A year ago today our daughter enrolled at Alpine. It is a day that is still hard for us to think about — we left our fragile, hurting daughter with a group of total strangers, hoping that they could give her the help she so desperately needed. Talk about a leap of faith. Talk about terror. Talk about hope.

What our daughter has done in the past year, thanks to all of you, is nothing short of astounding. It being her year anniversary, I wanted to update you all on how she is doing. And she’s doing great!! She has not missed a single day of school. She achieved high honors her first quarter at her new high school. This is all the more impressive because it is largely due to her MATH grade (someone please tell Miss Pegeen!!!!). We had a teachers’ conference last week, and they all said she was becoming a leader in class, was getting all her work done, and was doing great overall. When she hits bumps or has tough moments, she can express her feelings respectfully and constructively and get back on track. We left that conference smiling. I can’t tell you how many times in the past, pre-Alpine, I left those conferences in tears, not knowing how to help our brilliant but troubled daughter.

In addition, she has an internship at the local animal shelter. She works in their vet clinic three afternoons a week and has never missed a day of work. She has observed surgeries, folded towels and stocked microchips, played with puppies and kittens, and witnessed a lot of other medical procedures. She continues to express interest in a career with animals, possibly as a vet tech or a vet. She believes in herself now, perhaps for the first time in her life.

When I attended the Alpine Alum weekend last July, I was really struck by the graduates who spoke about their experiences post Alpine, and how much they all stressed the importance of communication and trust. I have found this to be very sage advice. For example, when our daughter first came home we had a fairly elaborate system of computer time and rules and rewards and consequences revolving around this (based on the fact that she had an internet addiction). Now, she takes great pride in self-regulating. She locks up her electronics at night and “hides” the key. She also, with some gentle prompting, moderates her screen time. It was very hard for me to trust her to do this, but I remembered what the Alpine alums said and forced myself to keep my reservations to myself. And our daughter was right — she was trustworthy. And when she slips up, which she does, she is honest and accountable. What a change from the anger and isolation we used to see!

We are so happy to have our daughter back, both physically and emotionally. She was absent for so long, buried under her sadness. We cannot thank you enough for all of your hard work and dedication and giving of yourselves way beyond “just a job” status. We know that her road is a long one and she will always be gloriously unique, with her charms and her challenges. But we are so blessed to have her in our lives, because she opens our eyes and takes us places we could not see otherwise. Plus she’s just flat out fun, and so funny and wise in her own inimitable way. We expect more rough spots ahead, and some may be big ones, but we are so much more equipped to deal with them thanks to Alpine. So thank you all so much! Happy anniversary to you, and to our wonderful daughter!