Featuring Family Advocates, Heather Antonini and Araceli Figueroa
This past summer, family members told 17-year-old Lauren she had to leave home for drinking alcohol and taking their car. A social worker referred her to Hutton House, Center for Human Services’ temporary shelter in Modesto for teens in crisis and families dealing with adolescent-parent challenges; the only shelter of its kind between Sacramento and Fresno.
“At first, it was kind of scary because I’m not the kind of person who opens up easily,” Lauren recalls. “But after one or two meetings with the Hutton House staff, I felt really comfortable because they didn’t pressure me to talk. They were really nice and let me talk at my own pace.”
Hutton House Family Advocates Araceli Figueroa and Heather Antonini worked with Lauren and her family.
“She came in a bit apprehensive and closed up, without the skills to communicate her frustrations and conflicts,” Heather said. “But it only took a few check-ins for Lauren to begin to open up and realize we were here to listen and help. She displayed a willingness to learn about herself and took courageous steps toward making better decisions.”
“They talked one on one with me about substance and alcohol abuse and how to implement coping skills instead of reverting to that,” Lauren said. “When we met with my family, Heather and Araceli acted as mediators so we could talk to each other without getting angry and gain back trust.”
That’s truly the goal for Hutton House staff – to facilitate conversations with family members to build trust and reunite the family as quickly as possible. If they determine that a stay at Hutton House will prevent a teen from running away or being in an unsafe situation, the teen may stay until the situation is stabilized, at no cost.
Whether preventing conflict from becoming a crisis or intervention for a young person being abused, neglected, exploited or homeless, Hutton House is a safe place for any 13-to-17-year-olds to go.
“I’ve worked with a wide variety of individuals and families,” Araceli said. “Youth and families from all socioeconomic backgrounds, family configurations, cultures, ethnicities and challenges come to Hutton House for assistance. Adolescence is a time of changing roles, responsibilities and expectations and Hutton House is a resource for youth and families to assist in navigating what can be a very challenging time for all.”
For teenagers, like Lauren, who need to stay overnight at Hutton House, the shelter provides up to eight beds. Whether they stay overnight or drop in for a couple of hours, Hutton House also provides food, clothing, a bathroom with a shower, counseling, recreation and aftercare.
“It’s really structured which is good because that’s what a lot of us teenagers need,” Lauren said. “The beds and couches were comfortable and the food there is literally the best. We got to make food with the vegetables from the garden. The staff there really know how to cook!”
After two separate stays and a total of 30 days, Lauren returned home to her family.
“I haven’t even thought about using any drugs or alcohol since I left Hutton House,” Lauren said. They really helped me open up and talk to my family when I’m feeling sad or I want to go smoke. I feel comfortable talking with them.”
She continues to meet with a Center for Human Services counselor and thinks of Heather and Araceli as big sisters with whom she hopes to keep in touch.
“Thank you a million times. They’ve really helped me be more open and honest with myself and my family. What they do really does help kids and families get back together and get on a good track. It changes lives.”