Farewell Message by Lee Grogg

You have made it possible for us to continue our work with and on behalf of children that most people want to ignore. Your support has distinguished you as not only kind, but discerning. I also want to take this opportunity to say goodbye. After 42 years as a nonprofit CEO with the last fifteen wonderful years at Ryther I am retiring. I am so grateful to all of you for the help you have been in the task of making sure Ryther continues its important work.  We have made a lot of progress, but much remains to be done.  I am confident it will be done because Karen Brady has been chosen as my successor. Karen has been devoted to Ryther for the past twenty years in a variety of capacities. Frankly, I have never met anyone better suited and prepared for the job.  I know you will extend your kindness and support to her.

There are far too many people in the children’s services sector who believe children can recover from severe trauma by themselves in a “normalized” environment or with uncoordinated help from a fractured and siloed mental health system that has never adequately addressed the needs of abused and neglected children.  This is one reason why the system is impoverished and habitually prone to crises. 

 Please stay connected with Ryther.  Please continue to express your support of a proven program that can alter the futures of children who might otherwise be doomed to a life of impossible struggle and pain.  Join Ryther in the fight to make sure the system focuses on the safety, health and well-being of children as the first and most important priority. 

The children are counting on all of us.

Thank you,

Lee E. Grogg

 

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It does take a Village by League Chair Paige Kilborn-Otero

It has been my real pleasure to serve as Chair of such an incredible group of people doing incredible things for the children at Ryther and I am happy to be able to serve again this next year.  A big thanks to the Mardi Unit on Whidbey Island, who raised close to $30,000 at their event last October, to the Blue Ridge Unit that raised $38,000 at their Oktoberfest event, with the welcome help of Moonlighting, to Sou’Wester for their incredible sales of Poinsettias during the holidays, to the Noel Unit for raising close to $40,000 at their Holiday Luncheon, to the Forest Drive Unit for their hard work in the Receiving Room putting together Holiday items (from left overs) for the thrift store, Thank you! To all of you that contributed to the Kids Holiday Store, put together Easter Baskets, baked cookies, brought in birthday cakes, provided haircuts to the kids, to those of you who work in the Receiving Room and the thrift store, thank you!

 For the generosity of members at our luncheons for filling the need for shoes, clothing and kitchen supplies, you are helping children feel valued and cared for.  It takes a Village for sure! We are actually doing more with less League members, which means that we are all stepping up.

Paige, along with Newman, also a Ryther volunteer as a canine companion to kids in the Cottage Program

Paige, along with Newman, who is also a volunteer as a canine companion to kids in the Cottage Program

The mission of the League is to support Ryther in its endeavors on behalf of children, youth and their families through fundraising and direct service activities. League members find meaningful community within their Unit, while raising awareness and educating the public about Ryther’s role in creating healthy children and stronger families. The League welcomes new members and new thrift store volunteers. Please contact the Liaison at 206.517.0215.

 

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Message of Thanks from Ryther CEO Karen Brady

Karen Brady, MSW/MBA

Karen Brady, MSW/MBA

Annually, Ryther welcomes the summer with a Juneteenth celebration on the final day of school. An outdoor bar-b-que lunch, songs from the Total Experience Gospel Choir, along with games and activities speak to the possibilities of the summer that lies ahead. While most children welcome their summer vacation with happy hearts and anticipation, for many of the children in our Cottage Program at Ryther, summer can bring very different feelings and images. For them, unstructured and oftentimes unsupervised days at home bring an uneasy feeling and some sad memories. Their summer break meant more stress on their family, greater possibilities of missed meals when school breakfasts and lunches weren’t available, and more time at home where violence and addiction may have made each day unpredictable and frightening. The sunshine merely deepened the darkness of the strife they faced at home.

In the Cottage Program, staff work with each child to face those fears and memories and begin to heal. Using therapeutic interventions designed specifically for traumatized children in a warm, safe, and nurturing environment, they help each child begin to step away from the dread and hurt, and begin to find hope and develop small expectations that things can get better. One of the best things we witness at Ryther campus is a child in discovering the small joys that summer brings – blue skies, water play on hot days, picnic meals outside and time to be a child.

