Valley Teen Ranch was incorporated in 1983. We purchased our 80 acre ranch in 1985 and opened our first of three residential group homes in 1987. We are a replica of a successful program in Michigan called Teen Ranch, founded by Ray Clendenan in 1964. Teen Ranch and Valley Teen Ranch were birthed out of the Youth Guidance Division of Youth For Christ.
SPOTLIGHT FOR THIS MONTH: Ray Of Hope/Valley Teen Ranch
I would like to spotlight our 9 year partnership with Valley Teen Ranch (Ray of Hope) in coordinating the Olympic summer games for the youth of both organizations. It has been an amazing journey from it’s infancy to what it is today. With both physical and educational events, no one ever feels out of place. Instead, they are ready to compete because everyone found an event they can excel in. As well, many times they find hidden talent in other events because they gave it a try for the first time and loved it!
Well, they said it wasn’t possible to get multiple residential youth home providers together and have summer games for a week long without problems. It’s too risky because of the risk behaviors that will occur. They said staff won’t cooperate with each other. It will fail! Well, here we are nine years later and we are still going strong.
In 2010, I approached, then CEO, Connie Clendenan, with the vision. When I was employed by San Mateo Probation Department as a Group Supervisor inside the juvenile hall. I saw how important the Olympics games meant to youth that were incarcerated. Youth that were from rival gangs participated with each other and for that moment it didn’t seem they were in juvenile hall. I instantly believed this would be a great event for the youth outside of the walls if blessed with an opportunity. Since many have never been on a organized sports team before, many didn’t understand the concept until they tried it and got involved.
With events such as flag football, bench press, sit-ups, trivial pursuit, essay, basketball, up-downs, spelling bee, kickball, soccer, tug-o-war, billiards, dominoes, checkers, track, volleyball, swimming, poetry and artwork they were quick to learn leadership, sportsmanship, being a team player, getting out and what giving it your all truly meant. As well, many understood it was okay that you weren’t the best any any particular event but as long as you tried you were a winner. Many in life don’t have the confidence to even try so they will never know what they are missing in life. Yes you may fail, but you will guarantee failure if you don’t try. Over the years many have surprised themselves by understanding the meaning of being a true team player, and having a sense of normalcy as other kids. In my eyes if this was possible within juvenile hall, let’s show the doubters, once again, that 50+ kids can come together and make the impossible…possible! They can see that being competitive while being part of a team is better than hanging on a street corner dealing drugs with the local street gangs and your “so-called” rival will end up your favorite teammate.
This was the first year that Connie wasn’t part of the magic, but newly appointed CEO Andrea Evans and her team didn’t skip a beat! That’s why I truly thank you all for our partnership! We do hope in the future to continue to grow the games to other providers and have a larger scale Olympic games for many foster youth in the Fresno area. Remember, it always starts with a vision…
I will leave you with a quote from Connie that pretty much sums up what it means to all involved!
“One of the many highlights is activities with our young men at Ray Of Hope/Valley Teen Ranch in partnership with the young men & staff from KYJO. Kevin Jordan, CEO at KYJO, is the one who came up with this idea & approached me to do this together at our ranch. That was 9 years ago & next week they will be sharing the Summer Olympics Event together again. It’s athletics as well as academics! Everyone wins!”
KYJO ROCKSTAR AWARD
This Month’s Rockstar Award Winner is Virginia Hernandez
She has went above and beyond the call of duty and shows what “Striving For Excellence” looks like by using her creativity and creating various KYJO forms & flyers for Big B.A.N.G. Weekend to Olympics to various outings. Even with her facility duties she has made herself available for extended reach training, CARF training, leadership training, main office training, manager training, etc… She is the face you will always see at all training offered. She even sacrificed her weekend to go hiking with the kids when many others declined to assure the kids had a great time. This is the making of someone who wants to grow their leadership to the next level. On top of all the above mentioned, she accepts responsibility/takes ownership for her own actions and never points a finger to anyone else to blame while she keeps a positive attitude and is always solution oriented with no excuses.
RESIDENTIAL YOUTH HOMES - HIGHLIGHTS
KYJO Direct Care Highlights
STAFF OF THE MONTH: Doris Anderson
Transparency and Be Positive – Although Ms. Doris started as a NOC she has committed to being transparent all across the board. She is willing to pick up extra shifts, ensures the residents have delicious home cooked meals, and her communication is always 100% each shift! Even when dealing with behaviors from residents she remains very positive in every situation! She continues to be a team player and work at all facilities. She makes sure to maintain all facilities clean and presentable. She is never afraid to take on more shifts and responsibilities.
RESIDENT OF THE MONTH: Nixon
Making a Difference- He is new to KYJO, but has shown that he is here to make a difference in his life. He works hard and is focused on striving excellence for himself here in the program as well as in his future.
HOUSE OF THE MONTH: Hazel Home
Unity Is Strength. Not only have Hazel’s behaviors decreased, the staff and resident participation is all across the board improved so much! Staff have really stepped up trying to encourage residents to work through their struggles, and motivate them daily! Hazel is truly a team environment and uplift each other and the residents. Hazel has continue to grow and unite as a team. It has been a huge decrease in negative behaviors and destruction of property at the Hazel house. I would say the Hazel house displays the value of learning open -mindedness there has been a big shift at the Hazel facility.
FOSTER FAMILY AGENCY - HIGHLIGHTS
Our KYJO team worked together to help three of our KYJO kids reunify with their mother. We are so thankful for our foster parent who worked with this family over the last year to ensure that the kids returned to be with their mom. It’s a bittersweet day and we are going to miss seeing our three KYJO kids, but we all know one thing is for sure, children belong with their families and that is what foster care is about! Our foster parents make a difference in the lives of our families so children can be with their parents
Congrats to another one of our youth who stepped down into one of our KYJO foster homes. This youth worked hard to complete his program. He has grown so much since he has been a part of our KYJO group home and now he is ready to step-down to a lower level of care. We are so excited for you and this new journey!
GROW THROUGH WHAT YOU GO THROUGH
It has been said “tough times don’t last, but tough people do”. Struggles are a part of the human experience. For some, the struggle is more difficult than for others. We don’t always get to choose how we struggle, but we do get to choose how we respond to the struggles we face. Though we all face trials of varying degree, we can rejoice in them knowing that we are being made stronger through them. So whatever you’re facing today, whether large or small, rejoice knowing that every day we are met with opportunities to be stronger!