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FV Communities That Care awards area changemakers


Last updated 7/5/2022 at 7:20pm | View PDF

Ralph McCoy, PHF Design LTD

Winners of the Fountain Valley Communities That Care Changemaker Awards included, from left, Laura Ridenour, Ben Carino, Chief Chris Heberer on behalf of Fountain Police Department, and Quiana Vargas of The Salvation Army.

Several area organizations recently received awards for their role as "changemakers" in the arena of prevention programs among Fountain Valley youth.

These awards were distributed on the final day of the Youth Summit for Community Change with Fountain Valley Communities That Care.

"This is a new award from the Fountain Valley Communities That Care coalition," said Teresa Bassma, Youth Substance Use Prevention Planner with El Paso County Public Health. "The coalition wanted to honor changemakers with a focus on prevention in Fountain, Fort Carson, Security and Widefield. There were several award recipients in many categories, including coalition member, community member, organization, and youth."

Fountain Police Department won in the "organization" category for its new behavioral health unit, which hit the streets about one year ago.

"FPD was recognized for the Fountain Valley Community Changemaker award for standing up the Behavioral Health Connect (BHCON) unit," Bassma said. "In this co-responder model, police officers respond to calls with a mental health professional. They work directly in the field and with follow-up calls to citizens calling 9-1-1 to help them find resources in the community. Their work has resulted in fewer ER visits and jail admissions. The BHCON gets people the long-term help they need and support to their families. FPD received an additional nomination for their work on tobacco retail licensing, which prevents the sale of tobacco to minors."

Other award recipients included: 

Coalition member Jake Rundle, Fountain Library (PPLD) director, for advocating for a Drug Takeback Day and prescription medication lockbox distribution at the Fountain Library;  

Coalition member Quiana Vargas, The Salvation Army Fountain Valley Corps, for her work on providing homelessness prevention services and increasing childcare in the Fountain Valley Community member Laura Ridenour, El Paso County, for establishing mental health services in El Paso County jails;

Community member Chris Fenn, Sunnyside Market, for advocating for food security in the area; 

Youth representative Ben Carino, Teen Action Board member – Ben is a longtime member of the Teen Action Board and has advanced the mission of Fountain Valley Communities That Care for the last four years. He also completed an Eagle Scout project to increase accessibility of the Solid Rock Community Food Pantry by organizing a Saturday food distribution.  

The Youth Summit for Community Change was a three-day training event that coached young people through creating a substance use prevention initiative that can be implemented in their own communities. Award recipients and members of Fountain Valley Communities That Care identified areas where they could offer support in implementing the planned initiatives.  

Ralph McCoy, PHF Design LTD

Participants in the Youth Summit for Community Change learn strategies for youth substance use prevention.

Recently, Fountain Valley Communities That Care has been promoting safe medication disposal and storage. Area residents can pick up a household medication lockbox at Security Public Library or Fountain Library.  

Communities That Care (CTC) is a system to address risk factors for young people. El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) received a five-year grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in 2017 to implement the CTC model, and the Fountain Valley was the first part of the county to create a CTC group. On the EPCPH website (, Fountain Valley CTC lists its objectives as to:

Reduce risk or increase protective factors commonly associated with underage use or abuse of substances.

Delay initiation and reduce current use of marijuana, alcohol and opioids among middle and/or high school students.

To join community youth substance use prevention efforts, email [email protected]


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