My daughter, a former BRC resident, has been doing an amazing job since she has returned home. Her teachers have made comments that it is a complete change, for the good. She is entering high school this year and was accepted into the BioMed program. She is also going to try out for the school volleyball team. I owe you and everyone at The Barry Robinson Center an ongoing thank you for all you have done and the support/help you did with her. I don't know where we would be today if you guys have not become a part of our lives. I am forever grateful for this.
I want to thank you all. I have met a few families at the Ronald McDonald House staying there to tour The Barry Robinson Center and I've told them how amazing you all have been and the amazing difference you've made with my daughter. I love how everyone from the dorm staff, therapist, doctors, administrators, and cafeteria staff are all a major part of the care. They all love the kids and care for them. When I eat lunch or dinner with my daughter on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, the cafeteria staff tells me how sweet and well-mannered she is, even to them, and it makes me happy that they even know how amazing my child is and care about her. I've told everyone that after researching all options, you were best in the country for military kids and no matter where we are or what happens, if our child is ever in need of residential care again, I will drive her to Norfolk for Barry Robinson. Your team and facility is amazing.
I just want to let you know how much I appreciate the communication from The Barry Robinson Center. It makes me happy that I am able to feel comfortable calling Rodney and asking these questions, getting his perspective/insight, and most of all his support. He is very honest and knowledgeable. I get the sense that he knows our son well, which is a huge comfort. I also appreciate the fact that Janika is available to discuss our concerns and lend support as well. Both Rodney and Janika get back to us promptly and never rush the conversation or make us feel silly for asking some pretty basic questions. Janika has also let me know that I can email her whenever I have a question or concern, which is much easier to do from work, specifically with the time difference. The staff at the Barry Robinson Center continues to impress us, and I just wanted to acknowledge their hard work.
One family's story from crisis to hope. We are your typical American family; happily married parents, four kids, and a dog. In the early weeks of 2016, we found ourselves in a family crisis like none other we had faced. We did what we do best, we started asking questions and seeking assistance. We were introduced to Chuck Brooks with BRC through a mutual acquaintance. At that point, we had limited knowledge of the inner workings of BRC and we couldn't fathom our kid going to a residential facility but Chuck agreed to come meet and offer his guidance on what programs were available in the area for families in a crisis like ours was. That is probably what was most striking, that he o offered to come meet even though we did not know that our kid would ever need the care he could offer. By the time we were able to schedule a meeting and sit down with Chuck our crisis worsened. I sat across from Chuck and told the story of our family and our son, a typical 12-year-old boy diagnosed many years prior with severe ADHD who had spiraled out of control over the past months. Chuck offered a multitude of advice, the most comforting was that we should not take his word on inpatient programs and facilities but that we should investigate for ourselves, tour facilities and talk with staff about practices. We immediately scheduled a tour of BRC for my husband and I that same week, just in case. Living in the Norfolk area my whole life I was familiar with the BRC campus location as I drive past it daily. The campus has always caught my eye. How it is meticulously kept, how the buildings look like they belong on a college campus, and how to the unknowing passerby would have no idea it was a clinical facility. There are no bars or gates, no bare walls, no isolation areas. We knew immediately that if our son needed this level of care that BRC was going to be the place, now to wait and see. It was less than a week later when I had to send a desperate email to Chuck saying that we had made the decision, due to the continued crisis, that our son needed an inpatient program. This was the hardest day of our parenting journey up to that point but I felt a sense of security knowing that we had such a gem of treatment right in our backyard. We completed the admission paperwork and waited. Our insurance company was not being very helpful and this would prove no different with how they would continue to behave. The staff at BRC worked tirelessly to collect reports, conduct evaluations and provide medical recommendations to our insurance company. They did all of this while keeping us thoroughly informed of how things were going but not putting any of the burdens on us. They continued to reassure us that things would be okay and that if according to the medical staff, our son needed the treatment they could offer that we would find a way to make it happen. Our son was admitted to BRC on March 11th, the second hardest day of our parenting journey. After 30 days at BRC, our insurance company decided, against medical recommendations, that our son no longer needed services and they refused to continue to pay for services. We did not learn about this from our insurance company but from the wonderful staff at BRC who met us face to face and explained what they had been told. They came to us prepared with a new option and had paperwork ready for us to sign that minute. Our son’s initial treatment plan was thorough