Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Letter to self written by Teenager (as if she were her Mom.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, June 29, 2007

Dear Suzie,

I know you may be hurt, confused and scared right now. But you have to understand the reason that I sent you here. I was running out of ideas, and I was scared for you. You were going down a dark and destructive path. I was afraid that I was going to lose you for good.

Please understand that this is not meant to be a punishment. I'm doing this because I want to save you from yourself. I am very proud of you and I love you very much. I want to see my beautiful daughter come back to life.

Please understand,

(Name changed and published with permission. When Mom was asked what she thought of the letter that her daughter wrote to herself she said, "I could have written every word.")

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Surviving Shuman
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, June 25, 2007

It seems that for years I have been threatening my kids with "you will go to Shuman!". When the behavior became so bad that the threats became a reality I found that I was very unprepared for what would happen while my child was there. These are my comments, tips and insights about surviving Shuman left as a future "heads up" for other parents. Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments.

Shuman Juvenile Detention Center
(412) 661-6806
7150 Highland Dr
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

I received several useful documents from Shuman after my child was no longer there. I have attached them as a pdf file for your review. Click here to download the file.

You can visit your child from 7 PM to 8 PM every day. Leave everything you don't need locked in the car. Be inside the main doors about 6:50. Have a drivers license. They will give you a locker for your coat, keys and anything else that won't go through the metal detector. Be prepared to meet the other parents. Take about $4 worth of change if you want to buy your child a soft drink and a candy bar from the vending machines. Everyone goes through the metal detector, gives there name and is escorted though two locked doors to sit at a table in a common area. The children are allowed down to see you between 7:10 and as late as 7:20. At 7:57 you are warned that time is about up and at 8:00 PM sharp the children are called to line up and you are asked to remain in your seat. They count them, line them up and take them away. Then you are allowed to leave.

You can bring a deck of cards. Sometimes that helps to pass the time or when there is nothing to say.

You can bring a bible and leave it.

Be prepared to see scratches or bruises on the face. My child was in a fight both times she was there.

Be prepared to see your child in an orange prison style jump suit.

Be prepared for crying and all kind of horror stories about the guards.

Be prepared for your child to be a little jittery and nervous if they were heavy smokers.

Be prepared for collect phone calls. They can only call a land line phone, no cell phones. There is a pre-recorded announcement telling you the call is from Shuman.

Be prepared that your child may have done something so that you cannot visit. You will most likely find out when you get there.

My experience with medicine is that you have to take it in the original prescription bottle. Ask to see someone from the nurses department and hand it to them directly. Call the nurses department the next day and ask if your child received their medication. If not, find out why and be persistent.

Positive Things
I knew my child was safe and did not have access to drugs.

They put my child in school by the second day she was there.

My child got excellent mental health support while she was there.

A lot of rehab facilitates will interview your child at Shuman and provide direct transportation to their facility if accepted.

You are not required to visit.

You are not required to accept the collect call.

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Grand opening at Gateway Greentree benefits from lots of support from members!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Three first-time parents and eight regular members makes the grand opening a big success. People were so helpful and many brought goodies to eat. Gateway staff were also very helpful and encouraging; even the Regional Director lent a hand in helping us clean up from a coffee pot fiasco.

The room worked out pretty well being a perfect size and equipped with a kitchen down the hall. We had to play a bit with the air conditioner but we had an air conditioner. Really, we are very grateful to Gateway. Mary was the mover-and-shaker in this event and her help planning, setting up, and cleaning up afterwards was immense- thanks Mary!

Having an extra half-hour seemed to help us out:

6:15 Readings- announcements
6:30 - 7:30 sharing
7:30 - 7:45 Break
7:45-8:15 Role-play
8:15-9:00 discuss role-play, new member share, who did we miss, wrap-up.

We know that if we can start closer to 6:00 pm we will have more time, however, we seemed to have time for what we needed. Everyone helped with sharing the time so that we could hear something from just about everyone.

Role-play: "It doesn't matter what I say."

Setting: Visit by mother to her teenage daughter who has been inpatient treatment for 3 to 4 weeks.

Daughter: Mom, I've learned sooo much up here-Boy! This is what i needed. Hey, I "get it" now. I'm never going back to do all that drinking again. I've learned what I needed up here- but Mom- these other kids are such a$$%les! I can't stand it! Mom- if you spent one night in here you would know what I'm talking about! You wouldn't be able to stand it - trust me- it really sucks up here!

