‘I knew what I had to do’ – Coyhis’ $100,000 grant for Wellbriety

       Don Coyhis signed over a large check to the White Bison group he leads at a dinner ceremony Dec. 19 at Trinity United Methodist Church. Not only was it about 2 feet by 4 feet in size, it was worth $100,000.

On behalf of his Wellbriety program, Don Coyhis (standing by rear wall) presented checks to White Bison and the Colorado Springs Indian Center (CSIC) during the monthly CSIC dinner in the Fellowship Hall of Trinity United Methodist Church Dec. 19.
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       The presentation before more than 100 attendees - most of them American Indians from the Pikes Peak region - formalized Coyhis' plans for expanding the scope of White Bison's Wellbriety program from new offices made available by Trinity.
       Wellbriety is a training strategy using traditional teachings to help Indian people work their way through personal problems, particularly alcoholism.
       The money had come to Coyhis as the result of his taking the $100,000 top award in the Purpose Prize selection process by the Civic Ventures Foundation of California. The entity had been seeking “exceptional individuals over age 60 [who] address critical social problems at the local, regional or national level,” its website states.
       As the 66-year-old Coyhis jokingly put it during a brief talk at the dinner, “I got one for old people.”
       But it's also true that he could have used the money for personal needs. “If I'd kept it, I could have gone to Maui and sat on the beach,” he said playfully afterwards. “But that only lasted a short time. I knew what I had to do.”
       Coyhis, a former business executive, had started the White Bison organization and through it the Wellbriety program, in connection with his own alcohol issues about 20 years ago, he explained. Much of his accomplishments with Wellbriety have been the result of his travels around the country, training individuals to implement the program. With the help of the grant and the offices at Trinity - which will be shared with the Colorado Springs Indian Center (CSIC) - the goal is to start bringing people from around the country here for training and eventually have Wellbriety pay for itself. That will get results “faster and better,” he said.

Lorenzo Tsosio (left) and Earl Jones, who helped prepare the meal's roast pig (shown just before carving).
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       The first classes at the new location will be Jan. 25-27, Coyhis said.
       At the dinner, Coyhis also gave CSIC a check for $5,000.

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