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January 21, 2020

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Staff Spotlight: Anthony Florig

The Pacific Quest team is made up of incredibly talented individuals who are passionate about working with our students and providing a safe and structured environment for them to learn and grow.  This month we want to highlight our Young Adult Program Manager, Anthony Florig.

Anthony Florig, MBA
Young Adult Program Manager

Anthony worked at Pacific Quest from 2012-2016, starting as a direct-care Program Guide, and working through several positions including Young Adult Program Supervisor, Program Coordinator, and Purchasing Manager. Anthony left Pacific Quest in 2016 to pursue an MBA in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. In 2018, he returned to the company as the Off-Site Facility Manager to work on setting up new locations and managing the Rites of Passage phase of the Young Adult Program.

Anthony’s tenure with the Pacific Quest program combined with his business experience and education allows him to bring a unique and level perspective to the management team. Jody St. Joseph, Program Director, comments, “Anthony’s passion for horticulture therapy and his keen eye for risk management truly enhance our stellar team.  We are thrilled to have him in this leadership role!”

Mahalo Anthony for all your hard work and dedication!

October 22, 2019

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Staff Training at the Farm!

Last week Pacific Quest staff members participated in a company-wide training focused on Horticultural Therapy and Rites of Passage.  It was a great opportunity for the team to come together on our new farm property and have time to connect while learning new skills and strategies to work with our students.

Horticultural Therapy Director Travis Slagle teaching a workshop on “Rites of Passage in the Garden” highlighting the Polynesian voyage and canoe plants.

The training began with an introduction to the Four Shields and the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics that’s utilized at Pacific Quest and an integral part of our program.  After the intro, the team divided up and spent the morning at various “stations” that focused on different learning objectives.  Staff members had the option of picking which workshop they wanted to participate in. Some of the options included: Meditation & Mandala workshop, Cordage and Ti lei making, medicine walk and planting skills, soil & compost, and hard project skills & “imagineering”. 

Field Manager Anthony Florig leads a workshop on “Tools for Relating with Tools”

One of the main goals was to emphasize the importance of how to incorporate these various lessons and projects into the daily routine with students. PQ Field Therapist Sarah Blechman, who helped organize and facilitate the training comments, “The whole day was so engaging! It was abundantly clear the facilitators were authentically passionate about the rich union and incredible effects of the interplay between horticulture, rites of passage and how to facilitate the two using the neurosequential model. My favorite part was when our program guides, managers and therapists all worked together to create our first garden bed in our ethnobotanical garden. Working on such a large project together felt like the whole community was working on a gift for our new farm.”

July 27, 2018

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Ultramarathon Fundraiser: Helping Hawaii

Mark Agosto and Mike Sullivan

Many of you continue to reach out and share your concern about the people of Hawaii being affected by the Kilauea volcano eruption.  While Pacific Quest is far from danger and unaffected by the volcano, our wonderful community in the Puna District have lost their homes and been displaced (the total number of homes consumed by lava exceeds 600!).  Relief efforts are in full effect, and we want to help!

Alumni and Family Services Director Mike Sullivan, and Co-Executive Director Mark Agosto are racing a 120 mile ultramarathon in August, and have dedicated their training efforts and racing prowess to help the people of Hawaii.  They have created the fundraiser: Helping Hawaii, and can be accessed by clicking the following link: Ultramarathon Fundraiser: Helping Hawaii.

“Racing for a cause” gives meaning to training and racing, and as Mike and Mark have witnessed the devastation happening in Puna, they became passionate about creating a fundraising goal.  Please consider visiting their fundraiser page to read more about their ultramarathon endeavor or to donate.  And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram from August 14-19, as they will be posting photos and stories from the six day race course (yes, that is six days of running through the Colorado mountains)!

February 21, 2018

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Mike McGee Receives Scholarship Award

Pacific Quest is proud to announce that Mike McGee, Family Program Manager, was awarded a National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Hawai`i scholarship!  This scholarship supports social work students in good standing who are making a difference in their communities.  The NASW Student Scholarships were first awarded in 2009 and aim to assist students in their education as they pursue careers in social work.

