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FOX21 Interview with Abbie Burke

August 29, 2023, Colorado Springs, CO: Abbie Burke, FOX21 Morning News Anchor interviewed Derek Wilson, SKSF Director of Development & Communication on Tuesday, 8/29/23 talking about SKSF’s 12th Annual Night of Comedy – Boots, Buckles & Chuckles event to help raise funds for Zach’s Place center! To view the full live interview:

Special Kids Special Families’ (SKSF) 12th Annual Night of Comedy is taking place Saturday, Sept. 30 at Boot Barn Hall featuring Comedian and Ventriloquist Entertainer, Greg Claassen.

The fundraising event raises money for Zach’s Place, which supports families raising children with disabilities. SKSF is a local nonprofit that’s been serving the Pikes Peak region for 25 years.

Tickets can be purchased on the organization’s website linked above and tickets include dinner and one drink ticket. FOX21 News Morning Anchor Abbie Burke will be the event’s Emcee.

Learning real world skills while developing friendships

August 23, 2023, Colorado Springs, by: Maggy Wolanske, FOX21:

Twice a month, a group of adults with developmental disabilities visit the woodworking room at Pulpit Rock Church and work on a wide variety of woodworking projects.

“We’re at Pulpit Rock Church, and we’re at the Love Your Neighbor program that they operate, and our adult day program clients are here enjoying the time,” said Director of Development and Communications for Special Kids Special Families, Derek Wilson. “They’re learning, they’re growing, and we’re just excited to be a part of that.”

One by one each group member arrived for the woodworking program. Every month, a group of adults from the day program of Special Kids Special Families are able to learn basic woodworking skills as well as other creative skills including how to sand, paint, and collaborate with each other. “It’s really important for our clients to be a part of that for a number of reasons,” Wilson said. “Not the least of which is that it helps them gain practical skills. It helps them to gain self confidence, socialization, and it’s just fun.”

This is thanks to the collaboration between two Colorado Springs nonprofit organizations; Love Your Neighbor and Special Kids Special Families. “We’ve been in partnership with them now for quite some time, and it’s something that we’ve just been excited to be a part of, to watch our clients really enjoy their time here,” said Wilson.
Inside of the woodworking shop on Wednesday morning, the biggest smiles appeared on almost every single participant’s face.

Richie laughed while working on his birdhouse Wednesday morning. “Our clients are here, they’re able to again, build those relationships, get the self-esteem skills, they’re getting practical skills and they’re giving back,” Wilson said. “They’re contributing to something that they know helps.”

A group of volunteers from the nonprofits work with these individuals to ensure they are safe and having a good time. One volunteer shared the personal connection she has with the woodworking program. “My brother had special needs, very low functioning, and he would come to day programs, and I just always thought this type of thing was so cool,” said volunteer, Kristie Miller. “So, to just be part of it, see their smiles, see the joy that it brings them is really awesome.”

Kristie Miller working alongside Lafeyette on a birdhouse. Beyond developing carpentry skills, this group of adults is able to socialize both with the volunteers and with each other.

“Socialization is vital to all of us, whether you have a disability or you don’t,” Wilson said. “It’s really important to have that connection, that camaraderie, those friendships, the relationships that are formed and built. They’re vital to all of us to have a healthy, growing, sustaining, richer and fulfilling life.”

Danielle shared with FOX21 the design of her bird house including her initials on the roof “DMU.” A goal of this program is to help by building beds for foster kids in Southern Colorado. “They created a Jenga set for their day program, and that was one project doing that,” Miller said. “So, it’s outreaching, not just a little project they get to take home. Sometimes they do turn into a gift that they take home, but sometimes they’re donating it back to their own programs.”

