Hutton Settlement moves children from surviving to thriving
Campus director David Milliken has been with Hutton Settlement 22 of its 100 years. Carol Wendle, who has been on its board for 39 of the 100 years, has served as an honorary member since 2014.
David grew up five miles from the settlement in Central Valley and served in the army three years after graduating from high school. Through the Army Distance Learning Center, he earned a degree in psychology and started at Hutton in June 1997.
“I was in a coffee shop. A neighborhood woman, learning of my degree, suggested I go to Hutton Settlement. I showed up for a tour and was asked to fill out forms,” he said.
He talked with the director, Mary Jo Lyonnais, for three hours. Three weeks later Hutton offered him a position he didn’t know he had applied for. For six years, he was boys’ case manager.
Based on studies of resiliency, he worked with Carol to start service and leadership, outdoor adventure and creative arts programs.
“We wanted to move children with challenging backgrounds from surviving to thriving,” he said.
After completing a master’s in organizational leadership at Gonzaga University in 2003, David became director of education, supporting the children’s studies in West Valley schools and their preparation for college and careers.
He began Hutton’s resiliency program in 2007, when he became campus director.
To expand the depth of care, he implemented attachment-based parenting under the Circle of Security International, developed by Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper and Bert Powell, who shared a clinical practice in Spokane in the 1980s. They began the Circle of Security in 1998, applying attachment theory to a Early Head Start home visiting program.
Hutton trained staff and adjusted policies and practices to focus less on compliance and more on connection.
“Most residential care programs focus on helping children get along, get to school and get chores done,” David said. “The shift was to connect at the core with each child and address the woundedness from which each comes.”
It was a shift for the children. The staff also needed to understand their triggers and defensiveness.
“In 2014, we dove into the model, seeing that every child at the core is shining goodness and that we need to treat them as such to understand their survival behaviors of lying, stealing, bed wetting, food hoarding and emotional outbursts,” David said.
“We moved from managing behaviors to a system that was transformative, understanding that every child here experiences three things: 1) the world is threatening, hostile and unfriendly, 2) I’m bad and 3) I’m alone, he said. “That’s tragic for anyone.”
Attachment-based care honors the goodness of the children and their parents, he said. It recognizes that transformation comes from focusing on healing over behavior.
“Over the years, children shift to see that 1) the world has goodness, 2) they are good and 3) they belong somewhere as part of Spokane’s largest family, Hutton Settlement,” he said.
Jessica Laughery, director of communications, said they work with parents to “draw them into the circle of compassion around their children. Regardless of the situation, children want a relationship with their biological families. We believe in developing permanency, so we partner with families to raise their children.”
Many grandparents are raising children because parents are in jail, so grandparents continue to visit their grandchildren.
The Hutton family is more than the children living there. Children do not age out at 18, but can receive care through their 20s and older. Many of the hundreds of alumni come back with their children.
“We focus on lifespan care. If a 50-year-old former resident experiences depression, we care. This is his or her home,” David said.
Thirty-two boys and girls live on campus in four gender-based cottages. Four couples are house parents. They have three days off every eight days. There are also two social workers and a therapist on site.
Many children have siblings there too, in contrast to foster care, which may separate siblings, David said.
When families or teachers call, an intake case worker does an interview to decide if Hutton is appropriate. Half the children are placed by the state and have been referred by a state case worker. Half are private placements, referred by school teachers, church leaders, mental health providers or families.
Hutton receives children needing long-term care—from one year through high school. Most are teens. Many are there eight to 11 years.
The 21 board members and the Millwood community are also part of the Hutton family.
Carol, who was born in Seattle, moved to Spokane when she was nine to live with her elderly grandparents after her father died of a stroke. She graduated from the University of Idaho in 1964 in sociology and guidance. She earned a teaching certificate at Eastern Washington University and taught in Seattle, moving back to Spokane to marry. She taught at Franklin Elementary School until her two children were born.
One day in a class on Spokane, she toured Hutton.
“I was overwhelmed by Hutton Settlement and its mission,” she said. “The tour guide picked up on my interest and enthusiasm. I was later invited to serve on the board.
The lifetime board members are all women, bringing different talents—homemakers, teachers, bankers and business leaders.
Jessica said Hutton Settlement receives no government funding. It was endowed by a portfolio of commercial properties of the founder, Levi Hutton. That portfolio has grown to more than 20 properties and continues to fund 90 percent of Hutton’s operations.
Levi, who grew up in Iowa, was orphaned at the age of six. He moved in with an aunt and uncle who had other children. Not treated well, he quit school in third grade to earn his keep by helping on the farm.
At 18, he moved West as a firefighter and locomotive engineer with the Northern Pacific Railroad, assigned to Wardner Junction. When he worked in Wallace, Idaho, he met his wife, May Arkwright, who ran a boarding house and was an advocate for women and children.
They invested savings in the Hercules Silver Mine, working it on days off. On Friday, June 13, 1901, they struck it rich. As the mine continued to produce, they gave to charities. Eventually, they moved to Spokane to pursue real estate and philanthropy. They built and lived in the Hutton Building downtown and later in a home on the South Hill.
After May died in 1915 of Bright’s disease, Levi decided to build a home for disadvantaged children. He knew it was important for children to have a home where they belong.
“He set the cornerstone for Hutton Settlement in June 1918. It opened in November 1919,” said Jessica.
To help celebrate the 100 years, Spokane Civic Theatre is presenting a play by Tim Rarick on Hutton Settlement, “A Place to Call Home.” Performances are Fridays to Sundays, Oct. 25 to 27, and Nov. 1 to 3, at the theatre, 1020 N. Howard.
Carol’s son Chud is executive director, responsible for the administration of Hutton Settlement and managing the commercial real estate that supports it.
On the board, Carol served on the Children’s Committee, the Cottage Commmittee and others, interacting with the children and communicating with schools.
Jessica grew up in Clarkston, where her parents did foster care. She came to Spokane to study public relations at Gonzaga, graduating in 2014. She is now working on a master’s at Whitworth.
The Millwood community also connects with Hutton.
Millwood Community Presbyterian Church involves children in its youth group and has friendship families to build bonds with them.
Children come from different faith backgrounds, so Hutton staff and volunteers take them to the churches of their choice.
Millwood Presbyterian’s youth program channels youth with culinary and gardening interest into addressing food insecurity in the neighborhood. Youth have helped prepare and serve a monthly meal for 60 at Millwood Community Center.
“It gives the children, who are receivers of services, a chance to be givers of services,” Jessica said.
Carol, who was active at First Presbyterian prior to a stroke, said faith has significantly impacted her volunteer endeavors.
Faith also motivates David, who attends West Central Episcopal Mission and is in spiritual formation with the Franciscan Third Order of the Episcopal Church. With the order, he commits to live a life of simplicity, give to the poor, serve those on the margins and participate in spiritual direction. He will make lifetime vows in August 2020.
David’s wife Tamara, the lead house parent at Hutton, is a companion of the Franciscan Third Order.
They live on the Hutton campus, but own a home in Millwood, where they are developing a Franciscan Hermitage with three one-room hermitages, a labyrinth and garden with native plants in his quarter-acre yard.
For information, call 828-2789, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit huttonsettlement.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree,October, 2019