After 40 years of caring for troubled youth, Trinity Youth Services in Ukiah closed its doors for good Friday.
Dozens of its 102 employees and a few grown, former wards gathered mid-morning for a buffet and emotional farewell.
?This is home. This is my family,? said Lancy Armstrong, as she tearfully hugged her boss, Mone Tate, in the facility?s chapel, which doubled as a child care center for employees? children.
The facility?s 54 wards have been gone for almost two weeks, placed in other residential institutions or reunited with their families, said Tate, the facility?s director.
Trinity ? owned by a Colton-based private corporation that runs four other residential youth facilities ? closed for financial reasons, Tate said. Its Colton office did not return phone calls.
Throughout Friday morning, Trinity employees stopped by to visit and pick up their final paychecks.
Some were afraid of what the future might bring while others were hopeful.
?I?ve been working until the bitter end so I haven?t had a chance to look for work,? said Sandy Whitman, a 33-year employee who managed payroll and transcribed psychiatric reports.
Looking for a job for the first time in three decades is scary, she said, ?but I have faith.?
Clark Pearson, an employee who already had planned to get a degree in radiology, was actually pleased with his situation. He advised others to use the time to reinvent themselves.