Coastal Post Online

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

**** COASTALPOST'S LOGO ****

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

 

Editorial:
Why Must There Be A Requiem For
Full Circle?
By Don Deane

As you read this the dinnerware, pots, pans, and flatware are packed up and gone. The worn bedding has been neatly folded and boxed. Goodwill. Salvation Army.
The last kid has climbed into a car and been driven away. Probably, probably never to return. There won't be anything to return to, people to see, memories to share. They too are gone. Most of the 30-plus staff have scattered, looking for jobs, moving away.
The lifeblood of a vibrant, dynamic residential treatment program for hundreds of kids over the last 30 years is drained away. Shut down. Closed.
The newspapers covered the story, wrote the obituary, clucked away at what a shame it was, how there just wasn't enough money, just couldn't afford to keep it running. Such a fine program. Did such a wonderful job with the boys.
They all missed the point. It wasn't the money. In thirty years there was never enough money and it never closed until last week.
No. It wasn't about the money. It was about the will. It was about the will to keep it alive, to keep the kids coming, to keep doing the work. Making the kids whole again, patching the wounds, healing the mind's broken bones, a fresh start, learning to trust again. Full Circle did all of that that. Did it well.
The over-the-hill administration led the board of directors to the conclusion that there was no alternative but to close. There was little or no connection between the board and the
Full Circle program in West Marin. The directors took the word of Executive Director Brian Van Weele that the issue was money.
The staff working with the kids had the will to keep going, the love for the work and the kids, the belief that what they were doing was vital, was important. But the over-the-hill administrators and board told them there wasn't enough money to keep the program alive, to keep it going.
"We've got to shut it down," the staff were told. "If we don't, we'll lose everything. There won't be any money for severance pay, and we have to borrow money to do that!" the administrators said.
The decision to close had been made in January. Staff were told in February. Full Circle closed at the end of March. Board members weren't given very much information. There was hardly time to give staff notice that their jobs were terminating let alone time to marshal resources to save the program. It was very clear that the executive director had no intention of trying to save
Full Circle residential, cut budgets, rework the program, raise money.
They're spending $400,000 to close
Full Circle.
What does it take to get a special program for wounded kids off the ground? Enormous belief and will. At first there were just a few people with the dream to do it. A few people driven to the dream. People that wanted to do it, saw the need, had the will. There were a few small grants for money to buy the land, materials to build the main house, feed the kids, pay the staff a little. Not enough money. But plenty of belief and will.
Residential treatment was the core of
Full Circle, had been the core for 30 years. Family counseling in the community and work in the schools was an afterthought, a grant-getting opportunity. The reputation, the excellence was about residential treatment.
The plan for
Full Circle's future is to sell the assets and bank them for funding community outreach and counseling programs. Fat administrative salaries in San Rafael. The assets, the ranch, the homes in the community were acquired one by one, by hook and crook to make the Full Circle residential program work. Homes for the boys and the surrogate parents who nurtured and cared for the boys. They are being sold.
Is there any hope left? A meeting of the board with former board members was a stonewall. Suggestions to expand the board, bring new energy to the board were rejected. Rescue money to save the program was dismissed.
There could still be a program for kids at the ranch. There could still be a home or two in the community. If there was the will. Once these homes are gone. Once the ranch is sold
Full Circle will be gone forever. If only there were the will. The executive director should be ashamed. The board? Well there isn't much of a board. It's supposed to be in charge and doesn't seem to be.



 

Coastal Post Home Page