Ironwood Maine Web Update

As Ironwood managers, therapists, educators and support staff, we tend to focus much of our energy on the problems, at the expense of appreciating so many of our surroundings that are good and even wonderful.  We suspect that those of you parents and businesspersons can relate.  Is it our nature to brush over those matters that are spectacular, so that we can move on to the issues that need our attention, or is it our nature to be in search of problems in order for us to feel more needed in this world?  Why are we drawn more to these things?

This week had its fair share of struggles and setbacks on campus.  Some of our residents regressed a bit, while a few heard of some surprising news, or events back home. There were a few peer relationship issues to address and resolve…of course there were.  And these points are what came to my mind first, as I started writing this update.  But there was also more…so much more that was uplifting and beautiful.

I had the pleasure this week of spending Sunday through Thursday on campus and this extra time allowed an opportunity to walk the property, spending more one on one time with both those who work and live here.  While on my Sunday drive, I was creating a to-do list of problems needing solutions…my Thursday night drive home was only of reflective appreciation, grateful to work in a place that creates positive change in humans, with residents who are simply in need of some time to sort things out.  All of these young people are interesting, wanting to construct a better life, knowing that they are loved athome.

The campus is so alive in the summer with abundant gardens and wildlife and this environment helps to deliver contemplative thought and peace.  This nature is dependable and consistent, it welcomes any and everyone who is interested in having it.  It is fair and it holds no grudges.

On Monday, we sent a resident and high school graduate home, following about a year of hard work and transformation.  These send offs are hard to explain to those who have not experienced them.  The ceremony is simple, yet uniquely personal…the value to the resident is difficult to measure but represents a year of challenging work and achievement.  We always see confidence and a renewed faith in self.  It’s always a joyspeaking with residents on the week of a graduation to talk about their journey and how different their perspective is on this day about almost everything…school, Ironwood, their family, their future and how they will navigate life in the days ahead. Witnessing the reconnection to mother, father, sister, brother, sometimes aunts, uncles and grandparents is also a gift to be a part of…why do I cry so much on this campus?!

Our lower Frye campus can be hard for many of our residents in the first part of their Ironwood journeys.  This is intentional on our part, as we are building healthy practices, breaking destructive “go to” habits and widening perspectives.  What I saw this week was general acceptance in the vast majority of our boys and girls, with solution-oriented intention.

“Yeah, of course I wish I was home, but things could be worse.  I know that you and my parents want the best for me and the days are going by fast…I’ve got this.”

On this Wednesday night, I sat in on a Zip, Zap team builder with the Frye boys group and everyone who was there was actively participating, laughing and having fun.  I saw inclusion with the newest additions and greater respect between those who have had struggles in the past.  I guess that’s why they call them team builders!  What I saw at Frye, was a campus that was clean, organized and ready for whatever needed to happen, next.

Three residents made their way up from Frye to the Farmhouse this week and the house on the hill now has a flashing NO VACANCY sign on the front lawn.  Observing existing FH boys and girls welcoming their new arrivals to the house was a treat.The Farmhouse holds a house meeting, most Wednesday afternoons before dinner and this week’s gathering involved each member sharing with the new arrivals a piece of advice, along with something that is enjoyed most about living here. This mentoring philosophy is impressive to see in action and all three first timers seemed included with the rest, within minutes.  Following the meeting, these kids then began a birthday celebration for Farmhouse celebrity, Bruin.

Many of these residents expressed gratitude for Bruin as they wore homemade birthday hats in honor of the black beast! There are several at the Farmhouse who will be graduating and heading home in the next few weeks and this is a busy, busy place.

We are trying to be intentional this week in at least spending equal time appreciating the things at Ironwood that are good/great.  We are of course attending to the problems and issues at hand that need fix’n, but not at the expense of celebrating the growth that is obvious and apparent.  Your sons and daughters are working hard and learning things about themselves that have the opportunity to change their lives for a very long time.  They are also interesting and becoming more open than before and your support and encouragement has 93 octane power when you send it their way.

Thank you for placing your trust in Ironwood and we wish you a most pleasant weekend.