Monthly Archives: November 2011

No Place like home for the holidays

Break was great, I got to go back to Seattle for Thanksgiving and see friends and family. But now i am back at Shelterwood. I will be honest, i was not and am still not really ready to be back. The night before i left i was almost dreading my return. Shelterwood is kind of like swimming in freezing cold water. Once your in it for awhile you get used to it because your body goes numb, but once you get out and get warm you really don’t want to go back in. But here i am yet again, diving head first into the icy waters of conflict and chaos that is Shelterwood.

Besides seeing my family and meeting my brothers girlfriend i think the highlight of my break was getting to catch up with some old friends i hadn’t seen in awhile. It was great to feel like i could pick up right where i left off and be open and honest without having to mess around any small talk. I am on night watch right now and not really able to put my thoughts into words anymore so i will hopefully be able to get another blog out soon when i am thinking more clearly.

In him

Brian F


What a day

There is just something about fridays that makes these kids go crazy, its almost as if they have been saving up all their crazies for the whole week and then just go nuts on friday. Unfortunately this friday was no exception. It started out with me getting about 4 hours of sleep because i stayed up late goofing off with the other bigs and then i had to get up early to do my breakfast shift. At breakfast Pierre comes over to the kitchen 15 mins late (we only have 30 mins for each meal and we have last call after 10 mins for breakfast) and i had already put the food away and he starts demanding something to eat. He throws a fit and gets all crazy and starts banging his head against stuff, so i have to restrain him instead of doing my kitchen duties. I get done with breakfast clean up around 9am (started at 6:15 am) and then take a kid to the doctors for a follow up appointment. Thankfully this was the one part of my day that went off without a hitch which was surprising because two day earlier this same kid broke a window with a rock and cut himself with the glass and had to restrained for over an hour and has spent the last two nights in the isolation room. I get back from the doctors appointment and go to lunch where i find Pierre continuing to act a fool and not sit down. I told him none of the guys are going to eat until you take a seat and it took him 5 mins to sit down. Once seated I found myself surrounded by an angry mob of disgruntled youth who’s native tongue is complaining, insults, and collectively recalling and glorifying their past debauchery. One of the kids named luke (who complains literally at every single meal) got pissed off at another kid for complaining. In my frustration i said to luke, “really luke, your upset about Will complaining, you complain more than anyone at this table”. This of course did not go over well with him and he told me to shut the F up and blah blah blah, and next thing i know the whole table has united forces against me to verbally proclaim my treachery. (In hindsight i know that i shouldn’t have said that, but i was so tired of listening to everyone complain about everything all the time). The meal winds down and now its time to start cleaning up. I get some to clear the dishes, and sweep around the table but Pierre is supposed to be the one who wipes down the table and he is throwing another tantrum. I look around and luke is the first person i see from my table who is not doing anything so i ask him to wipe down our table, (would take all of 30 seconds). He says no, thats not my responsibility, so i ask him are you refusing to follow my directions? and he says yes, and i remind him that he will be loosing point not following directions. He gets escalated, starts yelling at me, cussing me out, then two other kids join in, then 3, then 4, next thing i know 5 kids have joined the cause and now im getting cussed out by 3 people at the same time. “THIS ISN’T FAIR… YOU CAN’T DO THIS…IT WASNT HIS RESPONSIBILITY, SO HE CAN’T LOOSE POINTS FOR NOT DOING IT…THIS IS BULLSH*T…F YOU MAN”. I mean honestly, if you had walked in without knowing the context you would have thought i had killed their cat or something. As all of this is going down pierre is having another meltdown and runs headfirst in the window trying to hurt himself. Thankfully glass is pretty strong and due to his polio he is not able to run very fast. After that debacle, i finally got to take a nap till our guys house meeting at 2:30. I slept for over an hour and felt more tired than i did before the nap. The nights activity was going to be awesome though, one of the kids parents had donated money so that we could take the entire guys house to a minor league hockey game. We were supposed to leave right after the guys got out of school. Once again Pierre was in a bad mood and so i starting talking to him and asking him what was going on. He said “you don’t know what im going through… you don’t know my past… i have been hearing voices telling me to kill myself”, after using some love and logic i started to pray for him and he started crying. He believes in the Lord and when he is not having one of his 5 meltdowns a day he is very thirsty for God and loves sharing and hearing Bible verses, and he loves listening to Natalie Grant. But as soon as he gets hungry or doesn’t get what he wants he blows up or melts down.

(Slight digression) on thursday we had chapel and we had of the direct care staff preach and he had an awesome message and asked anyone who wanted prayer/or to accept christ into their heart to come forward and about 7-8 girls and 4 guys went up and pierre was one of them. I say this both to rejoice and to preface how back and forth things with pierre are. In my opinion i think 1/3 of this issues are legit PTSD, reactive attachment related, 1/3 is spiritual warfare and the last third is him just being a punk.

anyway we left right after school to tale gate in the parking lot before the game and before we even leave i get cussed out by a kid in my car. As we start driving off property ryan continue to swear like a sailor and complain like a 2 year old so i slam on the breaks and ask him if he wants me to drop him back off at the house or if he’s ready to start acting like an adult. As we drove on i contemplated the definition of the word irony and how it would apply to Ryan if he didn’t get to watch the hockey game that his own father “anonymously” payed for.