and inclusive of not just surface level behavioral expectations but with deeper emotional understanding expectations. The treatment plan not only posed these expectations but provided the needed guidance and teaching in these areas of self-awareness and self-control. BRC was the first place that looked at our son not just as the sum of his symptoms but more so as a whole person. They are helping identify the causes, not just the effects of his behavior. They are helping him understand while he feels the things he does and how to communicate this to others around him in a socially acceptable and safe way. They are also teaching him that feeling these things are not wrong, something that for a child with a dysregulation disorder is paramount for their overall self-image. They spend so much time being treated like the bad kid that they start to feel like that is all they will ever be. Our son’s therapist has supported him through 3 or more individual sessions a week and us through our weekly family therapy sessions. He has offered us guidance and support in so many areas of supporting a child with the unique challenges that it presents. Our entire family, we have three additional children, participates in family therapy and everyone has benefitted from the guidance that the therapist provides. He calls us between our therapy sessions to keep us informed about how he is doing socially and emotionally. When we have presented him with concerns he is quick to acknowledge and address them. He takes every concern that we bring to him seriously and acknowledges the importance of us being educated on strategies to help our son when he comes home and not just focused on the fantasy of 'making him better' while he is at their facility. They acknowledge that these kids need continued support and care even once they are discharged. The communication of the staff across departments is phenomenal. The staff communicates almost instantly about concerns, behaviors, needs, and corrective actions. This is so helpful in making sure that these children, who do not always tell factually accurate stories, are held appropriately accountable, that they receive the proper support when they are struggling and that families know what is really going on. As a parent, it is so comforting to know that we can call and everyone on our son’s team knows what his current challenges and successes are in real time. This allows all of us to praise and support him as he needs at that very minute. Our son has done so well at BRC but I think what has been the best part is that the staff at BRC has made him feel safe. We were very worried about how he would transition into an inpatient facility but within the first few days was expressing how helpful he felt all of the services were and that he was enjoying it. He was enjoying therapy, he was enjoying all of the recreational time that they get, he was having very positive interactions with the staff, and although he would have preferred to be home he was admitting that he knew he needed help and he felt as though he was getting it. This has been the continuing thread through his entire time, almost 10 weeks so far, at BRC. That although he would prefer to be home he understands that he needs help and that he is getting it there. They do not just treat these kids, they teach them how to understand what makes them tick. They don't just medicate or fluff over what is going on they dig deep and force the kids to get real and make real changes for lifelong success. Our son sounds like a little therapist himself now as he explains how he "asks for space" when he is overwhelmed, how he "accepts and moves on" from consequences without becoming violent, how he supported a peer that was struggling, and more importantly how he was able to regroup after a negative encounter. They are using techniques that are amazing with the kids. These techniques teach an awareness of self and their surroundings that are going to be critical when he transitions home. As an aside to all our son has learned our other boys have learned some simple techniques that make it easier for them to interact with each other and with us when they are frustrated or unhappy. One unexpected benefit of him being at BRC is that we found out that one of his medications was causing damage to his liver. BRC requires the kids to see a pediatrician and have a physical and regular bloodwork. Although our son was a healthy kid and we kept up with his annual physical we had no idea trouble was brewing. He has since been taken off of the medication and continued monitoring is in place to ensure that his body is recovering. Unlike the acute facility who, each of the three admissions, upped his medications BRC has only expressed a desire to stabilize and if possible reduce the number of medications that he is on. They understand that the health risks and side effects of these very strong medications are not always worth the risk. The fact that the staff at BRC is concerned with his overall physical health through medication management, diet and exercise, blood work and pediatric appointments is just a bonus. We have worked with a variety of therapists, psychiatrists, and school personnel and never have we seen the success that we have experienced through BRC. I shudder to think where we would be if we had not had BRC in our backyard as we did. We are at a place where we are preparing for his transition home. We would be lying if we didn't expect there to be challenges but we are now armed with the tools to face those challenges and that is all because of the program at BRC. More importantly than the program are the people because if they did not believe in the program or it they were not so dedicated in implementing the program then this would not be possible. Forever Grateful.
