Our meeting began with the wonderful Tawanda Haithcock, Clinical Director of our Boys’ Program, giving her morning update dressed as Scooby Doo, and the very creative Allyson Hagan, our Activities Director, was the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
Obviously, this was no ordinary day.
Jesse VanLew and his team had organized a Halloween event for the residents, and by noon, tables were being set up on our beautiful campus by the different departments with a variety of themes. From Harry Potter to Candyland, each team meticulously organized their trick-or-treat station in preparation. The nursing staff brought in a giant Barbie box that served as a photo booth, and Human Resources was eager to pass out packs of Halloween-themed Pokémon cards.
As residents emerged from the dorms dressed in their costumes, they were astonished by the Halloween wonderland that awaited them. A DJ played music in the background, and the military-connected youth that we serve began to visit the games and trick-or-treat stations.
To an observer outside of the JBRI family, this event would look like any other giant fall festival. Though very warm, the leaves were amber and orange, falling from the trees as the wind blew. Children were laughing. The adults who participated watched with joy as their weeks of planning yielded the desired result. And that is exactly what the team at The James Barry Robinson Institute wanted, normality for our youth. The Barry Robinson Center is home to our residents for the time they are with us. Though healing is our priority, part of that process involves our residents not feeling as though life has completely turned its head. They are still children and teens, and they want to have the same experiences as their peers. So, this event, like so many events planned throughout the year, was done as though one were looking through the lens of a resident. What is important to them? What are they missing? And how do we make them feel at home?
So, perhaps this was an ordinary day at The Barry Robinson Center. We started our day by putting our mission of improving the lives of children and their families first, and it was a success for all involved.
*A special thank you to Jesse VanLew for organizing this incredible event.