Born in Louisiana and raised in Kentucky, Zack loved spending time with his five siblings and friends. After his parents got divorced and his dad remarried, Zack ended up moving to Wisconsin and living with his dad and stepmom. Because of these life changes, Zack’s childhood would never be the same.

“I wasn’t doing what people were forcing me to do,” shared Zack. “I kept running away, not following the rules, breaking the law … things that I shouldn’t have been doing.” His continuous wrongdoings led him to a detention center and then referred to Rawhide—arriving in February 2024 at 14 years old. “When I first got to Rawhide, I took it as a joke and was doing whatever I wanted. I wasn’t taking it seriously,” said Zack.

Since then, Zack has learned that the people around him are here to support him—regardless of his past. “I find it helpful here at Rawhide. My therapist Ms. Cassie helps me with coping skills, especially with my anger and anxiety,” shared Zack. “I’m also working on setting boundaries.”

While at Rawhide, Zack realized his full potential and discovered a different version of himself: someone who is caring and helpful. “I never knew I was a compassionate person. My personality was the opposite before Rawhide, and now I’m positive and supportive of those around me. I try to encourage others when they aren’t doing their best.”

Zack’s favorite part about Rawhide is the number of opportunities. “When I first came here, I never thought I would be able to say that I had a job,” he said. Working in the barn and taking care of the therapy horses has helped him focus on others while reflecting on his mental health. “I try to persevere through difficult moments and daily challenges. I’m proud of myself for that.”

Even at a young age, Zack always knew his education should be a priority. “I always thought school was important. My mom is finishing college now. It would be nice to have that experience because a lot of people don’t get that.” Hoping to become a carpenter one day, Zack has a passion for building new creations. “I helped make cornhole boards with Mr. Isaac,” shared Zack. “[Once they were built], I wanted the imperfections to stay because it gives them personality.”

After he completes his program, Zack hopes to be remembered for his hard work and great progress. “I want people to know that I’m a good kid and have a lot of good traits,” he said.

Zack’s message to donors: Thanks for the opportunity that you give us to build a better life for ourselves.