Summer/Fall 2019 Spring Lake Ranch Newsletter

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Spring Lake Ranch Newsletter SUMMER/FALL 2019

Director’s Note from Brian Hansen In this issue Director’s Note PA G E


From the Kitchen PA G E 3

Staff Spotlight PA G E 4

Resident’s Story PA G E 5

Rutland Program Update PA G E 6

Crew Update PA G E 7

Staff Notes PAG E 8

Cuttingsville & Rutland, Vermont


Director’s Note


It’s been about three months since I arrived at the Ranch and took over the role of Executive Director from Graham Parker. I believe the transition went very well due to the active support and transparent information exchange shared by: Graham, the trustees, the senior management team, the staff, and the residents and clients of Spring Lake Ranch. My initial time was spent meeting with as many individuals as possible to get their input on the situation of the Ranch; it was an experience that reminded me of the strong values that SLR has: hope, empowerment, personalization, community, a holistic approach, and a connection to the land. I’ve been able to explore how these core values impact my way of working within SLR and my way of living as a member of this unique community. Thus far, my time at SLR has been a rewarding experience of reflection, sharing, planning, and learning, and I am very excited for what’s to come! The Ranch is a living organization not only in the sense that our work focuses on the needs of individuals, but also that the organization’s properties and internal setup are constantly changing and evolving. We’ve seen “The Penthouse” removed to make way for more parking, renovations to the Green House to create more offices, an expansion of the kitchen in the Royce Street House, the relocation of a clear span barn onto the property, and many more physical enhancements, as usually is the case with the summer building season. We’ve added several new staff to positions to the Hill and reconfigured staffing at the Rutland Program, which increases our internal efficiency and capacity to support residents and clients. Additionally, the senior management team, clinicians, and nurses have been actively reviewing various policies and procedures to ensure that the resident and client experiences are continually improving and that we can better serve each individual who comes to Spring Lake Ranch. A few years ago, SLR set forth and defined a strategic plan known as the Vision 2020 Plan. That plan had four pillars: A New Continuum of Care, Expansion of Work Opportunities, Reaffirmation of the Role of Community, and the Creation of a Sustainable Financial Model. The teams have been working hard to strategize and define the key areas and activities we will invest our time, energy, and money in during the upcoming year. CARF certification, launching an electronic health record system, supporting direct admissions into the Rutland Program, and introducing insurance reimbursement are some of the most significant and complex projects the Ranch aims to achieve in the near future. The Work Program will increase the intentionality in the work while expanding the types of opportunities available: For example, Shop Crew will position themselves to introduce teams deeper into the community to work on special projects; Gardens Crew will begin analysing how to enhance the commercial kitchen space for a variety of value-added products for both internal use and external sale. Finally, we will expand the diversity of our environment by re-invigorating volunteer opportunities that will allow for a greater number of people to participate and live within our community.


Executive Director Brian Hansen Consulting Psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer FauntLeRoy Newsletter Editors Abbey Harlow, Jill Loeber, Lynn Pilcher, Rachel Stark, Ingrid Wisell Photo Credits Ben DeFlorio

Board of Trustees Jonathon Wells • Co-Chair Linda Berryhill • Co-Chair Muffie Milens • Treasurer Jim Alic Luddy Biddle Bill Bull Ann Davis Dana Foster Scott Garren Dan Jerman Walter Harrison, III

Bruce Maslack Patrick McKee Alissa J. Rubin Kurt Shaffert Phyllis Tarbell Linnea Wilson Bill Zoppo

Founded in 1932 by Wayne and Elizabeth Sarcka


From the Kitchen: Succotash over Quinoa


Fresh produce is abundant in Vermont this season, and this recipe features some of what we grow in the gardens here at SLR. INGREDIENTS: 1 cup dried chickpeas 2 Tbs. olive oil 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups) 1 large red bell pepper, diced (2 cups) 1 12-oz. bunch rainbow Swiss chard, stems and leaves chopped separately (2 cups stems, 4 cups leaves), divided 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels 1 cup vegetable broth 2 large carrots, diced (1 1⁄2 cups) 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.) 2 tsp. dried tarragon 1/8 tsp. dried red pepper flakes, optional PREPARATION: Place chickpeas in large bowl; cover with 1 1⁄2 inches water, and soak overnight. Drain, and transfer to large saucepan. Cover with 2 inches water, and bring to a boil.

PREPARATION: Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender. Drain and set aside. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and swiss chard stems, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Stir in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and simmer 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook 3 to 5 minutes more or until carrots are tender.

Memories of the Penthouse


Even though the resident portion of the Penthouse has been gone for years, the plan to complete demolition of what remained tugged at my heartstrings and prompted a panicky e-mail to the Ranch Executive Director asking him to please “save me a piece” of what was once my family’s home. He kindly suggested I share my story in this newsletter.

