Insight to the House of Quest

A few months ago I became a new member of the Board of Directors at Quest Counseling and Consulting. Since that time, I have endeavored to learn more about Quest and what makes it so one-of-a-kind within the Reno community. One unique feature of Quest is their all-boys therapeutic group home, known as Quest House.

Quest House is the realization of a long-time dream for the directors of Quest Counseling. The home opened in the summer of 2012, after years of Quest Counseling hearing requests from the community for a residential program in Reno. The mission of the house is to provide a safe, nurturing, and relaxing atmosphere in which the boys can recover and make a change. Quest House is a significant resource for a family navigating recovery, because of what it provides them. It offers an opportunity to gain a different perspective while the child is out of the home, by attending counseling with their son, and the knowledge their son is in a location where he has no ability to abuse drugs or alcohol.

One of the many positive attributes of the staff of Quest House is the above-and-beyond efforts they make to ensure improvement in the lives of their clients. After first arriving at the house, many of the staff will work together to secure dental, vision, and health care for the child. There have been instances of some teens entering the home after going significant periods of time without seeing a medical professional.  Overall client health contributes to their general wellbeing and sense of personal pride which is vital for recovery.

“We had one young man who had severe dental problems. It had been a self-esteem issue for him for a very long time and unfortunately, his parents couldn’t remedy it. Within three months of being at Quest House, he had an entirely new set of teeth, and he couldn’t stop smiling. Quest staff made it all happen; they are the ones who schedule the appointments and take these kids to the doctor’s office. They sometimes sit for three hours at a time to make sure these kids receive the care that they need. What is important to remember is that we aren’t forced by anyone to do something like that.  Quest does it because we care.” said Quest co-founder Debra Kamka.

Not only do the boys receive health care while at Quest House, but they attend school onsite. A program through ICDA (I Can Do Anything Charter High School) is utilized in the Quest House schoolroom. Two to three times a week, a tutor will visit the house to assist with any of the boys’ needs.  Quest staff attends to their school time daily, to make sure assignments are complete. Many boys come in deficient with school credits, so Quest House ensures that while they are in recovery, they receive as much opportunity as possible to catch up or get ahead with their education. Sometimes it’s an easy task for a boy to enroll in classes, but there can often be hurdles to jump over, such as locating and supplying the paperwork needed. That is only one of the many things Noelle Gravallese, Quest House Manager, has to tackle when a new client comes to the group home.

Quest also aspires to teach the kids life skills while they live in the home. Clients are taught how to clean, do their laundry, cook dinner, and maintain personal hygiene and good health. Keeping a routine is also paramount to the staff, as it demonstrates time-management and the importance of meeting daily responsibilities.

While at Quest House the staff additionally provides community-positive activities for the boys to attend every day. The purpose of the outings is to show the boys how participating in activities while sober can be a fun and enriching experience. Activities range from attending poetry readings to playing kickball at the park, to volunteer work at the local Food Bank. When asked what could benefit Quest House, I was told they could use more local programs sponsoring the boys for weekly activities, such as a gym like Cammie Craig, so the boys have a set schedule for attending physical activities, to help exert any extra teenage energy. When the boys at Quest House do go on an outing such as an Aces game, or to a local art museum, often Quest is paying out of pocket for them, which indeed adds up when you take out a group of ten teenagers. They could also benefit from having items around the house to enrich the boys’ experience, such as a basketball court and sports equipment or even gym equipment donated to the home.

I learned so many admirable things about Quest House while I spoke with Debra Kamka. The overarching theme I took away from our conversation was that even though Quest already provides so many positive experiences and assistance for those who come to them, the staff at Quest always want “to do more.” That’s a culture in a non-profit that I can certainly get on board with, and be happy to stand behind.

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