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Archives for November 2014

Attitude of Gratitude: Donation from the Heart

Meet Ray Schwinn. Ray loved his wife, his motorcycle, and Rawhide’s mission. Because of Rawhide’s work with troubled youth, he wanted to donate motorcycle to the ranch upon his passing. After Ray passed away, his wife of 47 years, Maxine, followed through on the promise. In memory of Ray and in honor of Maxine, we wanted to share this inspirational story in our attitude of gratitude series this November. We are grateful for all of our generous donors.

The Motorcycle Held Dear

Whether Ray leisurely rode his bike along the Milwaukee River or to the local American Legion, he loved every moment. He picked up riding again after retiring in 2000 and started out with a smaller bike. The size of his bikes got bigger and bigger because he would trade in the old model for a new version. Ray purposely bought only black bikes, hoping Maxine wouldn’t notice when he got a new one. But eventually she figured it out and started putting a mark on his motorcycle to tell when a new bike appeared in the garage. Ray took great care of his motorcycle by washing and polishing it after every ride.

A Life of Humility

Growing up on a farm and serving in the military for 6 years, Ray was a dedicated worker and a humble fix-it man. If something needed to be done, whether at church or around the house, Ray did it. He didn’t want recognition—he just wanted to serve. The same is to be said about Ray and Maxine’s heart for giving. They gave kindly and discreetly in support of what they believed in, and Ray and Maxine believed in Rawhide’s mission.

Ray and Maxine’s Ongoing Heart for Rawhide

In the mid-90s, Ray and Maxine donated a snowmobile to Rawhide. Ray had taken such good care of it that it looked brand new when they dropped it off. They also eagerly supported Rawhide by attending our Friday Fish Fries whenever they could. They wanted to support these guys one way or another.

The Promise

After attending the Fish Fry this past July, Ray and Maxine passed a fleet of motorcycles going the opposite direction. As always, Ray got that twinkle in his eye, and Maxine had to warn him, “You know, when you can no longer get your leg over that bike, I am not going to help you get on it!” But he responded, “When I get too old to ride that bike, I am going to donate motorcycle to Rawhide!” Sadly, about a month later, Ray suddenly passed away. Maxine faithfully carried out his promise and donated his motorcycle to Rawhide.

A Sentimental Donation Makes a Lasting Impact

We value our donors because they make it possible for us to carry out our mission. Without our devoted patrons, we cannot provide the guys here with the help and resources they need to experience a life change. Supporters like Ray and Maxine contribute something more than simply their vehicle donations and fish fry attendance. Their faithful support gives us the fortitude to inspire and equip at-risk youth and families to be profoundly changed, restored, and responsible.

If you want to donate a vehicle let us know! You’ll help give a troubled youth a second chance.

Attitude of Gratitude: Giving Thanks for Bart and Cherry Starr

What would November be without football? And football without a shout out to Bart Starr? Throw in the Thanksgiving holiday, and you have a winning combination—Bart Starr, football, and Thanksgiving. So, in our November Attitude of Gratitude series, it’s only fitting to include our heartfelt thanks for Bart and Cherry Starr. Their generosity and influence helped make Rawhide the remarkable place it is today for troubled youth in Wisconsin.

Most Valuable Player (MVP) Both On and Off the Field

As Bart became a household name leading the Green Bay Packers to multiple championships in the 1960s, he maintained his humble attitude and heart for helping others. In the midst of Bart’s success, Bart answered a phone call from John and Jan Gillespie about their vision for Rawhide Boys Ranch. Bart and his wife, Cherry, were more than happy to meet the Gillespies and hear about their goal to help troubled youth. Serendipitously, Bart and Cherry shared their passion and after meeting for only 10 minutes, quickly jumped on board to help Rawhide become a reality. They helped purchase the large piece of land in New London, Wisconsin were Rawhide is located still today.

And Yes. There’s More.

