Safety helps set stage for honesty

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 Happenings: Winter 2020

SALUTE Spotlight: Bend Build

For nearly a century now it is has been a Hutton tradition to practice giving back and bettering our community.

Whether it is in our little corner of Millwood, or across the globe in Thailand, the kids and staff at Hutton have fully embraced the opportunity to serve.

Starting out as an opportunity to engage with a marginalized population, the service club from Hutton would participate in annual trips that centered around serving the homeless. Trips to Portland and Seattle were planned for the youth to serve meals, walk aside those in need and were challenged to evaluate how each different community helped this population.

In 2007, current Campus Director, David Milliken, decided to shift the focus and allow for a new opportunity to not only engage in service, but also to gain life skills and work ethic. For David, it was important to incorporate the lessons that many of us make with our fathers building things. “We take those memories for granted, and who would want to go through childhood without those chances to get your hands dirty and to just work hard,” David shared.

Thanks to a personal connection, David proposed a project incorporating the same Huttonservice mentality and a trip the kids quickly took a liking to – the Bend Build. 

Returning just over a week ago, this year’s group encountered the highs of contributing and the challenges that come with learning new skills. Sprucing up some decks, as well as building a solarium from start to finish were on this year’s project list. 

Reflection, an important piece of the Bend Build experience, allowed this year’s participants to engage in meaningful dialogue around leading lives of drive, compassion and security. Shiann, a West Valley High School senior, has participated in the project since they first started going to Bend. She said that she valued the opportunity to talk with people she trusts about what feelings she encountered throughout the journey. When asked about why she enjoys Bend Build, Shiann shared, “It feels so good to work hard as a team and have the chance to make life so much better for other people. Everybody should make time for that.”

From stargazing as a group to the balancing on ladders, the kids reminisce the fun memories and most important lessons learned. This year’s participants agree, it’s cooperation, communication and being grateful.

Stay tuned for more stories about SALUTE programs and events! 

Summer Blacksmithing Workshop

For our Summer SET (Social, Emotional and Talent Development) Plan, we had our first Experimental Learning Expedition. Our freshmen class participated in a blacksmithing class through CedarRoot Folk School in Nordland, Washington. From 9am-4pm, youth and their houseparents learned the basic hand forging process of blacksmithing. During the two days, the kids and houseparents created nails, arrowheads, pendants and even a small knife! We want to thank our instructor Erick for his patience and dedication to making our Journeys Expedition one we won’t soon forget!!

Additionally, while we were on the coast, we toured the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Hadlock, Washington. The Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding is committed to providing students of all ages a quality education in traditional wooden boatbuilding and fine woodworking. We had the opporutnity to see students working on their projects and ask them questions about the program. Exploring the Northwest of Wooden Boat Building provides another education option for our youth. We are thankful for the tour and can’t wait to come back next year!!

Hope & Wholeness: In a mother’s words

I feel honored any time I have the opportunity to share how my four children came to live at Hutton Settlement Children’s Home.

If you have experienced the foster care system, the pain of being shuffled through multiple homes, never finding a sense of belonging or attachment, then you may be able to understand how having my children at Hutton gave me a sense of peace.

To start at the beginning, I am second generation child of the welfare and foster care system. My mother was removed from her parents along with four siblings when she was two years old. Throughout her life, there were numerous homes and multiple separations from her siblings. At 17, she aged out of a system that had taught her no life skills; she became a parent and struggled to raise five children, eventually surrendering myself and two older sisters to the state.

Having lived my life in a severely abusive home, one where there was never a sense of safety, I approached foster care in survival mode. Between the years of 12 and 17, I cycled through 13 foster homes and two group homes. The memories that I have during that time are very traumatic. 

Having not been taught boundaries or other life skills needed to thrive, I ran from each home, choosing to live on the streets.

At 17, I was pregnant and addicted to drugs. I was afraid and even in my chaos, I knew I wanted a better life for the child I was carrying. I made a call to my caseworker and pleaded with him to return me to foster care. His response: “you are 6 months from your 18th birthday and you have run from every placement. We will not place you again”. I was broken; with no where to go I began searching for my mother (she had moved to another city to escape my father). I eventually found her address through my sister and hitchhiked to Yakima, WA, a place I had never been before. Imagine at 17, five months pregnant and detoxing from drugs, arriving on your mother’s doorstep and being told that you could not stay there.

Alone and abandoned, I spent the night in a park, heartbroken and afraid. For years I struggled with the abandonment I experienced as a child; it impacted every aspect of my life. I could never understand how a mother could not love her children. It wasn’t until years later that I came to terms with the reality that my mother did love me in her ability and capacity to love and only then did I understand and accept her love as being enough.

I eventually got off of drugs with the help of a man that I would eventually marry. Our relationship was not healthy, but it offered some stability. During that time I welcomed two children into my life.

My children were my life; I wanted them to never know the suffering that I had known as a child, but I didn’t know how to be that parent. My husband and I separated and my life spiraled out of control. During that time, I had my second two children. I don’t think I can express the fear I experienced bringing more children into an already chaotic life.

I wrestled with the idea of abortion and met with the adoption agencies, but I realized that I was coming from a place of fear – fear of seeing children that I loved so much suffer the pains of life. Such is the life of an addict. There were moments of great joy and bliss but there were also moments of explosive screaming and rage directed at these tiny children.

