PARK CITY, Utah. — Hundreds of children separated from their parents and housed at the U.S.-Mexico border are moving to Albion, Michigan this month for vastly improved conditions and trauma care – an international story with a lesser-known Park City connection.
Plenty Consulting, a national consulting firm with a retreat center here, has worked since 2018 with Starr Commonwealth, a 108-year-old center for juvenile behavioral care that is evolving to deliver trauma-informed resilience care.
The core of Plenty’s mission – helping boards, leaders, and employees find the purpose that informs their actions and products – led Starr to a partnership with the federal government, announced Wednesday, that’s designed to help alleviate the humanitarian emergency at the southern border.
“Our work with Plenty Consulting helped us reach through our business models and landscape scans to the heart of who we are and why we do what we do,” said Elizabeth Carey, president and CEO of Starr Commonwealth. “They helped us reconnect to our true purpose and see all the opportunities that lay ahead. Their guidance and facilitation allowed Starr Commonwealth to flourish, which in turn, allows the children, families and communities we serve to do the same.”
Starr Commonwealth said in a press release that for the safety of the children, who are under 12 years old and may have been trafficked in some cases, it would not share many details about their arrival and care in Michigan.
“For more than a century, our campus has served as a safe haven for children in need,” said Carey in the release. “We have again been called to open our hearts and our campus as a refuge. When asked to help, we said yes – immediately and enthusiastically, just as our founder, Floyd Starr, would want us to do.”
The Starr campus has 17 cottages that can house up to 240 children and caregivers. It also also has a gym, cafeteria, school buildings, chapel, ball fields, track and a lakeside park.
The federal Administration of Children and Families (ACF) will provide bilingual caregivers with experience in child welfare or development. The organization expects each child will stay up to one month.
Children will be screened for COVID-19 before traveling, then screened again upon arrival. Those testing positive will quarantine on campus.
“Our expertise in healing trauma and building resilience can truly benefit the children who will be coming to our campus,” Carey said. “Many of us have all watched the heartbreaking pictures on the nightly news of children who have been abandoned in the desert, far away from home and without their families, and wondered how we can help. Starr has safe beds, secure cottages and a campus of caring people – this is how we can, and must, help.”
Starr Commonwealth was founded in 1913 as a home for runaway boys, and grew and evolved over the decades to provide community-based programs, education and behavioral health services.
Plenty Consulting principals Jen Mulholland and Jeff Shuck called it a privilege to coach Starr through its recent evolution phases toward this outcome.
Mulholland, who has lived in Park City for 20 years, has spent time with Starr in Michigan and said this development in the center’s function brings to mind a Floyd Starr quote on a wall there that reads, ‘Beauty is a silent teacher.’
“They use the beauty of the campus to heal,” she said. “Environments create healing.”
Visit Starr’s Universal Hope Campaign site for more information or to get involved.