Since Bart shared the Gillespie’s passion for helping troubled youth, Rawhide Boys Ranch became his mission too. And another way he helped the ranch grow was to offer a tremendous gift. In 1968, Bart received the Most Valuable Player title in Super Bowl II and was gifted a red Corvette. He and Cherry generously chose to raffle off the car to raise funds for Rawhide. In just three days, they raised over $40,000 (nearly $200,000 in today’s money). You could say Bart and Cherry were Rawhide’s first car donors—15 years before the vehicle donation program even began!

Bart and Cherry Starr’s Influential Involvement

During Bart’s years with the Packers, both as quarterback and as head coach, he used his position to increase awareness for Rawhide’s mission. Upon reflection, John Gillespie expressed utmost appreciation for the Starrs, saying that their involvement provided Rawhide with the credibility to be a commendable charity that people wanted to support. We agree—Rawhide has experienced immense growth since 1965, much due to Bart and Cherry’s dedicated support. Their connection has continued to benefit Rawhide through the various ways they have participated and advocated over the years, including attending special events, fundraising, appearing on television commercials, and spending time with the guys here on the ranch.

Now…What About That Football?

Like we said, what is November without football? Or even Thanksgiving without football? Did you know that football has been a Thanksgiving tradition since 1876? That’s only a mere 13 years after Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday. And our favorite quarterback, Bart Starr, led the Packers against the Detroit Lions in eight Thanksgiving games. Thanksgiving. Football. Bart Starr. It has a nice ring to it.

And this Thanksgiving, we are very thankful for Bart and Cherry’s compassion and the impact they made on Rawhide and the thousands of guys who have experienced change here. As you gather around the table this Thanksgiving and perhaps watch a little football, join us as we give thanks for people like Bart and Cherry Starr.

Attitude of Gratitude: Thank You John and Jan Gillespie

Rawhide Boys Ranch would not exist if John and Jan Gillespie did not have a vision and passion for helping troubled youth. We give thanks for their fortitude and dedication. In our Attitude of Gratitude series during November, we think it’s appropriate to share how Rawhide’s co-founders, John and Jan, turned their dream of helping Wisconsin troubled youth into a reality. And how thankful numerous families are that they did.

The Dream

Over 50 years ago, a 13-year-old boy approached the Gillespies at their church and told them about the trouble he was facing at home. He asked to spend the afternoon with them, and they were more than happy to welcome him into their home. That afternoon turned into a week, which turned into a month, which eventually turned into 2 years. John and Jan were overjoyed to have this boy as a part of their family. From then on, John and Jan Gillespie felt called to open their home to more at-risk youth, but they needed a bigger facility to accommodate additional young men.

John and Jan Gillespie Overcame Barriers

John found a large piece of property along the Wolf River in New London, Wisconsin that would be an ideal location to launch their dream. However, an obstacle stood in their way—the land’s purchase price of $60,000 which is equivalent to $452,000 today. The couple brainstormed different tactics to raise the funds until Jan came up with a hopeful plan. She talked her husband into cold-calling Packers quarterback Bart Starr. Today, contacting one of the most famous players in the NFL means jumping over numerous hurdles like agents and publicists, but back then, all John Gillespie had to do was call information for Bart’s home number. Bart picked up the phone and spoke with John directly. The Starrs invited the Gillespies over for dinner that very night. Bart and Cherry, after only 10 minutes with John and Jan, agreed to take part in the venture. Thus, Rawhide was created.

The Lodge – the First Rawhide Boys Home

Evolving and Progressing Life on the Ranch

After founding Rawhide, the Gillespies lived with their boys on the 700-acre ranch for many years. What started out as one home for at-risk boys to stay and experience change has expanded to over 20 buildings, including:

  1. Six homes for the guys
  2. Starr Academy
  3. Sheldon Equestrian Center
  4. Three office buildings
  5. Workspace for the vehicle donation program
  6. Many other buildings that you can check out on a Rawhide Tour

Since Rawhide’s inception in 1965, thousands of young lives have been changed for the better, and that number will continue to increase in the years to come. The Gillespies continue to be spokespeople for Rawhide today. John and Jan currently reside in Appleton, Wisconsin and visit the ranch frequently for Fish Fries and special events.


