“We think every kid should have the chance for camp.” Tom Sebastian, CEO of Compass Health
Compass Health was founded by Lutheran church members concerned about homeless children in Everett over 117 years ago, a cause that eventually lead them to open an orphanage off Federal Avenue in Everett. While the orphanage is no longer standing, know that you walk in the steps of orphans when you cross that particular Compass Health campus.
Compass looks very different now than it did all those years ago, operating 32 sites across five counties, but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten their roots. For the third year in a row, they are holding an evening gala to raise money for specialized children’s camps; Camp Mariposa and Camp Outside the Box.
At Camp Mariposa, children from 9 to 12 that have been impacted by substance use within their families get to attend transformational weekend camps. To best support them and reinforce the continuing care of the camps, they are held throughout the year. Because of the contributions from the gala, they get to do this at no cost to the family.
The other specialized camp, Camp Outside the Box, provides therapeutic, wraparound, intensive outpatient services. The goal of the program is, “to honor the family voice and choice, identify strengths, build natural supports and foster self-sufficiency. Wraparound teams provide comprehensive behavioral health services and supports to Medicaid eligible individuals, up to 21 years of age, with complex behavioral health needs and their families.”
“The camps are important. The camps are where the magic happens for these kids,” says Tom Sebastian, CEO of Compass. It’s not just about addressing high and complex behavioral needs, “the camps goal is to help improve their goals and self-esteem, and to also let them just be kids, and have them do fun stuff.”
Sebastian (pictured) entered Compass Health many years ago as a case manager, working his way up until he was cemented as the CEO for the last 12 years. The benefits of having a CEO at the helm who has moved up through the organization and has been on the front lines addressing the interplay between mental health, addiction and health is apparent. “It gives you a good sense understanding for those you help, and also a good sense of the day-in-day-out work, too,” shares Sebastian.
In 2018, the Gala raised over $235,000, surpassing the goals set by the organization. The plan for this year? “We always want to surpass the year before. Without the gala, we wouldn’t be able to run the camps,” he goes on to say.
“In the past, mental health, addiction, and health care were siloed in the system. Beginning July 1st, it’s now in one big pool […] We want to transform care and start breaking down barriers, get in early into the social determinants of health.”
This year the Building Communities of Hope Gala is being held on September 28th in the Tulalip Resort Casino. The keynote speaker is Bill Bernat, a local comedian who is a recovering addict with a co-occurring bipolar disorder.
Bernat’s 2017 “TEDxSnoIsleLibraries presentation, a renowned discussion on “How to connect with depressed friends,” graduated to TED.com, where it has garnered more than 1.6 million views and inspired conversations surrounding mental health, wellness and recovery.” His works have also appeared on Comedy Central, Moth Radio Hour and Ignite Seattle, to name a few. His forthright approach to mental health and ability to gather people ‘round and laugh about it, is helping to destigmatize the conversations surrounding mental health.
Interested in helping to build hope in your community alongside Compass? Start with buying tickets here. The deadline to purchase is September 13th.
Compass Health’s vision statement, “We create hope and promote recovery by advancing whole person health,” is embodied by their efforts to reach the youths in our communities, as whole health person starts early.
Listen in on KRKO's chat with the Bill Bernat, by clicking here.
Special thanks to Tom Sebastian for his participation in creating this article.