Day of Service at The Right Step with Paytronix

paytronix 9 (2)On October 12, 2018, 14 volunteers from Paytronix supported, revitalized and beautified The Right Step. The projects are part of an ongoing commitment to give back to the communities that Paytronix resides in, both here and across the United States.  

The Right Step is a non-profit that provides equine assisted activities to individuals with physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and learning disabilities.  The mission of The Right Step is to better the lives of people with disabilities through the healing power of horses. 

In total, 91 volunteer hours were dedicated to The Right Step 


paytronix 3Volunteers completed projects all over the facility/grounds, refreshing and improving key areas. Over 200 bulbs were planted in the garden, horses were fed, horses were groomed, a shed was emptied in preparation of insulating and dry walling the walls, feed was stacked, and a storage stall was cleaned out and organized, including cleaning and photographing saddles for sale.  The grounds and operation of the facility were improved by these projects! 

By the numbers, Paytronix volunteers: 

  • Planted over 200 bulbs in the planter beds to beautify the facility 
  • Emptied the office shed and stored the contents in advance of the shed being insulated and dry walled. 
  • Fed the horses 
  • Groomed the horses 
  • Cleaned and photographed saddles for sale 
  • Organized the storage stall 
  • Stacked and unloaded feed for the horses. 
paytronix 4
Preparing the feed for the horses
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Planting flower bulbs
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Cleaning Saddles
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Grooming horses
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Stocking feed
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Organizing the storage stall

Volunteer Coordinator needed at Boulder County Fair

IMG_2128 (1)This position will help in the planning, recruitment, orientation, and engagement activities for volunteers for the 2018 Boulder County Fair, which will occur August 3-12 and attract more than 150,000 people. Several hundred volunteers are needed to support this event, in areas including guest services, vendor relations, and Ag-education.
Behind-the-scenes work begins in May, and post-event work will wrap up in late August. Hours are completely flexible, depending on the Volunteer Coordinator’s schedule. Some committee meetings will take place at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, but much of the work can be done remotely via phone and email. Onsite participation during the entire run of the fair is required.
This is a perfect opportunity for anyone who wants to develop hands-on experience with nonprofit management, event planning, human resources, safety and risk management, and volunteer coordination. Attention to detail, project management, and strong people skills are required. Extensive resources, training, and guidance are available.

If you have any questions before expressing interest, contact Val Purser at 720-420-3215.

Sign up here.

Volunteer at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo this weekend!

For 25 years, the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo has been an educational, recreational, and entertainment venue promoting the welfare, the beauty, and the bond we share with horses in our lives.

The 2018 Expo will take place Friday, March 9 through Sunday, March 11, from 7:00am to 8:00pm (exhibits close at 6:00pm on Sunday).

RMHE is looking for 75 volunteers of all ages to help ensure a positive experience for everyone who attends.

You can view this volunteer opportunity here.

For questions about volunteering with Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, you can contact Bill Scebbi at

An Interview with Amy Lowright, Registered Psychotherapist & Art Therapist

unnamed (1)I sat down with one of our volunteers, Amy Lowright, a registered psychotherapist and a board member of the Art Therapy Association of Colorado to hear her thoughts on art therapy. Amy received her MA in Counseling Psychology and Art Therapy in 2016 and has since been providing art therapy services to individuals of all ages with histories of interpersonal violence.

Caryn Oppenheim: What drew you to art therapy?

Amy Lowright: Art helped me process what I was going through in my own life, when I maybe did not have, or realize I had, other avenues to do so. I wanted to be able to offer that creative resource to others with similar experiences.

CO: What is the biggest myth about art therapy?

AL: A myth I often hear is that an art therapist’s role is to interpret the art that a client produces. It’s more about the process. Art is inherently regulating to the nervous system. Therapeutic Discipline Visual Arts Art TherapyThe art provides another focal point for individuals while in the room with a therapist. If accessing or sharing their feelings fails to come naturally or proves hard, art allows them to feel less vulnerable. A lot of times people do not have an idea of what they are going to create, but even if they do, there is usually something that comes out of the art that is a surprising insight as to what is going on for them.

