One of the most rewarding aspects of working with troubled teens and their families is to see the change and growth that happens during their stay here and throughout their lives afterward.
We often receive letters, notes, and announcements from our students and their families as they continue on with their new outlook on life and experience new successes, achievements, and continue to grow.
When we enrolled our son, he had failed 1/2 of his classes his freshman year, due to truancy, apathy, and making stupid decisions. He hadn't passed a drug test for a year. He was stealing items from family members and selling them to buy drugs. He was also selling family members prescriptions drugs. His temper was out of control. Family life was absolute hell, as his personality had become rancid & foul. We cringed every time we had to deal with him. Every time our cell phone rang at work we thought it was going to be the police or the principal at the school. We knew with certainty he would be dead or in jail if his path continued.
Our son is living at home. His temper is under control - there is no longer any shouting matches, violence, broken items, or holes in my wall. I am no longer afraid of my son. He is enrolled in a new school, far across town from the old school. He is getting A's (and one B), and has even tested out of 3 classes already. He has not hung out with any of the "poor choice" friends since returning. He has not missed any days at school. His school has not called me to discuss yet another suspension, etc.
Diamond Ranch Academy has a program which focuses on all aspects of the youth. Introspection - the kids have to really think about why they are there, and what needs to change. Academics - they have to progress at a certain rate before moving to the next privilege level. Body - athletics aren't required, but physical activity/health is. Family/Healing - there are bi- weekly conference calls, and monthly (once they've earned the privilege) visits with family. Parents - we receive training materials & face-to-face training since we are enablers (in the negative sense) and need to change just as much as the youth. Spiritual -not religion - but some of the materials they have to reflect on are on our humanity. One book was written by a holocaust survivor (Man's Search for Meaning) - it was an incredibly moving book that reminds us we all have it pretty good in life. Team work - focused on how we operate. (www.colorcode.com- is one of the tools we are all trained on to learn how to work better together).
So it is a holistic process.
I could go on and on and on. THIS WAS THE BEST INVESTMENT IN OUR CHILD WE HAVE EVER MADE. I know if we didn't do this, I would be paying an equal amount (probably more) in legal bills as I'm sure it was only a matter of time before his choices became further out of control and was caught. (His choices were already out of control. he just hadn't been caught by the police yet).
I'm sure this program saved our son's life, and helps put him on a path for a successful future. And it brought peace back into our family life - because it felt like we were living in a war.
Just had to tell you... This week marks 4 months that Austin has been at DRA, and we had the most amazing call with Austin yesterday. We didn't even recognize our son. He was talking about negative influences, and modeling positive behavior which he sees working for others, how boredom is what caused his poor choices at home, and the changes he will make in his life when he returns.
I can't even begin to express the feeling of relief, joy, thankfulness, and hope that my husband and I now have. I also know that we still have a long road in front of us, but based on these early indicators I think that my family will be forever indebted to the DRA "family."
(Austin thinks the key to his transformation is the equine therapy - so you may want to pass that nugget along to Lorneta!!)
I also wanted to share feedback from our educational consultant... She has shared that she is so impressed with Kade - she can't stop gushing about him. His compassion, the amount of "himself" that he adds to the equation, his reliability, commitment... (We, too, very much like Kade.) She has been in this business a loooooong time, and she said he is by far the exception in the industry.
Truthfully, my husband has questioned all along the value of having the educational consultant - but in his words - he now hopes that the value of our investment in the relationship with her will result in introducing new families to DRA who might not have otherwise found you."
- Diane Schwarz (parent)
I just wanted to say Hello to everyone. I am sure most people that I knew have graduated the program. My experience at Diamond Ranch has been the greatest experience I have had. To sum up life before Diamond Ranch I thought there was no limits, I was rude and defiant towards authority, I was un-greatful, and the list could go on for hours. DRA has completely changed my life. College use to be something I thought about but never really planned on going. I didn't even know if I would be able to graduate high school; now I am attending the University of South Florida and I am doing great. My family and I are now so much closer and we rarely argue. I feel like I have an amazing relationship with my mom and I can talk to her about anything.