Mike McGee, Family Program Manager

Mike is currently pursuing his MSW at the University of Hawaii – Manoa, focusing on Mental and Behavioral Health.  The program itself has a focus on indigenous methodologies and populations, which ties in with the Rites of Passage programming that Mike spearheads at Pacific Quest.  Of the award, Mike comments, “ I am truly humbled to be chosen for this scholarship. Social work is such a unique field in its acknowledgement of the strength and capacities of all human beings. Throughout my years of experience at PQ, I see how these strength-based values are essential for the therapeutic process.” Mike will continue to apply his passion for the rich marriage of Rites of Passage and horticulture therapy in his current role of Family Program Manager.  Mike hopes to further utilize his education and experience  in pursuit of becoming a therapist at Pacific Quest.

This is Mike’s second scholarship award.  Last year he received a scholarship from the Zachary Fochtman Foundation to carry on a legacy of a young man who aspired to become a Wilderness Therapist.   The award is given annually to individuals that are currently in the wilderness therapy field.   Dr. Lorraine Freedle, Clinical Director, comments, “Mike has a solid and unique skill set, which he continues to develop.  He will carry Zachary’s legacy forward with integrity.  We are proud to have him on our team.”

Mike will receive the award on March 16th in Honolulu – Congratulations, Mike!

November 21, 2017

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Makahiki Celebration at Pacific Quest

By: Crystalee Mandaguit, Logistics Director

Every year Pacific Quest hosts a special day for students and employees that focuses on the Makahiki celebration.  This is an important season in Hawaiian culture and honors the God Lono and celebrates the abundance of the aina (land). The Makahiki celebration spans approximately four lunar months – from around October or November until February or March.

​This week we will be preparing a feast of turkey, pork and a vegetarian dish called laulau, which will be​ cooked in an imu (underground oven)​.  Preparing food in an imu requires patience, as the cooking time is a slow overnight process.  The night before, meats will be salted and laulaus will be prepared.  While this preparation is underway, the imu will be stocked with wood and rocks.  Once the wood is set on fire the rocks begin heating up as the fire burns for hours.  While the fire is burning, banana trees are cut down, smashed and broken into smaller pieces and ti leaf plants will be harvested.

Preparing the imu with ti leaves

​Once the rocks are extremely hot, they’re carefully placed to make a flat surface.  The rocks are then covered with pieces of banana stump which contain water and will create lots of steam.  Ti leaves are added on top of the stumps to help contain heat and moisture in addition to acting as a fire barrier so the food does not burn. Next, the pans of meat are placed on the ti leaves and then covered with more ti leaves.  The last step includes placing wet sheets over the pit and finally covering it with a tarp.  Once the tarp is over the food the edges of the tarp will be covered with dirt to trap in heat, moisture and steam.  We leave the food in the imu overnight and come back the next day to uncover the imu and pull out the meats.  The students are excited to see the covering and uncovering of the imu during this special preparation for the celebration.

The day of the feast each camp will be preparing a special part of the menu which will consist of stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, gravy and salad.  For dessert Kalo (taro) is harvested from the land​ and will be​ peeled, boiled, grated down, and mixed with honey and coconut milk.  This mixture is then wrapped in Ti leaf and cooked.  We will also prepare a special favorite – sweet potato haupia pie!

The Makahiki celebration is a special occasion where students and staff work side by side to create a meal for the entire group to enjoy.  It’s a day filled with cultural lessons, including games, crafts, storytelling and chants. It’s a time when the ohana (family) gets to connect with each other and share gratitude for the abundance of the land, family, friendship  and community.

March 8, 2016

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Pacific Quest Welcomes Sharon Findlay to the Admissions Team

Sharon Findlay

Sharon Findlay

Pacific Quest is excited to welcome Sharon Findlay to our team! Sharon comes to Pacific Quest with extensive experience working with families and professionals in the therapeutic education field. Sharon joins Erin Levine, JD Daubs, and Kellyn Symthe as part of the PQ Admissions Team and will also work closely with the Outreach and Communications Teams in her new role.

Sharon has worked in mental health, education, and management fields for over ten years;  she brings a great deal of personal and professional experience to Pacific Quest. Sharon is extremely dedicated to helping our students and their families heal. She appreciates the holistic and intentional approach that Pacific Quest utilizes. She says, “I’m very passionate about working with teens and young adults going through difficulty in their lives. Pacific Quest truly considers the whole person throughout the growth process, cultivating change and growth that occurs in a safe, healing way.”

