During my early teens I spent a lot of time making impulsive, destructive, and sometimes dangerous decisions. My poor judgment hurt me and others around me. I got to a point where I was so sick of everything and everybody, and felt like everyone, including myself, was out to get me. I had made so many poor decisions and ended up giving up on myself. I had no faith left in myself, anyone, or anything.
Thankfully though, God still had faith in me and had a plan for my life. My parents made the decision to bring me to Project Patch in hopes that they could help me.
For awhile, I felt like being at Patch was the worst thing that could happen to me. At Patch I had to be responsible for my actions and talk about my past, all of which was extremely hard for me to do. I slowly started following the rules, and started participating and then I started changing, learning, and growing.
The amazing staff at Patch truly cared about me. Despite all the mistakes and problems, they truly wanted to help me! They had faith in me. I graduated from Project Patch, full of hope, forgiveness, amazing experiences, lifelong friendships, important life lessons and most importantly a new-found faith in God and restored faith in myself as a person.
Today, about 13 years later, I still carry these amazing, hard-earned, and life-changing experiences from Patch with me. I have a wonderful husband and four amazing children. I have had many challenging times since Patch, and I’ve made mistakes, as all humans do. I can honestly say that the many lessons and experiences I acquired at Patch have definitely helped guide me through many difficult times. I depend on having a relationship with God, believing in myself and my capabilities, forgiveness, kindness, responsibility, and so much more.
This past year my family has gone through an extremely difficult time. Our now one-year-old daughter fought liver failure from a rare disease, and needed a lifesaving transplant. This was a time when I could have given up, I could have become negative. So many times it felt hopeless, but as I learned while at Patch, God would lead us through . . . we just had to have faith and keep going. She did in fact receive her lifesaving transplant, and is doing amazing now.
I know God is in control, and even when life gets hard or bad things happen, we have to keep faith in Him and in ourselves to keep on going.
I will forever be thankful for my time at Patch, and will carry those great hard-earned lessons and memories with me throughout my life.
My name is Rosalynn. I’m 15 years old. I was sent to Patch because my parents were terrified for my safety.
I had changed drastically from their happy little girl into an unstable neurotic teenager. I began to manipulate, lie and disrespect authority… especially my parents. I self-harmed, ran away, stole and abused drugs and alcohol.
I was devastated when I was brought to Patch. I couldn’t believe my parents had “abandoned” me. It took me a long time to get my act together and honestly, I haven’t had it fully together for long.
When I decided that the whole world wasn’t out to get me was probably the best decision I’ve ever made. Because of my support from my parents, staff and therapist, I made it through this program.
I came here not caring about my future or education. I was kicked out of high school and had no academic motivation. I’m leaving with almost 15 new credits.
I came here fully set on there being no God and I’m leaving a Christian.
I came here with no love for myself or my family and now I have never loved another more.
Most importantly, I came here broken and now I’m together again.
When Life Isn’t Fair
Life wasn’t fair for Shelly. Her father left before she could walk. She doesn’t remember much about him because he hated the supervised visits. Her mom moved on to other relationships quickly but Shelly had a hard time adjusting to new towns and new people.
School was never easy and she had a hard time learning and being with other kids. She felt threatened by teachers and anxious around students she didn’t trust. They told her she had attention problems and that she shouldn’t see everyone as threats. She started to take medication but that didn’t help much. It especially didn’t keep her mom from shouting and blaming her for relationship problems.
Things went downhill fast as she became a teen. She was depressed, had mood swings, impulsivity and anxiety. She picked at her skin and pulled at her hair. She felt awkward around other kids and quit trying to fit in. It didn’t seem to matter anyway since they moved with each change in her mom’s romantic relationships.
She went to counselors. Things were getting unbearable at home. Her mom’s friend suggested Project Patch. Her mom didn’t call for a while because she didn’t think they could afford it. Eventually she called and learned that Project Patch has a sliding scale for fees thanks to donors who believe every child needs help, not just those with rich parents.
Shelly was happy to be at Patch. She loved having a predictable schedule and predictable people. She felt secure with her counselor and staff and expected Patch to be easy. Yet still, many times she felt overwhelmed with sadness. She didn’t like being a part of the group. She lied to staff and peers. She failed school goals, and she started to express her anger more. She wanted things to get better but was focused on others changing rather than her.
As time went on, Shelly started to see the benefit of learning and making personal changes. Her life began to change. She developed a kit that helped her manage her anxiety. She learned skills to help her listen to others. She gained confidence with her peers. She learned how to be a leader. It wasn’t a smooth process and she had many setbacks but she wanted to learn and she kept trying.
She wasn’t too sure leaving Patch was a good idea. Here she felt secure, loved the staff and was still learning a lot about herself. Yet it was time for her to use her skills in a new environment.
Her life since leaving Patch has been more challenging than she expected. She is attending a Christian boarding school and that dorm and school and friendships still are a challenge. She’s using her tools, relies on her kit to help her with her anxiety. She calls nearly every week for a listening ear and for encouragement.
