Youth Villages stories

Dr. Deeney

Youth Villages Oregon Honors Dr. Deeney with Prestigious Ritz Family Award for 53 Years of Service

Jul 21, 2021 | Blog

Youth Villages Oregon is excited to announce Dr. John M. Deeney as the recipient of the 2021 Ritz Family Award, in celebration of his 53 years of service to Youth Villages Oregon, The Christie School and ChristieCare. The award, named for honorees Pat and Trudy Ritz, recognizes those who have made a longstanding commitment to serve vulnerable children and families in our community of care.

This fall, we will present Dr. Deeney with a book of recognition and compiled video with letters and short video messages from people he has worked with and impacted over the years. Individuals wishing to contribute a video message or send a letter for the book can find instructions on our public Memento page (please have all submissions completed or sent in by August 31st, 2021). You can also honor Dr. Deeney’s incredible legacy in our community with a financial gift to Youth Villages to sustain the programs and services he has supported for so long.

Dr. Deeney began providing children’s psychiatry services to The Christie School in the summer of 1968. He was recruited as part of efforts to modernize Christie’s treatment program for girls living on campus.

Dr. Deeney began under the tenure of Sister Veronica Ann Baxter, who had a psychology background and wanted the Christie program to be more sophisticated. Together, Dr. Deeney, Sister Veronica and Elsie Roblin, a social worker, established a new method that clarified clinical plans, treatment goals and resources for each child in the program. This was innovative work at that time, and Dr. Deeney was leading the advances in the state.

During the first ten years of Dr. Deeney’s time at The Christie School, kids often stayed for lengthy periods. The school and the community recognized the need for shorter periods of treatment and began to partner with local mental health clinics to continue the healing process.

Over his five decades of service, Dr. Deeney has worked to meet the changing needs of children and families. While needs have changed, he has focused on helping each child meet their full potential and build a strong foundation for life in the community. He has worked with children who have created very successful lives as concert musicians, university professors, authors, etc.

Dr. Deeney believes that children in Youth Villages’ care have a better chance at being successful than ever before. We, as a community, have a better understanding of mental illness and treatment options. We are also more aware of our responsibilities in ensuring the success of all kids today.

After all this time, Dr. Deeney holds true to one core belief: “Everyone has his or her own story. You can’t generalize the population we serve and be correct all the time. The stories of these children are all a little bit different… But everyone has his or her own story to tell.”

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