Mom: I'm sure it's hard to be up here honey. You know, I'm very proud of you for what you have accomplished here!

Daugher: Me too. I mean I've been working hard to earn trust with my therapists. They say I'm open- and that I do really good work. They "get-it" that I've really changed, but what bothers me is that you're never going to trust me again.

Mom: Well, it's going to take time. Can you tell me one thing that you've learned up here that will make a difference when you come back home?

Daughter: Oh there's lots of stuff- like People, Places, and Things. But it just seems that you won't give me any credit is all. I mean I hope I've earned back some trust- like you know I can have that six-hour off grounds pass this weekend- you know- and I was thinking that we could go down to that Greek Festival- and I just want to spend some time with you Mom- and hang out- and have fun- just me and you.

Mom: Well, yeah- we both like that kind of thing- maybe do a little shopping- looks like you could use a new pair of shoes.

Daughter: Exactly. And some of my friends are going to be at the Festival.

Mom: Ohhhhhhhhh, yeah- wait, hold on a minute. (showing face of concern.)

Daughter: What?

Mom: Well you know how we were just talking about People, Places and Things?

Daughter: Yeah, what about it? (Scrunches up face as if to say -'what can she be talking about?)

Mom: Well, honey - your friends are the People. You are supposed to stay away from them.

Daughter: MOM! (rolls eyes) I'm not going to drink with them! I'll be with you! I'm just going to wave at them. They need to see that I've changed my life. I want to show them that I'm happy not drinking. You just don't get it. My therapist gets it- she thinks it's important that I feel good about how I've changed my life- but you just don't get it and you don't trust me either. I'm not going to try to drink on my six-hour off grounds pass- that would be dumb!

Mom: Ok, ok, that's great and you're right honey, I don't have all the skills and training that your therapist has. I'm so glad that she sees such great improvement in you. You know, there are somethings I know, and some things I don't know.

Daughter: Well, I'm glad you can admit it. So we can go to festival?

Mom: (Moving in closer to her daughter and making strong eye contact) Absolutely not.

Daughter: Why not?

Mom: Well that was what I was trying to tell you. Your old friends are the People part of the People, Places, and Things. And come to...

Daughter: (Interrupting) That's what bugs me soooo much about you! You don't listen to what I'm saying. I'm just going to wave at them Mom!

Mom: Nevertheless, we won't be going down to where your...

Daughter: You just don't trust me- why don't you admit it?

Mom: You are right- trust will take time; but tell you what- you talk first. I'll wait. I won't interrupt you.

Daughter: It just doesn't matter what I say to you. That weird PO has you brain washed. I just wish you would listen more to what my therapist is saying and not that weird PO. You don't know about recovery Mom; you think you know- but I'm up here 24/ 7- I'm learning this stuff- you just don't know.

Both quiet for a few

Daughter: Well? Aren't you going to say anything.

Mom: If you're done and you won't interrupt me.

Daughter: Ok, talk. (rolling eyes again.)

Mom: (Moving a bit closer as daughter has moved back a bit) It's not acceptable that you go to places where your old friends are... (holding up hand to ward off interruption) you said you would not interrupt me.

I'm so glad that you brought this up now. I think this is going to be, if not the biggest issue, one of the most important issues and we need to address this now. Divorcing your old friends is going to be hard for you. It is not enough to just not be with them when they abuse drugs. It's important that you stay away from them all the time. That means face-to-face contacts, telephone, Instant Messages, notes, letters, and even text-messaging. No contact means no contact. You are so right to bring this all up now and I think that shows that you are really doing some good work up here. Ok, thanks for not interrupting.

Note: Mom makes sure that she gets to talk uninterrupted but after her daughter gives her the floor- she makes sure to thank her and give it back. This helps to establish good boundaries for good communication.

Daughter: They didn't say I can't be on the phone with my friends. You are such a witch! You're just making things up. I wish you'd listen to me Mom- but you never really listened to me- that's our problem and my therapist thinks so too- we can't talk because you never really listened to me. That's probably why I started drinking!

Mom: We do have trouble talking. I think we are doing pretty good right now.

Daughter: No we are not! We're not doing good because it doesn't matter what I say with you. Why do I even bother talking to you?

