Basalt mom who lost son to suicide pursues vision for youth, counseling center
The Aspen Times
Six months after losing her son to suicide, a midvalley woman’s pain is still raw, the unanswered questions are still haunting and the loss borders on unbearable.
Temple Glassier thinks of her son Patrick Palardy every day. Sometimes that is all she can do, and it’s difficult to keep her focus on day-to-day activities.
But Glassier is determined Patrick’s death won’t be in vain. She is channeling part of her grieving and recovery effort into creating Patrick’s Place, a youth and counseling center in El Jebel for kids throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.
“It took a little while to get my arms around it and decide what I want,” she said this week.
Patrick’s Place will be a free after-school and weekend drop-in facility where kids can hang out, and it will be staffed with professionals who will coordinate a variety of programs from help with academics to adult counseling for at-risk youth.
It was important for her to come up with something that was ongoing and active rather than a memorial. Most importantly, she wants to provide a resource that can help youth in need and their families.
The vision, she said, is “to have a resource where kids can go and feel safe. Get them so they trust adults and feel comfortable discussing issues they are facing.”
Patrick, 15, was a freshman at Basalt High School when he died by suicide on Nov. 3. Multiple friends and his family described him as big-hearted and a “giver” — he was always concerned about the welfare of other people. Nobody saw his suicide coming.
Glassier believes part of Patrick’s pain was losing his father, Dennis Palardy, who also died by suicide.
“His ability to offer encouraging words to people that he knew were struggling made it even more difficult to comprehend why he couldn’t see a viable solution for himself,” Glassier wrote in a strategic plan for Patrick’s Place.
During the week after Patrick’s death, the Aspen Hope Center and other mental health experts gathered to provide grief counseling and support to teens at Basalt High School. It became evident that Patrick’s thoughts of suicide were not isolated. Forty-two students were initially deemed to be at high risk for suicide.
“Many of the teenagers said they observed signs that Patrick was going to kill himself and that they knew of other students who were talking about suicide,” Glassier wrote in the strategic plan. “None of this information had surfaced prior to my son’s death. And, fortunately, no other suicide attempts have occurred since.
“What we learned is that there is a serious threat of mental health problems and suicidal thoughts among our teens.”
Talking earlier this week, Glassier said she learned a hard life lesson through her family’s tragedy.
“You treat everything seriously or you come home one day and your son is dead,” she said.
A pause followed and tears formed in her eyes.
“This hurts,” she continued. “I don’t want to have any parents go through this ever.”
Once Glassier determined she wanted to provide help for families in need, she talked to some old friends and met some new ones who are helping her pursue the vision.
Robert Hubbell, president of Crawford Properties, which owns much of the land and buildings in the heart of El Jebel, donated a 1.8-acre vacant site west of the El Jebel fire station for Patrick’s Place. Glassier said Hubbell, a longtime family friend, said the Crawford family, of which he is a member, had been pondering what it could do to help youth in the area.
Glassier also was introduced to Kristin Nelson, who founded Stepping Stones of the Roaring Fork Valley, a youth-oriented nonprofit organization that has operated in Carbondale since August 2014. Nelson embraced Glassier’s vision and is working with her to make Patrick’s Place the headquarters for her organization. Satellites would operate in Carbondale and, eventually, other towns in the valley.
They want to start operations by September by opening a yurt that would host programs designed for high school-aged kids.
The bigger plan is to pursue construction of a 7,700-square-foot structure that would offer space for a wide range of activities, from athletics to a dining room. Patrick’s Place would be exactly like Stepping Stones in Carbondale except it would be open longer hours and offer more activities. Nelson said space in the facility would be made available to groups working with youth, including churches and the Buddy Program. They would work with children as young as fifth grade.
“Stepping Stones is an after-school and summertime drop-in center that provides a home-like environment where students receive mentoring, tutoring, help with many personal needs and practical life skills, athletic diversions, computer usage, nutritious meals and much more,” says the strategic plan.
Nelson said it took awhile for her vision to take off in Carbondale. The key, she said, was finding the right staff. Now it is humming along and cannot meet all the demand from students in need.
“We need another Dream Team” for Patrick’s Place, Nelson said.
In addition to the building, their vision for the El Jebel property includes a campus gardens with flowers and produce on one side of the front entrance to the facility and a student sculpture plaza on the other. To the south or rear of the building would be open fields for soccer, touch football and Frisbee, as well as courts for basketball and volleyball and pits for horseshoe.
Nelson said she never met Patrick, but the more she learns about him the more determined she is to help create a facility that matches his ideals and interest in helping people.
“I think it will have the essence of Patrick,” Nelson said. “That’s the legacy.”
An architect estimates that it will cost $2.2 million to construct Patrick’s Place. Glassier said she is hoping to secure enough in-kind work and donated materials to reduce the cost by half.
“We’re going to need a million at least,” she said.