Vietnam Veterans Impact Rawhide Guys

Pause and reflect—that’s what we do on Veterans Day. And this year is no different, especially since the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 351, recently brought their traveling museum to the ranch again. The vets returned to Rawhide last month and spoke with our Starr Academy students about the Vietnam War and their experiences as a military member.

New Found Appreciation

In addition to viewing the memorabilia, our students learned a valuable lesson from hearing these personal stories. They heard firsthand about making a personal sacrifice for a greater good and living
with purpose. Many of our students up to this point in their lives had been in survival or rebellious mode and were making unhealthy choices. Hearing how these men focused on helping our country instead of thinking about what’s in it for them gave our students food for thought about their own lives and motives. Some even expressed an appreciation for the freedoms they took for granted.

The Traveling Museum

The veterans’ traveling museum showcases authentic Vietnam War memorabilia like grenades, bullets, guns, knives, uniforms, camouflage, helmets, and photos of soldiers. Students walked around the display eyeing the various items and asking questions. The vets enjoyed the guys’ curiosity and answering their questions about this historical event. This traveling museum made the Vietnam war a reality to our students—in a way that a text book could not do.

The Importance of Remembering

Veteran’s Day is a time to pause and reflect upon all those who have fought for our freedoms and to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the common good. We honor veterans for their patriotism and willingness to serve.

We are grateful to the Vietnam Veterans who returned to Starr Academy this year. Their stories present our students with important historical information and allow them to understand the harsh realities of war. It also opens our students’ eye to the selfless acts of others.

Giving Tuesday Movement Captures Heart of Season

What will you be doing this December 2nd? Participating in a day of giving known as Giving Tuesday? We are. With Black Friday and now Cyber Monday so ingrained in our post-Thanksgiving culture, we can’t think of a better way to refocus on the heart of the season than a day of giving back.

How Giving Tuesday Started

Launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday was designed to give people a context in which to tell their stories about giving, instead of what they stood in line at 4 a.m. to buy. This new charitable movement also sought to create a sense of “for-a-good-cause” community by harnessing people’s desire to connect via social media.

The concept is relatively simple. Give to a charity of your choice, and share your story on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram or other social media platform on a particular December day. Many people chose to share a picture holding a sign naming their charity and using the hashtag #GivingTuesday.

A New Seasonal Tradition?

From the start, Giving Tuesday struck a chord with multitudes of people. Raising $10.1 million for charities in 2012 and with a 90% increase in 2014, this momentum could make the event a new tradition for launching the holiday season. The average amount of an online donation increased as well as the overall total dollar amount—all for charity. Besides celebrating the birth of Jesus, giving is what the season is all about.

2014 Average Online Giving Amount (1)

Year Average Amount
2012 $101.60
2013 $142.05
2014 You decide


How Your Giving Helps Rawhide Youth

Rawhide’s mission is to help troubled youth and their families turn their lives around. You might say that we give families second chances in life. We are all about second chances and providing the tools to help troubled youth and their families be successful at that. Your donation helps fund our programs, from residential care to outpatient counseling. Since we are a non-profit, your donation is tax deductible.

  • Share a photo of yourself —> HOLDING OUR SIGN <— and
    use the hashtags #SecondChance and #GivingTuesday.
  • For Twitter, call us out with @RawhideInc
  • For Facebook, tag us @RawhideBoysRanch
  • We will watch for your tags and retweet or mention you!

We hope to see you in our Facebook and Twitter feed this coming December 2nd !

1 http://npengage.com/nonprofit-fundraising/givingtuesday-online-donations-90-from-2012/