1966 Four Denver businessmen, Gale Neiswanger, Alfred Wiesner, Charles Hughes and Michael Reidy, establish Savio House as an orphanage for wayward boys. They purchase what is now known as the Red Brick Building at 325 King Street for $78,000. Jerry Dennis, a local schoolteacher, is selected as the Director. The facility is named Savio House after Dominique Savio, the Patron Saint of Youth.
The Red Brick Building at 325 King Street, the heart and soul of Savio, was built in 1910 by Architect William Norman Bowman and his wife Alice May. They name the building Yamecila. Eight years after its construction, the Sisters of Our Lady of Lourdes obtain the property for back taxes and ask the original architect-owner to design an inspirational chapel and dormitory to be used as a tuberculosis sanitarium. In its last years of operation the facility serves as a rest and recuperation center for nuns and priests.
Early 1970s The founders promote Savio House within the Lions Club of Denver, which gives generously to Savio House through its foundation. In 1974, the Lions Club of Denver assumes Board Leadership of Savio House. This Board structure is still in place today and insures the agency’s stability and commitment to its community-focused role and mission.
Late 1970s The Board of Trustees establishes a long-range plan and vision for Savio House and begin by hiring a new Executive Director, William S. Hildenbrand. The vision to build an organization that would offer leading-edge services founded in research still governs Savio’s activities today.
Early 1980s Savio House becomes well known as a high-quality effective service for boys. The property is rezoned, architectural plans developed and fundraising efforts begun for a new dormitory. After a two year moratorium on mortgage payments, the Sisters of Our Lady of Lourdes propose a settlement of the mortgage on the Red Brick building that is accepted by Savio.
Mid 1980s Construction to rebuild and expand the dormitory is completed along with remodeling of the former residential areas of the Red Brick Building into counseling and meeting spaces and administrative offices. The concept of day treatment for adolescents is initiated and the Savio aftercare program becomes Community Based Services, keeping youth at home during treatment and effectively eliminating or decreasing risk factors for further delinquent behavior.
Early 1990s A new Savio House Education Center is built and students and teachers move into the new building that houses a comprehensive on-grounds school program, back-to-basics learning and employment and life skills training prepare students for a successful transition to the community.
Mid 1990s Savio House is acknowledged for its creative and individualized response to client needs. There is tremendous growth in Day Treatment and Community Based Services referrals from a variety of state and local government agencies. Efforts are made to more aggressively involve families and to shorten service times. Construction on the Dining/Kitchen Addition is completed. Community Based Services is now serving a variety of state and local government agencies and is acknowledged for its creative and individualized response to client needs.
Late 1990s The Residential, Day Treatment and Community Based Services (CBS) programs are all licensed to provide alcohol and drug abuse treatment. The CBS program is selected by the Denver Department of Social Services as a pilot study, Direct Link, for children and families struggling with abuse, neglect, alcoholism and drug addiction. First year results of this effort are very successful.
Savio House receives accreditation from the Council on Accreditation (COA). The Direct Link program produces excellent outcomes for the second year and becomes a national model.
Construction of a new facility to house the ever-growing Community Based Services programs is completed. A Savio office is opened in El Paso County.
Early 2000s Savio is licensed as a Child Placement Agency with two group homes serving 10 youth. The number of families served each year increased by 50 percent to around 1,500 a year. In cooperation with the Denver Department of Human Services an after-hours emergency response team is created for children and parents in crisis. Savio Home Based Interventions of El Paso County joined with the El Paso Department of Human Services and Fourth Judicial District in establishing the first family treatment drug court in Colorado.
Mid 2000s To house Savio’s growing operations in El Paso County, the former Boy Scouts building at 525 East Uintah in Colorado Springs is purchased and renovated. At the same time an office in Northern Colorado is opened and exploratory talks to expand services to Wyoming take place.
Late 2000s Savio purchases the former Phipps Construction Company building at 1530 West 13th Avenue in Denver to house 70 of the 180 Savio staff members. The Savio Child Placement Agency reaches five group homes and eight foster homes and Savio becomes the first organization in the world certified to offer the cutting edge Multisystemic Therapy – Child Abuse and Neglect program with strong results in keeping children safe and in their own homes.
2010 and Forward Despite the recent economic downturn, Savio has continued to grow during the first years of the new decade. The agency has expanded its Child Placement Agency and now has 18 foster homes and 7 group homes serving 69 children. Savio has successfully implemented the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care program that effectively serves children with serious emotional and behavioral problems. Child protection and adolescent services have grown significantly in southern Colorado. Savio has established a location in Cañon City where staff operate as the fiscal agent and service coordinator for Senate Bill 94 which, through community services, aims to prevent juveniles from entering detention. Most recently a Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy service has been established for Savio children and families who have been identified as suffering from traumatic experiences.