To read the full story and see live coverage:

Be Encouraged with Frank and Lisa Show Interviews SKSF

July 26, 2023, Colorado Springs, CO – Frank Sinclair and Lisa Sinnott hosts of the Be Encouraged with Frank and Lisa Show did a spotlight visit at Special Kids Special Families with Kevin Porter, SKSF Executive Director and Derek Wilson Director of Development and Communications. While at Zach’s Place center, Derek and Kevin spoke about the importance of the center in the community and how we assist and support families raising children with disabilities and special needs. Derek went on to promote the Night of Comedy event which raises funds for the program. Be sure to buy your early bird tickets (sale ends 8/31/23) for the 12th Annual family friendly Night of Comedy on Saturday, 9/30/23 at Boot Barn Hall.

Take a peek on SKSF’s Facebook page to help share the event information with a friend!

Our favorite days of the month: Colorado Springs nonprofits work together to provide wood working classes to special needs adults

Aug 1, 2023, Colorado Springs, CO, By KELLY HAYES A Colorado Springs woodworking program is teaching more than carpentry skills. Luke Wrobleski, the director of service organization Love Your Neighbor, teaches woodworking classes for adults with special needs every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at Pulpit Rock Church.

“Those have become our favorite days of the month, because there’s just so much joy in the woodshop when they’re in here, and we have so much fun,” Wrobleski said.

The program started in February as a result of a partnership between the nonprofits Love Your Neighbor and Special Kids Special Families.

“It grew from sort of an idea to we can really do something with this,” said Derek Wilson, Director of Development for Special Kids Special Families.

The classes were designed for individuals in Special Kids Special Families’ Adult Day Care, but Wrobleski decided to expand the program to the public as it continued to grow in popularity.

“Honestly, we were a little bit nervous because we weren’t sure how that would go,” Wrobleski said. “But it was clear that after just a few classes that happened in the woodshop, we loved it.”

Like the classes with Special Kids Special Families, the public classes have room for eight participants of all ages. “We’ll see how it grows,” Wrobleski said.

The classes are held in the church’s woodworking studio, which is also used by Love Your Neighbor to build bed frames for children in foster care. Wrobleski hopes to have some program participants help with the bigger projects like the bed frames soon as they work on their skills.

“It’s a growth opportunity. They like to give back too, and that’s part of that changing the face of what having a disability looks like,” Wilson said. “They feel really good that what they’re doing is helping somebody else because they often receive a lot of help.”

The two organizations found each other through a mutual connection: a volunteer with the church, who told Wrobleski about the special needs nonprofit.

“It was pretty amazing because after I got done talking to her, I checked my email,” Wrobleski said. “I had an email from someone at Special Kids Special Families, who said, ‘Hey, we like what you guys do. Is there any way we can get our clients in your woodshop?’”

After sorting through different project ideas and safety protocols, Wrobleski hosted the first class.

“It grew from sort of just an idea to we can really do something with this,” Wilson said. “It’s really grown big and it became a multifaceted win.”

Each class is around an hour long, Wrobleski said. The participants complete different projects each class, along with learning safety skills and basic woodworking like sanding, gluing, painting and nailing.

“Every project, they’re using sandpaper and sanding the wood so they get a chance to get in the woodshop and do things that I don’t think they really get a chance to do,” Wrobleski said. “Just real basic, building things, but it’s stuff that is not regularly available to them.”

Everything the participants need to complete the project is set up ahead of time, so when they come in, they’re ready to go. The shop is also outfitted with accessible work stations to accommodate those who use wheelchairs and mobility aids so that everyone can participate.

“They just feel like they’re a part of the community too,” Wilson said. “They’ve kind of moved from a place of often dependency to independency, and so they’re feeling really good about that.”

One of the most fun projects the group has completed so far might just be the ladybug frame, Wrobleski said. For that project, the students had a Polaroid taken of them when they entered the class, and then painted a ladybug frame to put the photo into.

“It was so much fun to watch, and they got so excited,” Wrobleski said. “We got to ask them the next time they came in. They say, ‘Oh it’s in my room’ or ‘It’s sitting by my TV at home.’”

“Not only do the participants learn valuable skills through the program, but they also leave each class with more confidence,” Wilson said. “They build confidence. They learn how to follow instructions, and while that may be easy for many people, for those in this community, that’s a great skill,” Wilson said.

And the students are sure to let them know of their excitement.

