My name is Jobe, I am a proud father of seven beautiful children and it gives me great honor to say that five live in the blessed security of Hutton Settlement. However, this was not always the case. You see my past consisted of me being consumed in addiction and this was wreaking destruction on me and especially my children. This was a hopeless situation for all of us.
The life-controlling issues that come with addictions don’t just hurt those who are trapped in this lifestyle, but have a ripple effect that negatively touches every person in the addict’s life. I was lost, broken and stripped from being able to properly care for my children. By the grace of God, an intervention came about and my children were taken into custody by Child Protective Services as wards of Washington State. I was scared and headed straight for depression. Then the miracle happened. Family, friends, and Child Protective Services invited me to a family planning meeting. The decision was made to place my children at the Hutton settlement.
Shortly thereafter, I made the life choice to enter Adult and Teen Challenge, a long-term faith-based recovery program where I have been set free from my addictions. I learned the skills to be a productive member in the community and how to apply biblical principles to my life, becoming a father my children have come to love and respect. God opened my eyes to the amazing love and care a family like Hutton provides to children that are in desperate need.
When my children arrived at Hutton they had seen plenty of misfortune and had experienced way more dysfunction then I even would like to admit. Yet, the journey began and Hutton started building structure into their lives. All the while I was in constant communication with the Director of Children and Family Services and houseparents in efforts to build strong relationships with not just my children, but with the very people who where caring for them.
Hutton has been the pivotal part for the reconciliation of my relationships with my children.
Hutton has proved that a child’s life can never have enough love. I have become part of a greater family unit. Over time, I have built strong relationships with the houseparents and staff and Hutton has extended an open door for me as part of the family. I am able to spend time with my children at events and holidays such as the yearly harvest, Christmas at Hutton, birthdays and get to have one on one time with them. I have been able to take my girls to events like Bloomsday and I take the boys fishing. We spend quality time together and they even come for overnighters with me in my apartment. Hutton’s years of experience and solid foundation continue to fine tune my outlook of what real parenting is and together we
reap the results of doing so, and I love it.
My children are involved in many different activities that challenge them and offer them the opportunity to grow and mature into responsible young people. It brings me great joy as I watch my children playing sports and participating in school programs and other activities. The care and structure that Hutton provides is real and has my children’s best interest at heart. When situations arise in my childrens’ lives, which they do, I get a phone call and am advised of what is going on. I am part of the decision making process in the affairs of my children, reassuring me of my fatherhood. Hutton includes me, helping me to grow into becoming a better father.
I can’t thank Hutton enough for all they have done to aid in my becoming a good father and caring for my children. The love, guidance and nurturing my children have experienced there has been paramount to teaching them what a stable family setting can be. Through Hutton, my children have truly been able to experience their childhood and this is evident every moment that I spend with them. Their happiness, joy and contentment are impossible to hide.
My siblings and I stayed with my grandmother off and on. Sometimes my mother would show up with food, other times she would take us pan handling with her. We would sit on the street corner while she begged for money to feed us. Once she had enough, she would send us into the store to buy food and then make us eat it behind the store. When we were done she would have us come back to the street corner while she continued begging to feed her habit. Nothing was permanent.
We also lived with our grandfather for a short while. Living with my grandpa, I often walked on egg shells, never knowing when my grandpa would explode in rage. I tip toed, trying not to anger him and spent my days playing with my cousins and siblings and hanging out in the library across the street. My mother showed up one day, with hopes to take my siblings and I away from our grandpa. Only I and my little sister ended up going with her. That first night we spent in a motel. We were awoken in the middle of the night to loud banging on the door, my grandpa had found us and was attempting to break down the door. We climbed out of the back window, climbed under fences and hid under bushes in the rain. The next morning we found that the tires had been slashed. We spent the next several days on the streets, eating at the mission and staying at drug houses.
My mom eventually got us all back and we moved to Spokane, I was 8 years old. Things seemed almost stable for a while. My mom was working even though she was still using drugs and her boyfriend was selling them. But we had a roof over our heads and I had just started third grade. One day at school, my two brothers and I got called to the counselor’s office. She told us that we would not be going home, Children’s Services placed my little sister and I in one foster home and my brothers in a separate home. I found out later that our house had been raided and my mom and her boyfriend were sent to jail. And just like that my whole world had been pulled out from under my feet, I was terrified. For some time my mom was not allowed visitation with my siblings and me. I remember just as school was getting out one day my mom showed up with a bag of toys, my foster parent quickly ushered me in the car and we drove away. I cried, not understanding why I could not see my mom. I prayed every night for God to help my mom get off of drugs and make us a family again.