We could not help these children move away from their pain to find those simple joys without you. Your dedication and support allows us to provide the individualized and evidenced supported treatment that helps bring a sense of renewal, hope and positive expectation to the children at Ryther.

Thank you for bringing summer, and all the good that comes with it, to the children at Ryther.

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Message from Lee Grogg, CEO

Earlier this year I was, like many members of the Ryther family, engaged in correspondence with various governmental officials about reimbursement rate justice for Ryther. In one exchange I was responding to assertions by some officials that a rate adjustment was not warranted for a variety of bogus reasons. I was informed by one official that I was “taking this too personally”. Since I know a brush off when I see one, I did not make any further attempts to persuade this individual of the error of his thinking.

It has occurred to me that the core of our problem with the Washington’s government is the sentiment that budgetary problems that adversely affect the well-being of seriously disturbed, abused and neglected children should not be taken personally. Never mind that not getting the care and services these children receive have demonstrable negative personal consequences, I was essentially admonished to disregard their short and long term futures because they created difficult political situations for some involved officials.

I do want to make one thing very clear, not a single elected Representative or Senator of any party has voiced such a calloused and ill-informed attitude when presented with the facts about the state of reimbursement to providers of services (Ryther and other providers are reimbursed at the same level that existed in 2004).

I have come to the conclusion that in the face of such indifference I must continue to take my duty personally and seriously. Anything short of that dismisses and devalues the lives of these children who, for the most part, have been treated shabbily by the State.

I hope that others will become as personally committed to effectively meeting the needs of these children.

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Ryther Asks for Your Help

I am asking for your help all this week to email and call your legislators to support legislation that is pending that could help Ryther and other providers maintain services that are desperately needed by the highest needs children in our state’s child welfare system.

LeeWe are asking you to tell your legislators to support Senate Bill (SB) 5852 and House Bill (HB) 2095 from now until Feb. 27th. To find your legislator, visit this website and enter your address. Tell them that our highest needs children depend on the passage of SB 5852 and HB 2095. More information about this advocacy campaign can be found here.

As many who follow Ryther closely probably already know, we have been forced to close our Adolescent Boy’s Chemical Dependence Cottage because the deficits we incurred due to public sector reimbursement rates have remained unchanged for fifteen years.

You may also know that we have faced the possibility of closing one of our three cottages for children ages six to fourteen for similar reasons. About 85% of our clients in our Sub-Acute Residential Treatment Program are referred to us by the State of Washington’s Children’s Administration. Reimbursement from this branch of the Department of Health and Social Services for the kind of kids we serve is administered by a component called Behavioral Rehabilitation Services (BRS). The rate of reimbursement Ryther receives today is the same as it was in 2004. This has resulted in the loss of almost 100 BRS beds across the state since that time. SB 5852 and HB 2095 would fix this.

We have been trying to work with the State for the past three years to get some relief from this situation. When we started serious discussions with the government, we indicated that our strategy of developing private fee for service or insurance business would help, but that it wouldn’t be enough.

You may want to know that the children come to Ryther with an average of nine failed State foster placements after they were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. What this means is that these children were traumatized eight more times after the original crisis. I think that is abundant evidence that if they could be cared for elsewhere the State would surely find that option. Without SB 5852 and HB 2095, this trend will continue.

My belief is that you wouldn’t be reading this now if you did not have compassion for kids who have had more bad breaks in a precious few years than most of us can imagine. These children need a lot of intensive care and treatment so that they can avoid what Dr. Anda (ACES study) terms the cascading intergenerational cycle of trauma. We have pretty good data on what is likely to happen to these kids if nothing is done.

Please Help. Thank you.
Lee Grogg, Ryther CEO

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What is “dabbing?”

Karen's goodbyeAn Interview with Deanna Seather-Brady, Ryther Chemical Dependency Program Director

What exactly is dabbing? When did this begin and why?

Dabbing is consuming a cannabis (THC) concentrate. It is exposed to a heated surface and the vapor is inhaled. The result is an intense effect from a small amount. Dabbing has been around for years, but traditionally only among long time users of Marijuana. We have been seeing it here at Ryther among teen clients frequently for the last year or so.