Life still isn’t fair for Shelly but that’s not stopping her from perusing her goals and growing into an amazing young woman.
Today’s Family Experience: Is Your Family Normal?
“We aren’t a ‘normal’ family… so would we benefit from coming to the Family Experience?”
It’s a question we get from people learning about the Family Experience. Every family has unique issues. It’s hard to imagine your family being helped in the same way other families are helped.
Many families don’t follow the typical pattern of two married parents and their two biological kids. We serve many single parents, blended families, and grandparents raising grandchildren. What all families seem to have in common is anger and disrespect in the home, conflict, rules being broken and miscommunication. Some families are more complicated than other families… but it’s never easy to be a family.
The purpose of spending a weekend at The Family Experience isn’t to solve problems, although many times some big ones are solved. The purpose is to help families build a strong foundation so that they can support one another and face their challenges together.
The foundations include understanding each other’s unique personality and gifts, strong communication, learning to process conflict, adjusting to change, learning through mistakes and sharing powerful values.
We teach, play games, discuss, overcome challenges, eat great meals, hike and talk about difficult things. Families are coached, not counseled. Most importantly we focus on the whole family and each member contributes.
Families walk away with less drama, an ability to make an impact, satisfaction from being together accomplishing difficult things and great memories of having fun together.
Please consider attending an upcoming weekend Family Experience.You can learn more at TheFamilyExperience.org or by calling 360-690-8495.
Bringing It Together:
By Chuck Hagele, Executive Director
Tom and Bonnie Sanford started Project Patch 33 years ago without much more than an idea and an intense love for hurting kids. One of the first tools Project Patch purchased was an airplane. The first was a Cessna 172, then in 1986 a Cessna 182 and finally in 1990 —Tom’s favorite — a speedy six-seater Cessna 206. Tom loved flying but these planes weren’t toys. They helped transport kids all over the Pacific Northwest to caring homes.
It wasn’t long after our Garden Valley Youth Program was built that the need for an airplane as well as the advantages of having an airplane started to change. We no longer were transporting kids to remote ranches, and Southwest Airlines was cheaper and faster. It wasn’t easy to part with a tool that had been an answer to many prayers and the result of sacrificial giving, yet we sold the airplane.
Selling the Cessna 206 helped pay for building our Youth Program in Idaho. Selling the plane resulted in a second blessing that still impacts kids 25 years later.
You’ll notice as you read this newsletter that we have a new address in Vancouver (5139 NE 94th Ave., Ste C, Vancouver, WA 98662). We’ve sold our former office and have downsized into a new rental unit. Things are cozier and not quite as nice as our previous office but we are thrilled because this move allows us to channel even more resources to helping hurting kids and desperate families. Here’s the other blessing: This move results in Project Patch being mortgage free at all our locations!
You may have heard a rumor that we are considering the sale of the Family Center in Goldendale, Washington. This is a much harder decision than the sale of our office in Vancouver. This is a beautiful campus which we have used to serve families and our youth program alumni. We’ve poured our energy and resources into building this campus and program.
Yet, there are times when something precious begins to lose its original purpose and a greater purpose emerges. We are now at a point that the need for and advantages of having a Family Retreat Center are no longer mission critical.
Through operating the Family Program we’ve discovered we don’t necessarily need our own retreat center to help families. We are challenged by the desperate needs of families across the United Sates who need help but can’t afford to travel to Washington State.
We are in the process of transforming The Family program so that people aren’t required to travel to us. We are increasing our reach by traveling to other churches, communities and retreat centers.
Sale of an airplane resulted in a long-term blessing for hurting kids. The sale of the Family Center would result in us being able to provide even more help and hope to a greater number of families. The investments made in building the Family Center will multiply into blessings which will impact generations of kids.
We are actively considering a sale of the Goldendale property. Our board of directors and staff are in prayer and we are consulting with experts who are guiding us through key questions and considerations. We will keep you posted as we progress.
We covet your prayers as we make these difficult decisions. If at any time you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, please reach out to me by calling 360-690-8495 or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project Patch Wish List
For those who prefer to give toward a specific project, the following list contains items which are needed, yet are not part of the operating budget. Please make sure to note on your gift if you would like it designated for a Wish List item. In the event that the item has already been purchased, we will contact you for further instructions.
Youth Program – Idaho
Marita Multi Tool (or Fein Saw) and blades
Spark Plug Sockets
Lawn Mowers (Pushing)
Rafting Life Jackets
Magic Saw (Oscillating Saw – Dewalt)
Round Dining Room Tables
Standard Size Bagless Vacuums
Family Program – Goldendale, WA
Paint for Decks
Volunteers for Data entry and general office work
Headset for Phone System
If you are mailing a check for a specific item, please mark “Wish List” and the item you’d like to purchase on your check. To make your donation via credit card, you can call our office at 360-690-8495 or give online at www.projectpatch.org/supportpatch.