This is the first in a series of articles spotlighting the good that clients of Aspen Insurance Agency are doing in our beloved community. Regular people making extraordinary change for the common good.
Happily retired from a career in the biotech pharmaceutical industry, Jennifer LaBerge today devotes her time and energy to an emerging non-profit named Tall Tales Ranch. A long-time Denver resident who loves the weather and outdoors, Jennifer (like many of us) finds traffic to be one of the things she’d like to change. Even more important is her passion to change the lack of housing, work, and support for disabled adults.
To parents of children with intellectual disabilities, the big question is what happens when they die and are no longer there to care for their adult child.
Schweiger Ranch Jumpstarts Tall Tales with a Gift of Land
It’s no secret the vast lands of Colorado consistently provide miles of outdoor entertainment for the state’s adventurous residents. However, there stands one particular patch of land planning to start something magnificent.
Jennifer is one of the many people bursting with excitement at the start of this community, Tall Tales Ranch. Located in Lone Tree CO, on the historic 38-acre Schweiger Ranch, Tall Tales aims to create a place where adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can live and work together in a positive and stable environment.
The land graciously gifted by the Schweiger Ranch will allow Tall Tales to:
- Build residences and community buildings
- Have access to the rest of the ranch for growing vegetables
- Provide therapeutic horseback riding
- Participate in farmer’s markets
Neurotypical adults, such as community and staff members, will also be invited to live and volunteer at Tall Tales Ranch.
As for the masterminds credited with bringing Tall Tales to life, Pat and Susan Mooney are parents to a 23-year-old son, Ross, who began living with an acquired brain injury at age 14. Ross then quickly became the inspiration for what now has become Tall Tales Ranch.
A 15 Year Wait for Colorado Housing of Adult Children
When the Mooney’s began to investigate the options for Ross, they were shocked to discover the few resources and waiting lists of 15 years or more. They learned that Colorado is in the bottom five of state funding and provisions for this special population of people.
Growing up in a family that has children with developmental or intellectual disabilities is something Jennifer can relate to, thus her passion to volunteer. She grew up with a brother that suffered from brain damage caused by birth trauma.
Jennifer recalls watching her parents struggle with the challenges of finding safe housing and steady jobs for their disabled, adult son. The obstacles Jennifer’s parents, and many others, faced in caring for their son are precisely why Tall Tales Ranch was created.
Help Tall Tales Ranch Create a Community of Open Doors for Adults Living with Special Needs
Tall Tales is mostly funded thru donations and is the grassroots stage of developing this inclusive and special community. An annual “Hoedown” is the primary Tall Tales fundraiser event. The first year 150 people attended and in 2017 – year number three – more than 450 people attended. This year the Hoedown will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2018.
As the community of Tall Tales begins its journey of establishment in Lone Tree, Jennifer points out the positive impact on the surrounding community.
“It provides evidence that [Lone Tree] is reaching out to all different types of people, beyond the traditional bedroom community. Tall Tales will add character to Lone Tree with amenities like coffee shops, a unique venue for events or weddings, and weave diversity into the fabric of the Lone Tree community. ”
A timeline of three phases Tall Tales plans to initiate can be found on their website, starting from 2017 with building relationships to 2022, when they expect to establish the ranch and all of its business operations. To learn more, donate, or volunteer please visit the Tall Tales Ranch website. And if you need help with your homeowners, auto, life, or commercial insurance please call Aspen at 303-777-2991 or send an e-mail.