BRC not only changes the lives of their residents, but they change the lives of their entire families! I’m so grateful for the support and changes that you have helped facilitate in our lives. BRC is a very special place, and I will always be grateful for what you have done for us. Sincerely, Grateful Parent
Dear Mr. McCartney, Our child has been at The Barry Robinson Center for two months. I want to first thank Ms. Laura Cheney for taking the chance and admitting my daughter one day after I called her. I was frantic to find a place, and Laura put my mind to rest. BRC has always been my first choice for her. Ms. Laura finished all the red tape paperwork (there is a lot) in one day and was able to admit her very quickly. We came at 1:00 pm on a Friday and I know people were staying late to help us. Mr. Chuck gave me a tour, Ms. Charlotte met my husband, and our daughter saw Ms. JoAnn, Dr. Horsy, and Dr. Mateen that afternoon. She also met Ms. Susan from the dietary team that day. I am going to address some people by first names only in this letter because I do not know all the last names or correct spellings. I would like to recognize the special attention that they have given to our daughter and our family. First, I would like to mention that we believe the therapist Dr. Horsey is an excellent match for our daughter. We see surprising progress as far as her communication skills and ability to express her emotions, things she’s struggled with for years. Dr. Horsey has worked well with our therapist at West Point to set up family sessions. Next, Mr. Rodney Boykin made us feel at ease immediately when we called during the first week, and his comments and assessments of our daughter were spot-on. He understood her and how to work with her. Mr. Rodney also took extra time to meet us and show us our daughter’s room on our second visit to BRC. In the dormitory, Ms. Catherine has spent many hours with our daughter trying to soothe her when she is anxious and trying to help her with her delusional thinking; Mr. Greg has also been very helpful. We know our daughter also talks to Ms. Maricia, and all of the other staff in the Lawless dormitory have been so kind and helpful. We do not know all their names. We want you to know how much we appreciate all they have done and are doing. Ms. Miranda and Ms. Brittany, her nurses, have kept us updated on all medical issues and evidence of self-harm. Our daughter really likes them. Second, education is extremely important to our daughter. It is very much a part of her identity. She is an Advanced Placement student and college-bound this fall, we hope, to University of Washington. I met your education department on the first day there, and they took careful notes about our daughter and were ready to make a plan immediately. It took a little while to sort out what work our daughter still needed to complete for her “home” school (counselor miscommunication from her counselor in NY, snow days in NY, and technical difficulties with Google classroom). Ms. Amanda Lloyd was extremely persistent in accomplishing this, as well as setting our daughter up with an on-line English course. Ms. Amanda has sent numerous emails to me and the “home” school and she has also met with us privately twice—once to set up the schedule and once to check on our daughter’s progress. Ms. Cindy and Ms. Julie, and Mr. Damien also met with us. We know this is not standard practice and greatly appreciate all of the teachers’ time. Additionally, Ms. Cindy Mills and Ms. Julie King did some “teacher magic,” so that our daughter could take her AP Exams at Norfolk Schools. They made this decision and did this work because they felt it would reduce her anxiety to be able to take these tests. We know that they really care about her. Third, Ms. Paula also goes way above and beyond to help meet the dietary needs of all the patients, particularly our child, who requests a vegan diet and needs to put on some weight. She lost about 20 pounds from February 1-April 1. This was happening before she came to BRC, so her diet is a big concern for us. Ms. Paula spent her own time shopping to find the best supplemental chocolate shakes that she could, and our daughter loves them. She ordered the NuGO bars the minute that she knew our daughter liked them. I mentioned Naked drinks, and I think she received one the very next day. That is just amazing! Ms. Paula also met with us privately, along with Ms. JoAnn and Ms. Brittany, from nursing, to discuss our daughter’s weight loss and her food likes and dislikes. Her weight loss is a huge concern because another part of her identity has been being an athlete. We are so happy she is in Girls on the Run. She loves it too. I spoke to Ms. Amanda Phelps on the phone for 30 minutes one day about our daughter’s