Colorado Women of Influence announces the recipients of the 2013 Women of Vision Awards:
Jackie Bebo, parent of 28 adopted children and founder Adoption for All Children, specializing in China and Korea adoptions.
Sandi Brown, academic dean with Colorado Early Colleges and owner/education consultant with Tutor Doctor Front Range.
Dr. Ada Chen, founder of Soaring Hope, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to serving orphans and poor people in China through numerous educational and medical missions and scholarships.
Dr. Kathleen Cooney, nationally recognized leader in the field of pet end-of-life care and founder of Home to Heaven, an in-home pet hospice and euthanasia company.
Dr. Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, Assistant Professor in the College of Applied Human Sciences at CSU, life-long dedication to the issues of childhood obesity.
Linda Hughey, co-founder & President of the No Colo Nonprofit Resource Center.
Brooke Hupp, breast cancer survivor who formed Team STABOS (Save Them All, Big or Small).
Sister Mary Alice Murphy, driving force behind the opening of The Mission, CARE Housing, the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope in Ft. Collins and the Guadalupe Center in Greeley.
Tara Pogoda, owner of Fifth Element Ranch in Loveland, the #1 Colorado facilitator for the Warriors In Transition (WIT) therapeutic program for veterans and their families; official supporter of the veteran suicide awareness campaign, TransAmerica Ride For Life.
Dr. Amy Prieto, CSU Associate chemistry professor and founder of Prieto Battery, Inc., a new battery technology that could revolutionize electronic vehicles.
Irene Castillo Romsa, co-founder of the “Rincon de Cuentos” Spanish literacy program and “Imaginates” youth program in Colorado and of “Casa de Vida” a shelter for survivors of domestic violence in Guatemala.
Cindy Sarai, Executive Director of Adoption Dreams Come True, and founder of the Dream Guild, and the Dream Room.
Each of the Women of Vision Honorees will receive a commemorative gift bag from Colorado Women of Influence members, valued at $1,000.00.
Honorees will receive their award at The Women of Vision Gala, held the evening of Wednesday, July 24th at the Executive Club Restaurant at the Budweiser Event Center. The event includes a champagne reception at 5pm followed by dinner and the awards ceremony from 6 to 8pm.
Colorado Women of Influence, LLC, is a master-mind organization whose members are at a very high level in their careers. With a current membership of 171, COWOI seeks to be the gathering place for a eclectic group of accomplished women: Entrepreneurs, Owners, Executive Directors, Presidents and CEOs from the business world, as well as leaders of academia, government, the arts, athletics and community organizations. For information on Colorado Women of Influence, go to the website at http://cowoi.com or contact Ann Clarke at 970-817-5315.
The Gala, sponsored by Colorado Women of Influence, LLC, is an evening honoring 12 Northern Colorado women who have been singled out as having made a significant contribution to the well-being and empowerment of women and the betterment of their communities through outstanding vision, innovation, leadership, and social Impact.
Colorado Women of Influence Founder & CEO Ann Clarke said, “COWOI felt there was a need for an evening of glitz and glamor to honor the women of our community who are truly Women of Vision. They have enriched the lives of others with intelligence, talent and – of course – vision. They deserve to be in the spotlight and hear our applause!”
Sarah Jane Kyle
Dream Guild helps nonprofit adoption agency make waves for low-income families
“I couldn’t afford clothes for my kids if it weren’t for places like this. They just grow so fast you can’t keep up.” Victoria Moul, Dream Room client.
If you’ve ever cared for a growing baby, you realize how quickly clothes can wear out.
As I watched 16-month Alex crawl, run and giggle around the Dream Room in the basement of Fort Collins nonprofit Adoption Dreams Come True, 316 W. Mulberry, I couldn’t help but smile. His mom couldn’t help but thank Dream Room volunteers for keeping the active little tyke occupied while she thumbed through the rows of donated clothing to get him through his latest growth spurt.
Around the same time, Victoria Moul of Estes Park and her oldest daughter Caliah Cooper, 14, were searching for clothes for the three babies in their family. The 40-mile drive isn’t what most would call short, but even the gas money spent getting to that little basement just off Mulberry was worth it to help lessen the 5-child family’s economic load.
The Dream Room started as a resource for birth mothers who came to the adoption nonprofit but decided to keep their baby and parent, offering a resource for free clothes, diapers and supplies to get them started. The agency offers counseling to birth parents regardless of whether or not they choose to put their child up for adoption. On an average year, founder and Executive Director Cindy Sarai said she might facilitate 2-18 adoptions, but serves up to 40 birth mothers.
As Sarai watched the Dream Room unfold to help the women who chose to keep their babies, she realized a greater need in Larimer County for low-income parents to have access to a similar resource and decided to extend the closet’s mission to provide baby clothes for everyone in the community.
The community closet offers parents up to seven outfits, seven sleepers, diapers as they are available and a variety of other supplies once per month at no charge. Sizes available include birth to 24 months, though volunteers told me they often struggle to bring in donations for older babies. For the families who visit, the Dream Room provides one less financial worry in the ever-expensive task of raising a child.
I could not afford clothes for my kids if it weren’t for places like this,” Moul told me. “They just grow so fast you can’t keep up… and we’re a big family.”
Nearly all the families who stopped by the Dream Room when I was there said they plan to bring back the clothes once their child outgrows them, “paying it forward” for other families in their situation.
The Dream Room is entirely operated by volunteers from the Dream Guild, a group of 19 active and 61 supportive volunteers who exist exclusively to facilitate volunteerism and fundraising for the agency. The Dream Guild was founded by Dorothy Fitzgerald to support Sarai and her mission to provide affordable adoptions to families of all types and preferences.