Once at the event center, things took a surprising turn for the better and it seemed that almost all of the kids had briefly extricated the stick that had previously taken residence in their anuses. We cooked food, played with assorted sporting equipment, and generally engaged in various forms of frivolity. They were, dare i say, happy. Shocker i know. but don’t worry it didn’t last. Once it was time to clean up and put the seats back into the vans all various forms of frivolity ceased to exist as if the frivilopogous (Frivolity+ apocalypse ) had occurred. One kid even went so far as to secure himself to a seat in the van and refuse to move, which meant that a staff member had to miss the game to stay in the van with himself. The Game itself was amazing, we had 3 different groups to break up the kids which was a great idea, but i sucked administering meds to 7 different kids who where scattered btw the different groups. The actual game was great, the home team dominated and there was some pretty solid checks which you could practically feel sitting only 3 rows away from the ice. Everything was just hunky Dorie until the kid sitting next to me decided to try to cheek his sleeping pills. I knew that they made him super tired so i waited till the last possible min to administer them so that he could enjoy almost the entire game. After i caught him and make him retake them he remembered that cheeking meds considered a drug offense. He asked to go to the bathroom and once we were away from the group he began to plead his case. Trying to convince me not to report what had happened because if he did get a drug offense he wouldn’t be able to go home for thanksgiving. I told him, “Dude, if you didn’t want to take your sleeping meds you could have just refused to taken them and you would have gotten 5 ft restricted for a day and that would be it. This went back and forth, i almost gave in because i felt really bad for him but then i realized i was owning his mistake. I told him i had to report it and it would be up to the hall director what the consequence would be. This did not make him very happy. we went back to the seats and a few mins later he told me he wanted to go back to the car, he didn’t want to watch the rest of the game. I told him there was only 15 mins left in the game and then it would be over and then we would leave. He kind of muttered something i couldn’t understand and after another min he stood up and started walking out. I followed him and starting trying to verbally de-escalate him. We walked back to the van and the other kid who originally was in the car was gone. so i called the big who was with him and he told me they had gotten him to come inside and so they had the van keys inside so now i was locked out of the vans with an escalated kid. He started sharing his frustrations with the program and how he didn’t feel like he was making any progress, how the food sucked and how he claimed that it made him throw up day(unlikely). I listened, allowed myself time to gather my thoughts and hopefully encourage him that i had in fact seen a lot of growth and a lot of change and that i honestly believed that if he could graduate if he had the desire. I also asked him if he believed in God, and if he believed that God had a plan for his life, and i shared Jeremiah 29:11 and other verses that have helped me through hard time. He then said he wanted to tell me a story… and proceeded to tell the story of his life since he was brought to shelterwood in 3rd person narrative, which was was about as informative as it was narcissistic. From there he moved onto his current depression and how he desired to kill himself. A little after this he began walking around the parking lot without talking or responding to anything i said, which is never a good sign. I noticed that he was making a B line for highway I-70 which lay a mere 50 yards aways after a 5ft fence. I was hoping that he was just being dramatic and was going to stop at the fence and sit down. As he approached the fence i warned him, “if you touch the fence im going to” half way through my sentence he bolted to the fence and was half way over by the time i reached him. Thankfully i was able to pull him back and then restrain him against the fence. I continued to share verses with him while i was restraining him. At this point the game had ended so droves of people were flooding out and walking about 30 ft away from us. thankfully i had my back towards them so i din’t have to see the confused and concerned faces of passerby’s, or watch them stop and question whether or not they should call the cops. At one point he seemed calm enough that i began to relax my hold on him and he tried to break free and after i had re-restrained him he continued to fight so i took him down to the ground and restrained him in the tall grass, which was nice because even though we were only 30ft away from hundreds of people almost no one saw us. This was both a gift and a curse because while i wasn’t causing a scene any more, i realized that if i needed back up they probably wouldn’t be able to find me. I was somehow able to unhook my walkie-talkie from my belt and call for backup while continuing to restrain him. After a few mins i could finally see another big but he couldn’t see me and i basically had to talk him in to my position. From then things calmed down quickly and after a few mins i released him from the restraint and we walked him back to the vans. And then i came back and was on night duty so its 6 am right now so i have been up for 24 hours, yay. time to go to bed soon.

only ten more days till i get to go home. Only one more normal week of coverage, and then most of the kids will go home for break. This week was trying, and this day i had to step back several times and ask for Gods provision to just make it through the next hour without exploding on a kid, or walking away, or crying. Please pray for strength and patience to make it through one more week.