When my youngest was two, I fell deeper into my addiction.

We became homeless and there were times that I would have the children sitting on the curb while I begged for money for food, knowing that once the children had a convenience store hamburger, I would use the rest of the money on drugs. These sweet innocent children experienced more in their first few years of life than anyone should ever experience in a lifetime. The state intervened and removed the children from me; a day that is imprinted in their memories, etched with pain and sorrow. I still failed to realize the impact my choices had on my children. They were separated into two different homes and then three, eventually being placed with my mother. My mother became too ill to care for them and they were taken into custody–once again separated in three different homes. During this time, they were only allowed to visit each other on one occasion. At the time of removal from my mother’s custody, I had the realization that I may not ever see my children again so I made a desperate move and turned myself in to jail. I had been running from multiple warrants and I knew there was no other way that I was going to be able to get “clean” off of drugs but to detox in jail where I had no access.

On my youngest’s 5th birthday, I entered into a 90-day inpatient drug rehab. My caseworker explained that I had smaller than a 15% chance of ever seeing my children again and I responded, “even if I don’t ever get custody of them back, they will still know that I fought for them, that they were worth fighting for.” Throughout the next several months, I was told about the Hutton Settlement Children’s Home. I can’t express the emotion that over took me as I toured Hutton; as I was told that the focus was to keep sibling groups togther, as I was told that I would be able to have a relationship with my children. I was overwhelmed with the sense of belonging that my children would experience, the love and nurturing that they would know. I could not deny my children that opportunity; they deserved a home where they could thrive.

After 9 months, I was able to get clean, completed all requirements of the court and was able to get custody of my children again. They were happy and adjusting to their new life at Hutton and I gave them the option to come and live with me or stay. My middle two children decided to stay, while my oldest and youngest came with me, but returned to Hutton about three months later. I honored their choice even though my instinct was to have them with me. In Hutton, I found a place that I felt I belonged as well; the house parents were always warm and welcoming. They took every opportunity to invite me into the childrens’ activities. The children would spend every other weekend with me as well as holidays and several weeks in the summer. I was able to rebuild my relationship with them and they saw the work that I was doing to rebuild my life. We experienced trust and closeness.

Today, my children have grown to be amazing adults because of the love, guidance and belonging they experienced growing up at Hutton Settlement Children’s Home.

My son and his wife are houseparents now. They love the boys they are raising, and have started their own family. Hutton taught me what a family is. Each one of my children has had the opportunity to know what it is like to be raised in such a nurturing environment. I am forever grateful for Hutton; in my work in the child welfare system, I advocate for the Hutton model because we see the success it creates in the lives of families.

In Gratitude, Carmen Pacheco Jone

A look at the 100-year history of The Hutton Settlement: Establishing a tradition of supporting children

By Katherine Barner, KHQ
July 20, 2019

For full video of photo archives, visit:–year-history-of-the-hutton/article_412e74dc-ab21-11e9-92b8-b3abaa2dd892.html


For the past 100 years, the Hutton Settlement has provided hope, opportunity and life to children in Spokane.  


Its strong tradition began years before the home was opened in 1919.  


Founder Levi William Hutton was orphaned by the age of six  in 1866. After years of moving from home to home, Levi headed west to seek his fortune at just 18-years-old. 


After spending several years with the Northern Pacific Railroad, Levi and partners acquired Hercules mine. In 1901, Levi and his partners struck rich. The mine was worth $150,000,000. Hutton’s share was $2,000,000.  


Levi and his wife May came to Spokane in 1907 and became active in civic affairs.  


Levi Hutton vowed that if he ever became rich, he would build a home for children. In 1917, he began construction of the Hutton Settlement on 364-acres of land.  


Construction was completed in 1919, and Levi carried in Jane Wiese to her new home. She was the first child to live at the settlement.  


In 1926, Babe Ruth, an orphan himself, visited the settlement and spent two hours with the children.  

Less than 10 years after founding the settlement, Levi Hutton died of complications from diabetes.  


Jane Wiese wrote about his death saying, “his death was the greatest disaster of my life. I can remember that Saturday morning when we were told that he was dead. It was almost unbearable.” 


Over the years, the Spokane community has invested in the mission Levi established. Multiple Thanksgiving turkeys have been donated, the Athletic Round Table has invited the children for Christmas dinner, and a benefactor created The Hutton Alumni Scholarship Fund to

encourage the continuation of education. 


Today, The Hutton Settlement continues their tradition of supporting children with the help of the community. As they venture into the next 100 years, they hope to continue the courageous mission Levi Hutton established. 

Sustainability Education at Hutton

This week, the children took a field trip to the Waste to Energy Plant, to learn about waste reduction, composting and to see the process that the plant takes to turn garbage into energy.

We learned that Spokane’s plant is the only one of it’s kind in Washington state and that the South Pole Science Center even ships their trash to us to turn into energy, instead of filling land fills.

The kids learned about the negative results of producing waste, how to use food scraps for compost and to feed their chickens and future goats, and most excitingly, they got to see “The Claw” scooping up large piles of garbage.

The SALUTE Center for Ecoliteracy is learning about sustainable living and in addition to their efforts on the Hutton garden, they will now be composting food, in an effort to reduce waste and lessen their footprint on the environment.

We can’t wait to see what the Culinary Arts club cooks up this year!