Through the front windows of the Penthouse we witnessed the daily activities surrounding the main building. We were as familiar with the habits and patterns of the staff and residents as they were with ours. From the side windows, my grandmother kept a watchful eye on the untamed apple trees for the perfect “pie apple” each summer and for the arrival of the town plow truck each winter.

The Penthouse provided shelter to four generations of my family over a span of nearly thirty years. It was in the Penthouse that our family experienced our greatest joys and deepest sorrows. As I have journeyed back in time to write these words I have found myself sobbing and laughing out loud.

There was a quiet intimacy that developed between our family, the staff, and residents who lived in the main house. Those relationships developed during the times when everyone else headed to their rooms or homes elsewhere on the hill. It was only during those moments that any residents ever ventured over to the Penthouse. I like to think that sitting at our Formica table and being offered a contraband soda or snack helped to ease their loneliness, homesickness, or anxieties.

While not a luxury apartment atop a tall building, the Penthouse provided a bird’s eye view at the heart of Spring Lake Ranch. The proximity to the main house made for an easy commute to work for my father, long-time Ranch chef; and for my mother and grandmother, who worked alongside him and in housekeeping. The image of my dad walking to and from the main building in his chef’s whites is still vivid in my memory.

As a child, and to this day as an adult, I love all things “Ranch,” but I am also deeply appreciative of my parents’ attempts to carve out our own family’s identity while residing in the Penthouse. I am truly the simultaneous product of being a Ranch kid and a product of my family, which explains the real Christmas tree and the silver tree with blue lights that I still feel compelled to put up each year!


Staff Spotlight Abbey Harlow Communications & Development Manager

Kevin Molloy Admissions Coordinator

What brought you to this position? I grew up in nearby Wallingford and have always known about Spring Lake Ranch and admired the work done here. Additionally, I’ve worked in development and communications at nonprofits for most of my career, so the specific position seemed like a natural fit as well. After I came for my full-day interview here, I was blown away by the kindness, humor, and sincerity of the people I met and knew that it was a good choice for me.

What brought you to this position? My journey at the Ranch began in 2015 as a resident. During my time here, I was able to experience firsthand the healing power of community and work. After leaving, I felt a strong desire to return and give back to others who face similar struggles to those of my own. I spent my first 2 years as a staff member in the role of House Advisor/Crew Leader before transitioning into my current role in Admissions.

What can a typical day look like for you here? Every day is different, which is one of my favorite aspects! I can be out and about taking pictures for social media, designing our print materials, editing a blog post, calling donors to thank them (thank you, donors!), meeting with a resident, and a whole range of other things. Also, lots of laughter. What makes working here rewarding for you? I love the day-to-day work I do and that there’s always something more I can be doing. There’s an abundance of opportunity to be creative. The community of people is unlike anything I’ve encountered: the staff are passionate about the work and supportive of each other; and spending time with the residents – whether it’s filling in on crew, on an official clinical team, or just chatting during the day, is always rewarding. The beauty of the surroundings is also a real treat, and cooling off with a dip at the lake in the summer is my new favorite thing. What is your favorite Ranch tradition? That everyone eats lunch together! This is the first job I’ve ever had where people do that, and it’s amazing. Not only is the food outstanding, but everyone recognizes the importance of communally gathering together for a meal and taking a midday break to chit chat. It helps establish such great connections and is certainly therapeutic in and of itself. What can you be found doing when you’re not at the Ranch? Doing a lot of vegetable gardening, and then proudly freezing and canning the results and spending the rest of the year talking about what I want to plant the following spring. I teach canning classes, and love introducing people to the process. I read a lot – ideally outdoors and by some water, or indoors and under a quilt. I also sing with some powerhouse women in the Howling Hens - a female vocal ensemble that meets in the dead of winter.


What can a typical day look like for you here as Admissions Coordinator? One of the best parts of working in this role, or really any at the Ranch, is that there really is no such thing as a “typical day.” This keeps things interesting and challenging. On most days, though, I am generally on the phone talking to prospective residents, their families, and professionals, while also reviewing medical records and assessing individuals’ fit for our program. But I can also be found leading our weekly SMART Recovery Group, working with a resident as part of a clinical team, or providing a tour of our beautiful campus. What makes working here rewarding for you? Because of my admissions role, I am incredibly lucky that I get to know a resident long before their stay here at the Ranch. Due to this, I often understand what life looks like for them in the midst of their most challenging struggles. Witnessing their process here as they gain confidence, insight, and foundation in their recovery, and being able to fully appreciate how far they come as a result of their work and our program is beyond rewarding. What is your favorite Ranch tradition? The holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, are by far my favorite Ranch traditions. These times really highlight how strong community is here at Spring Lake Ranch. What can you be found doing when you’re not at the Ranch? You might find me working out, skiing at nearby Pico, cooking, or spending a weekend with my extended Ranch family somewhere around the country.