Mom: Look, you're right. In some ways it's not so important what you say- but honey, it is important what you do- and that's what I'll be looking at.

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Drive My Car
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, June 14, 2007

Update - We are going on 6/26. Click here to register on line.
Not sure about travel arrangements yet.
Val is organizing a day trip to the 2007 Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) Summer Camp on June 26-28 at Consol Energy Park, Home to the Washington Wild Things. Current plans are to van pool up there so this would be a no cost event for you and your child other than snacks and misc. items. Your child needs a drivers license or permit to participate. Interested? Contact Val to sign up - more details follow.

The 2007 Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) Summer Camp will be held on
June 26-28 at Consol Energy Park, Home to the Washington Wild Things, in
Washington, PA. The Summer Camp is FREE to all participants and is
specifically geared toward newly licensed teens. At the camp, teens
will go through driving exercises in the area of hazard
recognition/crash avoidance, vehicle handling/skid control and
speed/space management. In addition, we will have motivational
speakers and sponsor exhibits to engage the teens over the three days.
Teens will gain experience behind the wheel under the direct
supervision and guidance of professional driving instructors.
teachers and community leaders are also encouraged to attend.

The Camp is part of a year-long partnership called "Taking the Lead"
that DSFL has with KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh CW, GHSA and Westfield
"Taking the Lead" includes a number of public service announcements
broadcast on KDKA-TV, as well as half hour programming dedicated to

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Grand Opening of The newest PSST only one week away!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thanks to Mary Chalburg, our newest PSST sessions will be starting on Tuesday June 19th, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Gateway Greentree. We are scheduled to meet the First and Third Tuesdays of each month. The address is Gateway Greentree Office, 2121 Noblestown Plaza, Pittsburgh, PA 15205.

Mary contacted Gateway and made all the arrangements. Apparently, Gateway checked out this blog and they were very impressed with they read here.

Mary and I attended the Gateway Family night last week and talked to a room full of parents. With the help of two parents that volunteered to participate, we put on a role-play. Of course, we used an issue that the two parents brought up, which is in keeping with what we always do to try to "keep it real."

We thought it went pretty well and we are hoping for a nice turn out. However, we really could use the support of our regular members. So, if you can come on out this coming Tuesday, help Mary, Val, and I get this new one started!

Directions from Pittsburgh: Take Parkway West though the Fort Pitt Tunnels. Take exit 4A for PA 121 N toward Crafton. Turn left at T on Mansfield Avenue; then one block turn right on Poplar Street. Go 1/2 mile and turn right at the light on Noblestown Road. Go 3/10 mile and turn right up driveway; bear right at Y and follow signs to Gateway, which will be around the back of the office complex.

If you are coming from the opposite direction you get off at Greentree exit, make left off the ramp, and that puts you on Mansfield Avenue; then one block turn right on Poplar Street. Go 1/2 mile and turn right at the light on Noblestown Road. Go 3/10 mile and turn right up driveway; bear right at Y and follow signs to Gateway, which will be around the back of the office complex.

If you get lost call me at 412-861-6757.


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Outreach Teen Location
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, June 04, 2007

New location at Outreach Teen and Family Services in Mt. Lebanon 666 Washington Rd Mt Lebanon, PA 15228

The door to Outreach is right underneath the Stevenson Williams Co. sign, about the middle of the building. Click on the picture to the right to be connected to Google Maps. Soon, we will add this location to our other two located on the left side of this blog.

From 376 Monroeville: Merge onto 279S (Fort Duquense Bridge)

Take exit 5A for Banksville Rd (right after Tunnel)
Merge onto US-19 (Banksville Rd)
Turn left on McFarland Rd (at a Y)
Turn right at W Liberty Ave/US-19
Destination will be on the right

From the North: I-79 S toward Pittsburgh
Slight left at I-279 S (signs for I-279)
Take exit 5A for Banksville Rd (right after Tunnel)
Turn left on McFarland Rd (at a Y)
Turn right at W Liberty Ave/US-19
Continue to follow US-19
Destination will be on the right

From out by Pittsburgh International Airport:
Merge onto PA-60 S
Continue on I-279 N
Take exit 4A toward Mt Lebanon/Green Tree
Merge right onto Greentree Rd/PA-121
Turn left at Potomac Ave
Turn right at W Liberty Ave/US-19
Continue to follow US-19
Destination will be on the right

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