Larrie Butts in three images, he is a young boy wearing overalls in the first two and he is an adult with glasses in the third one. The first two images are black and white, the third one is in color. He is smiling in the photos.
Larrie Butts was among the first wave of residents to arrive at DSHS’ Rainier School in Buckley.

He lived at Rainier School for 84 years. Now, he has a new home for the holidays

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Contact Lisa Pemberton, DSHS Communications

lisa.pemberton@dshs.wa.gov or 360–902–7844

In 1939, Larrie Butts was in the first wave of residents to arrive at Rainier School, a federally certified DSHS training facility in Buckley for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Times were different then, and Larrie has seen a lot of changes in the world and at Rainier in the decades he lived there.

Among the biggest changes: The state’s residential habilitation centers like Rainier are much smaller. Rainier’s population peaked in 1958 at 1,918. Today, Rainier has 97 residents.

Over the years, RHCs adopted rigorous training programs (called active treatment) to help people build the skills they need to live in the community. Transition planning now begins during the admission process.

Larrie wearing glasses, a gray t-shirt and suspenders. He has his hand on his head. He is surrounded by six staff at Rainier. Several people are smiling.
Rainier staff threw a going away party for Larrie earlier this year. They’re happy he transitioned into the community, but they’ll miss him.

Federal law supports an individual’s right to live in an RHC if they qualify, there’s capacity and that is what they choose. And when clients choose to leave a facility, DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration works to make sure they get the support they need to make it successful. For Larrie’s transition, DDA’s Roads to Community Living Program worked with Rainier Program Area Team E staff and an adult family home in Pierce County for nearly a year. The process included numerous transition planning meetings and five site visits.

“Larrie’s story is a shining example of staff carrying out our mission, vision and values of supporting people to live the lives they want to live,” said Dr. Tonik Joseph, DSHS Assistant Secretary for DDA. “It’s beyond inspirational.”

Find out what happens when Larrie leaves the only home he knew for 84 years to start a new life in the community, by clicking below to watch Larrie’s Story.

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