I love you all,

Brian F

Pic I took in the waiting room


Pic at the hockey game.


Parents weekend


This weekend was Parents weekend, and it was really really awesome. All the kids who have been at shelterwood for more than 4 weeks had their parents come in for 3 days of family counseling, parent teacher conferences, and meals with the other parents and the bigs. I Got to spend time with 4 different families ( friday breakfast, Friday lunch, sat lunch, and then a family took me out to ice cream on sun before they left). It was really awesome to meet the parents of the kids that i have been working with. Friday morning breakfast was with a family from florida, the parents where divorced but got along better than some married couples i know. Their son came to shelterwood about 5 days after i did, so he has been here nearly 3 months. He had a total meltdown 2 days before his first phone call home and broke two windows and damaged other property. He threatened to kill himself if he didn’t get pulled from the program. Unfortunately this is not uncommon for a little to have a blow up before their first phone call. The counselors said that kids try to freak their parents out to make them second guess their choice of sending them to get help. This is just one of many ways that the littles have learned to manipulate their parents into getting whatever they want. Thankfully, despite this kids best efforts he did not get pulled and two months later has shown an incredible amount of growth.

Saturday i had lunch with another set of parents who where from florida. Their son came to shelterwood about a week before i did. He was addicted and depressed and needed to learn how to properly grieve the death of his sister who passed away a few years ago. This was one of my more emotionally charged meetings, partially because of his parents deep heartfelt concern and partially because his parents (and especially his mom) reminded me of my parents. We talked a little about me and the program and then got into their sons progress and prognosis in the program. Like most kids his progress has been slow and steady. He has been a bit of an enigma to me, and it is hard to know how he is actually doing on a daily basis. I made sure to mention instances where i saw their son stepping up and being a leader.

My last official meal (and also the first were the child was present) was with a family from St louis who’s son has been at shelterwood just about a month. He is the kid who i talked about that i had to retrain for an hour before handing him over to other bigs who continued to restrain him for another 2 hours. Oh how he has changed in the last month. He hasn’t been restrained in the past 2 weeks and has shown so much improvement that he won man of the week last week (Oh yeah, and i won big of the week last week also). He is honestly one of my favorite people i have ever met in my life. He has an incredible life story and has overcome so much in his life. He was born in the congo and had polio and has scoliosis. He has PTSD from watching his parents be killed when he was just a baby, and has an attachment disorder from being orphaned after that. Despite all of these things, this kid is more alive than anyone else i have ever met. He is either full of joy or of anger, either way he grabs your attention. Because this was the first time this kid had seen his family since he was brought to shelterwood, and because of his violent tendencies, i acted as a chaperone for 8 hours while we went out to lunch, then went to his uncles house and then picked up their grandma and then went to dinner. (The first picture is of this kid sitting next to his sister and brother). His family was amazing, and his father is an incredible man of God. Interestingly enough he works for Boeing as an engineer, just like my brother. One of the highlights of the weekend for me was when this kid got up during share time sunday morning and thanked his parents for sending him to shelterwood, and telling them how much he loves them. He then proceeded to tell everyone how his parents where killed when he was a child and how much he misses them every day, and then challenged all of the other littles to not take their parents for granted because he would do anything to have his parents back.

The final outing i had was when a family took me out to ice cream before they left. Their son has been at shelterwood for about 5 months. I was told that he has a mild form of autism, but i think he has aspergers ¬†syndrome (Doesn’t really matter). I have spent a lot of time hanging out with this kid because we both like mountain biking and he has been helping me build the mountain bike trail. If you have never worked or lived with an autistic person you can’t really understand how frustrating it can be to almost constantly have them break nearly every social rule and step over nearly every personal boundary that you have. Even so i really have enjoyed getting to know this kid, and i think being a psychology major and having to deal with some pretty challenging people growing up has made it a lot easier to love him.

Parents weekends is great for the kids to see their family but it is mostly about the parents. while it was really really awesome getting to know the families of some of the kids i live with, it was also hard afterwards because now i really miss my family and my friends. Only a few weeks and then i get to go home, WOOT!

Its almost been creepily calm around here. Its hard for me to relax or fully enjoy it because i almost can’t believe its real. Im kind of secretly waiting for them to rebel after having lulled us into a false sense of security, but it doesn’t happen. New leaders are emerging in the house and for the first time i feel like this is a safe, supportive place for teens to meet the lord.

Praise God

Brian F

(The second picture is something that one of the kids drew and is in his room)





The parents are coming, the parents are coming.

Today, Thursday is the beginning of parents weekend. The girls already had thiers a month ago and they said it was awesome. I am hoping to come to the same conclusion after meeting all the kids parents and going out to meals with them. I have to go leave to do breakfast duty but I promise j will write a big ol fat blog after parents weekend.

Pic one is of the kids that I took to get their tb test. Pic two is a group of kids that me and another big took out to BBW on our day off.

Love you all