How does this differ from usual marijuana?

It is being referred to as the “Crack of Marijuana” comprised of 30 – 90% THC verses up to 22%. Unlike marijuana, there is minimal smell so it is easily concealed.

How long does the high last?

Effects vary depending on dose, route of administration and tolerance level.

What items are required to do this?

Rig – glass pipe or bong, butane torch, titanium nail or other kind of nail.

What can go wrong during this process of preparation in terms of explosives, injury or fire?

Fire and explosions have occurred with butane.  Butane gas sinks and can develop into a butane pool in an unventilated closed space and inadvertently explode if ignited.

Are there specific signs parents should be on the lookout for?

Paraphernalia, looks like paste or wax, easy to conceal. Behaviorally, you could see paranoia or symptoms of psychosis. There also would be high THC levels in a urine analysis.

What is the vernacular surrounding dabbing?

It is called honey, amber, shatter, wax and ear wax.

What is the most concerning element that you and other treatment providers and emergency room personnel are seeing?

We are seeing more and more psychotic symptoms, losing consciousness and some burn injuries. The other real issue is that with teens that have a predisposition for thought disorders or psychosis, such high levels of THC can be the tipping point. We have seen some clients actually not recover from a state of psychosis after dabbing.

What can we do as parents to warn teens about this?

Talk to them about it openly while maintaining a no tolerance stance regarding use (this includes all substances of abuse).

With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State, will dabbing become less or more popular?

The research in this state is showing that the process of legalization has decreased the perception of risk leading to dabbing becoming more and more popular with teens. Adults that have been using Marijuana regularly and have an increased tolerance report that dabbing allows them to be able to feel high again.

What some good websites for information?   Google images have pictures of the substance and paraphernalia. At this time there really isn’t a very good online source of information about dabbing.

 

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The Maleficent Mile

On July 12-13, six Ryther employees and four community supporters will be participating in the Ride for Ryther, a 202 mile bike ride from Seattle to Portland to raise awareness and funds for Ryther. The team members have been training for months now but, with just one more month to go, have kicked their training into high gear. However, training doesn’t always go as smoothly as one would hope. Read about a recent ride that taught the riders how a little setback doesn’t mean it’s time to give up but can serve as motivation to succeed on the second attempt.

Group training shot

Our plan to do a 100+ mile ride to Bellingham this past weekend was an ambitious one. With the 202-mile Seattle-to-Portland (STP) only five short weeks away, it was time to kick training into high gear. A group of four of us were planning on leaving from Seattle at 9am, bike to Bellingham getting in around 5 or 6pm, then have time for a bite before taking the train back to Seattle. “Bellingham or Bust!” became the motto for the weekend.

Turns out, “Bust” was correct. Between the four of us, we had six popped inner tubes leading to six flat tires, four of which happened in a one-mile stretch. We were incredulous when each time we started to ride, a new member of the team pulled over and told us that they too had a flat. However, we felt lucky to be among a group of good-natured, flexible, optimistic people, willing to roll with the punches. (Or in this case, stop rolling.)

clay's popped tire

But the high points of the ride stick with us the most. We rode just shy of 50 miles before we had the “magnificent,” ahem, “maleficent mile,” and completed that in just over three hours. We thankfully have supporters willing to drop what they are doing on a Sunday afternoon to come help some stranded friends. Upon returning home and consulting the map, we found we had done 90% of the elevation gain that we were supposed to do in that first 50 miles, so the rest would have been smooth sailing through the Skagit Valley and alongside Bellingham Bay. Amtrak allowed us to cancel our tickets, even though it was only three hours before departure. So, that led us to one conclusion: we will revisit our plan on June 21st. Stay tuned for the sequel “Bellingham or Bust 2: More Tubes!”

Visit our Crowdrise page to learn about all of the riders and support their efforts.

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Interview with Lisa Lester, former Ryther therapeutic foster parent

family editedHow did you learn about Ryther?