“One of the clients we had in the special needs class a few weeks ago who was fairly nonverbal, several times he would just yell out, ‘I love it. I love it. I love it,’” Wrobleski said.

Both organizations are hoping to add volunteers to the program so that they can serve more people.

“It’s just neat to see their excitement in the woodshop, because I think a lot of times, the people in society that are sort of pushed in the margins, they don’t really have their own voice a lot of times. So it’s neat to see them kind of come out and do something they really enjoy,” Wrobleski said.

Read full article here

Laugh Your Boots Off at SKSF’s 12th Annual Night of Comedy Benefiting Kids with Disabilities

July 25, 2023, Colorado Springs, CO – Special Kids Special Families (SKSF) invites the community to join their 12th annual Night of Comedy – Boots, Buckles, & Chuckles on Saturday, September 30th, at Boot Barn Hall featuring renowned comedian ventriloquist, Greg Claassen.  This signature fundraising event raises funds for Zach’s Place respite and childcare program supporting families raising children with disabilities. 

For 25 years, Special Kids Special Families has served the Pikes Peak region and has been committed to providing care and respite for those with emotional, cognitive, and physical disabilities.  SKSF promotes, strengthens, and supports children and adults living with disabilities and specialized care needs throughout their life span.   Every month, hundreds of children and their caregivers are supported by services and guidance provided by Special Kids Special Families.   

“Strong, healthy families are at the core of our goals and values,” said Derek Wilson, Director of Development and Communications.  “The kids we look after are unique and require specialized care and attention.  Moreover, we provide a break and support that parents need, while giving the child a chance for fun and challenging activities in a learning environment.”

Laughter really can be the best medicine! The care and respite provided to families served by Special Kids Special Families is invaluable. These families are faced with hefty challenges on a daily basis that at times can feel overwhelming.  The Night of Comedy event provides that “medicine” and levity that can be equally priceless to those who are investing in the good work and mission that SKSF provides.

“One of our most important goals at Zach’s Place is working on life skills, which is very important to families and the development of the children.  Additionally, we don’t turn away anyone for the inability to pay.  The cost for the type of care we provide is more than $30 per hour, but our typical family can only afford $5/hr.  That’s why the dollars raised from the Night of Comedy are so vital-so we can continue to serve more families with the highest quality of care,” said Kevin Porter, SKSF Executive Director. 

Here’s what you need to know:

The whole community is invited to support.  This is an adult centered event and recommend age is 15 & older.  The evening’s benefit requires pre-registration.  The theme is Boots, Buckles, & Chuckles so casual western wear is encouraged but not necessary. Early bird tickets available through 8/31/23 for just $85/person ($95 after) or $650/table of 8 ($750 after) and tickets offer so much, including:

While the night’s entertainment will be full of laughs, it wouldn’t be funny if you missed out.  Purchase your tickets online today at

Ways to participate, and be an SKSF Hero:

  1.   Need knows no season, and this immediate and practical contribution has significant impact and offers numerous benefits for businesses – amongst those benefits is the social impact for the community.
  2.   Starting a few days prior to the event, the silent auction will be online and allow those who cannot join in person to participate in the fun—all for a great cause.
  3. Donations can be made online or mailed in.  Donation dollars fuel the organization’s efforts so they can serve even more individuals and their families.
  4.  SKSF consistently has ongoing volunteer needs to enhance and amplify all that they do.  Visit their website to learn more on how you or your organization can join their volunteer team. 
  5.   Share your passion for SKSF’s mission and the Night of Comedy with your friends and the community!  Like, share, and follow SKSF on all major social media platforms, sign up for their newsletter, and tell all the folks you know about the good work SKSF is doing in the community.

About: Special Kids Special Families (SKSF)is a non-profit umbrella organization with several unique programs designed to support people with disabilities of all ages from early childhood through senior adult as well as their families and caregivers.  SKSF serves families without discrimination including all ethnicities, ages and situations.  SKSF offers programs for individuals with disabilities including:

For more information about SKSF programs and available job opportunities call (719) 447-8983 or visit