Marin Arts & Culture MAC_JUNE_upload - Page 16

Sunny Hills— Healing Through Creativity By Mary Denton I f you’ve called Marin County home for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Sunny Hills Services. While the name conjures up images of a garden center or retirement home, Sunny Hills is in fact a lauded nonprofit that has been serving the county’s most vulnerable children and youth for more than a century. Sunny Hills was founded in 1895 as an orphanage, in an era when many local children were left parentless due to a severe economic depression that resulted in broken families. The children lived on a beautiful campus in San Anselmo, where they 16 MARIN ARTS & CULTURE learned to farm, and were educated and nurtured by a caring staff that mentored their path toward successful adulthood. To meet the changing needs of the local population, and in keeping with best practices for young people, Sunny Hills Services has spent the past century evolving, today offering unique programs that serve young people who face daunting challenges. We all have problems, but some young people’s lives are genuine nightmares. They have a severe mental illness. They’re physically and emotionally abused. They’re addicted to drugs or alcohol. They’re abandoned by foster parents. They gravitate to gang life. They’re rejected because of their sexual identity. They’re angry, frustrated, frightened, confused, hopeless and alone. These young people must be helped before they end up on the streets, in jail or even in the morgue. That’s where Sunny Hills comes in. They help young people in the most difficult, heart- breaking circumstances to feel accepted, develop life skills, and experience, often for the first time, the sensation of hope. They