I actually started working in the Cottages in 2001.  I worked in Cottage D until 2004. I enjoyed my work there even though it was probably the hardest job I’ve ever done.  But it was also my favorite job – honestly.  The kids were great.  They had baggage and they had tough times and they acted out.  But they didn’t always act out.  They were just normal kids that you could do fun stuff with and hang out, so the majority of the time it was really enjoyable.

 Why did you decide to open your home to a Ryther child?

Just working there I saw the need for that, and I thought we could fill it.  I thought it would be doing respite care when we began.  And so we got licensed through Ryther.  I knew the TFC person who ran the program at the time, and she would always say, ‘Hey, we have this kid, we have this kid.’  And then finally Dasia came along and she’s like, ‘We have this kid, really.  You’ve got to come see her.  You know, I really think she’d be a great fit for your family.’  So we said, ‘OK, well . . . we’ll go.’  And it ended up she was! So she was right.

 How did you get to meet Dasia?

It was more observing than an introduction.  We went to the Cottage and we watched her play. We didn’t get to meet her at that point.  We could tell just what a cool kid she was. It wasn’t too long after that we decided that that we could do this, and so we did!

What is she like?

She is incredibly artistic.  She’s very resilient and very resourceful.  She’s really smart.  She’s incredibly athletic.  She has so many strengths.

How did Ryther help?

Ryther was incredibly helpful.  Our caseworker was great.  Our case aide was great.  Anytime I had a question I could call and they would help me.  They were there at least once a week, and then we’d have case aide time.  If you’re going to do foster care you should do it through an agency like Ryther.  That’s what I tell friends who are interested because there’s so much support there and it was so valuable.  They were so valuable.

 What were some of the biggest issues early on?

Dasia was an eight-year-old coming into our home, having had nine prior placements. That was probably the most difficult part for us – the attachment issues that we had to deal with.  You’ve got to give them time to build trust. Being able to have her go through therapy was pivotal for her being successful in our home.  And for us to have the support we had from Ryther was instrumental, because there were days when it was stressful.  They were always there to listen and to help.

 What was Dasia like when she first came to your home?

I would say she was pretty socially awkward. She had never lived anywhere for more than a year. She didn’t have an opportunity to make friends or learn how to be a friend so we decided to get her into sports. She met some kids and that worked out really well. Now she’s got tons of friends on her softball team.

What do you think Dasia would say about what she’s gained?

She’s gained a sister and she’s gained a home that can give her stability and can nurture her. We are excited it worked out so well.  You don’t know what’s going to happen really, but certainly with the help of Ryther, and Dasia being as resilient as she is and as strong as she is, it’s worked out really well.

Why should someone consider taking a Ryther child into their home? Here is what Dasia had to say:

“If you put forth an effort to help them, I feel like they can do really well in life. But the longer you wait, the harder it gets because they’re older and they try to make their own decisions but they haven’t been taught how to make those decisions.

I came to this home when I was eight and I learned a lot and I’m really successful in school, and in sports, and I’m able to make a lot of friends. And so I feel like if other kids got that opportunity then they could do as well as I am doing.”

 

 

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A letter to Santa

Dear Santa, the source of magical hope, kindness and joy in our lives regardless of our age:
Please help all the children at Ryther to find peace, solace, and comfort
Please erase the nightmares, anxiety and fear from their lives forever
Please help us provide the children with a childhood they deserve; ones with happiness, small
crises, moments of accomplishments and triumph to balance the small defeats.
Please help the children acquire and keep the capacity to love and be loved.
Please give the children the gift of curiosity and joy of learning.
Finally, Santa, help the children to hope and believe in themselves. Help them know that if they keep trying things can be different and better for them.
Your friend, Lee Grogg

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The Night Before Christmas

The children at Ryther are anxiously awaiting tomorrow morning this afternoon. For some, it takes a lot of extra effort to contain the many feelings and emotions during a time when there is so much excitement in the air. For others, it takes a mix of concentration and distraction to avoid focusing on the fact that they are not having a Norman Rockwell holiday. I hope everyone will think of the children at Ryther and wish extra hard for them to have peace, comfort, and even joy. Please also send thoughts of love and tenderness their way. We can use all the help we can get in that department.

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