Chris Colm, Case Manager
I have worked at Spring Lake Ranch as a Case Manager for 14 years, but as a Vermont native, it’s been woven through my life in a variety of ways. During my childhood, my friends and family would often visit Spring Lake in the summer to swim in the cool, deep waters of the mountain lake – often compared to Swiss lakes due to its glacial sources. Later on in my very first job after high school, I worked for a local tree farmer, replacing a Rancher who had occupied that position for many years.
Other members of my family were involved with the Ranch dating back several generations. My father was a legendary bear hunter in the woods around Cuttingsville. Although now I am a vegetarian and don’t want to be involved in violence towards any living thing, as a young child I looked up to my dad’s prowess in hunting and trapping. During the late 50s and early 60s, he would supply the Ranch an entire bear for the annual Ranch bear roast that I have heard was quite popular back then, and is still talked about to this day! My mother was friends and colleagues with many in the Ranch community, including the daughter of Ranch founder, Anne Sarcka. My aunt attended Antioch College with Anne Sarcka and they both encouraged the college to become a work/study program site for the Ranch, a pioneering idea in its day. My grandmother Hanna Colm was an influential psychotherapist of her time, and visited the Ranch frequently in its early years to observe and learn.
I’m proud to continue the Colm family connection to the Ranch into my adulthood. My work here over the years has been incredibly varied, and I’ve been able to experience many things that shape who I am now. The foremost highlights are the deep bonds created with staff and clients. Most have left as success stories, some I have continued to be in touch with, and others I still see in the area from time to time. Years ago, I was even fortunate to travel to Hawaii with a client, serving as his support person while he visited family. Sadly, I have also had direct experiences with clients who died of physical disease, old age, and suicide/drug overdoses. However, some of my most memorable experiences have been to advocate and comfort for those passing on from their lives.
I have seen Spring Lake Ranch folks do very well in our aftercare program and onward, as well as others who have been doing well with us for decades, relying on the support provided in our independent apartment program. Having our support is very reassuring for our clients, and they depend on us being there for them as they progress and evolve. Like so many residents and clients, I too have grown during my time with Spring Lake Ranch, and I am thankful and filled with gratitude that I can contribute to those who I work with.