As I write this letter to you, I reflect on years past. I recall many things about my son Thomas and remember the struggles, the pain, the uphill battle he experienced at each turn in his life. For Thomas, life has been truly hard.
I write to you because my heart is so full of joy and mostly gratitude. Your school has given my son the opportunity not many children receive. Thomas has evolved into a wonderful young man. He has become someone that I dared not to dream. As the mother of a child with a mental illness, I had come very close to giving up on him ever having anything near to a normal, fulfilling life. But Brookside, the staff, his therapist and your program have changed that dramatically. Brookside has changed the course of his life, to one of hope. Your program has given life back to my son. And for that I say “thank you”…from the bottom of my heart. My gratitude goes beyond that. I am completely indebted to your facility, the staff, and to you, the Lead Clinician of the program at Brookside. Your facility is a giant in the field of Mental Health and I am confident that you will continue to change the lives of all those who find shelter, comfort and safety there.
I pray that God passes his loving hand over all of you…the children, the staff, Clinicians, Doctors and Nurses. You all do the work of God at Brookside. You have given my son back.
With Deepest and sincere regards,
M. Salerno & Family
I am simply writing to express that the blessings given to my son, Taylor, while a student at Hillcrest (Brookside Campus), continue to multiply on a daily basis. I wish you could see your work in him. He is alive, thriving and enjoying his life, in part because of Hillcrest. I continue to have eternal gratitude.
It was winter when we arrived at the Hillcrest Brookside campus, watery afternoon sunshine and snow, lots of snow in the Berkshires.
I peered ahead, a long maple lined drive, a ball field on the left drifted deep and at the far end of the drive what looked like an old manor house, with a dozen or so cars and a couple of gray vans parked nearby. Beside me in the jeep was my wife Sue and in the rear seat my son Sean. No staff, no children in sight and I heard my wife sigh.
It was the end of the line.
Our son had come to us as a foster child four years before, labeled suicidal, profoundly emotionally disturbed, perhaps retarded. A small skinny loud presence. It was his twelfth placement and although an extraordinary year had followed, a year which eventually led to his adoption by us, puberty had triggered a series of long hospitalizations as many behaviors recurred coupled with periods of deepening depression and withdrawal. He had gained a tremendous amount of weight and we no longer recognized our son or it seemed, he, us.
Inside however it was warm. There was a bang and clatter of children and staff, new children and we could see him begin to focus. The more so when we were bundled into the Directors office. Old wood, creaking floors, a view out at the snow, where Steve was smiling.
That was our introduction to Hillcrest’s Brookside campus. A warm room and smiling staff, The Assistant Director the Senior Clinician, the cook, the receptionist, the teachers, everybody, smiling. And I don’t know how they kept smiling through the next two years but they did, smiling and working and encouraging our son.
Schoolwork, social life, bike trips, encouraging his fishing, woodshop, personal hygiene, and managing his anger and depression. Encouraging us too with a staff you could speak with twenty-four hours a day, a doctor who saw him regularly and who would actually return our calls, regular meetings and written reports.
Brookside Day came and he won the nursing award, he had dropped one hundred pounds, he looked lean and fit, was talking about diet and the fish he caught and friends he made and tentatively, about what he wanted to do when he got home full-time. Until one Friday summer afternoon, my wife went and picked him up for the weekend, driving him home for a visit in her convertible with the top down, the back route we learned to navigate into the hills up through Egremont and down in the rolling Taconic farms and suddenly he was smiling too.
And I suppose that’s how we knew it was time for him to come home, and how one defines Hillcrest and the Brookside program. Waiting inside in the warmth on the bleakest of bleak winter days, then counseling, work, social life, schooling, and a “can-do” staff that finally, after infinite trial and effort, manages to duplicate their summer smile, on the face of a boy.
~R F Miniter
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