Imagine a group of people sitting in a circle coming together for a unified purpose, to celebrate the graduation of one of their own. The graduating peer excitedly sits in the middle of the group, with a huge smile on their face, because their day has finally come; they’ve made it to graduation! A beautiful rock has been painted and tailored specifically for that person. The rock is passed around the circle into the hands of all those in attendance, as they share their memories and best wishes for the graduate. Within that rock all the good thoughts are wrapped up into it and then given to the graduate.
At Crestwood Chula Vista, they started a tradition to honor their graduates. When faced with their first successful graduation in December 2015, they wanted to start a special and unique tradition, so they gathered together the people they serve and asked how they would like to celebrate their graduation. Many of them offered insightful and valuable input and all these great ideas were then considered by the community. When all was said and done, the most popular idea for a graduation ceremony came from one of their dearest residents, who has since graduated, to start a goodbye group with a “good memories” rock. The good memories rock, which is decorated according to the desire of its future owner, is passed around from person to person in a circle that surrounds the person who will soon be leaving the campus. Each person who holds the rock is then asked to speak, sharing kind words, dear memories and warm wishes to the graduate. And so, the tradition for their peer goodbye group was created and continues to this day.
For the last goodbye, right before the graduate is completely discharged, they go through what is called their “High-Five Goodbye.” Clients and staff line the sides of the hallway leading to the exit with extended hands and then whistle, cheer and chant the graduate’s name. The graduate walks down the hallway, usually with a huge smile, and receives high-fives, and sometimes hugs. Some cry, some laugh, and some shout. The one thing they all have in common is their excitement to move onto the next chapter of their lives and recovery; they’ve made it!
This tradition has carried over to not just client graduations, but also when their staff move on from Crestwood or are promoted to other campuses. Wanda Anderson, Service Coordinator at Crestwood Chula Vista, said, “Goodbye groups provide closure for staff and the people we serve and are a wonderful opportunity to give honor to those who so deserve it. We love our special tradition and if your campus does not have a tradition to honor your graduates, we hope that this may inspire you to start one of your own.”
Wanda Anderson, Service Coordinator and Shanel Stec, Activity Coordinator,
Crestwood Chula Vista