Haldane “Hal” Harris Sr. received the prestigious Albert E. Trieschman Award for direct care providers on Thursday, August 5, 2021, at the Association of Children’s Residential Centers (ACRC) annual conference. The award recognizes excellence in service to children and families.
Harris is a team leader in the boys’ dorms at The Barry Robinson Center (BRC). He’s made a lifetime commitment to working with youth, especially young men. Since joining the BRC team in 2015, Harris has been a key team member. He’s received multiple compliments for his engagement with residents – from residents, their parents and from his co-workers.
Receiving the award was a big surprise for Harris. “I felt honored, but in a way not deserving because there are so many people in my life that made this happen, who molded me to be who I am. This award will always have a special part in my heart. But the time that I spent with Mr. Rob, Mr. Greg and Mr. Chuck, and the whole experience at the conference, is what I truly hold dear to my heart.”
In his quote, “Mr. Greg” is Greg Palmer, treatment coordinator for the boys’ dorms, who has worked closely with Harris for several years. “Mr. Chuck” is Dr. Chuck Brooks, senior vice president for business development. “Mr. Rob” is Rob McCartney, MSW, who has been BRC’s CEO for the past nine years and knows Harris well.
“After decades of working and leading in a variety of behavioral health settings, I can say unequivocally that Hal is one of the finest employees I’ve had the privilege to work with,’ said McCartney. “I cannot imagine The Barry Robinson Center without Hal. He is a most deserving nominee for this award.”
Harris and McCartney made a presentation at the ACRC conference the day before Harris received the award. They talked about how BRC implemented a culture of connection throughout the organization. Patricia Wilcox, creator of the Restorative Approach and a trainer for Risking Connection, joined them.
BRC’s milieu environment in the dorms and in daily interactions around campus is based on Risking Connection®. This treatment method teaches a relational approach for working with children who have experienced trauma. Related, the Restorative Approach focuses on relationships, how attachments are wounded when certain behaviors occur, and how to restore that broken connection.
“Hal is one of BRC’s biggest champions for Risking Connection and the importance of restoring relationships,” McCartney said. “As a team leader, he shares his passion and knowledge of working with youth with other team members. He was one of our first employees to complete Risking Connection training and recently completed training to be a Risking Connection Trainer.”
Their presentation was a powerful conversation where they spoke transparently about BRC’s journey to embrace Risking Connection and the Restorative Approach trauma-informed care model. They shared specific examples of how they used it to help heal relationships in the BRC community.
“I am grateful for ACRC, Kari (Sisson, ACRC’s executive director), BRC, and everyone there, for the support and words of encouragement,” Harris said. “It meant the world to me to be a part of the conference and to receive an award.”
Attendees at the conference offered their thanks and appreciation for the presentation.
“This should be required viewing for all professionals who work in intensive settings,” said one attendee. Another attendee thanked Harris, McCartney and Wilcox, saying “This presentation adds a lot of value for us to take back to our agencies. You’re helping people all across the country.”