level of physical activity and her policy that she eats enough in order to run. She has been very accommodating for our daughter in the program, even though she sometimes makes bad choices. It was wonderful to meet you at the breakfast on Saturday morning. We also enjoyed sharing with the other parents who are in the same circumstance as us—being military families with multiple moves, schools, and deployments. It was great that Justin came in to talk to us about the different methods of communication that he is developing. Although we already feel that communication with our child has been very good, there is always room for improvement. We have not used the Skype option to communicate, but that is because no one in our family has asked to do it. The parent handbook is definitely a must, as we have always received one at every other facility. The idea of making it a working document on-line is a good idea; however, I do like to have a small pamphlet or booklet with basic information handy. As I mentioned in the meeting, any suggestions that I gave were purely to move BRC from a four star to a five star facility, if there is such a thing. I think the other parents concur. Hosting a Military Appreciation Day was a great idea, and the kids loved it! The caricature station was very popular; I was thrilled that my family was able to do that. We would not have been able to do that a few months ago. The younger kids liked the blow-up and all the other displays. Although we missed it, we heard that the Police K9 Unit was really interesting. Finally, we have to comment on the quality of the food. Everything was just delicious, much better than your standard “big picnic.” Ms. Susan and her whole staff does an awesome job. She is one of the friendliest and most hard-working people we see there. Our daughter says the vegan food is very good and she recognizes their special attention. The first person we see on Saturdays when we come to visit is Ms. Bonnie. She is so pleasant, caring, and conscientious, and always remembers us. It is a nice way to start a visit. If you have questions about anything in this letter, please contact me. Warmly, Colonel, U.S. Army
Dear Mr. McCartney, I’ve sat for weeks now, writing, deleting, and rewriting this letter to you. Because how does someone convey in words, what can never truly convey? Let me start at the beginning… My son was bed-to-bed transferred from Maryview to The Barry Robinson Center in November after exceedingly elevated behaviors that left me feeling hopeless and helpless, like things would never get better for him. One of a parent’s worst realities really – seeing their child struggle, and not knowing what to do, or where to go, to help. To give you some background history – we spend five years being seen by psychiatric specialists at a children’s hospital in Colorado. And for five years, I advocated for my son, struggled for care and assistance, and watched his moods swing like a pendulum. For five years, my fears and concerns fell on deaf ears: no one ever seemed to try and help. I doubted myself. I doubted my ability to be a good mother. I questioned if this really was as bad as I felt it was, or if I was just making a big deal out of nothing; that: “boys will be boys” and U just needed to roll with the punches. Each time we had a follow-up appointment, I’d tell the specialists my fears, but only for short periods of time, and we’d end up back where we started. It got so concerning, he was eventually brought before the United States Navy Exceptional Family Member committee and designates into the highest classification they have – category five. Being classified as Cat5 meant being assigned “Homestead”, where we get assigned to one place for the duration of the military member’s career. But there are only five places we can be homestead to Hampton roads is one of them. Being military, we’re accustomed to moving every couple of years. It becomes your “norm”. So, we packed our bags and moved our lives, and the struggle continues in a new place, but with fresh, unfamiliar faces. Upon arriving in Virginia, and getting settled, I start the all too familiar process of going through my son’s history… and let me tell you, it’s a pretty long history. When the behaviors started getting out of control again, I called the doctor, made the appointment, and expected nothing more than what I’ve received thus far, which is, for lack of better words, a dismissal. His PCP, PA Lantry, told me to take him to the ER: that they’d so a psych eval/hold on him, and get him immediate assistance. I looked at him like he’d grown an extra head. I’d done this for five years in Colorado, and nothing ever came of it. Ge reassured me the process in which these concerns are handled is different here, and to trust him. So, I