After Sharon began her therapeutic program experience with a therapeutic boarding school, she earned her Master of Science in Organization Development, with a focus on resilience in individuals and groups. This emphasis, combined with the systemic and consultative approach her studies offered, inspired Sharon to return to the field with a new goal: helping clients reach their full potential while simultaneously addressing the health of the organization, its staff, and program as whole. Sharon had the opportunity to further hone these skills at a residential treatment center and transitional program. Sharon has witnessed first hand the powerful and life changing outcomes that occur at Pacific Quest as result of her tenure in secondary programs. She is excited to now be a part of the first stage of the change process for so many young people.

Pacific Quest has established an exceptional team of highly-respected professionals to assist families in need during the admissions process. Erin Levine, clinical director of admissions, adds, “Sharon is passionate, knowledgeable, and personable. She a natural fit at Pacific Quest. We are delighted to welcome Sharon to our team!”

April 11, 2011

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Stellar outreach and admissions team!

Pacific Quest welcomes Denise Westman, Outreach Director
and Rob Jarrett, Admissions Director

Pacific Quest is pleased to welcome Denise Westman, Outreach Director, to our Pacific Quest team. Denise comes to us with extensive experience in admissions and outreach with therapeutic schools. Denise earned a Nursing Degree from Grossmont College and attended Cuyamaca College in San Diego for Psychology and Communications. Most recently, Denise co-founded Silverado Academy in Utah, serving in admissions, marketing, public relations and program development. Denise is available to Educational Consultants and referral sources for admissions and sharing Pacific Quest news and information.

Pacific Quest strives to provide our families and referral sources with the best and most comprehensive team approach to sustainable care. To that end, we have also recently named Rob Jarrett as Admissions Director. Rob holds a BA in Linguistics from UC Santa Barbara, and previously worked with Stanford University and the U.S. Dept. of Energy.  Rob also has hands on experience marketing educational programs, advanced curriculum, and behavior modification training clinics to administrative boards, schools, parents, etc. for high end arts-in-education programs.

Denise and Rob will work together to serve our families and referral sources in a comprehensive and thorough manner.

Denise Westman is based in San Diego and looks forward to talking with you at any time. You can reach her at (808) 345-7315 and denise@www.pacificquest.org.

Rob Jarrett lives in San Jose and is available any time for admissions at (808) 345-2182 and rob@www.pacificquest.org.

September 11, 2009

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PQ staff vision quest in November

Staff Vision Quest - Pacific Quest: Wilderness Therapy for Teens & Young Adults

Here is an excerpt from the initial letter we received from guides Joseph LaZenka and Petra Lentz regarding the PQ staff vision quest.  We are planning a seven day program that focuses on a three day fast and solo experience.

The letter sent chills up my spine, as I am faced with “the call.”  Expect more posts on this topic as there are so many incredible avenues to explore with respect to the solo experience.

Letter 9/09

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”   Joseph Cambell

For a while now you have been watching the teens you work with prepare and go out for their solos. You have even answered some of their questions and offered your advice. Now the time has come for you to cross over the threshold and enter, empty bellied into the expansive silence of this beautiful island you call home. The time has come for you to move more deeply into the ways you can serve, yourself, the people you love, your work and this mystery we call life. You have heard the call to vision fast!  For three days and nights you will find your own way to claim, give voice to and celebrate the gifts that life has instilled within you. We deeply honor how difficult and sometimes frightening it can be to say yes to that which is calling you.

THE GUIDES

 

Joseph LaZenka;  Director, School of Lost Borders

A vision fast guide and trainer since 1986, Joseph joined the Staff of the School in 1993 and co-directed the School with Emerald North from 2001 through 2005. Angelo brings a passionate, dramatic voice to the nurturing of individual character and calling, and a mythic empathy for people, their dreams, and the healing power of nature.

Petra Lentz; Director, Open Sky Journeys

Born and raised in Germany, Petra is a licensed practitioner of naturopathic medicine and shamanic questing in Europe.  Her training in the U.S. ranges from the Bear Tribe, founded by Chippewa medicine man, Sun Bear, to the School of Lost Borders and Steven and Meredith Foster. Her work is focused on the Vision Quest, the teaching of the 4 Shields, earth awareness, counseling, healing rituals and nature ceremony. She has led Vision Quests since 1994.  What keeps the work most alive for her is the depth of transformation in people that she has witnessed in the years of the work.