My name is Andy Winn and in short, I’m a guy who has always wanted to make a positive difference in the world. Since graduating from college with a psychology degree and studying a natural healing modality, I’ve spent most of my career evolution working to place myself in a position to help others. While still in college, I remember telling a friend in Boulder that if I could get paid to “just be there for people,” it’d be a fantastic life.
With a psychology degree in hand and no intention of being a psychologist, I bumped around looking for a purpose, and tried my hand at a few different things. It took a couple years, but I eventually found my way into residential treatment in 2001. I worked with a population that few would want to, children who have sexually offended. Those kids were difficult to work with, characteristically manipulating situations for their own gain and layering things with blankets of lies. The kids I worked with were not always verbally or physically combative, but the mental energy expended in dealing with their issues and holding them accountable was immense!
It only took until about half-way through that first shift to realize the humanity in them. Most people recoiled in horror when I mentioned that I worked with sex offenders, but I saw more of the picture. Even a kid who did something so horrible is still a thinking, breathing, loving human being, deserving of fairness, love, and dignity. Most of them were good people waiting to happen, and I like to hope that I had some positive impact on them.
During this time, I entered graduate school for school counseling, and graduated with a Master’s degree in 2006. In the fall of 2006, I began working with a special education department and met some amazing kids with special needs. My first days working there were scary, since I didn’t know how to approach people with special needs, but quickly realized that with an open heart, you just know what to do. Humor, organization skills, reminders, and encouragement go a long way. I worked in special education as an aide for two school years, before landing a counseling position in Denver in the fall of 2008.
Working in a high school was amazing! The energy, raw talent, joy, and potential was invigorating, and I fed on that energy in working with the students that I had on my caseload. I did a lot of good work that year, and like to think that I was able to positively alter the lives of some of my students.
I was also a camp counselor during the summers of 2008 and 2009. I worked at a camp for kids and adults with special needs, and witnessed some of the most amazing examples of love and compassion that I could ever hope to see. Inspiration literally at every turn, and kindness that would do everyone well to be a part of. Friendships quickly turned into what I would consider more similar to bonds common among family members. If there is a heaven on earth, it exists within the walls of that summer camp.
I have a natural ability to reach out and touch the hearts of others, and am proud of my ability to present my view of the world through writing, photography, and personal expression. My wish is to refine the passion in my heart into a useful set of tools that will ultimately reach a large audience and make things a little better.