The world of children's mental health lost a true champion with the passing of Robyn Boustead, who I am pretty sure holds the record for having helped steer more system of care grants than just about any one in the close to 30 years I have been involved with this adventure known as the Child Mental Health Initiative. I first met Robyn in the 1980's. She was an "expert" and I was a freshly scrubbed "new kid" on the scene. Didn't matter one bit to Robyn. "So Scooter (her pet name for me), you're working with the Willie M. lawsuit in North Carolina are ya? How's that workin' out for ya?" As with all of her greetings, there was warmth and an irrepressible and always mischievous twinkle in her eye. She knew so much but never lorded it over you. She had the uncanny ability to take her time with sharing her wisdom, creating a space for you to share yours so that you always felt on equal footing, even though at the drop of a hat she could run rings around you.
Health was a challenge for Robyn these past few years, yet it didn't slow her down one bit. Oxygen tank in tow, she was ever present at conferences, grant site assessments and in correspondence, sharing her experience when asked. She was the epitome of what it means to be an alum of a system of care effort.
For me, there is no better way to pay tribute to Robyn than through the paintings of Edward Hopper in this video put together by Salsamendi. Edward Hopper was a prominent American realist painter. Both in his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life. For some reason, his paintings remind me of Robyn and her wonderful middle America sensibilities - full of life, full of comfort with anyone, in any situation, from anywhere. She had a passion for a system of care approach to life - always trying to figure out how to make it better for kids and families. Robyn embodied what it means to be a true believer in this work – a true champion that will be missed and remembered by oh so many.
Happy trails Robyn and much love my friend. Get folks organized up there. I understand it's a pretty strengths-based scene. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, laughter and indomitable spirit with me over so many years.
Enjoy the video folks and be sure to take your time with it, free from distraction. I kinda think Robyn wouldn't want it any other way.
For Network faithful, if you knew Robyn and want to share a few words, please do so at the bottom of this page. We will pass along your joys and remembrances to Robyn's family. To visit her memorial site, click here.