Denise McCracken with Leadership San Juan, left,  and Stephanie Benally, a peer support specialists with Totah Behavioral Health, hold an unveiling for a
Denise McCracken with Leadership San Juan, left, and Stephanie Benally, a peer support specialists with Totah Behavioral Health, hold an unveiling for a new greenhouse on Wednesday. The greenhouse will be used as therapy for those in the Totah Behavioral Health treatment program. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — Totah Behavioral Health Authority on Wednesday celebrated the addition of its latest treatment tool a greenhouse.

"It gives them a sober activity that they can actually focus on," said Kristine Carlson, director of Totah Behavioral Health. "It gives them a skill, something they can feel pride in."

Wednesday's dedication ceremony and blessing took place at the addiction treatment center's facility, 1615 Ojo Court.

Members of the 2013 class of Leadership San Juan, a community leadership program at San Juan College, completed the greenhouse as a civics project.

Each class is divided into four groups, said Nancy Shepherd, treasurer for the leadership program.

"Each group has a civic project," Shepherd said. "They visited Totah Behavioral Health as part of our health and human services day. Each group got $750 from ConocoPhillips for their project."

Planning for the project began in late October to early November 2012, she said. The project was finished in late March.

Totah Behavioral Health Authority was founded in 2001 to address problems with chronic alcoholism and drug abuse in Farmington and San Juan County. The center serves between 125 and 175 clients each month.

"I've been with Totah Behavioral Health since the beginning, and I'm just so pleased," said Bill Standley, the center's founder and president of its board of directors. "It will be exciting for our relatives, as we call them. We don't call them patients. We're just pleased as punch."

The greenhouse will be a valuable addition to the center's successful treatment program, he said.

"It keeps growing," Standley said. "We've placed 33 individuals in employment this year alone, and it's only been three months."

The greenhouse will be used to provide clients with therapeutic treatment and also to sprout vegetables to plant in the center's on-site garden.
Herbert Zohine performs a blessing ceremony during a dedication for a new greenhouse at the Totah Behavioral Health on Wednesday.
Herbert Zohine performs a blessing ceremony during a dedication for a new greenhouse at the Totah Behavioral Health on Wednesday. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)


Anna Holiday, the traditional services coordinator at the center, said they had previously had a flourishing garden.

"We had squash ... corn, tomatoes, chili, radishes, then the prairie dogs came," she said. "I know the relatives will enjoy (the greenhouse)."

Herbert Zohine, a client at Totah Behavioral Health, conducted the blessing ceremony.

"I was a drunk, and I always ended up in jail," he said before blessing the greenhouse. "Today, I feel like I've gained something. I know we're going to get something out of (this)."

Greg Yee can be reached at gyee@daily-times.com; 505-564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT.