Katie’s Way… Click on the highlighted text, and take a moment to see the powerfully moving video clip…
We live in the rural community of Depoe Bay, Oregon in Lincoln County on the Central Oregon Coast. We are blessed to live out our dreams in this beautiful and stunning coastal community. We have big challenges just like many rural towns, including the lack of resources to help those who are mentally challenged, especially kids. The stigma of mental health hits us hard just like everywhere else in America. Most hesitate or even avoid telling parents and loved ones about feelings of severe depression and anxiety for fear it will not lead to a helpful outcome, or even worse, could keep them from achieving dreams of college, career, and building loving relationships. We are devastated and traumatized whenever there is word of a death, suicide or accident connected with the need for vastly improved mental health treatment and healing resources.
One of the most recent tragedies in our community is the story of little London McCabe, who’s mother tossed him over the Yaquina Bridge in Newport, Oregon because she was hearing voices. Other examples we can’t mention names in order to protect victims, include child abuse, sexual abuse and maltreatment. My own life experience includes a severely toxic and sometimes violent home culture while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s before leaving to join the US Navy in 1963… “I got away!”
The State of Oregon acknowledges the need to improve mental health support and treatment resources by making it a legislative priority. Our local Depoe Bay, Oregon City Council formally put mental health on its agenda. We participate in the local community governing process by sitting on both the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council (LPSCC) and the Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC). We are making room in our new Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital expansion to include space and beds for a detox treatment center. Where we have a sticky problem is trying to build resources within our smaller communities similar to Katie’s Way, where getting help comes from a safe and secure setting managed by non institutional professionals and volunteers.
Katie’s Way is a non-profit public private partnership business model we need to get serious about right now! There have been attempts in the past that have either failed or struggled to achieve sustainability. We have the compassion, passion, and talent in Lincoln County to make it happen, we just need to go the extra mile. I hope the story of Katie’s Way will give us the extra energy and commitment to move forward more quickly.
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… Click the highlighted text for my author page.
https://www.facebook.com/councilorsparks Please “like” my page…
“From his family, to guests at the resorts he created, to the beneficiaries of his philanthropy, Portland developer John D. Gray wanted Oregonians to enjoy what the state and region have to offer. During World War II, he served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, earning the rank of lieutenant colonel and a Bronze Star Medal.”
“Military officials established Camp Abbot, about 11 miles south of Bend, to serve as an Engineer Replacement Training Center (ERTC) in 1943, with soldiers first arriving for training in March. As many as 10,000 men could train at a time at the camp, with 90,000 men trained over its 14 months of operation. The typical 17-week combat engineering training cycle included three phases. The first focused on hand grenades and anti-tank grenades; defense against air, mechanized, and chemical attack; and rifle marksmanship. The second phase concentrated on demolition training to blast bridges and other structures. The final phase consisted of three weeks of field maneuvers carried out under combat zone conditions.”
On the 70th Anniversary, End of WWII, we can honor and remember the troops who trained as combat engineers at Camp Abbot. The US Army built the initial infrastructure to help create this gorgeous area next to the Deschutes River what we know today as Sunriver… US Army Corps of Engineers learned how to build bridges and destroy enemy bridges. They also learned how to defend themselves as a special forces team under combat zone conditions.
Camp Abbot protected our freedoms during WWII and built the foundation for the citizens of Oregon to enjoy this beautiful area following the end of the war. John D. Gray, a famous developer and WWII veteran from Portland, Oregon purchased the property in 1967. Mr. Gray also developed Salishan near our home in Depoe Bay, Oregon.
By You can be excused for not recognizing the name: Gray, who died at 93, had faded in recent years from the news, and his death was initially treated in a way that understated his enormous contributions in shaping the modern identity of this state and in guiding and supporting many of its leading institutions.”The Oregonian “
There is so much to learn about the history of the State of Oregon. Everywhere we go, we learn something new and connect the dots often to the “Greatest Generation” of men & women who served America during WWII. We can never honor veterans of all wars enough… But we can take note of the of critical institutions and foundations that have helped protect our freedoms and built America as the strongest and most prosperous nation in the world. Camp Abbot and John Gray paved the way for the gift and joy of Sunriver, Oregon.
