these services, and we have to secure more services for our community members." --Council Member Karen Bigelow, Thornton Ward 4
District Attorney Mason assumed the oath of office on January 12, 2021. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office endeavors to seek justice on behalf of the citizens of Adams and Broomfield counties in felony and misdemeanor cases. DA Mason and his staff are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system to better serve the citizens of the 17th Judicial District.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.