What an extraordinary labor of love! The day was wet, cold and grey, the site: the sidewalk of a busy Bremerton street and a parking lot, donated by Arnold's Furniture. The event was the statewide rally to rescue Frances Haddon Morgan Center. A couple of portable canopies kept the food dry and provided dry space for conversation. Dedicated RHC proponents got drenched while chanting and waving signs. Passersby, curious to know the score, parked, walked back in the rain, inquired, and in some cases joined in! "How can I help?" was the question of the day! Frances Haddon Morgan Center, it turns out, is very well regarded by it's local community!
Since the Washington State Federation of Employees sponsored the rally, it was a foregone conclusion that they would be there, even dedicated caregivers from the other side of the Cascades who had braved treacherous driving conditions in the mountains. Since the proposed closure of FHMC threatens their loved ones, parents and guardians were expected, too.
The surprise was the RHC supporters from the "community." My question to each was, "What brings you here; why do you support RHCs? I talked with some who know former FHMC residents who, having moved to the "community" have not done well, with a former investigator who highly respects the abuse- prevention measures taken in the RHCs in contrast to what he found in "community" venues, with a special ed teacher who wants to retain RHCs as alternatives for parents who do not realize that, some day, their child may outgrow their family's ability to deal with escalating behaviors at home, and with an indignant grad student who, having taken the stakeholder "survey" for the "study" that is being used to justify RHC closures, found it to be a farce.
I overheard caring DSHS employees considering how to help an RHC resident whom they knew, who, they were told, was out of control in her new "community" environment. In fact, I heard more than one such conversation. Another conversation between RHC staff members focused on the potential loss of professional expertise and especially on the toll that dispersion of services would take on synergistic information-sharing among RHC professionals about individuals in their mutual care. I did not realize it at the time, but what I never heard was any consideration of potential job losses. Looking back, it seems overwhelmingly evident that the primary reason for the rally was the support of the services that are provided by FHMC for all the people who need them.
The day was an eye-opener for me, not in terms of the need to keep open the RHCs, but, rather, the range of supporters and the depth of their conviction and commitment.
Reminding you that we all have each other, and to the extent that we each want the best for each person with dd, we are all on the same side!