did. And I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I did. It’s important to me that this piece is included. Because these key players are what led up to him being admitted in the BRC. AND without them, it never would have happened. Although their roles were nowhere as lengthy as the BRC’s, they’re important players in the overall intricate outcome to their initial assistance in getting him to your program. My first introduction to the BRC was through Joel Fink. He truly met me at my worst: out first meeting, to tour the facility, was on a horrible, rainy night. I was running late due to traffic, and on my way to the BRC, received a call from home that, my son was having one of his elevated fits again. I was a mess, and Joel handled me, and all my overwhelmed anxiousness and stress, with calm and patience. It was exactly what I needed, and gave me a first-hand understanding of what my son would receive if he himself were at BRC. Joel quickly identified the necessity in which his application needed to be submitted and got me in touch with Laura Chaney. They both went above and beyond to get the application expedited and moved mountains to get transferred directly to the BRC after he was sent back to Maryview less than a months’ time from his last admission. Upon admission to the BRC, we were assigned to Otis Bynum. Now, this… this is where I just get “tongue-tied”. I’ve searched for the words to properly convey the gratitude for each person who worked with my son along the process, and none seem to really come close. But with Otis – there truly are no words. They say things happen for a reason; the same is true with people. Each person along the path made a lasting impression. But Otis- he literally saved our family from crumbling under the stress of dealing with our son’s behaviors. He was real. He was knowledgeable. He was a sounding board. He was exactly who we needed to survive this: to understand that what we’d been dealing with was not the “norm”. And he listened. He critiqued. He suggested. He took an active role in my son; in figuring out what ways would work best when dealing with him. My husband has his own beliefs in therapy. Mostly, he feels it’s pointless, because all it really turns out to be is a nagging/venting session, with no real progress made. My husband is the one who said the family sessions saved us, and that it wasn’t just our son who benefited from them. Coming from my husband, that’s the highest praise to be given; he doesn’t just do so without a firm belief that what he’s saying is fact. And maybe those are the words that best sum me and our, gratitude. In closing, I would like to thank you for all that you provide through the Barry Robinson Canter to the families who turn to you seeking help. It is professionals and facilities like that BRC that make the helpless feel hope again.
What a great performance today by the Voices of Pride! Everyone really enjoyed the singing performance by the children. The BRC children were respectful and helpful to the staff and residents at The Memory Center. Furthermore, Ms. King is so organized and directed everyone so well. Ms. King is right when she said music brings us all together!
Dear Laura, I just wanted to write and say THANK YOU so very much for helping me with my daughter and her transition to The Barry Robinson Center. Ever since my first talk with you on the phone, I was- and continue to be- impressed with the kindness and professionalism of you and all your co-workers. After having my first session with my daughter today, I am so fortunate that she has a place at The BRC and am hopeful that she will be able to get better. Thank you so very much—words are not enough! All the best,
The Rise Program has benefited me very much. It has shown me valuable life skills thanks to Mr. Burke and Mrs. Sykes. I have a lot more knowledge about electronics and cabling thanks to Mr. Jones too. I would recommend that this program be continued and funded so that they can enlighten more young minds like they did mine. Sincerely, Former Resident
I am sitting at the airport in Virginia thinking about the wonderful weekend I spent with my daughter. It was not perfect, and started a bit rocky, but the recovery was quick which enabled us to spend some quality time together. Thank you for enabling me to visit her. Without help for the flight and being able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, there is no way that this would have been able to happen. Thank you for not only caring for our daughter, but understanding how important family is in the helping/healing process. As always, everyone at the BRC was kind and helpful. I loved chatting with Ms. Lois, and of course, we couldn't be where we are in treatment without Ms. Janika. Thank you for everything.