The tools you learn in Diamond Ranch can be used everyday. Seek first to understand and then to be understood is a motto that has helped me maintain my composure, be more understanding, and gain friendships. I look at pictures all of the time from Diamond Ranch Academy and miss times that I had and cherish the memories. It is nice looking back and seeing all of the fun people I had met and how they have all helped me become a better person. I hope everyone is able to take as much out of their experience as I was and follow their dreams and accomplish everything they hope to and more. My words of advice are to find people who care about you and respect your boundaries. Don't ever give up on yourself and love yourself for who you are.
Anyways, I have been doing very well. My mom and I are going on a cruise March 14 to Cozumel and Costa Maya :) I am extremely excited because I have not been to Mexico. College is pretty good, I have easy classes this semester so that means I will boost my GPA which is good. There really is not much else too exciting going on in my life right now. My birthday is coming up so I guess that is exciting. It is hard to believe one year ago almost I was switching dorms to the big kids side of the town!
I hope all is well with you and all of the other staff and students. I hope to hear from you soon,-Love Taylor
"Brent gave both Nancy and me individual Valentine's day cards containing words that make it clear he has come so far, is extremely grateful and appreciative as well as caring. We have so much to thank you for. Just wanted to say thanks again." - Doug & Nancy
"Hurray! Thank you for all the wonderful patience and the extra mile you went on our behalf. As I told Ashley and Bo a real teacher is the one that is called to this duty because it is an act of devotion, devotion to help another human being see things differently and to believe in them when they can't believe in themselves. This is what we all went through with this experience and you guys were the tools for the miracle to happen, a thousand thanks are not enough. May God in his infinite wisdom shower the most splendid of gifts to all." - Father
She has done well at her job. Has dealt with the horrible bosses and unfair treatment, etc. She has learned how to put stuff past it, and go to work and do a great job. She is amazing. I am so proud of her.
Thanks for doing such a great job ." - Mother
"This is Danielle. I graduated from your program on August 24,2007. I just wanted to e-mail you and say hello. I am always thinking about everyone out there and you all are always in my prayers.. I am a sophomore in college now, and am studying to become a substance abuse counselor. I owe much of my success to the program, for giving me all the skills I need to keep pushing on. Even two years later, there is not a day that goes by that I do not think about the ranch. I hope all is well out there."With all my love!
"Yes saying good bye was horrible, but talking to Adam each time on our talks I saw progression. I saw him slowly coming back into himself and finding himself." - Yehuda Family
Ashley was great. I could not have imagined the happiness I experienced spending time with her. I am so proud of her and the effort she is making toward the program. Can I make this short and simple. To see her, hold her, and then leave her was like a great wave crashing down on me. Guilt and pain of my part that has lead to her being there. It is killing me. I cannot fail her know!
We did a lot for the short time we had. Ashley showed us everything she could and introduced us to a lot of her friends and the people that work at the ranch. Kade let me tell you, everyone we meet was so helpful and kind that we left with a really good feeling about the staff. Betsy, Gary, Stacey, Toni, Haley, Fotu and the lady at the office on Sunday that I didn't get her name. Tell them all thanks for the great visit and caring for Ashley. I hope Ash had as an enjoyable time as I did. We didn't get to deep into anything because we just wanted to enjoy the time together. Talk to you soon." - Steve
"He has become a more mature, happier, confident young man. He is a man! When we came here he was a troubled boy, now he is a man." - Sartwell Family
"The hardest decision of my life was to send my daughter to DRA. We just didn't know how to care for her anymore - we were scared for her. It was a good decision, she's done well here, the staff is wonderful. I'm proud of what she's done and what Diamond Ranch has accomplished. Thank you Diamond Ranch!" - Kephardt Family
"As parents I want you to know that one of the hardest things I have ever had to do is put Lillian here... I went
through so many Months not knowing if I have done the right thing? I can tell you now that all that we have had, has really been a blessing in disguise!" Mendoza Family
"A few days ago was my one year out of diamond ranch. I thought of you and decided to write you an email to tell you about my progress so far. First off, I would just like to thank you again for everything you have done for me and the lessons I have learned from you. As of right now life is good. My family situation is going great and my dad and I have established a very healthy and ongoing relationship.
I have maintained a sober lifestyle ever since my first day out of rehabilitation and intend to keep it that way for the rest of my life. School is going well. I am transferring community colleges to one closer to me but as of right now I am the only 17 year old kid who is halfway done with the associates degree."Thanks for everything. - Student
"Danielle has finished high school. Not just finished, but with all A's and B's.
