Trillium Family Services is Oregon’s largest provider of mental and behavioral healthcare for children and families. From residential psychiatric treatment to mental health advocacy in the streets, Trillium is committed to transforming our state into a safer, more supportive place for ALL people to live, work, play and learn.

This ongoing employee spotlight blog series features some of the many caring, talented people it takes to Keep Oregon Well at Trillium Family Services!

Trillium Family Spotlight on: Brent Pelkey

What is your role and title at Trillium?

I’m a skills trainer at Children’s Farm Home and work in Mallet cottage. I help all the children learn dialectical behavioral skills. This training helps them learn how to better manage their life coping skills that they may have deficits in.

How long have you been with the organization?  

I’ve been with Trillium for about seven months.

Why does mental health matter to you?

I feel mental health effects much more than the individuals directly experiencing it. Those who are around the clients, such as family and friends, are affected as well. Being aware of mental health challenges and how to support those who have these challenges is important. It helps make it easier to understand how to help and be compassionate. I actually believe every human being could use some dialectical behavior training and therapy. It would strengthen relationships for families and friends.

What made you want to work at Trillium initially?

I coached multiple sports for 8 years and found joy in watching children progress as athletes and in their behaviors. I also have over 20 friends who work in this field, so I knew what I was getting myself into. I feel I’m good with kids and they are receptive to my approach of coaching and skills training.

What are some of the reasons you continue to believe in this work?

I have actually watched the dialectical behavior therapy work very well for the clients. I watch the clients transition and grow in their skills quickly. At first, I didn’t know what to expect, but the clients are extremely receptive to using these skills, memorizing them, and utilizing them when the needs arise. I’ve had many conversations with clients to remind them how far they have come from when they first arrived on our campus. It’s eye opening to staff and to the clients.

Tell me about a time when you felt that Trillium had truly made a difference in someone’s life?

Many of the clients who come here are suicidal, have suicidal ideations, or engage in self-harm. Most of the children who leave this facility leave with a sense of accomplishment and the ability to thwart the desires to self-harm and avoid the desires of suicide. Trillium literally saves children lives. Being part of potentially saving multiple children’s lives is extremely rewarding and makes coming to work feel like I have a sense of being and purpose.

How would you describe trauma-informed care to someone who had never heard of it?

I would say that Trillium is an organization that helps those involved understand and recognize the effects of all relevant trauma our clients have experienced in their lives. Trauma informed care helps clients and the family understand and treat trauma.

Has Sanctuary changed your experience of working at Trillium?  If so, how?

I have gone through an extensive amount of other trainings with Trillium, but since I am so new to the company, I have not finalized the Sanctuary training.

If you could only tell the world one thing about the work we do here at Trillium, what would it be?

We help build relationships by coaching and offering therapy sessions with clients and their guardians.

This is kind-of an awkward question, I know…but I want you to take just a moment to brag on yourself and the work you do. What are you most proud of having accomplished during your time with the organization?

I think I’ve learned how to connect quickly with the clients. They all seem to feel comfortable with me and my coaching. I interact with them as an equal whenever possible. I use skills I’ve learned through being a parent, stepparent, foster parent, and my 8 years of coaching youth sports. The kids seem very receptive to my personality and coaching strategies.

Any interesting facts about you that you’d like to share?
I grew up in a large family. I’m one of eleven children. I have over 100 nieces and nephews and was fortunate to be raised in a healthy, loving, home environment. I share my past experiences with the children and feel my life experiences translate well into the coaching of the children here.

Do you have any advice for people looking to become mental health advocates or explore a career in behavioral health?

I would tell them that they would need to have a passion for helping children. They need to be patient and be great listeners. Not every day is going to be a great day, but in the long run there awaits a reward of achievement, knowing that you made an impact on the life of a child and their family.

During all of our community meetings at Trillium we close with an inspirational or thought-provoking quote.  To close our chat today, do you have a favorite quote you would be willing to share?

It’s easier to change your ways than change somebody else’s ways.

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