Thanksgiving, Bear, and Wild Turkeys at Phoenix House San Diego

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

The time of  Thanksgiving, the time of harvest. . . Students at the Phoenix House Academy of San Diego in the picturesque hills of Descanso, California, enjoy the fruit of their labor in the organic garden. For the past three years, teens at our residential substance abuse treatment facility have had an opportunity to grow and sample fresh produce that they planted and cared for by themselves. The produce they harvested this year included artichokes, beets, carrots, squash, a variety of herbs, fruit and strawberries. Not all students grew veggies, some opted to plant flowers instead. As a part of their treatment and life-skills training, two students have been assigned to water and weed the vegetables. Others helped in the kitchen, set the tables, or clean up. Everyone enjoyed the results!

The rural location of the Phoenix House Academy is ideal for keeping pets and domestic animals.  There are several free-range chicken wandering around the premises. Students gather their eggs and enjoy the tasty pancakes and other dishes.  The hens are as friendly as pets! We have profiled the other pets, the three dogs, in another post, but the story of the German Shepherd, Bear, belongs on Thanksgiving – as told by Antonet O’Toole, the facilities manager:

 “Bear, our German Shepherd and Aloha, who is wearing the scarf both came to us from nearing acreages, after both their owners gave up on keeping them confined. Bear’s family moved as they were giving up and took him with them to a neighboring community about 20 miles away. Two years later, Bear showed up again! His family, it was reported, had moved out of state. He was underweight, and shy/wary. As you can see, he has gained weight and now is a happy member of our family. Omitta and Aloha are good friends. Bear hangs out with them, but his love in life is playing fetch. He would wear out the normal family, but here there is always someone willing to indulge him a fetch session!”

Organic garden, pet dogs, pet chicken. ..  there is lots to do and see in Descanso.  Phoenix House Academy of San Diego provides residential substance abuse and mental health treatment to adolescents ages 12 to 17. Teens at the Academy benefit from cultural and recreational activities; treatment addresses their issues in a holistic way, including families in the whole course of the treatment, during family visits, counseling sessions, and more. Residents attend individual and group counseling sessions to deal with their addictions and the abuse of prescription drugs, marijuana, inhalants, or meth. They attend high school classes, and learn how to fill their time with drug-free fun – hiking, playing sports, gardening and birdwatching.  

The Academy’s gardens are filled with birdsong, but another type of birds is quite a sight in the fall!  Wild turkeys have been frequently spotted roaming around the cabins on the extensive grounds of the Academy, which is surrounded by horse ranches, mountains, and oak groves.  Apparently, the wild turkeys love eating a certain kind of berry that grows on the premises and come to have a feast in the fall.  Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

For more information about programs and services at Phoenix House Academy of San Diego  call us at: 1 888 671 9392 (Monday- Friday, 8am-5pm) or 1 888 671 9392 (after hours).

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