Judy and I are headed out to float in a Kayak down the Deschutes River on this perfect day in May… We are so thankful for the dedication and passion of so many who came before us… It is a blessing to be an American citizen…
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1…Click the highlighted text for my author page…
“Mental Health…Can’t we do better?” League of Oregon Cities, Local Focus December 2014…Quote from page 14, It’s Time to Bend the Trend by Cherryl Ramirez
Contrary to those with other chronic conditions like diabetes
and heart disease, people with chronic mental health and substance
use disorders have been criminalized. The difference is,
in part, that people with untreated mental illness may act in
ways that seem frightening or threatening to the general public.
According to the National GAINS Technical Assistance
and Policy Analysis (TAPA) Center for jail diversion, “when
effective treatment is available, people with mental disorders
and without substance use problems present no greater risk to
the community than people in the general population.”
This is my first posting as a newly elected Depoe Bay, Oregon, City Councilor. It is fitting and timely to use the League of Oregon Cities Local Focus publication, entitled Mental Health, Can’t we do better? as a reference.
I attended my first workshop in Manzanita, Oregon, this last week to receive training as a newly elected official. The training was very valuable as I hit the ground running. A big picture view of Oregon legislative priorities for 2015 was presented to help focus on the larger issues of our great State of Oregon, including mental health.
As a new Depoe Bay, Oregon City Councilor with a personal interest in mental health awareness. I am putting a special focus on this important topic during my term in office. Following are some of the actions we are taking in Oregon and in local communities like Depoe Bay to do more in providing improved mental health services.
Quote from page 29 of the referenced LOC Local Focus…
• Preventative mental health care in the form of “drop-in”
services should be available to all Oregonians regardless
of where they live.
The League believes that access to urgent care for mental
health will allow those suffering from an illness or condition
to be triaged and receive immediate treatment or
where appropriate, referrals for treatment. This will avert
unnecessary, unhealthful and sometimes tragic interactions
with law enforcement personnel.
• Proactive, mobile crisis intervention should be available
The mobile crisis intervention approach has reduced
negative encounters between police and the mentally ill.
Resources should be provided so such services are available
throughout the state.
• Every police officer in the state of Oregon should have
access to training in how to respond to a mental health
The state should provide public safety personnel with access
to instructions from mental health professionals that
would equip officers with skills to respond in a way that
de-escalates conflict and helps the affected individual and
their family receive appropriate care.
• The number of regional residential mental health facilities
should be expanded.
Jail should not be the only option to secure an individual
experiencing a mental health crisis. Safe and secure mental
health care beds will allow those in need to avoid jail,
which could worsen their condition.
It is an honor for me to serve the citizens of greater Depoe Bay, Oregon for the next 4 years. As a rural community we have many challenges in community building and in sustaining the precious legacy of our town. We are also focused on economic development and providing state of the art infrastructure utilities and services.
In addition to my regular blog postings on the topic of Children and Families in Life After Trauma, I will be providing updates on more global mental health issues related to rural communities. I am grateful for the support of my community of friends, followers, and family who read this blog. Please share your comments at the end of this posting.
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… Click the highlighted text for my author page…
Click the Highlighted Text for More…links to past postings from our travels…
HaPpY NeW yEaR! December, 2014
Wishing all of you Happy Holidays and a Happy 2015! Hard to believe we’re already 15 years into the 21st Century. 2014 was a good year for us. We celebrated our 30th anniversary in April and renewed our vows in Cannon Beach, Oregon. We had a wonderful party for two, and enjoyed a few nights at the beach about 100 miles north of Depoe Bay.
We never seem to tire of our life here on the Oregon Coast. It was unusually great weather from July through September, so we enjoyed daily beach walks, looking for sea glass, and breathing fresh salt air when we weren’t playing golf. I played with Agate Beach Women’s Golf Club this year and went to several Invitationals at other local courses this summer….really fun! Steve was able to start playing by July, following another shoulder surgery in February. We both worked to put on our Neighbors for Kids Charity annual golf tourney in late July, our nonprofit’s major fundraiser. I played in a Ladies foursome of friends, and Steve sponsored and played with a group of local high school Golf Team stars. We had a great day, enjoyed having Dan Fouts play with us again, and raised significant funds for NFK’s model afterschool program.
We traveled stateside twice this year. During May/June we traveled throughout the Southwest for a month. Steve participated in the American Military Family Museum opening in Albuquerque, NM, and has since had his written work on children and families suffering from trauma archived through the museum. We also visited with staff at the Vietnam Memorial Museum near Angel Fire, NM, and the Bataan Museum in Sante Fe. We spent a week of quality time with the principals who founded the new museum in Albuquerque, a great group of high energy people we now call our friends. We were welcomed and honored to be hosted by our new friends.
