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“A Boy Who Was Broken” – A Family Who is Healed

Shwan Brooks, Oxbow’s Executive Director, received this letter this month from the parent of one of our graduates. We gratefully share it’s contents with our blog readers. To protect this family’s privacy, their names have been ommitted or abbreviated.

Setember 7, 2011

Dear Shawn,

It’s been a month since ** graduation from Oxbow, and I promised I would share some thoughts about his nearly 18-month stay. Rather than look back, I’d like to bring you up to date on the weeks since we saw you.

** is a college reshman, living the life of an 18-year-old we once could only pray he’d become. He has made friends aplenty and gotten off to a good academic start. He says he has never been happier. Time, of course, will determine if everything remains so rosy, but each day that goes well lays a foundation for even better days ahead.

While ** missed out on the life of a “normal” high school student, he seems advanced beyond his college peers in other ways. For instance, he says he finds their fascination with alcohol and sex shallow and of little interest to him. I think the regard he developed at Oxbow for the importance of meaningful relationships is at the core of his reaction. If so, Oxbow helped prepare him for life in ways his classmates now must negotiate.

Additionally, ** seems to have gotten off to a good academic start. ** says he has a new-found interest in learning that we first saw emerge at Oxbow.

** has stayed in touch with Tony and Britta. Their friendship and support helped him through Oxbow and continue to help him now. While two weeks of college life is little more than a start, ** is off to a good start.

It’s a long way from the condition in which ** found himself when reporting to Oxbow. More than 15 months of other therapeutic schools had failed to crack the shell in which  ** resided. I credit the Oxbow team, along with ** for his hard work, with the advances that occurred.

Tiffany Winder and Todd Spaulding were firm but loving in the way they performed their therapy. It would have been easy for all of us to quit the relentless grind of weekly family sessions, but Tiffany and Todd maintained a professional manner that never allowed us to lose hope. They guided ** through some of the most-challenging soul-searching any human could face.

Bill Pollack and folks like Amy Brown taught ** the importance of living successfully with others in the residential part of the program. I doubt that ** will ever encounter a college roommate with whom he cannot co-exist, based on his Oxbow experience.

 Academically, ** blossomed at Oxbow. Self-learning seemed to be the key, but the staff that Rick Lee guided helped to turn our son into a true student. Given his spotty academic experience in high school, we had low expectations for a college career. Yet, ** scored in the 75th percentile in the SAT exam and was accepted to 11 universities, including the one he now attends.

Perhaps no part of Oxbow affected ** as greatly as the equine program, led by Tony and Britta. ** came to understand that horses make wonderful surrogates for people and that building a relationship with a horse can be even more challenging than connecting with a fellow human. Tony and Britta also showed a special interest in **. They made him feel loved, something he desperately needed, even though he was already loved by so many. Perhaps I will never fully understand the magic of the relationship, but it worked. For that we will be eternally grateful.

While I pray that no young man would ever need Oxbow, itʼs reassuring to know that it exists. Had it not existed, I shudder to think where our son would be today. You took him to places in his heart and soul that he might never have reached. As a result, he came to understand himself and learned to communicate those feelings to others.

We sent you a boy who was broken in spirit and you returned to us a young man who has a very real chance at success. That is all anyone can ever ask.

I hope this is helpful to you. Please feel free to share our story with others. I only ask that you do so anonymously, which I am certain you will.

Best personal regards,

J