Mary and Anna Kerr

"We had no clue as to what services are available to children with mental health issues. Washburn gave us our lives back."

Mary and Anna Kerr
Photo by Becca Sabot

In the fall of 2012, 8-year-old Anna Kerr was hospitalized four times in four months. “I missed every holiday,” she says. “They even made me do homework without my meds.”

Exposed to drugs in utero, Anna’s behavior and impulsivity issues had spiraled to the point that she and her family—adoptive parents Mary and Jerry and big sisters Natalie, Krissy, and Amanda—were in constant upheaval. Through Washburn, the family received a case manager, Jennifer, and a crisis therapist, Jess. “She’s the one that got me the big Gatorade,” Anna remembers fondly. Says Mary, “She came to help us too,” by teaching calming skills for everyone and coping skills for Anna when she becomes angry or upset.

Today, with what they’ve learned, the family rocks life. Mary celebrated 10 years free of breast cancer in April; Anna choreographed and performed a breakdancing routine in her honor. Anna is in school and is excited to sign autographs for friends when this story gets out. And they’ve taken vacations together as a family. “We had no clue as to what services are available . . . Washburn gave us our lives back,” Mary says.

They’re still working on it. Life is life. But this family has the strength and skills to cope. “We will always have to work on it,” Anna says. She knows. They are ready.

Saiku Kanneh

Saiku Kanneh

After his school bus nearly plummeted into the banks of the Mississippi during the 35W bus collapsed, Saiku Kanneh worked to put the past behind him.

Principal Jeb Myers and Students, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School

Principal Jeb Myers and Students

Helping out at the Washburn Games promotes acceptance of kids, fun, and mental health as a priority.

the Noll Family

The Noll Family

Two self-aware kids raise money for their Twin Cities peers at Washburn.

Patrick Andruss and Ashley Ross

Patrick Andruss and Ashley Ross

When teachers work with Washburn therapists, real growth can bloom.

Kim Nelson and Ellen Goldberg Luger

Kim Nelson and Ellen Goldberg Luger

The history of the Washburn Center is closely tied to that of its biggest supporter—General Mills.

Matt Witham and Tina Shah

Matt Witham, LMFT and Tina Shah, PsyD LP

An institute trains therapists to deal with mental health needs across cultures and socioeconomic status.

Andrew Zimmern and Rishia Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern and Rishia Zimmern

Why do the Zimmerns speak for Washburn? Because their own family received incalculable benefit.

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