Letters to the editor | March 30 edition

Readers weigh in about Thunderbird Recovery Center


Walking our talk

Regarding Seattle Indian Health Board plans to re-open its Thunderbird Treatment Center on Vashon, I see a wonderful opportunity for the island to support the First Peoples whose tribes lived here, and for the affected Native Americans to have both a regional facility for care using their own forms of healing, and a sacred space to recover on the beautiful land they once inhabited here.

Will we walk our talk?

Yet there are many questions that arise about logistical challenges: transportation options and community services are limited here, as is temporary or affordable housing for visiting families. Will that all be covered for enrollees? What will happen when program participants are discharged or want to leave against medical advice or convert to outpatient or group home status? Will this facility figure into any of the health care and substance abuse treatment needs being addressed by our Health Care District for our own residents?

I look forward to more information and local planning about this exciting new project. The challenges and potential solutions should be transparent and designed in partnership with Vashon’s community and leaders.

– Lynn Carrigan

Jayapal should have consulted islanders

The article in the March 16 Beachcomber regarding the $5 million that Pramila Jayapal secured for moving the Thunderbird Rehabilitation Center to Vashon was big news for this island.

Based on Elizabeth Shepherd’s reporting it appears highly likely that they are looking to buy the Vashon Community Care (VCC) building, although we have no way of knowing this as no one at Jayapal’s office has replied to The Beachcomber’s queries. One aspect of all this that I have been thinking about is how it was decided to fund this project over other long-standing needs of our community. Why did we not know about this until it was already done?

Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that with community input islanders wouldn’t have chosen to fund the rehabilitation center. However, over the years, our community has identified two longstanding needs relevant to living on the island: the ability to care for our seniors, and affordable housing.

We built the VCC to provide a place for our seniors, and we heroically fundraised for the VCC right up to the end when we learned how hard it is to sustain with our population size. Similarly, Vashon HouseHold has considered many options over the years to create affordable housing, among them the VCC when it was vacated. They did not possess the kind of resources it would take to purchase and renovate that building. Both of those programs had island-wide support.

Wouldn’t help from our representative to obtain funds for one of these projects have made the difference? A rehab center, like a care center, or the creation of affordable housing units, are all essential services government can help provide.

If Jayapal were acting to represent our community, don’t you think there would have been a discussion via the community council and the newspaper about the different possible services she could help fund? Part of that discussion would be to explore the costs and benefits of each project. $5 to $20 million is a nice amount of money for a community to address long-standing social needs. Where was the process? And why won’t she talk to us now?

– Celina Yarkin