The guild takes in donations and maintains the Dream Room, hosts fundraisers such as a weekly bingo session each Monday at 1 p.m. at Bingo Planet in Loveland, creates and sells handmade crafts and greeting cards and provides various other supports for adoptive and birth parents.
Adoption Dreams Come True is able to provide adoptions on a sliding-scale fee largely due to the fundraising efforts of the Dream Guild, Sarai said.
“We never wanted to price good parents out of adoption,” she said.
“The way they do things at Adoption Dreams Come true is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” added Fitzgerald. “I’m so proud to be part of this… it’s truly rewarding to help them.”
Adoption Dreams Come True, Inc.
What: Adoption Dreams Come True believes every child deserves a home that is loving, safe and permanent. This agency works to make this dream come true for Colorado children by supporting birth parents in their decision around an unplanned pregnancy, aiding adoptive parents in their process to adopt and working to make healthy, happy families. Volunteer efforts for Adoption Dreams Come True are led through the Dream Guild volunteer group. For more information, visit www.adoptiondreams.org.
Who to contact: Ginger DeReus, director of development, (970) 493-2557
Volunteer prerequisities: Volunteers are required to sign a confidentiality agreement. There is an hour of training required, which is held in the Dream Room typically on Tuesdays but must be scheduled ahead of time.
Volunteer responsibilities: Volunteers can help Adoption Dreams Come True through the Dream Guild, a group of individuals who work to increase public awareness of the agency and its clients, as well as community education and child advocacy, raising funds and organizing and promoting activities and events. The Guild operates the Dream Room, a no-fee based resource for low income families in Larimer County with children ages 0-2 years old. Volunteers in the Dream Room greet guests, fill out paperwork and assist with the selction of items and inventorying donations.
Typical time commitment per week: The Dream Room is open Monday 5-7 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11-1 p.m. The minimum commitment is 2 hours on a given day, with most volunteers needed on Wednesday and Thursday.
Mountain Mail, Salida, CO
by Arlene Shovald
Mail Staff Writer
Cindy Sarai and Emily Watson have a job that makes dreams come true.
Sarai, formerly of Salida, is founder and executive director of Adoption Dreams Come True Inc., based in Fort Collins. Watson is the placement supervisor.
Recently, they made a dream come true for Zach Zeiset and Robin NeJame when they arranged adoption of an infant son for the Salida couple.
“I learned about Cindy when I read an ‘Update’ article about her in The Mountain Mail,” NeJame said. “‘Update’ is about former local residents and what they are doing now.
“Zach and I wanted to adopt a child and when I read about Cindy, I just knew she could help us.”
Sarai and Watson worked with another adoption agency before establishing their own. NeJame and Zeiset had also been working with another agency, trying to adopt girls, ages 7, 9 and 11.
Initially Sarai and Watson helped with that process. When it didn’t work out, Sarai asked if the couple would like to be put on a newborn list. The answer, of course, was yes.
“We figured we had a long wait ahead of us,” NeJame said. “Cindy and Emily introduced us to two birth mothers and we were open to any child.”
One of the birth mothers chose them to be the parents of her unborn baby. When the mother went into early labor, NeJame and her husband accompanied her to the hospital and Sept. 11 their son, Ethan NeJame Zeiset, was born.
“We spent the weekend together at the hospital and we all felt comfortable about the situation,” NeJame said. “I had resigned my job as a Spanish teacher at Salida High School, so I was ready to bring Ethan home and become a full-time mom.”
She and her husband maintain contact with the birth mother, visiting on the telephone about every two weeks. Theirs was an open adoption process, meaning there is direct contact between the birth mother and adoptive parents.
In their case there was a five-month waiting period during which the birth mother could change her mind, but that didn’t happen.
“As of April 13, Ethan was officially ours,” NeJame said. “However, we will continue to keep in contact with the birth mother.”
The adoption involved many hours of counseling, which helped Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. to know before placement if this was going to be a successful match.
Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. serves Colorado and works frequently with Salidans through the Salida Pregnancy Center, Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center and Chaffee County Social Services.
The firm has made placements of children with local families and have had five birth moms in nine years from Salida.
“It was wonderful working with these ladies (Sarai and Watson),” NeJame said. “We were really ready to be parents and we were happy it happened a little sooner than we expected.
“The community was great. We were advised not to buy things for the baby too soon, but about a week and a half before Ethan was born, we began buying things and friends brought us a lot of the items we needed to suddenly become parents.
“It was wonderful and we hope to do it again.”
Zeiset, the new father, said, “We had a real sense of neutral guidance with Adoption Dreams Come True.
“They were really open and answered all our questions and every time they came to work on our home study, we were very comfortable. We never had the feeling we were walking on eggs.
“It was an easy process and they returned calls quickly. And the real beauty is that Cindy (Sarai) is from Salida.”
Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. is planning a major fund-raiser in Fort Collins Oct. 21 and locals are invited to participate through donations of items or attending to bid.
“We offer a lot of Salida packages which gives publicity to this town,” Sarai said.
“One of our items this year will be a week at a local cabin donated by Make the Difference Foundation of which actress Jessica Biel – who has family members in Salida – is the founder.”
For Sarai, Adoption Dreams Come True isn’t work. It’s a passion.
“I work all the time but I don’t consider it work,” she said. “Doing what’s right by children and making healthy happy families isn’t work.”
Watson added, “Adoption is a great field to work in and be a part of. We’re actually creating families.”
A sliding fee scale is available for adoptive parents and is one of the lowest in the state. Birth mothers are never charged for services nor are they paid.
Adoption Dreams Come True Inc. has 57 volunteers throughout Colorado who help with outreach work. Volunteer opportunities are available if anyone is interested.