CBS4 News is featuring a special series of reports this holiday season called the 12 Days of Christmas. The following story is written by CBS4’s Lauren Whitney.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – Three moms with sons, all with challenges.

“I am the mother of an adult son who has multiple developmental disabilities,” said Gina Coufal.

“This can happen to anybody, like none of us ever planned on having a disabled child. It just happens,” said Shari Gunter.

Coufal and Gunter have been friends for years, navigating life with disabled children.

“My life has been focused on how to support him, how to make his life the best that it can be,” said Coufal.

She is the Executive Director of an organization called FRIENDS Of Broomfield.

As her son Josh grew older and out of the school system, Coufal knew her son needed something more.

“What I thought for Josh in the beginning is also good for others. And it’s kind of a ‘if you build it they will come,'” she said.

Friends of Broomfield was created out of a need to give these special people a sense of purpose. It’s a day-habilitation center for adults with disabilities. Today people here are cleaning toys they collected for charity.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“As we saw the need, we started to create programs that supported that need. It was really directed by the community and what those young adults needed as they got older,” Coufal said.

There are 50 participants of all ages.

“He gets that support and he can come here and tell them about his bad experience or scary experience, and gets a lot of love and support,” Gunter said of her son.

It’s a place where families know their loved ones are being taken care of.

For mother Jan Barnett, there is no better gift.

“As a mom, it’s a gift that is pretty much indescribable, to know that your special needs person, the most important person in your life, is safe and content and can reach his potential and is respected,” she said.

And the families get a much needed sense of relief.

“If I had to worry, or be concerned, or be hesitant or fearful of what was going to happen during his day. No mom could be happy with that level of angst. It’s just truly a gift,” Barnett said.

Gunter agrees.

“I’ve never thought once, oh I’m worried about Jesse at FRIENDS, but I have had to worry about him in other situations,” she said.

At FRIENDS of Broomfield, everyone is important and given choices to make their lives better.

“We are really catering to their needs, listening to what they want for themselves for their lives, because they are the experts on their life,” Coufal said.

And that’s the goal, to give everyone a happy and fulfilling life.

To learn more about FRIENDS, go to

Note from Lauren Whitney:

I discovered FRIENDS of Broomfield not too long ago when the wonderful people there invited me to host an event earlier this year. I was so moved by the people I met that night and the wonderful things their program does, I knew I wanted to feature them for our 12 Days of Christmas. Everyone at FRIENDS is passionate, caring, and all around amazing. I left in tears that night. This place really touched my heart. They are doing wonderful things, and not just for the participants, but also for the families.


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