Some great metaphors happen in art therapy that are symbolic and meaningful for the client, and an art therapist can help guide that. However, for the most part, we cannot, as art therapists, directly interpret the art.

CO: Can you tell me a story about how art therapy has impacted a client?

AL: I have numerous stories I could share. I was counseling a young girl who was called to testify against her abuser in court. We decorated a small rock in session and worked to associate positive feelings with it so that when she went to court she could hold it and remember how brave she was.

art-therapy-227567_960_720 (1)I saw another client who had experienced abuse most of her life. After having several years of space from it, she began exploring her new identity without the abuse – she began to notice herself improving her grades, having more motivation, and building healthy friendships. She came to therapy struggling with letting go of her old identity as an abused child and embracing her new identity as a thriving young adult. She created a piece over several art therapy sessions that showcased the many sides of herself, creating an opportunity for us to acknowledge and celebrate them together. I believe creating that art piece first allowed her to articulate and explore her new identity deeper, and helped her move forward from her past.

Thank you to Amy and all our therapists for the work you do.

We need you! If you are a therapist and want to use your gifts to assist others in need, consider volunteering with Metro Volunteers’ Pro Bono Mental Health Program. Contact Caryn Oppenheim, Denver Area Program Manager, at 303-867-0866 or for more information.

The Value of Art Therapy: Debunking the myths of training and practice for art therapists

After graduate school, I was fortunate enough to spend time with my family in Massachusetts before moving out to Colorado. The last year and a half I had struggled with my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my best friend’s little sister’s shocking death, stress dreams leading to insomnia, and depression.

Art is a force in my family. My mom is an artist, so was her mother and stepmother, and so is my aunt on the other side of my family. In between visiting with family and friends and preparing for my move, I sewed, I crocheted, I painted, I wrote, and I played the ukulele. Nothing had to be a masterpiece but everything was a piece of my masterhood. The process proved regenerative. All the parts of me that felt depleted and hurt emerged after I had pushed them down to get through my program. I began to fill up. The healing cells in my body proliferating, dancing in my brain and stimulating parts of me that had remained dormant or cutoff.

I am not an art therapist; my art-making lacked strategy. My only intention was to create.

The Origins of Art Therapy

Source: United States Department of Defense

According to the Art Therapy Association of Colorado, psychiatrists in the 1940’s grew intrigued by the artwork of their patients around the same time educators realized that art could reflect developmental growth in children. From the mid-twentieth century on, art therapy, coupled with talk therapy, surfaced in a variety of settings. Art therapists work in hospitals, shelters, schools, correctional facilities, and other agencies. Therapists run their own practices and also often counsel in the trenches of therapy, seeing clients who have experienced sexual assault, traumatic brain injuries, who have disabilities, who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and relationship issues.


The Research

Art therapy is not simply a flowery component to add to talk therapy–there is research behind it. In Melissa Walker’s article “Understanding the Value of Art Therapy,” she explains how art therapy can impact individuals who have experienced trauma:

In a healthy brain, the left and right hemispheres are constantly communicating. According to Bessel van der Kolk (2003), neuroimaging scans suggest that when an individual attempts to recall a traumatic event, the left frontal cortex of the brain shuts down. This includes the Broca’s area of the brain, which is the center of expressive speech and language. In contrast, the areas of the brain that are activated during trauma light up. These include areas in the right hemisphere of the brain that control emotional and autonomic arousal and detect a threat (Crenshaw, 2006). According to Klorer (2005), art-making activates the same parts of the brain as trauma… indicating that art therapy has the ability to bypass the left frontal cortex and stimulate the area of the brain responsible for encoding the traumatic memory. When an individual then processes the meaning behind their artwork with the therapist, they are reactivating the frozen speech area of the brain, and therefore reintegrating the two hemispheres.

