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Archives for December 2013

Rawhide Changes Lives: Brian’s New Path

Rawhide changes lives and has been making a difference for troubled youth since 1965. Every now and then, we get the chance to hear the stories of how Rawhide helped our former students turn their lives around. One former student, Brian, has one of those stories, but it wasn’t a straight path for him as is the case with most of our alumni.

His story continues. Brian and his parents liked Rawhide, and he was placed into our HomePlus Program. Due to our capacity, he wasn’t able to be placed in a home on ranch right away. His parents were committed to making a difference in his life, so they drove four hours round trip every day to bring him to our high school, Starr Academy, and took him home each night. Luckily, a spot in our Standard Residential program opened shortly after he started to attend our school. He was now a resident in our Gillespie Boy’s Home.

Even though he was enrolled at Rawhide, things didn’t start to change for Brian right away. Two months after he came to Rawhide, he went home for his Thanksgiving break and an unexpected thing happened. Unaware of what he was doing, Brian ripped apart his home in search for any kind of illegal substance he could get his hands on. “I took a ton of sleeping pills. I woke up the next day and thought it was all just a bad dream until I found out it wasn’t; it was pretty earth shattering.”

When he got back to the ranch the next day, nobody seemed to bring up what happened. He knew that he had a meeting with his houseparents and case manager to talk about what had happened, but nothing else was brought up about the situation. “I wondered when it was going to come up, but they didn’t say anything. They still treated me with love and respect. I was still human to them. They still cared and it was cool to see that.” Once Brian had the meeting with his houseparents and case manager about what had happened, he finally realized that he had a problem. Instead of just coasting through his program, he made the decision to try and change his ways. “It went from me just wanting to change things to actually going about doing it. Once everything was finally out on the table is when I finally changed.”

Brian finally started taking steps to turn his life around. He had developed a great relationship with his houseparents Roger and Deb Tews, their son, Seth, and the other guys that he lived with in the Gillespie Boy’s Home. He explained what the houseparent relationship is like, and what it does for our students. “It’s important that the guys in the homes are able to wake up in the morning and hug someone that they know cares; it does something for them that no amount of counseling or anything else can do. When guys get placed at Rawhide, they are surrounded by love; it’s a powerful thing.”

Right before Brian graduated from Rawhide, a job opportunity came up. The job was a seasonal grounds keeping position. He was interested in the position because he was looking for a job to save money for college, and he knew Seth, the Tews’ son had been in the position the prior two years. Brian started to ask about the position. At first, it seemed like a letdown because he was told that Rawhide didn’t hire many alumni in that position because they were burned in the past with guys quitting half- way through the season or not showing up at all. Even though it appeared to be a “no go”, he didn’t give up. “I kept digging and one day, after graduation, I got an email from my case manager informing me that the job was posted on the website. I was still looking for a job, so I sent my application.” Much to his surprise, Brian got a call back a few days later asking if he could come in for an interview. A few weeks later, he was offered the job. “This job was a great opportunity and it was enough to get me on my feet. I gained experience, friendships and great references for future jobs. Honestly, I’ll be forever in debt to Rawhide for that.”

Brian knows that he is not the same boy that came to Rawhide; he has grown into a responsible young man with a lot going for him. His relationship with his parents has improved, and he recently registered for classes at Martin Luther College in Minnesota for this coming semester to study Pastoral Ministry. He still keeps in touch with his houseparents, Roger and Deb, and is going to be attending college with their son; they will be rooming together on campus. “Right now, my life is fantastic. I have a great relationship with my parents. There are tons of people who I know care and are willing to do almost anything to help me. Every day I wake up, and I am excited. I have nothing to really run from anymore, nothing to hide.”

Brian is thankful to Rawhide as a whole. He thanks everyone at Rawhide that made it possible for him to change his life around, along with the lives of other troubled teens. He believes that Rawhide has a lot to offer any troubled teen that is walking in the same shoes he wore. “Rawhide is an amazing place. It is a little sanctuary. It’s a phenomenal place, and it changes guy’s lives.”

Brian is just one example of how Rawhide changes lives. Over 73% of the many troubled teens that come to Rawhide leave changed. If it wasn’t for Rawhide, many troubled teens would never get that chance. We continue to make a difference for any young man between 13-17 years of age that needs help. If you would like to be a part of what we do, please consider making a generous donation.

Rawhide changes lives. Would you like to help us continue to make a difference for youth like Brian?
Please consider making a donation today.

