House Advisors

The Shadow Warriors of Spring Lake Ranch

Surrounded by friends at Spring Lake Ranch

And you muse for a moment about how you are surrounded by your friends, by people who care about you and whom you care about. How you get to live here where the air is good, and work here where you know you're doing something worthwhile.

To describe a day in the life of a House Advisor at Spring Lake Ranch, we sort of have to jump onto it like a moving Ferris wheel. We'll start at that point in the wee hours of the morning, that moment when you're scratching off the third cherry and you're starting to realize that you've won the lottery. The world is spread out before you, all riches and bounty, and you're dancing a jig in grape jelly shoes. And then, all of a sudden, there's a knock on your door. You pull yourself out of that divine dream to greet, as civilly as you can at four o'clock in the morning, the person standing in your doorway. You talk him through the crisis, or accompany him down to the main house to get a PRN, or point out the time and offer to discuss the matter in the daylight. Then you stagger back to your bed grown cold, and try to get that dream back.

In that way that sleep has of running through your fingers, it feels like five minutes later when you're heading down to the main house to get your breakfast and plan your crew. At this point, you have no idea what your day might bring. You could be hand-feeding the pigs, digging up turnips, standing on the back of a navy truck and chucking wood down a line. You might be driving a last-minute town trip, baking cookies, or building a door. You might be perched on top of a ladder, peering out of a hole in the ground, tromping through the woods in the muck, knee deep in offal at the barn, or sitting in a meeting.

And once you finish with morning crew, grab a lunch, and plan for the afternoon, you don an apron and plunge into some dishes. Or maybe there's a review meeting in store for you instead, a review meeting with that same person who woke you up in the small hours. And you start to wonder, is that person as tired as I am right now?

So then its back to the woods, the barnyard, the PK. Digging ditches, weeding beds, chasing sheep, palming sweat off your forehead. And somewhere in here, you might start to wonder why you do this job. Why do you run around the Ranch every morning waking the same people up and convincing them to come to crew? Why do you work all day then give up your evening to drive trips to AA or to the movies, or the gym? Why do you keep giving and giving when the Ranch has already taken so much?

At four o'clock, you bring your crew in and put away the day's tools. You thank them all for their work and they thank you for yours. You crash land in the main house again, where you help yourself to a snack: some of the best pesto you've ever tasted, courtesy of the Gardens crew. Another House Advisor wanders by and announces that she's going to the lake, and you hop into a truck with a bunch of people and head for cool, clean water. You get back to the Ranch just in time for a dinner of garden-fresh vegetables and a delicious roast that you had a hand in bringing to the table. You eat dinner and chat with a resident, a resident that you've known and worked with for almost a year. You remember when he came to the Ranch, when he couldn't leave his room, when he felt defeated and destroyed and had no hope. And now you're saying good-bye, because tomorrow he's leaving. He's going back to school to take up the reins of his life where he dropped them before. And even though you'll miss him, you're glad to see him go. You had a hand in that too. And then, heading back to your room, you pass other houses along the way, throwing their warm lights onto the road, and you muse for a moment about how you are surrounded by your friends, by people who care about you and whom you care about. How you get to live here where the air is good, and work here where you know you're doing something worthwhile.

By the time your teeth are brushed and you slide back into bed, you're tired and footsore. You know there are a thousand things to do tomorrow, just as there were a thousand to do today, and if you don't put all that out of your mind, you'll never get to sleep. So you think instead about a joke you heard on crew, or how you're going out for sushi with a bunch of the House Advisors tomorrow night, or how Lisa offered to teach you how to knit a hat for your sister and you just can't wait to get started. Soon sleep pulls you by an ankle down into its grasp again, and before you know it, you're off chasing that dream at the end of another day at the Ranch.

Tackling a roofing project at the RanchSpring Lake Ranch: a small therapeutic work community in the Green Mountains of Vermont

Mary Mitiguy, Human Resource Director
Spring Lake Ranch
1169 Spring Lake Rd.
Cuttingsville, VT 05738
(802) 492-3322

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