Compassion, hope and countless young lives transformed.

Since 1965, Rawhide has built on a foundation of love and compassion to bring life-changing help to struggling and at-risk youth. It all started with a calling to serve. And that same heart and dedication continues to drive Rawhide Youth Services every day.

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Our Beginning: A caring couple with a big vision

John and Jan Gillespie met in second grade at a one-room schoolhouse near Appleton, Wisconsin. They married in 1947, and together they began to dream. Both John and Jan had hearts for service to others, and in 1965 their dream took shape—with the support of the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback Bart Starr and his wife Cherry—as Rawhide Boys Ranch.

For decades, John and Jan continued to answer their calling to help at-risk young men heal, grow and transform their lives. Jan passed in 2017, yet her legacy lives on in John’s continued advocacy and the work Rawhide remains dedicated to every day.

MVP support from a legend with a heart for change.

In 1965, Bart Starr was at the top of his game. He was an elite NFL quarterback leading the Green Bay Packers to an impressive run of championships. But he also had a heart for helping those in need. So when the Gillespies approached Bart and his wife Cherry to share their vision for Rawhide, the Starrs quickly got behind the idea. The Starrs’ involvement brought instant credibility to Rawhide, and their generosity helped make its growth possible. Bart even raffled off his Super Bowl II MVP Corvette to complete the down payment to purchase Rawhide’s New London campus.

Bart and Cherry Starr have been wonderful role models, donors and voices for Rawhide, sharing our story, helping raise funds, visiting with the boys, and producing dozens of public service announcements for radio and TV. Bart passed away in 2019, but his impact is felt in every corner of Rawhide. Cherry and Bart Jr. stay in contact and continue to be spokespersons for Rawhide.

The Vision Continues: An unwavering commitment to transforming lives

Every year, the need remains great—and so does our commitment to meeting it. Today, we serve more than 750 boys and girls throughout Wisconsin with our residential and community-based counseling services. We combine state-of-the-art facilities with advanced, evidence-based therapies to help youth struggling with mental, emotional and behavioral health find healing. And as we build on the foundation of faith, hope and love built by the Gillespie and Starr families, we continue to expand our services to help equip even more at-risk youth to live a healthy and successful life.