Where there’s a will, there’s a way. For traumatized teens, it’s Third Way Center. You have to admire an organization that exists to help kids overcome enormous obstacles to thrive and become good citizens. Want proof it works? Program residents go on to support the organization as board members, event sponsors and civic leaders. And their kids do the same. These people relish their annual fun- and fundraising-focused True Grit Grand Gala…and deservedly so.

John and Katie Ringenberg (left), with Chris Maybee

On Saturday, Oct. 15, more than 300 supporters gathered at Infinity Park Event Center to catch up with old friends and raise money for Third Way Center. Who doesn’t love a gala theme that encourages Western dress and cowboy hats? This year’s Happy Trails title honored retiring executive director David Eisner after 45 years of leadership, as well as noted the organization’s priority of preparing teens for life after Third Way.

The evening began with a reception, silent auction and red-carpet photo opportunity. The dinner program speakers were all avid supporters–personally or professionally–of Third Way Center. They included: Brendan Bartic, emcee, former resident and board chairman; Gary Gray, board vice chair and presenting sponsor; Jean Smith Gonnell, high school dropout-turned-resident-turned-practicing attorney and board secretary; Brendan Zahl, president of sponsor Community Banks of Colorado; founder and medical director Hildegard Messenbaugh; honoree and executive director David Eisner; and Mark Lockett, a former resident who shared his positive story about breaking a negative intergenerational cycle that included his own kids’ college success.

The evening concluded with a live auction conducted by Jim Berz, then it was on to dessert and dancing to an energetic playlist by Angelo Fajardo (aka, DJLo).

(l to r): Jackson Patinella, Kathleen Cline, Amy Patinella holding son Anthony, Tony Patinella

Third Way Center offers truth and hope to high-risk, mentally ill, disadvantaged and often homeless adolescents and their families, a leader in the field of adolescent mental health care. The organization also gives clients the tools they need to help them become productive adults. From learning how to do laundry and open a bank account to building a resume and practicing for job interviews, the Third Way goal is to equip them for adulthood and future success.

Third Way Center provides around-the-clock treatment and care for young adults ages 14-21 with five residential houses in Denver and specialized treatment programs that address: building life skills, substance abuse treatment, independent living skills, a teen mother program, and an after-care and emancipation program. Typically, teens are referred by the Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Services, various mental health centers, or in some cases, private placement. For more information, go to https://thirdwaycenter.org or call 303-780-9191.

Blacktie Colorado
Blacktie Colorado