Very few success stories move in straight lines that never waver. For many of the kids we work with at IYR, the path to a promising future includes some setbacks and challenges along the way.
The good news is that your support of IYR makes it possible for them to learn new life skills and discover what they are truly capable of. Thanks to our generous donors, their time in our programs helps them figure out what their own, unique "north star" looks like. They leave our care with the tools to find their way again if they take a wrong turn.
Take Jerry, for example. Once a promising student, he began failing in school, experimenting with drugs, and withdrawing from his friends and family. His parents were convinced he had joined a gang, and they reached out to IYR for help.
Jerry arrived at Hays Shelter Home, aggressive and angry on the outside and full of fear on the inside. Slowly, Jerry responded to the daily structure and responsibility we expected of him. He learned that he could make positive choices; that he could work hard and be appreciated for his contributions. Jerry surprised everyone—especially himself—as he learned to love helping out with chores, cleaning, service learning projects, and especially, cooking.
By the end of his stay, he was lauded by the Hays team and by our community partners (who met him during service learning projects) as one of the hardest working teenagers we ever knew. Over the next year, Jerry’s treatment continued at the Ranch Campus and Family Counseling. But his troubles began again, and another stint at Hays was cut short when he fell back under the influence of the gang’s intimidation.
When he left IYR, Jerry was scared. So were we.
Months went by without any word, until one day a Hays staff member stopped into Life’s Kitchen (a job training program for future chefs and one of IYR’s community partners) for lunch. And there was Jerry! He was happy, healthy, back on track and doing great in the Life’s Kitchen culinary program. Jerry was all smiles as he recalled how he discovered his love for cooking during his first stay at Hays, years before, along with the satisfaction of working hard.
Thanks to your generous support, Jerry left the Idaho Youth Ranch with a powerful internal compass that helped him navigate through dangerous pitfalls and get his life moving in the right direction again.
On behalf of Jerry and so many others like him, thank you for making promising futures possible.