Learning to Live


My name is Akbar Abidi. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I am about to turn 29 years old. This is the story of how I learned to live. I was diagnosed with depression, ADHD, and insomnia when I was ten years old. Although I started treatment for those conditions that year, I was too young to understand what mental illness was, and the stigma associated with it in my family kept me from ever being educated enough to know what was going on. I lived a relatively average life with normal highs and lows until I started experimenting with substances in high school. My depression, which had been mostly dormant for several years, came back with a vengeance and I found solace in self-medication. I like to think that my “experimentation” was relatively tame, but that was not the case. I experienced some trauma in 2008, the summer after high school graduation, and that sent me spiraling out of control. That was when I tried heroin. I was hooked the second it was in my system. I like to think I remained a relatively functional addict for some time, but I was just in denial. My addiction consumed me completely. Drugs made my depression worse, which I medicated with more drugs. I lost eight years of my life to this vicious, never-ending cycle. I was not living, but merely existing. I realized that I had hit rock bottom sometime in 2015 when my old friends staged an intervention. I thought it was touching, and I liked that people still cared about me, but I didn’t care enough about myself to do anything about it. A family friend who had sent his sons to Spring Lake Ranch reached out to my dad and told him there was help to be found. I agreed to go check the place out, though it was more to appease my parents than to get well. I had no intent to recover. I planned to stay for the typical visit duration, about 2 or 3 days. I had never been to the east coast before, nor had I ever considered treatment for my disease. I arrived at SLR in mid-January of 2016. Getting out of the car we drove from Boston, I experienced my first live snowfall, and something about that moment in the wooded mountains flicked a switch inside me. I decided to give it a half-chance. I remained for the visit without protest and met amazing people. There was little separation between staff and residents - it was all just community, and it was beautiful. On the last day of my visit, I decided to stay. It was the best decision I ever made, to this day. I quickly made friends with the people I lived with. I learned to enjoy sharing delicious meals as a community. I somehow had fun learning new skills and practicing them on work crew. I attended recovery meetings, and though I was initially very shy and anxious, I eventually participated, shared, and learned. I had never thought about sobriety or living a productive life, but the sparks that rekindled

the flame of my life were struck those first few weeks at the Ranch. I experienced a new sensation of wanting to be alive, enjoying life and the things I was doing. I didn’t even want to think about going back to my prior existence. I had discovered the joie de vivre in this strange, new place. It was a novel sensation, wanting to be well. I was supported throughout my journey by friends I had made at the Ranch, from the other residents and the amazing group of House Advisors who were present during my stay; to my clinical team who pushed me to be better; and my inspiring crew heads. I did things I never even imagined before. I became proficient at weaving - so much so that my crew head let me teach it to new residents and crew members. I learned how to garden and plant, grow, and harvest delicious herbs and vegetables that were used in our very own kitchen. I discovered the joy of the farmers market and managing the SLR stall. I participated in sugaring and learned how to make maple syrup. These might sound like random and not particularly useful skillsets, but what it did is teach me how to work. I became productive and contributed to the community. I learned the values of routine, hard work, communication, and compassion, and these have and will continue to serve me well the rest of my life. My first employment in Vermont was as an intern at Spring Lake Ranch on Gardens Crew. That was the first job in my life that I earned of my own merit, and applied for, and performed well in. I loved it because I was able to give back to the place that gave me everything I have now. I made lifelong friendships with people from the Ranch who are my chosen family, and I still spend time with the residents and staff whom I connected with. I decided to stay in Rutland after my time at the Ranch and I am happy and proud to call Vermont my home. My time at the Ranch taught me how to communicate effectively, be a good listener, how to overcome adversity at work, in personal life, and in the world at large. I was told by many Ranchers that I had a calming presence and my empathetic nature allowed me to relate to and help other people who were struggling. I took that and ran with it, and for the past year and a half, I have been employed at the local hospital’s psychiatric unit as a Peer Support Specialist, helping patients navigate their struggles and hospitalization. It has been over three years since I came to Vermont on a whim, and I have become a successful, productive, and happy member of society and the local community. I owe all of this to Spring Lake Ranch, and for that I am eternally grateful.


Rutland Program Update

After months of planning and fundraising, the Royce Street House kitchen renovation is underway. The old kitchen has been completely gutted, and a new expanded space is being built. This will give us more room to teach our residents how to cook and prepare meals in a functional space. Once again, we would like to thank the many donors who made this project possible. We truly appreciate your generosity! Stay tuned on our social media for photos of the finished product. Once the renovation is complete, the Rutland Housing Trust, from whom we lease the building, will be replacing the carpeting in the common spaces and painting the exterior of the house. Staff and residents are very excited about all the upcoming improvements!


