RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT FACILITY GIVES BACK TO COMMUNITY

The theme of fall at Red Top Meadows is community service and the importance of being a positive member of a community. The staff and residents recently returned from their Fall Wilderness Experience where our residents paired up with the Jackson Ranger District Forest Service Trail Crew to work on trails down the North Fork of Fall Creek. The ultimate goal, that we have been working on over the past few years, is to revive a multi-purpose trail that is referred to as “The Knob.” This trail will ultimately provide another option for the surrounding community to hike, trial run, mountain bike, horseback ride and hunt.

Long Draw Outfitters, working out of a hunting camp in the area had discussed, with Trail Supervisor Tim Farris, a particularly problematic   section of low-lying predominately mucky trail near their low camp. As a result, this years mission was to reroute about 1/3 mile of trail out of a low wallow and to drier, higher ground on the side-hill above. Our residents camp on-site for the duration of one week to complete our work. Our crews were fortunate to find sunny afternoons of hard work to warm themselves up from frosty mornings with frozen boots. After crushing out a significant part of the reroute in the first two days, the crew spent the final days perfecting their work and closing the old trail.

This trip provides a valuable opportunity for our residents to take pride in hard work and feel like positive members of a larger community. One resident said after the trip, “I’m proud to have accomplished such a large project with all the other people that were working side by side with me. I felt part of a community when we would stop at lunch and just enjoy each other’s company, then eventually get back to work.”

Go check out their reroute before the snow falls! If you don’t get there this season don’t worry, their hard work will benefit the surrounding community for years to come.

Teen Power: Fostering Relationships Through Jobs

“Our work is about relationships.”  This message is true and fundamental to TYFS as a whole, and the Teen Power is certainly no exception. Teen Power is an extra-curricular activity open to all Jackson Hole Middle School students. We seek to connect youth looking for work experience with community members who could use an extra hand. But far beyond that, Teen Power is an  opportunity to develop individual character strengths and meaningful relationships.

This past summer an older adult who was having difficulties being active enough to exercise her dog called to inquire about Teen Power’s services. We were able to connect, Jessica, a 7th grade student who lives in the same neighborhood, with Donna and her pup, Bella. Jessica loved the opportunity to make some money, but her parents were more excited about witnessing her place a high value on helping others while demonstrating responsibility. Now that school is in session, Jessica can only help out a few times a week, but in hearing her talk about her first work experience one can easily identify a growing sense of personal power and purpose. Jessica also forged a connection with Donna, who acted as another caring adult in her life.

Not all Teen Power jobs result in long-term relationships, many are one-time home or yard projects or babysitting needs. These still contribute to a student’s sense of self. The weekly after-school component allows for career exploration at the same time as students learn about communication, team-building, gratitude, and other soft skills fundamental to future growth and success.  We believe that by providing a  supportive context in which young  people can feel more connected to something they care about, they will be less likely to engage in maladaptive  future behaviors.  We strive to keep our work centered on developmental relationships by helping young people discover who they are; develop abilities to shape their own lives; and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them. If you are interested in learning more or have an opportunity or a student to work, please contact Ben Brettell at bbrettell@tyfs.org or 733-7946.

 

Staying Active is Important for Kids at Van Vleck Group Home

For most people in this valley, daily outdoor activities are a critical aspect of a healthy well balanced lifestyle.  However, for kids and families in crisis, this is an aspect of life that becomes less of a priority when taking care of the basic daily essentials and when dealing with challenging situations.

One of the ways we fulfill our mission to help children and families find their way to fulfilling and constructive lives, during the summertime, is to help the kids improve their sense of physical control, joy and belonging through outdoor activities. We make it a priority every day that the kids at the Van Vleck House participate in some form of physical activity in the  out-of-doors. Youth Care Workers are integral in making this happen and are always looking for creative ways of motivating the kids to participate in new and fun adventures.

Activity highlights from this summer include what we like to call Student and Staff Olympics. This is a day of field games with teams of staff and students participating together in games such as tag, relays, “jousting” and a basketball/ultimate Frisbee/team handball hybrid called Versaball. The kids volunteered for a morning in exchange for time on the Snow King Ropes Course. This involved helping to spread bark chips on the pathways and culminated in several hours of high adventure. Each of the kids returned with stories of daring and excitement. Other outings have         included fishing on the lakes, skateboarding at the skate park, tennis at the park and hiking.

Summertime at the Van Vleck House presents the staff and kids with a multitude of opportunities that aren’t normally available during the school year. Summer break allows us to spend more time with the kids and present them with some new activities and challenges. With the longer and warmer days we can travel further afield and get into activities which expose the kids to things they may have wanted to try but couldn’t or to activities that  transform into a new interest. The increased time together also allows for a focus on therapeutic issues and an increase in attention to maladaptive behaviors. This is a time which enables us to more clearly identify what the  issues are and gives ample time to practice and process new ways of thinking and trying out new behaviors. It is also a time to play, which as we know, allows for the residents to let their guard down and just be kids, which can be extremely healing. By trying new things, the kids are able to increase their self-confidence and resilience by challenging themselves to push the limits of their comfort zone. Trying new things in a fun and relaxed way increases kids’ ability and motivation to experiment with new behaviors in relation to their world view, family  system and peer relations.

