Paws for a Cause is a series where we chat with our friends, clients, and peers in our local Colorado community. It’s a chance to check in and see how everyone’s doing in business and life.
YellowDog: Hello Heather! Give us the short version of your nonprofit’s mission. What population or cause do you serve?
Heather Tritten: Parent Possible’s mission is to equip parents with the skills and tools that they need to be their child’s most important teacher. We know that every parent has potential, and we want to support families to ensure that every child is ready for kindergarten on day one.
YD: How and when did your nonprofit start?
HT: Parent Possible was formed in 1991 by a team of volunteers with a vision to support parents as their child’s first—and most influential—teacher. The story really started a few years before then, however.
In 1989, first lady Bea Romer led a group of leaders on a trip to Israel to learn about the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program. That group brought the program back to Colorado and started serving families in the San Luis Valley and Western Slope. They soon figured out that they were onto something and created our organization to lead HIPPY and bring AmeriCorps funding to the program.
We added a second home visiting program, Parents as Teachers, in 2004 and a parent-support and messaging initiative called Vroom in 2016. Today, we serve approximately 3,500 families throughout the state through our home visiting programs and reach over 5,000 families through the Vroom app.
YD: What was your journey into your role as founder of this program? How did you get here?
HT: Most of my career has been focused on anti-poverty work. I moved to Denver in 2011 and applied to be Colorado’s Head Start State Collaboration Director. I thought this work would be about poverty, but it was actually a crash course in early childhood systems. I learned A LOT! One of those things is that the best way to break the cycle of poverty is to start with the children.
The work we do at Parent Possible is all about supporting both parents and children to change the trajectory of their lives. This is powerful and something that I just had to be a part of—and luckily, I am!
YD: COVID-19 has been a part of our lives throughout the past two years. What have you learned about your organization, and/or how have you adapted?
HT: The pandemic has shown us how important it is to show up for families. Our work is usually done in person, and much of it happens in homes across the state. The pandemic has taught us to be nimble and to focus on the important things. Our partners across the state have done everything from delivering diapers to hosting virtual brunches and visiting families on screens to meeting families outdoors this year. They continue to change lives every day, and that’s amazing.
YD: What are the top three items on a “wishlist” for your organization?
- Funding: We want to bring our programs to more families and communities throughout Colorado. Also, I would be a terrible non-profit leader if I didn’t ask for money!
- Partners: Part of our work relies on collaborating with trusted organizations and businesses throughout Colorado. We would love to have some big partners (like King Soopers, the Broncos, or DIA) help us inspire parents through some unique partnering ideas.
- Promotion: We are always looking for ways to get the word out about our work so that more families can know that they already have what it takes to be a great parent!
YD: Describe your organization in three words.
HT: Innovative, bold, passionate
YD: Love it! Thanks for sharing your story!
Now for some friendly rapid-fire questions:
Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Early bird or night owl?
Favorite local beer?
This is a hard one! I’m going to go with Great Divide’s Colette Farmhouse Ale unless I’m camping when it is their Roadie Grapefruit Radler.
What’s your best party trick?
My cooking! My favorite part of throwing a party is always putting together the menu.
What show are you currently binging?
Embarrassingly, I am binging Chicago Fire with my 14-year-old. We love it!
Any book you’re currently reading?
What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz.
What are you looking forward to most in 2022?
My daughter’s high school graduation—it’s a great reminder of why we do the work we do. Every child should have the support they need to succeed in school and life—and I know she has a bright future ahead of her!
YD: Thanks, Heather! It has been wonderful to learn more about this essential and valuable program. What a great resource to families all over Colorado! We hope your work on helping parents find their potential continues to spread and thrive throughout the greater Denver Metro area.
Would YOU like to be featured in the Paws for a Cause Interview Series?