Steve spoke with a Veterans for Vets group in Pagosa Springs, Co, where we spent a week following our time in New Mexico. We also loved soaking in the Pagosa Hot Springs. Moab was another fun stop on our return trip home, hiking in Arches National Park. We made it to the top!
During October we traveled to Long Beach (Lone Sailor Memorial) to attend our niece’s wedding on the Queen Mary and spent time with Steve’s sister Laura, her daughters and extended family. We also saw close friends in San Diego and loved catching up, and stayed a few days on the beach near the Oceanside Pier. We drove over to Palm Springs area for a few days to see my sister Joy and nephew Max, and more longtime friends. So it was great to see everyone and enjoy some warm weather. We saw Steve’s 96 year old Mother in Reno on our way home and old friends in the Bay Area. We feel blessed!
Steve was elected as Depoe Bay City Councilor in November. He’ll be sworn into office on January 6. He’s spent the last few months doing due diligence and is ready to hit the ground running next month! Needless to say, we’ve really gotten to know many folks here, and we both enjoy being engaged in the community.
I’ll continue my volunteer work at Neighbors for Kids as their Family Literacy Coordinator. We host a monthly Family Night, focusing on building literacy skills and offering learning opportunities connected with our STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, art and math). We serve a meal and offer fun activities parents can share with their children. Our events have grown this year so our outreach to families seems to be catching on. We have willing community partners that want to see our kids succeed, and our programs are a positive addition to our local public schools. Like many places, education funding is an ongoing struggle here, so it’s cool to be able to help children in our own community.
We enjoyed Christmas with Sarah and her boyfriend, Ron…….oh, and of course our grand dog Skai! They were with us the 24th – 26th. Sarah is in transition and plans to work in her field, case management or child behavior management, in Portland after the first of the year. We’re happy she’s not too far away. Steve’s older daughters and their families live in Southern California and Minneapolis, MN, so we don’t see our grandkids as often as we’d like. They’re almost all young adults now! Ages 21, 20, 19 and 14.
From our home to yours, we wish you good health, calm spirits, creativity, and time shared with those you love in the coming year.
Steve & Judy Sparks, Depoe Bay, Oregon
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…click on the highlighted text for my author page…
City of Depoe Bay, Oregon… Private write-in campaign flyer mailed to residents of Depoe Bay… Quotes and photos taken from the Lincoln County News – On-line…Click photos for larger view.
Quote from http://www.newslincolncounty.com/ on October 17, 2014…
‘Voter “flyer” developed and mailed by City Councilor Barbara Leff in which whose name appears as a write in for Mayor. The “flyer” also contains three “potential” write in names, including current City Councilors Barbara Leff and Dorinda Goddard, both of whom declined to file for re-election. Also the name of Fred Robison, whose family is a household name around town.
Quote from Barbara Leff…http://www.newslincolncounty.com/
‘When asked why there was no suggested write-in name under candidate Steve Sparks for city council, Leff offered only, “We think he’s a good guy.”
Discovering the subject write-in campaign flyer came as a complete surprise to me! It was highly troublesome after looking at the flyer and reading the document to see that the appearance of my name on this document strongly suggests that I had direct knowledge and involvement, including a supportive role in this write-in campaign. Let me make it perfectly clear… that during my campaign, I have presented a platform of “Community Building and Vitality” (click the highlighted text for my recent article published in this blog). I have often expressed my desire to stay clear of the typical nasty and disturbing politics of Depoe Bay, Oregon. My goal during the campaign is to become informed by getting engaged in the City of Depoe Bay with the hope of hitting the ground running when sworn in January 2015…a fresh and independent start as a new councilor is my heartfelt desire… Barbara Leff apologized to me on the phone this week for inadvertently including my name on the sample ballot. I accept her apology, and respect her honesty. I am also a strong believer in the democratic process and have no problem with a voter’s right to submit a write-in candidate. Please help me spread the word to help clear up any confusion or question voters may have about the write-in campaign. I stand alone as a candidate for Depoe Bay City Councilor, Position 5. I am not connected with the write in campaign proposed in the above flyer, and wish to remain neutral on all past Depoe Bay politics. It is a new day in Depoe Bay! If elected. I will be honored to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of Depoe Bay for the next four years.
Steve Sparks, Candidate for City Councilor, Position 5, City of Depoe Bay, Oregon