 

IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS: A Mom and Son Overcome

I first met Zach nearly one year ago.  He was referred to the Hirschfield Center for Children by his elementary school counselor.  Zach was already meeting with a therapist, but the school staff saw how his behaviors were related to instability at home.  Poor social skills, defiance and anger towards teachers, and a lack of self-confidence were the symptoms. The Hirschfield Center for Children [HCC] collaborated with Zach, his mom, and the professionals already involved to peel back some of the layers and understand more about what was going on for our new young client. Zach’s mom, a single parent, was smart and made a good salary.  She cared deeply for her son but was struggling to find the time and energy Zach needed as she was running on fumes herself. Our plan was multi-faceted and centered around working with the family on their goals to strengthen their relationships.

Zach would meet weekly with HCC staff in the community: having fun, building trust, and learning social and  emotional skills to use at home and at school.  Mom also met with us on a weekly basis.  She found support and a place to process and brainstorm.  She tried new parenting techniques and built in time for connection and fun each day with Zach, even if only for 15 minutes.  As their  attachment and connection grew, not only did the blow-outs reduce in frequency and duration, but Zach’s issues at school also lessened.  He was getting positive attention in   other venues and was also able to vocalize and express his more difficult feelings.  By focusing on empathy and connection, as well as self-care, Zach’s mom found renewed energy, which, perhaps to her own surprise, she needed to tap into less and less.

Sharing a space with Zach and his mom, as we occasionally do in family check-ins together, is warmer, freer, and more natural.  When things are difficult, as they still can be, having the added depth of connection built on empathy, laughter, and shared experiences allows for more choices to present themselves.  Zach is excited about school, has had many positive experiences with peers at camps this summer (including JH Leadership Program!), and is excited about a long weekend trip to Salt Lake City that he and his mom have been planning together.

By welcoming families from all walks of life, and meeting them where they are individually, the Hirschfield Center is able to offer a window into the rewards their efforts will garner.  People sometimes ask us how we keep working in the face of trauma, abuse, and family dysfunction, the answer, always, is focusing on the strengths present.

What is the Juvenile Court Diversion Program

The Juvenile Diversion Program works with eligible youth to pursue an alternative course to formal adjudication. While participating in Diversion the youth address their offense in a meaningful way, ultimately reducing the chance for recidivism. By seeking out community-based alternatives youth offenders can learn to avoid problem behavior and develop effective life strategies which improve community safety and  re-offense rates.
Criminal activity is often indicator of much larger issues the youth may be experiencing. As part of the Program the Diversion Officer conducts an initial assessment and evaluation that looks not only the offense, but family relationships, home structure, academic performance, behavior, social activities, drug and alcohol use, suicidal ideation, physical or sexual abuse, neglect and general ability to complete the Program. Expectations and terms are then developed and put into a written contract with the youth.
A successful Diversion participant may complete community service, substance abuse counseling, maintain steady grades and complete any additional projects deemed beneficial to meet the greater needs of the youth. Restorative Justice Conferencing may also be implemented, bringing together victim(s), community and offender and offering them the opportunity to make amends for harm caused to the community and collaborate on ways to deal with the aftermath of the offense.
Upon successful completion of the Diversion Program, the youth will not have a record of criminal conviction, an enormous benefit to minors who are concerned about applying for jobs or to colleges. Diversion cases vary in terms of length, but an average term is 5-6 months.
For more information visit- TYFS COURT DIVERSION PROGRAM or contact Dan Oas at doas@tyfs.org.

Teton Youth and Family Services Raises a Record $64,000 at 20th Annual Golf Benefit

92 Golfers enjoyed 18 sunny holes of golf at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis, raising funds for youth and families in need of prevention, crisis and residential services.

JACKSON, WY. On June 22nd Teton Youth and Family Services hosted its 20th annual golf fundraiser at the Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Course raising $64,000 to provide direct services for children and families in the community.

Fundraising for these programs supports prevention, crisis and residential services for hundreds of children and family members each year. Teton Youth and Family Services is the umbrella organization for the Hirschfield Center for Children, Family Advocate Project, Teen Power, JH Leadership Program, Van Vleck Group Home, Adams Canyon Crisis Shelter, Court Diversion Services, and Red Top Meadows Residential Treatment Center.

The Benefit was a huge success this year highlighted by a stunning golf course, perfect weather, and a longstanding group of incredibly supportive sponsors and players. “It is wonderful to have such strong community support as shown by the sponsors and players. The increase in participation and funding demonstrates the importance of our services for children and families.” remarks Bruce Burkland, Executive Director of Teton Youth and Family Services.

Players were able to enjoy some friendly competition and the overall winning teams included a Men’s Team of Chet Phillips, Robert Gill, Scooter Gill, and Patrick Gill, a Mixed Team of Paul & Shirley Piper, Bob Benz, and Karen Chatham, and a Men’s Senior Team of Roger Kintzel, Jerry Carlson, Jack Howe, and John Hechinger. Contest winners included longest drive winners Chris Tarpey and Margaret Brady and closest to the pin winners Patrick Gill and Shirley Piper. The “Hole in One” Contest, honoring the memory of the late Karen Oatey, had a desirable Subaru Outback donated by Teton Motors, although many were close, a hole in one did not happen this year.

The fun, friendly and successful event was a great way to kick off the summer season and remember the importance of providing for the essential needs of children and families in the community.

Contact: Sarah Cavallaro, 307-413-2767, scavallaro@tyfs.org

About:

Teton Youth and Family Services’ mission is to help children and families find their way to fulfilling and constructive lives. The organization has been providing services to the Jackson Hole area for 40 years.

 

 

To see more pictures and what a great time was had please click HERE