This is simply an amazing experience for my daughter and for me. I’m profoundly appreciative that I had the opportunity to do some work related to psychiatry (although I still would have been happy to paint fences!).
The treatment program where I did an in-service with the staff on debriefing is really pretty amazing. They were remarkably receptive, and used the discussion as a forum to come up with strategies to deal with some of the overwhelming stressors they face. They take a cultural approach to addictions treatment, including Blackfeet language classes, and lessons on Blackfeet history and traditions right in there with 12-step meetings and addictions education. I have not seen this sort of approach before and frankly it is brilliant – building self esteem and sense of purpose with clients by reconnecting them with who they are as Blackfeet people.
The crisis center, meanwhile, is also doing a wonderful job. They seemed to welcome the volunteers and we spent some time each day talking with staff about the difficulties they face and about taking care of themselves (some stress management techniques). They were very open to more volunteers, particularly to help play with the children, read to them feed them, etc.
I certainly had an exposure to Blackfeet culture and community which I could not have experienced without all of the bridges built by Global Volunteers. I was deeply impressed by the matched labor approach. There was a combination of good organization and flexibility which made things run really well. I’ve already told my daughter Molly, age 19, that I would happily send her anywhere in the world with Global Volunteers (not something I would have said before this experience).
I need to add that the team leader was nothing short of spectacular. I would really enjoy the opportunity to work with her again, her style was perfect. Molly and I came home talking endlessly about our experience and I know we’ll be back. Thanks so much.