Over at the Washington Street Townhouse, Woodline Carpentry Builders have been hard at work renovating the wraparound porch. They were surprised to see how few supports it had been built with, so strengthened every pillar, as well as returned it to its original, historical look. It’s impressive to us non-carpenters how skillfully they took the pillars apart, rebuilt the insides, and put the outside layer back so perfectly! Additionally, they revamped the entire porch door by salvaging as much of the original door as they could, and then rebuilt it. It looks fantastic, yet is a much lighter weight. The porch floors will also be replaced using the brown tech material that was already started on one corner of the porch. How lovely it will be to have one pattern, floor type, and color!

Spring Lake Ranch Trivia At our Fourth of July celebration this year, the whole community joined in in a Ranch trivia game. How many of these questions can you guess? See the answers on the back of the newsletter.

7. What is the name of Brian’s puppy?

1. What color is the Royce Street med room?

9. What is the name of the ice cream truck that comes to the monthly Rutland barbeques?

2. What do you see when you go through “the hobbit” door from the parking lot at the Town House?


8. Royce Street just got a new car - what is the make and model?

10. What is Barbara Favreau’s favorite food?

3. What year was the Ranch founded?

11. Where on the Ranch is the Zelda room?

4. How many maple taps does the Ranch have?

12. How many calves have been born this year?

5. What is the formal name of the Patton’s house?

13. What time are morning meds available on the hill?

6. What are the names of the Ranch goat kids?

14. What is the name of Lisa’s band?

Work Crew Update


As on any Vermont farm or homestead, the summer months here are filled with engaging work.

chairs and have continued building our new dining room chairs.

Our gardens are beautifully planted with a wide variety of flowers, veggies, and fruit. We’ve already harvested not only lettuce and greens, but also peas, cucumbers, and even some tomatoes. Gardens Crew also works in our People’s Kitchen to make pesto and maple granola which residents and House Advisors bring each Saturday to the Rutland Farmers Market.

After cleaning up from sugaring, our Woods Crew has been busy splitting and stacking wood for the upcoming season. They’ve also planted and maintained our beautifully landscaped campus. Woods has also been up in our forests maintaining our trails system for all the hikers that enjoy it.

We’ve welcomed 10 calves, 11 piglets, chicks, baby goats, and turkeys to our farm, and Farm Crew has taken on their care. With the warm and drier weather has come the onset of haying season. With a great all-Ranch effort, we have our first cut of over 2,500 bales stored in the barn. More to come soon! Our Shop Crew has been working on finishing touches for the beautiful lake house. This past week, the saw mill was on campus, and we worked with Podge to turn logs from our land into boards and beams for future shop projects. Residents have also taken on the repair of many Adirondack

Recreation Update In June, we ran an all-Ranch canoe trip down the Battenkill River with a picnic lunch. It was a sunny, temperate adventure to navigate the winding river in Southern Vermont, and all residents participated in the day-long boating adventure and picnic. This summer, we are planning on ramping up our camping/ outdoor adventure programming. We’ll be offering a two-night backpacking trip as well as a couple other camping/ hiking or canoeing adventures to enjoy the beautiful Vermont mountains, forests, rivers, and streams.


Spring Lake Ranch Therapeutic Community supports and empowers people with mental health and substance abuse issues by providing opportunities to grow and thrive. Through shared experience, meaningful work and active participation in an accepting, diverse community, we help each person develop the confidence and skills to recover. 802-492-3322 • • SpringLakeRanchVT


Spring Lake Ranch


1169 Spring Lake Road Cuttingsville, VT 05738

Sadie Koponen and Melissa Morrison joined the Rutland Program as Royce Street support staff. fter 11 years in Rutland, A Andy Richards-Peelle returns to his roots on the Hill, becoming a full-time Facilities Technician. Jessica McDonald joined the staff on the Hill as the Farm Program Assistant. The Hill recently welcomed Owen Ahearn, Stefan Eigen, Octavia Johnson, Adam Perkins, Julia Rotunno, and Carmen Wiegandt as new House Advisors.

Trivia Answers 1. Lavender 2. The zen garden 3. 1932 4. About 2, 800 5. Park Avenue 6. Kevin and Trout 7. Sir Ernest Shackleton 8. Toyota Highlander 9. Happy Cow 10. Roast beef 11. At the Townhouse 12. Ten 13. 7 am 14. Miss Guided Angels

Staff Notes

Spring Lake Ranch provides financial assistance to many of our residents’ families in both the Cuttingsville and Rutland Programs, which is made possible through generous donations to the Sarcka Scholarship Fund from friends like you. Visit or call 802-492-3322 to make a gift today.