Written by: David Milliken, Hutton Settlement Campus Director
Growing up as a child in the Spokane Valley in a large family of six siblings, sincerity and love for the truth didn't always win out. With the occasional sibling scuffle and subsequent blame and denials that followed, I must confess the drive of my own self-interest stretched the truth at times.
Fortunately for me, my parents modeled patience, understanding and accountability. Over time, I eventually realized that telling the truth was not only the right thing to do, but it just felt better. This development was not much of a stretch since much of my childhood was secure and supported by engaged and caring parents in a safe, supportive community.
Today, as the campus director of the Hutton Settlement Children's Home, my work is immersed in the lives of children who didn't have the family stability that I had growing up. With many exposed to various forms of trauma, most formed survival behaviors that were necessary to cope and adapt to insecure environments.
Some of those survival behaviors involved dishonesty in order to protect from being vulnerable and harmed. These survival behaviors often persist even when one's environment has shifted to become healthier and safe. I realized early on at Hutton that if I wanted honesty from another it required a reciprocal relationship of understanding, patience and safety. After all, how many of us are honest with another when we sense they may be dismissive, disrespectful, or unsafe?
After 20+ years of service at Hutton, I've seen what consistent patience and safety can produce. As the youth at Hutton cross the threshold into a more secure worldview, they tend to be more truthful in expressing their needs. This honesty requires courage, as one steps out in vulnerability to disclose a need for comfort, encouragement, guidance or accountability. It's been said that you can tell a healthy person by whether they can honestly express their true needs to another. If that is the case, how healthy are we really?
A number of years ago a teenager soon to be graduating from high school met me in the hallway to talk about his next steps into young adulthood. I asked him how he was doing with moving on to college, and I didn't expect the response I received.
He said he learned at Hutton how to be a great student, work hard, stay active, lead others, and set a vision for himself. He was graduating with high grades and was accepted into college with a full scholarship. He earned enough money at a local coffee house to purchase a car and save some money. He led others in student government and was a model for our younger residents. Yet, he looked me in the eyes tearfully and said he looked successful, but on the inside said he had a big hole in his heart that he didn't know how to deal with. At that moment I had a much stronger appreciation for this young man and the courage that it took to share something so personal and important. It was his honesty that allowed me to then assist him on a deeper journey of healing that may have never occurred without the truth. I am still on that journey with this young man today.
This is one story of courageous honesty of many that could be told at Hutton. I've been humbled by so many children over the years who were willing and able to disclose their needs despite the personal risk of shame and judgment. With a relational blend of patient availability and courage, honesty can thrive and be the difference between an authentic life and one that is paralyzed from hiding from the truth.
Hutton Holiday & Year-End Video Greeting
We are happy. We are healthy. We are are Hutton.
To make a year-end contribution, we welcome your gifts here. From our family to yours, we hope you have a hope-filled holiday season!
#GivingTuesday at Hutton
Giving and service has been a pillar of Hutton’s success for over a century.
From Levi Hutton’s legacy of generosity that established and endowed a home for generations of children to the generosity of donors during a year where so much has been uncertain, Hutton has been built upon “giving.” In other ways though, it’s giving to others that Hutton residents and alum carry as their coveted memory from their time at Hutton.
During 2020 alone, the residents of Hutton have contributed 510 hours of community service through community organizations like Blessings Under the Bridge, the NAOMI Community, Millwood Impact, Share Far and West Central Abbey’s Dinner Table Program. This has included projects such as a community-wide mug drive and delivery project, preparing and serving weekly meals to those in the West Central Neighborhood and helping to establish several organization’s very own community gardens.
There is no doubt that service to others is invaluable to our society - whether to Hutton or through Hutton. This #GivingTuesday, we are recognizing the impact of said service, especially when your gifts help support our kids’ opportunities to give to others. All gifts given today will be dedicated to these programs that allow our kids an opportunity to give back, creating a sense of empowerment for all involved!
As we entered 2020 to begin the second century of the Hutton Settlement we certainly didn’t consider a global pandemic that would force us into significant life adjustments. With an absence of volunteers, campus visitors, large celebratory events, and frequent community engagements our staff and mostly teenage population had to adapt and endure by moving deeper into campus life. As formal educational opportunities shifted to Zoom and other virtual methods, we soon realized the importance of hands-on, experiential learning to keep our kids active and engaged. Our sustainability and leadership education program, SALUTE, was primed to make this happen!
