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New Perspectives - Jul, 2000 Issue #71 

Spring Lake Ranch
Cuttingsville, Vermont
Patrick McKee

Spring Lake Ranch, is a 33-bed private non-profit therapeutic community in the Vermont countryside for men and women over the age of 17. Although their residential community has been in operation for almost 70 years, in the last few years Spring Ranch has greatly expanded their aftercare services to include transitional housing, supported and independent living options, as well as respite care. 

The residential community is located in the mountains of Vermont, and resembles a small New England Village. The beauty of the surroundings has always been credited as an important ingredient in the success of the Ranch’s residential program. The residents, staff, and the staffs’ families all live in cottages and small farmhouses on the 600-acre farm, sharing their meals in the main community building. 

They accept as residents, people with all major psychiatric diagnoses, as well as personality disorders, dual diagnosis with substance abuse, and adult attention deficit disorder. “The Ranch is also appropriate for applicants with no clear diagnosis who need a supportive, challenging living situation to regain confidence and direction.” They also have been effective with residents with developmental disabilities or brain injuries. Many residents later return to successfully assume a staff position. One of the missions of Spring Lake Ranch, is to “live and work together in an atmosphere of “trust and respect.”

The admissions process at Spring Lake Ranch includes a 24-hour visit and a release of records from current and previous providers. The admissions office and resident coordinator then work closely with families, hospital discharge planners and other professionals to insure successful transition and to initiate plans for aftercare. Scholarships are available when ever possible to individuals with financial need and third party insurance is accepted. 

Spring Lake Ranch offers a strict schedule on the weekdays, and during the weekend, recreational trips and activities are available. The essence of this unique program is “the sharing of life in a working environment.” The residents work inside and/or outdoors for five hours on the weekdays, with the option of additional chores on the weekends. They gain experience in the work field as well as in community living. 

Residents also participate in daily community meetings, exercising, recreation, and attend AA/NA meetings four nights per week. Each week residents review their treatment goals with their primary, and house advisors. Their recreation is organized by an elected council of residents and staff, and includes seasonal activities, cultural events, and creative projects. There is also social and life skill education, pre-vocational training, chores, and crew leadership opportunities for the residents. 

Individually tailored aftercare programs are located in Rutland, Vermont’s second largest city, and include employment, school, volunteering, training, and involvement in the day program, while continuing treatment with the staff psychiatrist. 

Spring Lake Ranch honors “the value of each day’s work- its mix of chores, projects, and personal encounters-as an expression of each member’s contribution to the community. We preserve the land on which the Ranch is based, acknowledging the natural and spiritual resources it provides. We recognize the potential of our community as a model for healing, and our responsibility to share this experience with others. We make every effort to open the community to those who would benefit, regardless of their ability to pay. We offer access to professional treatment, and assist people in the difficult choices concerning its use. We recognize that life is open-ended and unpredictable, and we accept vulnerability and live in hope.”

Copyright © 2000, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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