About / Contact


Contact Us:

Address:Phone:719-784-4727
431 East Main StreetFax:719-784-2214
P.O. Box 355
Florence, CO 81226
Contact Us

Founded in 2003 in Florence, Colorado, Desert Waters Correctional Outreach (DWCO) is a 501(c)(3) community-based tax-exempt corporation (EIN 30-0151345).

DWCO’s mission is to promote the occupational, personal and family well-being of the corrections workforce through the provision of evidence-informed resources, solutions and support.

The Team















E-Board Members

E-Board

Eugene Atherton

Eugene Atherton, BA, is the President and Head Consultant of Correctional Consulting Services Group (CCSG). CCSG provides direction and services to clients in a variety of correctional subject areas such as organizational management, staffing issues, event assessment, systems development, security auditing and auditing systems development.Gene has provided evidence in Federal and State Courts as an expert witness on a variety of correctional issues including conditions of confinement, facility design, use of force, unlawful discrimination, management of high risk offenders, training and curriculum development and human resource management. Mr. Atherton is currently in his 40th year of service in the criminal justice field, serving 27 years for the Colorado Department of Corrections. For the last fifteen years, Mr. Atherton has served as a technical assistance consultant and trainer for the National Institute of Corrections on a variety of topics related to corrections. Additionally, he serves as a member of several committees for the American Correctional Association (ACA) and has authored numerous ACA publications.

Jeffrey Mueller, Treasurer

Jeff is President and Chief Executive Officer of Mueller & Associates, P.C., and Mueller Financial Solutions Co. Jeff is very active in various community and professional organizations, where he has held leadership roles.

Patricia Couri Schniedwind Psy.D., J.D., Vice Chair and Secretary

Patti is a licensed psychologist who practices in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She graduated from the Colorado School of Professional Psychology, Colorado Springs, CO in 2007, and from the University of Illinois Law School in 1976.

Joan Shoemaker

Joan Shoemaker, BSN, MBA has extensive background in correctional systems. Retired from the Colorado Department of Corrections, she worked in several roles throughout the system. She served as warden of a multi-custody prison complex housing both men and women for six years. She actively participated in research initiatives including evaluation of Therapeutic Community for Women, NIDA project CJ-DATS, and administrative segregation. At retirement, she was Deputy Director of Prisons responsible education, food service, laundry programs, and health care as the health authority for the entire prison system. In her role as Deputy Director, Ms. Shoemaker was appointed to several state level committees and boards including the Behavioral Health Transformation Council and Justice Assistance Grant Board. After retiring, she was a Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Visiting Fellow. Her fellowship focused on implementation strategies for corrections regarding the Affordable Care Act. Shoemaker has worked actively with the American Correctional Association (ACA) on several issues including health care reform. Additionally, she is a certified national accreditation auditor and was elected to and served on the ACA Commission for Accreditation for three years. In 2015, she received from the Colorado Criminal Justice Association (CCJA) the Harry Tinsley Award. This award recognizes a firm commitment to excellence and major positive contributions to Colorado’s criminal justice system.

David Stephens, Chair

David is currently the Dean for the School of Professional Psychology at University of the Rockies and is a licensed psychologist in Colorado and Wyoming. Past positions include: Chief of Behavioral Health and Grant Administrator for Colorado Department of Corrections, Director of Mental Health for Missouri and Wyoming Departments of Corrections, and Psychologist II at the Colorado Mental Health Insitute-Pueblo.  He is very active in corrections and criminal justice system work.  He is the President of CorrValues, LLC, serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Correctional Healthcare and works with the El Paso County, Colorado Mental Health and Drug Courts, providing both oversight and clinical services.


Donate

Your tax-deductible contribution enables us to continue to positively impact the professional and personal lives of corrections staff.

Click the DONATE button below to donate online via PayPal or alternatively click HERE to download a printable form that you can mail or Fax.

Note: Donations to Desert Waters Correctional Outreach are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

Our Story

Desert Waters Correctional Outreach, Inc., was founded by Caterina Spinaris, PhD, LPC, together with a group of citizens in Fremont County, CO, who were concerned about the health and well-being of corrections staff and their families.

Since Caterina does not have any corrections or other law enforcement background, she has been frequently asked why she got interested in this population. Here is an abbreviated story of how Desert Waters came to be.

Prior to moving to Fremont County, Caterina resided and worked in Denver, CO, in her independent psychotherapy practice. In September of 1999, she felt a very strong urge to move to Fremont County, CO, which, unbeknownst to her, at the time housed 12 prisons (8 state and 4 federal) plus a county jail, and had several other prisons and jails in immediately adjoining counties.

Caterina ended up moving to Florence, in Fremont County, in February 2000, intending to semi-retire and work in her practice part-time. Soon after starting her practice in Cañon City, CO, she began having corrections staff, family members, former spouses, and retirees seek her psychotherapy services. It quickly became very obvious to her that several of her corrections staff clients were dealing with seemingly work-related post-traumatic symptoms and depression symptoms, but had never “connected the dots.” Caterina also heard from various community members about the toll of corrections work, including high suicide rates of corrections staff.

As part of her treatment plan, Caterina sought corrections-specific resources to offer to her corrections staff clients and their families, but she could hardly find any such resources.

That is when she started sensing a prompting to step up and begin to offer products and services specific to this population.

Caterina was initially very reluctant to do so, as she has no law enforcement or military background, and as she was intending to semi-retire. However, the inner prompting persisted, and it eventually became apparent to her that this was a spiritual calling.

In response to the call, Caterina initially created a few products, including coining the term “Corrections Fatigue” in the year 2000 and putting together the first version of what today is Desert Waters’ signature course “From Corrections Fatigue to Fulfilment™.” And as the inner prompting would not let up, after much inner struggle, and in response to the obvious need, in the year 2003 Caterina gathered a team around her and incorporated Desert Waters Correctional Outreach as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt corporation dedicated to the well-being of corrections staff and their families.

The rest is history!

If you are experiencing a suicidal crisis or emotional distress, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.