March 12, 2009 in Washington Voices

Gifts warm Daybreak teens

Group donates quilts to patients in drug and alcohol treatment
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Daybreak Development Director Kathy Kramer, left, talks with a young resident in one of the bedrooms, where most of the beds are now covered with quilts made by a volunteer group. Daybreak is a drug and alcohol treatment program for teens.
(Full-size photo)

At a glance

 To reach the Spokane Valley Quilters Guild, go to www.svqg.info or write the Guild at SVQG, P.O. Box 13516, Spokane Valley WA 99213.

 For more information about Daybreak go to www.daybreakinfo.org or call (509) 444-7033

If you believe a quilter’s house to be full of great quilts, then you’re probably wrong.

At least according to Deanna Griffith, a longtime member of the Spokane Valley Quilt Guild, who said quilting is all about giving.

“Quilters don’t have quilts, they make them and give them away,” Griffith said. “A quilter’s heart is full of love and generosity.”

For years, Griffith’s quilting guild has been donating quilts to Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, so when she learned there was a need at Daybreak – a drug and alcohol treatment facility for teens and families – her group quickly embraced the idea of making quilts for bigger kids.

“I started talking to one of the gals in my ‘quilting posse’ about Daybreak,” said Griffith, an administrative assistant with Spokane Valley. “It took a while to get it all lined up, but I’d say it’s about a year ago that we really got going.”

Mike Connelly, city attorney for Spokane Valley and a board member at Daybreak, told Griffith that the teens would like some warmer blankets.

“I had personal experience with Daybreak with my oldest son,” Griffith said. “And I recently lost a very close friend, who I believe could have been helped by a facility like Daybreak.”

A quilt may seem inconsequential when a teen is facing the hell of alcohol and drug dependency in one of Daybreak’s 40 beds.

“People may not understand how much that means,” said Kathy Kramer, development director at Daybreak. “But the kids tell me that it means a lot to them, that they feel loved and cared for by someone on the outside who has made blanket for them.”

All the teens at Daybreak have chemical dependency and abuse problems, some combined with g disorders like cutting. They spend 30 to 90 days at Daybreak, going through extensive counseling and group therapy sessions.

One 17-year-old resident shared her story last week: She had her first drink at 10 years old and she loved it so much, she said, that she quickly got in the habit of sneaking beer out of friends’ fridges.

Next door to her family lived “a couple of tweakers” – meth users – and she spent a lot of time there. When she was 14 a dealer showed her how to smoke crack. Soon, she was living with the dealer, who was also a pimp. She spent time at Daybreak in 2008, but relapsed soon after leaving the facility when friends invited her to a party and she couldn’t resist.

Now she’s back, after almost dying from alcohol poisoning following a vodka-drinking spree with a couple of friends. Her friends abandoned her on a neighborhood street. A stranger called 911 and she was first pronounced dead on the way to the hospital, but later revived. Her blood alcohol level was 0.4. Today, she shares a room with a couple of girls, and she’s got one of the quilts from the Spokane Valley Quilting Guild.

“It makes a difference,” she said, of the quilts, while giving a tour of Daybreak. “It’s nice, it’s more homey – everybody here loves the quilts.”

About her struggle with drug use and drinking, she offered this bit of advice:

“You may think to yourself: using is cool and you only have one life and you want to live it to the fullest. But look at what happened to me. It is so full throttle not worth it.”

For now, the teens don’t get to keep the quilts when they leave Daybreak.

“We don’t have quite enough to do that yet,” Kramer said. “I know that would mean so much to the kids.”

Quilting groups from across the area, including a group at Millwood Presbyterian Church and the Washington State Quilters, have joined the effort to make quilts for Daybreak.

“They are trying to make a program at Daybreak where teens can earn points toward taking a blanket home,” Griffith said. “My girls would be more than happy to replenish those quilts, if they know they are going home in the arms of a child.”

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