Art Therapy in Colorado

Source: United States Department of Defense

Art therapy requires a master’s degree from a nationally accredited graduate-level art therapy program. Art Therapists learn assessment tools, processes that foster therapeutic growth for their clients, and other crucial components of therapy. In Colorado, art therapists lack title protection. Anyone who is a therapist can market themselves as an art therapist, undermining the training art therapists receive, mitigating the positive outcomes of the investments art therapists put into their education, and increasing competition over clients interested in art therapy. Most importantly, a lack of title protection potentially proves harmful for clients, when someone who lacks training in art therapy attempts to interpret or unpack trauma or other concerns with a client.


We need you! 

If you are a therapist and want to use your gifts to assist others in need, consider volunteering with Metro Volunteers’ Pro Bono Mental Health Program. Contact Caryn Oppenheim, Denver Area Program Manager, at 303-867-0866 for more information.

American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb Event, March 4. 2018

MARCH 4, 2018 7 AM (MT)

Republic Plaza | Denver, Colorado56 Floors, 1098 Steps

Online Registration Closes on Wednesday, February 28 at 10:00 a.m.
*You will be able to register the day of the event but registration fees increase to $40. The required minimum fundraising fee of $100 will have to be turned in before you may climb.

Start Times are here:
Start times for those who registered after Thursday, February 22 will be announced on Thursday, March1. We will repost start times at that time.

Packet Pick-Up:
We will be offering a couple of different packet pickup times and locations. Click here for the full schedule for packet pick-ups.

When you participate in a Fight For Air Climb, you are stepping up to make a positive impact in the lives of those affected by lung disease. Participants raise funds to support the mission of the American Lung Association while training to climb the stairs of a skyscraper.

Whether you are climbing alone or with friends and family, as a part of a healthy lifestyle or in honor of all those who are affected by lung disease, you will achieve a sense of personal accomplishment as you reach the top of the building and the height of your fundraising potential. Every step you take moves us forward in our fight for healthy lungs and clean air.

Join us for the 13th annual Denver Fight For Air Climb. This Colorado experience will leave you feeling accomplished and thankful for your lungs when you finish climbing the 1098 steps. Are you still wanting more? Register for the Ultimate Climb, allowing you to ascend the building as many times as you can in an hour.

We encourage you to start today and are here to help you, from the first step in your Climb all the way to the top. Contact us with questions or for more information.

Registration Information: The earlier you register the more you save!

Climber Registration Fee (after December 10): $35

Climber Day of Registration Fee (March 4): $40

**Ultimate and Ultimate Plus Climbers can select the upgrade during registration for an additional $15-$30. Visit our FAQ page for more information about Elite, Ultimate and Ultimate Plus climbing information.
*All participants are required to fundraise $100 in addition to the registration fee in order to be eligible to climb.

**Ultimate Climbers can select the upgrade during registration for an additional $15-$30. Visit our FAQ page for more information about Elite, Ultimate and Ultimate Plus climbing information.


Please note that all climbers must be at least 10 years old by event day in order to participate. Any climber under the age of 18 must climb with an adult, and must not be left alone under any circumstances. For adults who climb at a faster pace, please note that your child may not be left unattended while you climb. Please make arrangements accordingly. Due to building regulations, your safety, and that of your child, child toting is not allowed.

Collecting cash or check donations to support your Climb?

Be sure to use our pledge form and drop off or mail your donations before Event Day to:

Fight For Air Climb – Denver
c/o American Lung Association in Colorado
5600 Greenwood Plaza Blvd
Suite 100
Greenwood Village, CO 80111

Questions about the Fight For Air Climb?

Please review our FAQ and Event Day Details pages.

Register Today!

Help at-risk children and their families by volunteering at JeffcoEats


It’s simple yet effective. JeffcoEats gives at-risk children and their families food for the weekend to alleviate a weekend of hunger.  Period.

