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: George Grosch

What is your role and title at Trillium?

I am a Skills Trainer II at Powers Cottage at Children’s Farm Home.

How long have you been with the organization?  

I’ve been with Trillium for a little over three years.

Why does mental health matter to you?

Having the skills and ability to face the challenges of life is hard enough without a mental health issue. Supporting, teaching and caring for young people who face such challenges is important to me. My mission in life is to promote peace, love and understanding by being of service to the world. Working at Trillium helps me to carry out that mission in the work aspect of my life.

What made you want to work at Trillium initially?

I was very unhappy in my previous employment in the newspaper business and I wished to return to the service field where I have always felt I made a difference. Trillium was recommended to me by a friend and I found it to be a very good fit.

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

It’s not about believing for me, it’s about seeing firsthand how the work we do improves lives and prepares young people to face the world with useful skills they can use to continue to strive to reach their full potential, whatever that may be.

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

A young woman at our cottage went to a campus activity to make a dream catcher. When she returned to the cottage and walked into the milieu she saw me, her face lit up with joy and she ran across the room holding her dream catcher saying, “George, I made this for you because you are helping me make my dreams come true!” It helped me to understand that we make a difference, even when we can’t see it happening.

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

Trauma is an event that totally overwhelms a person’s ability to cope. Repeated exposure to trauma causes human beings to form patterns of behavior that “protect” them in those settings. Over time, the behaviors that worked in the past begin not to work. When that happens people may begin to cope in negative ways. Trauma Informed Care is a care philosophy that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma and emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety. TIC helps rebuild a sense of control and empowerment for both survivors and providers of care.

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

Sanctuary provides me with a framework (The 7 Principles) to inform decision making and providing care to myself, the people I work with and the residents we serve. When I am struggling with an issue I can turn to Sanctuary and ask myself is this helping us meet the goals we set for ourselves and our organization?

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

The work we do is hard and it is often difficult to see we are making a difference. Sometimes it just has to be enough to know we have done our best for another person and understand that life is a journey. Perhaps for a time, we shared the same path with a client and we did all we could to help them along their way.

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’m proud of the fact that I show up physically and emotionally for my teammates and the young people we serve, and that maybe because I am older than the average Skills Trainer I can use my experience to put challenging situations into perspective and offer guidance based on experience to help others.

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

I would say that if service and making a difference in individual lives are goals for your professional life, then this is a great line of work. What I have learned is that my efforts are rewarded by hundreds of moments of joy even in times of crisis. You do make a difference, especially in the time when you feel least effective. You never know when one word of kindness or one moment of really listening changes another person’s situation for the better.

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?

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Dr. Hunter S Thompson

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