"Growing up, I was the outcast out of my siblings –the youngest of four. My older brother always resented me because I wanted to be like him and my sisters preferred to hang out with one another instead of with me. I would steal things from my brother and sisters just to get their attention. I looked to my brother for his guidance but that only made him resent me more. I eventually looked up to my sister’s boyfriend, but he was a poor role model because he dropped out of school and smoked a lot. I started smoking cigarettes and weed to be like him. I started caring less and less about school – skipping classes, starting fights, disrespecting teachers. 

When I got expelled at the age of 12, I was introduced to a program that gave me rules to follow at home and in school. I went from program to program because I continued smoking, fighting with kids, and failing classes. I was eventually forced to go to a rehab facility where I stayed for a total of two years. After that program I was discharged to my mom’s care where I did well for some time until I found out that my friend Joey had died. I didn’t know how to handle it. Not long after that, my dog Skippy died; he had been my best friend. That’s when I really lost it and stopped caring about everything, especially myself. I started doing more intense drugs and committing robberies. When I robbed the wrong person, my life was in serious danger. My mom told my probation officer that I was unsafe and the judge made the decision to send me to Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch. 

When I got here, I was instantly introduced to the Ranch family. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I knew this placement would be different – and it has been. The teachers in the Learning Center have been helping me catch up on school credits and even hired a tutor for me so I could pass my end of year state exams. Last April I was baptized! I have a relationship with the Lord and my family situation has improved. I see my parents every weekend and we openly say “I Love You” to one another. Attending drug group has really helped me because it gives me a safe place where I can express my feelings and get positive feedback. My social worker here is great too; I really feel like I’m cared about. The staff here is full of advice and encouragement every time I come to them. I’ve had two release dates but I asked the judge to stay both times. At the end of this month, I’m going to Africa for a mission trip with the Executive Director and other staff. 

I used to be a kid who tried blaming his past for why he did a bunch of bad things. Over my stay here, I’ve learned to take responsibility for my actions. I’m the reason why I turned out the way I did. Now, the Ranch has a large part to do with why I’m doing well. The Ranch saved my life and I am beyond grateful."