All of these children, in 10 different Jeffco schools, are provided breakfast and lunch at their schools during the week.  BUT without Jeffco Eats most, if not all, of these children would go hungry over the weekend.  2 days of hunger is not an acceptable situation!

Wouldn’t you like to get involved and make sure these children are fed on Saturdays and Sundays? There are volunteer opportunities EACH WEEK; and, you can bring your children and teens to help…make it a family project!

Below are the types of volunteers that Barbara Moore (she’s the founder and Executive Director of JeffcoEats) needs each week. We at Metro Volunteers are proud of the work Barbara does because she is impacting the lives of literally thousands of people every week…people who are our neighbors, our friends and who need our help.

2 Drivers (any size car is OK)

Every Thursday from 11 am – 1 pm


20 Food Packers (children, teens & adults are welcome)

Every Friday from 10 am – 11:30 am

Foothills Elementary

13165 W. Ohio Ave.

Lakewood, CO


2 Drivers (to drive a U-Haul van)

Every Friday from 8 am – 10 am

Pick up food from Food Bank of the Rockies and deliver to Foothills Elementary


To talk with Barbara directly or for questions about these fun volunteer activities, call or email Barbara: 720-231-8337 or  You can find more information about JeffcoEats on their website:

MSU Denver looking for bilingual volunteers to serve as interpreters at tax site

In collaboration with the Piton Foundation and other community-focused organizations, Metropolitan State University of Denver will be hosting free tax preparation from February 1-April 9, 2018 on campus. 

To serve our diverse communities, MSU needs volunteers who are bilingual and can serve as interpreters.

Hours will be Mondays, 5:30-8pm and Thursdays, 5:30-8pm.

MSU will host the tax site in their Student Success Building at 890 Auraria Parkway Denver, CO 80204. 

Those who wish to volunteer just need to take the Volunteer Standards of Conduct and print up the certification upon completion to bring to volunteer assignment. Each volunteer will need to create his/her own account before accessing the quick test –

After completing the certification, please contact Lauren Kested ( at MSU Denver to get details about your volunteer duties.

For more information or to get tax help, click the pdf below-

Free Tax Preparation at Metropolitan State University of Denver

Metro Volunteers’ The Daisy Club provides support and healing during young victim’s recovery

WARNING:  the following blog is about child sexual abuse and may be disturbing to some readers. But…please read because there is hope!

Child Sexual Abuse is a subject not often broached at parties or family gatherings or white-daisy_a-G-8665020-4985691while shopping with the girls.  It’s horrifying even to think about. But the first step in talking about this subject is realizing that awareness is the first step to prevention.

Let’s get the statistics out there so we are all on the same page: (all of these statistics can be found at and because of wide under reporting of child sexual abuse, the actual statistics are much, much higher)

  1. About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  2. Only about 38% of child victims disclose the fact that they have been sexually abused.
  3. About 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
  4. Nearly 70% of ALL reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.
  5. 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser.  30% are abused by family members; 60% are abused by people the family trusts.
  6. Most people think of adult rape as a crime of great proportion and significance, and are unaware that children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults.

m-hLm5NLThere are many organizations today that teach about child abuse prevention, hold seminars, give voice to the victims’ stories, and support the victims and their families in their recovery.  Darkness to Light, a national nonprofit, comes to mind; as do the hundreds of Children Advocacy Centers scattered throughout the world.  These organizations are in the forefront of child sexual abuse prevention and treatment and I have the utmost respect for their work.

There’s another program here in Colorado that provides support, guidance, comradery and healing during the victim’s recovery.  It’s called The Daisy Club.  It has a warm, friendly name, doesn’t it?

unnamedThe Daisy Club is a program of Metro Vlunteers’ Pro Bono Counseling and Recovery Program.   Pro Bono’s mission is to serve low-income individuals and families with free mental health services.  This program connects the services of volunteer licensed mental health professionals with underserved and at-risk people.

