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 Posted October 11, 2000 

Renton, Wash.
October 5, 2000 

Dear Mr. Woodbury: 

I am a Mother of an Obsidian Trails teen. My son earned the name "Laughing River," when he graduated from Obsidian Trails on the 7th of July this past year. I cannot begin to express the HEARTFELT GRATITUDE and THANKS I have for this very SPECIAL place, and it's incredibly dedicated, caring staff. I found this place from YOUR struggling teens website back in April of this year after my 16 year old son had been arrested for robbing the neighbor two doors down from us. 

This was the cry for help. There were several incidents preceding his downward spiral, including an alcohol overdose that almost took his life two weeks before Christmas last year. When I found OBSIDIAN TRAILS, I knew in my heart, I had found the HOPE that had been long lost. After countless trials of trying different avenues including years of counseling, all in vain, I was watching him from within my own heartache, knowing that I was losing my only son, a little more everyday, and did not know how to save him. It is the most helpless and painful feeling a parent can have. From the first phone call when I contacted OBSIDIAN TRAILS, to the day we drove my son the 7-hour trip from Seattle to Oregon, I have felt that I had left him in very CAPABLE and CARING hands. 

My heart was at peace when I left him there and I watched the genuine concern and loving interaction of their staff. My son had a look on his face I had not seen since he was a little boy. He told us that he had hoped that they could teach him how to make better choices and decisions so that he could pass it along to his own children someday. His letters home to me from the first one to the last was a son I had not known for years. They were words of loving-kindness for me and for the staff that he had come to admire and love. In EVERY letter he spoke of the compassion for the job he saw as very tough sometimes; how "bad" some of the teens treated the staff, how "out of control" he saw these kids get, and how difficult these kids made it for the rest. He wrote of them fondly and with a strength and courage he expressed to me in his journals as well. His letters echoed the caring dedication I also heard in the voices of the staff who phone TWICE a WEEK with updates on progress or fallbacks with the kids out in the field. 

My son went to OBSIDIAN TRAILS a very troubled young man who was afraid, as was our whole family, where he was headed. He came home to us with a new sense of who he is NOW and who he's striving to be. He returned equipped with the tools and skills the staff nurtured in him, and in his friends who he came to know sharing the desert together. 

My son's care DID NOT STOP upon his graduating, but has CONTINUED in the weekly phone calls from the staff, who will remain available and dedicated to help him for the next 2 years! We were fortunate to be able to attend an O.T. Reunion a week after he graduated, in which we got to know many families, their sons, and daughters. Many of the boys confided to my husband, that had it NOT been for their parents sending them to OBSIDIAN TRAILS, and them learning the skills they did, that they would NOT have lived to see their next birthday. Many of us parents have formed a network & support for each other that are matched by the very special staff, which includes Founder and Director Gregory Bodenhamer, who are OBSIDIAN TRAILS. 

I am a Nurse by trade, but a Mother first. What happened in the field to "Eddie," happened to all of us, tragically, but I have NEVER felt it was anything but an unfortunate accident. My prayers and support go out to his family for the deepest of pain and sadness I realize they must feel. I know because I have heard this and the sense of loss in the voices of the O.T. staff I have contacted to offer our support over this tragedy. 

We just returned home from driving all the way down to Oregon this past weekend to offer our CONTINUED support to OBSIDIAN TRAILS" and Eddie's" Family. I BELIEVE in this program with ALL my heart, and I know that what they did for my son, and for so many others, they wanted for Eddie too. 

Please feel free to contact me. I would share my son's letters and journals with you and your staff as well, if you would like. Programs for teens, like OBSIDIAN TRAILS, ARE SAFE, and we MUST NOT LOSE them, for that, indeed, would be the greatest tragedy of them all. . . 

Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts, and feelings to you. 

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