And best of all, with a new appreciation for what she is capable of doing. It's nothing short of a miracle to us, and I know we owe much of it to her experience at DRA. You both played a huge role in building her confidence and teaching her to respect herself. In all these months she has held on the to principles she learned at the ranch. And she's living by them. She still paraphrases some of the learning's ?.it's stuck with her.
Can't thank you enough, you gave her the tools to take charge of her life." - Linda
"I have been reading your comments and daily point totals for my son Nicholas. I very much appreciate your keeping us parents posted and also thank you for the warm and positive attitude you convey toward the students. I feel very encouraged about my son's progress. Thanks so much for all you are doing."
- Tami (mother)
"I want to express my thanks to you and your staff for the excellent effort put forth for the benefit of my daughter Suzie. We have celebrated her graduation from high school tomorrow and more importantly, her as a person.
I think back to just over a year ago when we made the decision to entrust her future to your program. At that time we had nothing to go on except our faith that she would be in good hands.
Time has proven it to be one of those decisions that we are grateful we made. Since she has returned from your school, she has managed to: 1) catch up on her back work in school. 2) Maintained a very good grade point average in her senior year. 3) Prepared herself to graduate from high school. 4) Make us all proud of achievements, efforts and behavior.
I have a soft spot in my heart for you, Sherri and the rest of the group, as I often think of where we would be today without Diamond Ranch.
I would highly recommend it to any parent who is faced with the same decision about how best to lovingly teach their child the lessons of life. Thank you so much for this contribution to someone we love so much." - Ted (father of student)
"I know I've thanked you for a lot of things, but thank you again for all you've done in his life. Even your family has made and impact on him. He actually told Bob when he gets home he wants to spend weekend time with us. What a wonderful switch that is. Usually we had to bring his friends along wherever we went, so he wouldn't have to deal with us." - Margaret
"Thanks so much for all everyone has done for Justin and bringing our family back together." - Debbie
"Thank you for all you do to help young people. As we read the daily reports of what Bryan is doing, we continue to be impressed with your program. Thank you again." - Janet (mother)
"I wanted to write to you all and tell you how grateful I am to you and the work you did with Danielle, and let you know how she is doing since graduating on August 24th.
I am so utterly proud of her, I find it hard to put into words. She received her first report card since returning home. It's her first quarter as a Senior in High School, and she earned a 3.63 GPA. A 3.63! Before she came to DRA she was failing High School. She is not taking easy courses either, she is taking a full, hard load of courses, because she had so much to make up for. I watch her at night studying, and I burst with pride and admiration.
She also has a part-time job, working weekends and one or two nights a week as a Hostess at a local Restaurant. She has her learners permit. She has basically stayed away from the people she knows are bad influences on her. She went from a Follower to a Leader. I shudder to think where she would be right now, had DRA not appeared, at precisely the right moment, when we were at a loss what to do, and standing on the edge of a Cliff.
As you all know, things did not always go smoothly for her at DRA, but looking back, they went exactly as they needed to go. Had her program not gone as it did, she wouldn't have become the strong young woman that she is today. We all know who plans these sort of things.
Things are not always perfect, but when things are good, I can't describe the joy and happiness I feel. Our family of four is back together again.
Thank you for all you have done. Please keep her in your prayers, as we keep all the DRA staff and students in our prayers.
If I can ever be of assistance in any form, as a referral, helping a family with a struggling teen in our area, etc., please don't hesitate to ask. I know Danielle would like to help also.
God Bless You All." - Dennis Barton
"We can not thank you enough for what you and DRA have done in the development of Lindsey. We do not know what we would have done without your program. You and the staff of DRA has been truly a blessing to Lindsey and our family.
Once again, thanks for everything that you have done and know that we will never forget you and DRA."
- Randy & Terri
"If you ever need some "parents' heart wrenching thanks" for the good work you are doing at the ranch, here is one Matt said tonight when he called: "I've finally been holding my head up high. Thank you! We love it!"
- Ginny and Jerry
"Things are still going very well! Ryan is keeping all A's and B's in his classes. He attended the Youth Leadership conference last week and said it was quite motivating. He is in full-swing with his soccer and signing up today for the High School football team. We are having "family time" once or twice a week and our communication is better than ever. He is very open and honest with me and respectful! Life at home is good!!!! I just wanted to give you a quick update and thank you for all your time and effort in helping us. I am very grateful for you and the rest of the staff at DRA." - Julie
"I was just reflecting on the past 18 months since Eric came home from Diamond Ranch Academy and thanking God for all that He has done to help Eric succeed since his experience at DRA.
