CASA and the Coronavirus

CASA and the CoronavirusSouthern Gables Neighborhood Association

By Kerry Bishop

Southern Gables Neighborhood Association has contributed to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for the last several years.  Our neighbors have been involved in CASA leadership and have participated as court-appointed advocates for abused and neglected children.

Southern Gables Neighborhood Association supports CASACASA of Jefferson and Gilpin Counties ( gives abused and neglected children in Jefferson and Gilpin Counties a chance at the best possible future through awareness, advocacy, and support.  We are proud to have provided CASA volunteers to more than 3,900 abused and neglected children since 2001. CASA volunteers offer a consistent and caring adult presence in the lives of the children they serve.  Children are our future, but they can be the most vulnerable.

With the Stay-at-Home order earlier in the year, we made the difficult, but necessary, change to have only virtual meetups.  Our incredible CASA volunteers found great ways to keep eyes on their CASA children during the pandemic, everything from virtual book clubs, dance parties, workouts, and arts & crafts. Our volunteers are now allowed to meet their CASA children in person, as long as social distancing guidelines and masks are used.  Since Mandatory Reporters (teachers, doctors, childcare workers) are not seeing children in our area due to Covid-19, we must be prepared for a rise in child abuse cases once they do. These children need us more than ever.  You can help to change a child’s story.

CASA Jeffco/Gilpin is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that relies on donations and support from people like you.

Kerry Bishop is a CASA staff member and a Southern Gables neighbor. CASA manages their work with more than 93,000 volunteers nationwide. Each year more than a quarter of a million children are assisted through CASA services. Southern Gables Neighborhood Association is proud to support this vital work that impacts all of us directly and indirectly.

The Rock of Southern Gables

The Rock of Southern GablesSouthern Gables Neighborhood Association

Our Name Is Set in Stone

Our Southern Gables entrance sign (“The Rock”) at Jewell and Estes is on a small corner lot with landscaping maintained by neighborhood volunteers. During the growing season we have a signup list for watering and weeding. Neighbors take a one-week turn, and water two of those days unless the rain gives them a break. Irrigation water for the ornamental plants comes from a hose connected to the Martinez residence next door, and the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association reimburses the owner for the water.

Southern Gables SignFrank Bontrager heads up the effort needed for ongoing maintenance. He and some good neighborhood volunteers keep the landscaping in good shape, the weeds out, and the night light shining on the big stone slab. To provide a little background, Frank tells us, the 1,100 pound flagstone was installed in 2013. This sign project was the culmination of a two-year project funded by residents through the Neighborhood Association, and accomplished with the volunteer efforts of neighbors working together. Landscaping was completed with a weed barrier, granite rock and a number of perennials, shrubs, and three small blue spruce trees.

The project began with a lengthy series of negotiations by former SGNA president Stanton La Breche with the Ag Ditch Co., which owns the site. Dealing with the bureaucracy of a big company was an exercise in patience; in the end we actually had to pay for, and insure our interest in, reclaiming and improving their weed-choked, neglected lot. We had to pay the City for the cost of a curb cut on Jewell Avenue to give Ag Ditch maintenance equipment access to the east side of the ditch, since their trucks used to go through where our sign is now. On the bright side, one of our neighbors from a landscaping company provided a design at no cost for the project.

The volunteers whose labor helped make the project possible were Frank Bontrager, Stanton La Breche, Sam Sotiros, Dave Rulli, Doug Whitten, Bruce Lieb, Bob Ellis, Jim Palincks, and Ken Fischer. 1

We wrote a few years ago about getting the weeds cleared 2 from the adjacent lot on the east, and down the length of the ditch (The Southern Gables Riviera). That kind of project is by nature a recurring one, even though the requirements are not as exacting as you require on your lawn. We’re still after our friends at Ag Ditch to come out and take another whack at the weeds along the ditch. We’re pretty sure that they won’t wait another 50 years; we were happy they cleared it once, and we’re even happier that we don’t have to do the weeding all along the ditch ourselves. It’s enough to pick a weed or two, once in a while, when we water the plants around our sign.

If you’d care to volunteer to take a turn watering, as of this writing we have some weeks open in August or September. You can sign up here. The project naturally lends itself to social distancing, fresh outdoor air, and a little healthy sunshine.

Wood Bros. Homes

Wood Bros. Homes — Early Southern Gables

Click a pic, browse through the excitement of choosing a new home in the early days of Southern Gables: gracious design and quality construction, with the best modern features for luxurious suburban living.

Thanks to Roger and Nancy Frenette for photos of their Wood Bros. brochure, that they shared for the Southern Gables 50th Anniversary Celebration we held in 2017. Our late neighbor Bob Purvis told us back then what it was like to choose a home in the new development.

The lot we chose was in a wheat field, behind the show homes that had been built over on Wadsworth. We measured off from Jewell (paved, 2-lane) and the ditch to identify where our lot would be and see the view from there. We chose the lot before Wood was ready to sell; they said it would be early 70s. Then they moved up the schedule and opened it up in October 1967. We moved in in February 68.

There were a number of builders who developed plats within Southern Gables, but Wood Brothers left a distinctive mark with their “Southern” themed home model names, opening up the area around 1967. Craig Homes was a builder in the western part of the neighborhood, in the early 1970s and another was Russell Smith. “Neighborhood Pioneer” homebuyers in that area told of open pasture behind the houses, and assurances that Garrison Street would remain a dirt path down to connect with Estes.

Other early-day stories tell of the Green Gables School being “open plan” with no classroom walls. One neighbor said “It was a madhouse, but the kids learned somehow.” It was an advantage that the kids who could progress faster in some subjects were not held back, like they would have been in a regular classroom, from advancing at a pace that was best for them. Kids are pretty resilient. That’s a good thing to remember in these times as we face the future with remote learning inserted into the picture, even now to a degree as yet undetermined.

Runyon Brothers built in the southern part of the development, north of Valley View in the early 1970s. A distinctive feature of the Runyon homes was that they were built with dedicated food storage accommodations conforming to LDS Church standards. Another builder around that time was Secord, and he was a teacher at Kennedy High School. The Valley View homes (between Iliff Lane and Morrison Road) were built in the late 70s and early 80s, and photos from as late as 1982 show open views where houses would be built later. Loren DeShazer, in connection with the 2017 Anniversary, said that his house was built in 1977 and,

Not all of the houses were built when we moved in. There were 3 or 4 built after mine. There were none below, to the south. Lots of motorcycle trails down there. Dave Schoen got the neighbors together to build a wire fence all along the south side of Iliff Lane, and that calmed things down pretty well.

Thinking back on the early days of Southern Gables, Rich and Marsha Wagner told us,

The meadowlarks sounded so pretty with their singing before the rest of the houses were built. There was open space for the kids to play and fly kites. The little kids grew up together, became good friends. In the days when not many moms worked outside the home, there were coffee and bridge get-togethers while the kids were in school. We had a babysitting co-op. And walking to school! They all did that, and there was not a thought of it not being safe.

Another “Happy Days” kind of memory about early Southern Gables came from Bob Purvis,

Lakewood police wore slacks and blazers, kind of an experiment in being more approachable and community-involved. They were great with the kids. When a teen party got too big or loud they set up entry points and made the kids who were coming in dump their beer before letting them come in to the party. Their presence would keep the party tame enough. Very low-key, typical of the friendly neighborhood.

One common theme we heard at the 50th Anniversary Celebration was that what people liked about Southern Gables was having neighbors who became long-time friends. That’s a good thing wherever you live, isn’t it?