The Daisy Club is now in its 4th year. This club is actually a support group for young girls who have experienced extreme trauma, mostly sexual abuse. We call it a club because what little girl wants to go to a support group?

Here’s what one brave 6th grade girl has to say about her ongoing counseling through The Daisy Club:

“The Daisy Club wasn’t just games and fun all the time.  We got to talk about all of our feelings.  Deep down a lot of us were hurting or just sad.  Such as me.  I will use myself as an example.  For 5 years I was sexually abused.  The bad guy is locked up, but it still hurts me to this day.  I still have lots of deep depression and anxiety issues. Lots of people tell me that I’m strong and brave.  I do feel that sometimes but not all the time.  Sometimes I feel like I’m alone, sometimes I feel there is no escape. But at the end of the day there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. I want to be able to tell anyone and everyone who has been abused, that it’s safe to tell someone.  Yes, you might be scared. But when you do, believe me, you won’t regret it.  If you have been abused, then I want to tell you that you are not alone. There are millions of other girls that have experienced what you’ve been through. Like me. So please if you need to talk, it’s okay to say something.”

This little girl has courage!  It’s not easy for her to talk about all the horrible things that happened to her during those five years.  But she found healing in the talking and sharing.  That’s hope!

In 2018, the Pro Bono Program will begin a program called The Guys Club, a support group for young boys who have experienced severe trauma, including sexual abuse.  It will be for boys ages 8-12 and it will teach leadership skills, communication skills as well as be a “fun support group” type of club. 

The Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program transforms lives!  The Pro Bono Program continues to grow as the need for affordable mental health services in the community increases.  

CGD 2014_Master(WORKING)Please help Metro Volunteers continue and grow its Pro Bono Counseling and Referral Program by donating today.  Click here to support The Daisy Club and The Guys Club and give these children the hope of a brighter future.

Thank you for reading this blog and a BIG THANK YOU for financially supporting Metro Volunteers’ programs!

Should We Blame Mass Violence on Mental Health?

What do you think: do the number of shootings and acts of violence in our country indicate a mental health crisis?

Lindsey Tanner, an Associate Press Journalist writes, “It’s a common reaction to mass violence – who in their right mind would commit these senseless crimes? The truth is more nuanced… ‘Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3 to 5 percent of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness,’  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service website says.”


I understand our reaction to these traumatic events–in order to process the shock, the grief, and the cognitive dissonance that occurs when we think of our faith in humanity next to one human killing fifty, we need to find a reason, a box, to place blame.

I also agree with Tanner. It’s not that mental health isn’t part of the picture, but it’s that we need to look at what factors intersect with mental health histories to create a perfect storm.

By shining a spotlight on mental health as the sole influencer of these horrible acts of violence without acknowledging the other lead actors on stage, we are contributing to increased discrimination towards individuals with mental health struggles.

Let’s add some variables.

Tanner continues on to cite Jeffrey Swanson, a psychiatry professor at Duke University, “traits that are much more strongly linked with violence are ‘being young and male and having a history of childhood maltreatment, substance abuse and exposure to violence.’ In a study a few years ago, Swanson found that about 1.5 percent of Americans with impulsive anger that doesn’t necessarily amount to mental illness ‘are carrying around guns with them.’ ”

imagesYes, these factors are not unrelated to mental health. For instance, many therapists possess expertise in offering counseling and support around anger issues and substance abuse, yet we must avoid looking at any of these factors in a vacuum, nor can we assume mental health is a key contributor each time. We cannot employ offensive language such as “deranged”, “crazy”, “mad”, “nuts”, “psycho”, “looney” or “insane”–words that have historically referred to individuals who suffer from mental health issues in a derogatory way when these events unfold in our country. These words also take the millions of us down who experience mental wellness issues–not just the shooter.

Let’s grow our conversations into more sophisticated ones, examining our culture, our policies, our gender norms, and other variables that may influence our country’s occurrences of mass violence.