On March 26, Pamella Weeks, former therapeutic community staff member, lost her long and valiant struggle against ovarian cancer. Pam worked at the Austen Riggs Center for almost 20 years, starting in 1987 as a psychiatric worker. She became the Center-Wide Community Coordinator in the Therapeutic Community in March of 1994, a position she held up until she left Riggs in 2006.
Pam was warm, lively, principled, stubborn, mischievous and courageous. As Center-Wide Community Coordinator she held the responsibility for bringing people from across the program continuum together as one community. She was perfectly suited for this role given her deeply held belief that community life has a unique healing capacity. She had a sense of what the community needed and would work to make changes.
Patients were drawn to her spark and felt held by her genuine engagement and high expectations. She spoke from the heart and was willing to wade into the messiness of the examined living process, encouraging others to do the same. Pam consulted to the Task Group for a decade and had a knack for seeing and naming the way dynamics in the community could contribute to an individual's problematic behavior while at the same time recognizing individual responsibility. Pam had no tolerance for a lack of fairness - she spoke out for her beliefs, even when to do so went against the tide, and she earned the deep respect of patients and staff in the process.
“She found a way, in her mediations and conversations with patients and staff, that gave each of us space to listen, respond, and work through whatever the issue was. I never felt judged when she gave me feedback. She could give direct feedback that I could hear even if I didn't like it. I could count on her integrity. She didn't waste words. Her genuine respect for others was always there,” said Bonsai Cox, staff nurse.
Pam could be found at the annual holiday tea gathering behind the piano. A gifted pianist - with a love of music - she encouraged others in the community to form musical groups. She was a fierce warrior – never giving up her fight with cancer and fierce in her dedication to the principles of examined living.
Pam was a special, gifted and genuine person. Her smile and honesty will be missed by all who knew her. Pam's life and work touched a generation of patients and staff - she will not be forgotten.