Eventually, my siblings and I were placed in my grandma’s care. There, we basically had to fend for ourselves. My older brother and I did our best to feed ourselves and our two younger siblings. Our meals consisted of boxed mac n cheese, ramen noodles, and microwaved eggs. I remember on Thanksgiving, my grandpa sent us a pre-made Thanksgiving feast. My brother and I re-heated the food, and my siblings and I had our little Thanksgiving. We always looked forward to the first of the month because my grandma would treat us to dinner at a restaurant or buffet.Though we lived a block from our school, we would often stay home or be sent home because of head lice. Our grandma was ill and was not equipped to care for us. We were again placed in separate foster homes. My older sister and I were placed in one foster home, while my brothers and little sister were placed in another foster home that was out in the country. After my older sister ran away from the foster home we shared, I was placed in yet another home with an older couple. Although, these foster homes provided my siblings and I with the stability we needed, we were missing the emotional comfort of being together. I was alone and missed my brothers and sisters. I poured myself into school work because it was the one thing that I could control. I, eventually, was placed in the foster home in the country with three of my siblings, and transferred to another school. All the while my mom had finished a treatment program near Yakima and was being moved to another treatment program to begin the process of regaining custody. Our CPS worker told my mother about the Hutton Settlement and she fought to get us placed there, at the opposition of our Guardian Ad Litem, grandpa and foster parents, so that we could all be together and be near her.
I was placed at The Hutton Settlement when I was 11 years old, along with three of my siblings, whose ages ranged from 5 years old to 13 years old at the time. After all that we had been through in those 3 years before Hutton, having been in four different foster homes and separated for 1 ½ of those years, The Hutton Settlement was a stark contrast to the lack of security we had experienced. My brothers lived in a separate home, or “cottage,” than me and my little sister on the Hutton campus but we saw each other every day. I excelled in school and made friends. I was given the stability and nurturance to move beyond a state of fear and helplessness for the first time in my life.
We went to school every day, had three meals a day and after school snacks, chores, study hours and tutors, caring Houseparents, and a community of support staff that want children to thrive. Hutton quickly became our home. We would visit our mom on weekends and holidays. After a year and a half, my mom was able to get clean, find a job and a home and was granted custody of me and my siblings. Initially, I, and my younger sister moved back with her, while my brothers chose to stay at Hutton. I spent about 6 months with my mother before returning to Hutton, I missed my friends, my school and my Hutton family. At Hutton, I discovered my passion for art and helping others. Our education coordinator at the time, along with some of the older campus youth started a community service group, called SALUTE or Service and Leadership United Through Education. I became a member of this group and regularly volunteered at various community organizations such as Campus Kitchens, Habitat For Humanity, Relay for Life through the American Cancer Society, Christmas Elf helpers for Santa Express, and we also held a clothing and toiletries drive for refugees in Spokane. I eventually became the president of SALUTE and had the opportunity to build a home for a family in Mexico through Amor Ministries as well as build a community garden on the Hutton campus. I learned the value of gratitude and giving back to the community. The staff at Hutton became my mentors, encouraging me to cultivate my voice and my passion for creating art and helping others heal. They modeled for me how to live with courage, discipline and compassion. They also helped me recognize my own resilience. I have had the opportunity to manage the yearly Hutton Christmas tree farm fundraiser for the past four years.
Though I lived at Hutton for six years of my life, my connection to Hutton I know will be lifelong. It is such a special and unique place that helps children who come from a broken past, journey toward wholeness. While not every child at Hutton has the same story, the Hutton Community works endlessly to provide each child opportunities and nurturing that will help them to be resilient. My heart is filled with gratitude to have had the experiences I have had, good and bad. I have learned so much from my Hutton family and mentors in my life, especially my mom. She fought her way through addiction and a traumatic past of her own and could have easily hardened herself to the cruelties of the world yet, remains a soft, empathic, and compassionate soul determined to help vulnerable and voiceless people find their voices and heal from trauma. I, now, have this same determination, having recently graduated with my BA in Psychology with an Art minor, to continue my education to attain a degree in Art Therapy. With this training, I hope to positively impact and foster healing and hope in the lives of children who have experienced abuse, trauma, and hopelessness. Having worked to have a healthy relationship with my mom, I, now, get privilege of watching her be an amazing parent and grandparent to my children. I, now, have the insight, support and personal resources that I need to break the cycle of abuse that my mother inherited. I, now, have the tools required to raise my two children in a nurturing environment. One in which they have unconditional love so that they can grow without fear of abandonment, in which they are taught courage, gratitude and compassion for all walks of life. My experiences thus far have taught me that home is not a place, but instead the people that nurture, comfort us, and provide the safety and security we need to grow and spread our branches. While, my early years did not provide me with a sense of home, I have since planted deep roots.