Ironwood Maine Web Update

“It’s not about the time it takes. It is about the lessons you learn.”

An “evolved” Ironwood resident mentoring a new resident at Frye

During this week’s campus update, I plan to talk about the upward trend of Ironwood residents moving forward in their programs, along with the surrounding preparation and excitement of the end of the year and all the events that we have planned. 

While most of our time is spent in a classroom, doing chores, or in groups, we also have lots of opportunities to have fun, experience the community and enjoy seasonal events. This coming weekend, we are set to travel to the Penobscot Theater Company in Bangor to watch the famed Nutcracker play. Most of us have seen it before, but we are still excited to have the opportunity to revisit a nice family memory. One of my peers, however, is concerned about having to wear her Ironwood jeans to the theater!

Also this week, the Ironwood music class will be venturing by the local assisted living facility and downtown Belfast to provide some holiday cheer by caroling! This group has mastered a few traditional songs and they are looking forward to singing their way through town. Back on campus, we are all excited to help decorate our campus festively. After each group set out into the woods to find the perfect tree, we’ve spent several hours making homemade ornaments, hanging up lights in each of the cabins and crafting snowflakes and ribbons. Rumor has it that the best decorated campus gets a special prize!

In addition to the seasonal adventures and excitement, there has also been a lot of progress within individual residents’ programs. We have 3 graduations in 5 days, with a handful more after that. Several students have transitioned levels and are looking forward to their additional responsibilities and opportunities!

Outside of the festive events, we are also staying focused on the important internal and family work here at Ironwood. During the Recovery group at the Farmhouse, one student in particular had a significantly successful experience. This student shared a recovery plan of what she is planning to do when she gets home and how she is planning to use the skills learned at Ironwood to help keep her safe. All of her peers shed light on things that could be potential challenges and how to handle those challenges. Her peers offered advice on things that they felt have been helpful to them, as well. In our Character Development class, we were given a list of controversial topics and then had to pick at least 3 and write our opinions about them. We then had a respectful debate about our opinions, sharing our thoughts and insights without minimizing other opinions. 

There has been a lot of bustling around campus, yet residents are focused on moving forward in their programs and enjoying these many opportunities. Despite our current level, we can appreciate that the work we are doing here will be useful long after we leave Ironwood.  

Happy holidays to everyone! We hope you all get the one thing you wish for most!

*We see so much growth in our residents, as they become immersed in the second half of their Ironwood journey.  Often, confidence starts to rise and there is greater awareness of big picture subject matter…the future, impact to others, human values and, of course, family.  Our author this week shared with me yesterday that she was “happy…really happy.”

At one of our graduations this week, a parent generously shared to all the residents attending the ceremony how fortunate they were to have family that loved them so much to send them to Ironwood.  This parent expressed the pain and concern that existed before and the panic of seeing their child slipping away…only now to be feeling hopeful and energized for a future that can be better than before.  This parent encouraged all these kids to continue this important work, adding: “If you can find success at Ironwood, you just might be able to do anything.”

Fully invested and aligned Ironwood parents are courageous; and today, we want to recognize those of you back home, understanding that this is a difficult time, but a hopeful time, as well.

Have a nice weekend and thank you for trusting Ironwood with your precious cargo.  😊