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A Former Student’s Path to Rawhide

One of the many great things about Rawhide is that our students receive lifetime support, from enrollment to well beyond his time here. In fact, our motto is “once a Rawhide guy, always a Rawhide guy.” One of our former students, Brian, shared his story of how he came to Rawhide and how we helped him turn his life around. During his interview, he shared the details of his downward spiral and how his actions led his parents to enroll him at Rawhide.

Similar to many of the students we help, Brian came to Rawhide because of some of the poor choices he made at a certain point in his life and hanging out with the wrong crowd. He was a good kid who came from a good home with parents who loved him. The problems began when he chose the wrong crowd to hang out with. These new friends were a negative influence on him, and he started acting out. “It started out sophomore year. Originally, I used to be involved with my youth group at church and had a good group of friends, but curiosity led me to start hanging around the wrong group.” His actions quickly went from bad to worse. He was getting into trouble with this new group of friends, leading him down the path of drug and alcohol abuse. “It got worse and worse to the point where every day there was some kind of substance abuse. My family life completely fell apart. I didn’t care if I was home at night. I didn’t care if my parents knew that I was going out at night. It was so terrible, and I didn’t realize what I was doing to my family.”

Things continued to get worse as Brian kept following this wrong crowd. The path he was going down eventually got him into a lot of trouble and led to quite a few charges against him.

Brian’s parents were disappointed in him and had enough of his behavior. They decided that something needed to be done to put a stop to it because they didn’t want to see their son go further down this dark path. They were determined to do whatever they could to help him. “My parents decided there had to be a significant change. I had numerous court dates scheduled, and even if I were to get convicted and sent to jail, it would have taken months. My parents weren’t willing to deal with me in the meantime.” His parents gave him an extreme ultimatum. They told him that he could either choose to go to a place to get help, or they were going to have a place come and get him. After that conversation with his parents, he didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to get help and thought about running away. Instead, he found himself at a friend’s house. His friend gave him something to think about.  He sat Brian down and told him that he should listen to his parents because they wanted to help him. He also told him that he knew where Brian’s path ends up, and it was not pretty. That conversation really hit home for Brian, and he knew that he had to make a change. He sought out his parents a few days later, and they decided to take a tour of Rawhide.

Once Brian finally made the decision to come to Rawhide and get the help he needed, he was on his way to making changes. His life was about to get better with the help of Rawhide, our caring staff and all that we do to make a difference in the lives of troubled young men. Interested in how Rawhide helped Brian change the route of his path? 

Saving Face with About Face Community Service Projects

Our About Face Service Corps  is a military-style program for court-referred at risk teens and incorporates community service projects as teaching opportunities. It teaches young men respect for themselves and authority, the importance of giving back, and other valuable life lessons.

These community service projects are intended to guide troubled youth towards healthier behaviors and choices. Our students learn the importance of hard work, along with transferable work skills, and what having a good work ethic means. These are important qualities for someone to learn at a young age and will be useful in the future. Being involved with the community is a highly effective way to gain personal and social responsibilities. Having these skills is an important asset to life, and is best to be learned at a younger age. Community service can also help bring positive confidence to the individual, helping them build their own self esteem by assisting others.

Over time, the number of community service projects About Face students work on has grown.  The program is about 30 days long and the projects can last up to two weeks long, running Monday through Thursday. Students put in around 20 to 22 hours of community service in a week. A lot of the projects during the week are performed in Northeast Wisconsin. These consist of helping local communities with things like landscaping or constructions projects, and community events. An example of these projects would be chopping and bringing fire wood to some lower income families that use the wood for their wood burners or helping with the setup of Lifest in Oshkosh.

Some of the other community service projects that the About Face program is involved in consist of helping elderly and disabled people. They have been to nonprofit organizations such as Clarity Care in Oshkosh and Habitat for Humanity in Appleton. Every spring, they help out at Camp American Legion, a home for recuperating veterans located in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Not only does the About Face program focus on the importance of community service, but it also helps students become more aware of their education and raising their grades. Students in the program attend two weeks of classes at the Starr Academy here at Rawhide. About Face also offers the option to attend a community church in which students can learn and practice moral values.

Participating in community service projects genuinely helps people become more responsible. It creates a certain satisfaction in knowing that you are serving a purpose by helping others. This is important because it helps our students get one step closer to achieving a more successful life. Completing community service projects through the About Face Program does help. It also helps us achieve our mission.

Would you like to be part of our mission and help us make a difference in the lives of others? You can be part of this by volunteering your time or by making a donation.