I wanted to respond to your email once I arrived home and got situated. I had a wonderful trip. Everything couldn't have gone better if I had planned it. Every interaction that I had with staff, my time with my daughter...just everything. I can't thank you enough for the care you have given her and our family. I agree, that without Debbie, we wouldn't be in the place we are now, for so many reasons and in so many ways. When I dropped my daughter off at BRC with my dad in late May, I was very overwhelmed, but holding on to hope. I prayed that we had researched enough and decided to admit her to a place that we were comfortable with and she could get the help that she needed. It scared me that I was taking our child cross country for help and it seemed so unfair. As I have said 100 times, my interactions with Debbie solidified that we were making a good decision. After visiting BRC for the last four days, I believe that we have made a very good decision. Debbie continues to support our family in every way possible. Laura, I am glad that we got to spend some time together and I appreciate your help and guidance as well. Cindy and Julie were a great help for us on the educational front and I appreciate them making time for me on such a short notice. Of course, my time with Ms. J and Rodney was nice, and as I stated above, every person I interacted with at BRC during those 4 days of Trinity's TLOA(s) was kind and caring. It made leaving so much easier this time for a few reasons. I had a wonderful time with my daughter. Though she has a long way to go, I noticed some very positive differences in her and enjoyed face to face therapy with her and Janika. I see what good hands my daughter is in and that makes my leaving much easier. I also know that you have enabled me to come back and see her within the next month or so, which again, made leaving easier. I am very grateful and left Virginia feeling very good.
Just made it home a little while ago. Stayed through visiting hours and had a chance to just sit at the picnic benches and really visit with my daughter for a long time. First real visit we have had with her in months without the stress of her environment too. Really appreciated and enjoyed so many of the staff members we met this weekend. Everyone took time to visit with us, hear our story, share their story and just be sincere and kind. I know she is very homesick as she has been away from her home since the beginning of April and she is only now beginning her first step in the healing process, but we tried to assure her she will need to give it some time with you all as well. Our hope is she makes friends quickly and feels more at home so she can come to understand she is in the right place at this point in her life. Last thing, was so nice to have her be able to call us tonight to check in. Made her and us feel so much better. Again, thank you for making this all possible!
Mr. McCartney, We just wanted to take a moment to thank you and the BRC staff for all of their help with our son. First and foremost, we thank Mr. Otis Bynum. Otis was very astute at sensing what our son was feeling, and Otis helped him to take off the mask of anger and indifference, enabling him to better deal with the underlying depression that had become acute. Consistently, Otis showed both warmth and empathy. To be sure, our son, is a complicated case, but Otis really listened to us and spent time understanding his history so that every moment was movement forward toward our son’s good health. Otis worked hard to create a partnership with us so that all of us were pursuing the same goals to help him. Even as our son was separated from us, Otis helped us work hard to keep him integrated into our family. Having a child in a residential facility is heartbreaking, and though we felt great sadness, we also developed confidence that our son was in the care of a staff of residential aids, teachers, nurses, doctors, and others who, by all observations, have a genuine love for children with special needs. We visited often, different times of day, planned and unplanned stops to BRC, and each time we encountered caregivers who seemed authentic, friendly, and truly invested in the children. Their faces come to mind often, and if we listed one or two, we would surely forget many others. Suffice it to say that we consistently observed staff taking the extra time, giving the extra counseling, summoning one more calm face or one more smile. We felt as if our son was in the care of compassionate professionals. We didn’t sleep well each night with our oldest son away from our family, but we did sleep, and that rest was possible because of what we observed each day among the men and women of BRC. Thank you again, and always we will be grateful for your help.
I just want to take the time to express what I think is important about what I’ve learned in the Rise Program. Since I have started this program I have had a positive outlook on some things in my life that I needed help understanding. Also, I learned that success starts with me. Everything I learned has only helped me become a better person. Thank you, Former Resident