Where better to learn about hope?
November 2, 2017
Written in axle grease on the side of a boulder, there was a single word: Hope. Early pioneers struggling up the steep and rugged terrain of Woodfords Canyon had come to a spot where an inspiring vista opened out below them. The minute they saw it, they knew they could go on and would somehow make it. They named that valley, with the letters now faded, and then two more after that: Faith, Hope, and Charity.
These lands have always been special to the Washoe, with petroglyphs and grinding stone sites scattered along the West Fork of the Carson River as it descends down the ravine. To many of us here in Alpine County, when we first saw Hope Valley, we were drawn to stay here, no matter what it took.
Milcah Valiente is one of those whose life was changed by this region. She was 12 years old, snuggled under a big blanket in the back of her birth mother's pickup truck along with her four siblings. She was frightened to be moving once again. Her young life had already been filled with much tragedy and hardship. With the stars glittering above her as the truck climbed the grades, she started to feel a crisp coldness, and the air changed. Each breath made her feel lighter, and the first feelings of true joy began to permeate her being. It was a defining moment. She was finally home.
As the oldest daughter she was in charge of taking care of her brothers and sisters needs. Although she carried this huge responsibility, it also gave her a sense of purpose, and it became a pivotal part of her character. She became grateful for all her experiences, and chose a path that let her feel compassion and empathy for others. She has always wanted to help people, and make a difference in their lives.
Born in East Los Angeles, she lived in Lake County until her step-father drowned in a boating accident. After that, the family they had in Woodfords gladly welcomed them, and all the children attended Diamond Valley School. The trees and open space offered Milcah a sense of peace and a grounding she had never known. When one of the Diamond Valley teachers took her under her wing, she began to set down roots that went deep.
She ended up with two sets of parents. Her biological mother and father gave her a golden heart; defined as an open trust and love for everyone around her. Her adoptive parents are an educator and social worker, and helped her to create core values, feel comfortable with herself and her gifts, and motivate her to do good in every aspect of her life. They made her feel smart, safe, and like she counted. She learned what actual happiness could be.
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With this foundation she joined the Peace Corps, volunteering to help people struggling with violence, drugs, alcohol, and disease in Kenya, East Africa. She is currently the only person in Alpine who can speak conversational Swahili. Watching as young people struggled with no direction in Kenya, she opened up a youth center. Her time was cut short and she was evacuated out of the country due to the violence that erupted after the elections. Even though she had to leave prematurely she managed to rescue a sickly little puppy she had nursed back to health named Sakisi, which means "white socks" in Kimaasai.
Milcah completed her core classes at Western Nevada Community College, and then received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at UNR. She worked her way through school with jobs as a receptionist in real estate offices, as staff at Educare helping persons with intellectual disabilities, and as a nanny. After going to grad school and getting her Master Degree in Social Work at the University of Denver, she worked in child welfare before being drawn back to Alpine. Her main study focus was historical trauma, and learning successful interventions in Native American communities. Also a skilled practitioner of yoga, she has found it an excellent strategy to release trauma and stress.
While working for Alpine County Behavioral Health here in Woodfords, Milcah finished her clinical hours and attained her license. She left and started her own private practice in December 2015. Milcah can be reached at 720-532-2128, or go tohttp://valientmentalhealthservices.com/. Her hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. She accepts Medicare, most medical insurances, and has a contract for services with the Washoe Tribe.
It is no surprise that she met the love of her life while hiking in Hope Valley. They have a daughter, and are caring for a foster son. Her family is the light and center of her existence, and their high-energy household brings true delight, allowing her to focus on being in the moment, enjoying the simple human interaction that is one of the essential elements of being happy.
Milcah says there are four components that contribute to a fulfilling life: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. She addresses all of these aspects in her work. She believes in the power of the stories people tell, and that it is when we have no real connection to other human beings that we become lost. Milcah does therapy by the river or surrounded by trees, advocating that people be present, walk, and breath. She does not adhere to one technique, but really listens, and expands on her client's own expertise and "super powers". Her gentle spirit and golden heart offer the chance for true healing here in the mountains of Alpine County.