Throughout his childhood, Gavin moved from family to family in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida. His mother was struggling to take care of his grandma and her eight other children. To make life easier for her, Gavin thought being away from home would help. “Being the second youngest of my siblings, I tried to just stay out of the way,” said Gavin.

Not having a constant support system made life unpredictable and challenging—leading to anger issues and a bad temper. After making some regrettable mistakes, 17-year-old Gavin arrived at Rawhide in December 2023.

“I didn’t care about anything; I wanted to do my program and get out. But then I realized that the staff isn’t here just to get paid or babysit—they really care about us,” Gavin shared. “Mr. Gary taught me to breathe and think when I’m angry. When you’re angry, you can’t think right. Once you wrap your head around it, you get a different perspective.” Seeing friendly, welcoming people every day helps Gavin feel supported.

Something Gavin never experienced before Rawhide was equine-assisted therapy and has since connected with the horses. “They’re my best friends, I like to hang out with them,” he said. “One of the horses has my brother’s name, and he’s just like my brother. That’d be my brother if he was a horse.” Equine therapy allows Gavin to have an outlet to help manage his anger without fear of judgment.

With his focus on graduating, Gavin knows what he needs to accomplish his goal. “I’ve been working hard doing my schoolwork and staying out of negativity,” said Gavin. “Out of all my siblings, the only one who graduated was my sister and I hope to be next. I wasn’t always a good role model and I want to be one, especially for my little brother.”

Understanding who he truly is and who he wants to become has helped Gavin take control of his life. “I’m a loving and kind person. I don’t always have to be mad at everyone. I need to be responsible for my actions and I used to blame the world for everything. But really, it was my fault all along.”

Gavin’s message to donors: “Thank you for being really good people and helping a lot of kids who need good role models and a support system.”