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: Julia Starr

What is your role and title at Trillium?

Services Coordinator at Edwards Day Treatment

How long have you been with the organization?  

Nearly 11 years

Why does mental health matter to you?

Everyone deserves to be healthy, physically and mentally. Those that have struggles should be able to get the help they need to lead a better life. Those who aren’t currently struggling are often at risk for mental health crises down the road, so it’s important that everyone is aware of mental health challenges and what can be done to alleviate them, so we can all be healthy and happy.

What made you want to work at Trillium initially?

I was getting a degree in public health and began working at Trillium because it was local, and I needed internship hours and the ability to do a needs assessment for my degree.

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

What we are doing works. I’ve seen it so many times with both kids and families. Not everyone we work with can be a success story, but even those kiddos who struggle can hopefully gain some impact from positive relationships while they are in our care. Even I have personally grown and gained skills by working with the kids and staff. I am more patient, empathetic, and all around mentally healthier because of working here.

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

I honestly have so many stories of people who have been impacted by Trillium that I can’t pick just one. When I worked at SAIP, I worked with a kid who was severely suicidal and was able to eventually discharge home. A year or so after they left the program they sent the staff a letter saying they were doing great and were in college trying to get a teaching degree, so they could work with kids like themselves.

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

Trauma-informed care is way of thinking about things that may have happened to people in order to help explain their way of thinking instead of blaming them for their actions.

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

Yes. When I started working here, sanctuary wasn’t a thing. Since we have adopted the concept, I have noticed a big shift in our agency culture. We are being more empathetic towards the kids and encouraging both the kids and staff to seek positive self-care. It has made the working environment better and I think it helps staff make a bigger and better impact on kids and their families.

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

We help kids learn who they are and how to get better at being who they want to be. We help families by supporting them in this journey.

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 am most proud of who I have become as a person. Working here has taught me a lot about my own mental health and helped me gain skills to manage it, which has made my personal relationships better. I have also learned so much from the kids that I feel working here has made me a much better parent. I have more empathy and a better understanding of children’s development, which makes me do better work at Trillium and also parent better at home.

Any interesting facts about you that you’d like to share?

I am a foodie and love being part of the process. I take pride in raising, growing and preparing my own food from scratch, even if it takes more time to do so.

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

Be flexible and understanding. This job is always different and changing, which is part of why I like it, however it can be hard to at times not have consistency in day to day work. Flexibility is a must.

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?

Of all the paths you take in life, be sure a few of them are dirt. -John Muir

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