I then realized I never properly thanked you all for the role you played in my son's life, and all the successes he has enjoyed since he left.
Eric is currently a senior at our local High School, and will graduate in June. He carried a 3. 5 grade point average all last year, and I have no doubts he will continue to excel in school. He has plans for college, and works a 30 hour work week in addition to school.
He pays for his car, clothes, phone, etc. , and is very proud of the fact he earns what he gets, and it is not just handed to him.
He has become respectful of himself and others. He has learned how to make positive friendships. He has the earned trust and respect from his parents, teachers, and peers.
I attended back to school night last night and spoke with his High School counselor. She was involved with Eric before he left for DRA, and has continued to be involved since he came home. While commenting on what a delightful young man Eric has become, she reminded me what a true success story we have to tell.
I could go on and on about how proud I am of what Eric has accomplished, and probably have. Once again, thank you for everything. " - Paul (father)
"Hello all of you! It is good to be home! I just wanted to thank you all personally for all that you have done. You all have touched my life in many ways that have made me a better and stronger person. I have had a lot of struggles at DRA, and that is an understatement of the obstacles I had to face while there. I never fully understood that so many people could care for one person who was making the mistakes that I was making.
You all have helped me to learn to value myself and become successful. Thank You so much for everything you have done for me and my family. I have registered for college and will begin classes on the 28th of August and I am getting a job on Thursday life guarding. I will work and study hard. I have been doing very well and just wanted to let you all know that I was ok. I love you all."
- Love Always, Kate F. (Student)
"Hello DRA family,
This is Jeff updating you on what's been going on. On Monday, June 25th, I turned 18 as you know and celebrated that with my family in Arizona! On Tuesday I got my drivers license, with a 100% on the written and driving test. Although I did fail the driving test my first time, I stayed positive and went back the next day and got the 100% so I am now a licensed driver.
I also wanted to write you to let you all know how helpful you were throughout my struggles. And I really do appreciate all that you have done for my family and I remain thankful for the opportunity that god had blessed me with through you. Continue doing what you are doing and I hope all is well with all of you!
Thank You & God Bless." - Jeff (student)
"Chie has been home for eighteen days. During that time she has been respectful, responsible, communicative, cooperative and happy. When she had a concern she brought it up in a mature and respectful way. Likewise, on the few occasions that there was something I wanted to discuss, she listened attentively, stated her opinion and we would come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
She wrote in her journal daily and worked on her homework. She accompanied me willingly. We attended AA, NA or Al Anon meetings almost daily and a few times two meetings in one day. We attended church on Sundays. She kept her room orderly, in fact cleaned out all the old stuff and rearranged the furniture. S he did her chores and asked to prepare dinner several times. She is an excellent cook!
I can see how much Chie has matured. She has put into practice what she has learned at DRA. Her entire demeanor and thinking is positive and open. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being outstanding, I would rate this visit a 12!!! It was wonderful having my daughter home and I look forward to her return for good.
Thank you for all that you have helped her achieve. I will be eternally grateful.
You have helped me save her life." - Susan
"We felt that session was more productive than anything else we have experienced
in the last seven years of therapy."
"We have seen dramatic personal growth and self-awareness since our teen began equine therapy with you. My husband and I had the opportunity to participate in the equine therapy with our son, and we felt that session was more productive than anything else we have experienced in the last seven years of therapy. Your ability to observe out teen's interaction with the horse, and ask relevant, probing questions, and help our teen relate the behaviors of the horse to himself and our family was masterful!
It is even more powerful because our teen doesn't view these sessions as "therapy", so rather than tuning out and shutting down, he is open and receptive to the observations and learnings." - Diane S. (parent)
"The [parent seminar] group therapy was great - you know you are not alone.. I didn't know what to expect from the workshop, I found it very informative and found great connections with other parents... I highly recommend it! All of my needs were met. Everyone was very knowledgeable, comforting and compassionate." - Susan V. (Parent)
"The parent seminar really confirmed to us that we chose the right thing for our son. The student panel really drove it home. This was great [and] valuable information." - Parent