In 2018, SALUTE aligned with the National Geographic Society’s geographical literacy initiatives to support the nurturing of engaged global citizenship among youth. National Geographic provided training and a clear learning framework that assisted us in fostering the development of the attitudes, skills and knowledge needed for youth to thrive in today’s expanded world. With a global pandemic and the world largely shut down, we did not pause, but took the opportunity to deepen these transformative learning efforts.
So how did we do it?
First, three staff members became Certified National Geographic Educators. Secondly, we took National Geographic’s recommendations for necessary out-of-school experiences to include, 1) place-based education, 2) outdoor learning, 3) cultural exchange, and, 4) community service. We took these focus areas and organized our existing and emerging SALUTE activities into them. Throughout our year’s exploration, place-based education took shape with the formation of our youth farm education club and newly-planted garden and orchard. Outdoor learning took shape with our wilderness outings, naturalist education, and the building of a forest yurt on site. Cultural awareness took place with our seasonal expeditions visiting local indigenous sites and communities in the Pacific Northwest and our renovated cultural arts room on site. Finally, our community service took shape with meal and drink preparation and delivery in the downtown and West Central neighborhoods to assist those with food insecurity.
This year brought us obstacles and together we turned them into opportunities! As the new year looms, we are excited to venture forth into a more engaged and robust campus education experience with a standardized learning framework and ambitious young explorers who seek to explore their value and place in our beautiful world.
Hutton Happenings: Winter 2020
2020 Hutton Christmas Tree Farm Fundraiser
Hutton & Friends' Culinary Institute: Family Cooking Night
LiveStream link: https://youtu.be/AQR7hgBHQUs
Hutton Happenings: Summer 2020
Tenant Spotlight: Women Helping Women Fund
The Hutton Settlement owns and manages a diverse portfolio of over 20 properties that range from medical plazas, retail strip malls, and industrial space to traditional office buildings. The rental income provides stability for the organization by funding the majority of daily operations at the Settlement.
Women Helping Women Fund (WHWF) is committed to building a large community of educated, strategic givers who are inspired to make lasting change. Their mission is to empower women and children to create healthy families and vibrant communities. WHWF promotes and funds programs that remove the social, economic and educational barriers preventing women from reaching their full intellectual and vocational potential.
Since 1992, they have raised nearly $6 million and funded over 500 programs focused on the issues faced by women and children.
For the past 10 years WHWF had operated out of a 350 sq. ft. office in downtown Spokane. When offered an office space with over three times the square footage, they were excited to take advantage of the opportunity for growth.
“Spokane is stronger because of partners like The Hutton Settlement,” says Heather Hamlin, Executive Director of Women Helping Women Fund. “Not only do they provide a neighborhood of care to children on campus, they are community collaborators making a difference for nonprofits too."
The Year of 2020 & Unexpected Blessings
Ask anyone about how their last few months have been and you’ll likely hear about the things they’ve missed out on or lost - graduations, weddings, dinner parties, funerals, spending time with family, the list goes on... At Hutton we’ve certainly mourned the same losses and some greater than others as we’ve navigated residential care during this crisis.
It’s a common saying at Hutton that you “wear your weather” so in the same fashion, we’ve chosen to look at things a little differently. Has 2020 been a rough year? Absolutely. But, in a season defined by many unexpected, we are choosing to reflect on a season of many unexpected blessings.
Here are just several of the blessings that we find ourselves so thankful for:
1. Time Together. Like many others families across the world, life became a lot slower allowing for quality conversation around the dinner table, fewer demands and the chance to just simply ‘be.’
2. Learning Opportunities. Both in our continued studies for online learning and extended campus opportunities, we’ve challenged ourselves to learn something new regularly, even if it seems minimal.
3. Abounding Creativity. Our kids have made the most of this unfortunate opportunity to unleash and engage in some of our most creative projects yet. From garden mosaics, yurt building and duck habitats to community meals, we’ve refused to sit idle.
4. Opportunity for Reflection. In a world measured by productivity and routine, we all have agreed that, at Hutton, reflection has been key to making it through this challenging time.
5. Reminders of what it means to be a member of the Hutton Family. Ultimately, we have strengthened our community and family. Each day we’ve chosen to learn together, stay in touch in unique ways and encourage each other.
So, we’ve all experienced things in the past few months that we are very grateful for. With that said, we also eagerly anticipate being able to return to a new normal where we can reopen our campus, facilitate our usual fun summer outings and return to school this fall.
Suffering often brings to light what has been in our hearts for longer and reveals what we place hope in. For this reason, as a community we’ve been focused on the blessings that have revealed themselves despite the burdens present. What an incredible lesson for every single one of us to reflect on, young and old.