In the mid 1970’s a small group of Fresno-Madera Youth For Christ (YFC) volunteers involved in the Youth Guidance Division of YFC were volunteering in Juvenile Hall. They had an earnest desire to develop a long term, residential, healthy, living environment capable of helping these confused children and youth locked up in Juvenile Hall. These kids and their families are having many challenges and need someone to help guide them so the kids can get through their teen-age years without the influence of drugs, sex, crime, truancy or dropping out of school.
Fresno-Madera YFC was under the direction of Bufe Karraker at that time. He was acquainted with a friend and peer from Michigan YFC by the name of Ray Clendenan. He was the YFC Director and Founder of Michigan Teen Ranch in the mid 1960’s. It was Bufe’s vision to have a Teen Ranch in Fresno-Madera like the successful program in Michigan.
In the 1979 he asked David Purvis and his wife Leslie to go to Michigan for 2 years to learn how to become house parents for the Fresno Teen Ranch. David was an employee of YFC in the Youth Guidance Division, working with kids in the institutions called Juvenile Hall. When they returned from Michigan, Bufe was no longer the Director of YFC. Some of the Board Members of Fresno-Madera YFC and other interested business people and David Purvis decided to pursue the dream. He completed his Masters Degree in Social Work from CSU, Fresno and developed his masters thesis as the program for Valley Teen Ranch. They established an official Board of Directors, and became incorporated as a private non-profit organization in June of 1983 and hired David as the Executive Director and Founder of Valley Teen Ranch. They then began to look for land and raise the necessary money to build the first Group Home. Michigan Teen Ranch was the pattern they followed.
80 acres of barren land was purchased at Avenue 12 and Road 35 in rural Madera County in 1985. The first home was completed and the first 10 boys arrived in May 1987, which is the year we consider as our beginning year. There were 3 full-time employees, 4 part time employees and many volunteers. The California State Department of Social Services granted the first license to operate as a Residential Group Home that year.
David hired Connie Clendenan to be the Development Coordinator in April 1988, as she had worked for her father in that capacity for Michigan Teen Ranch before relocating to Fresno. She had just completed her Master’s Degree in Social Work from CSU, Fresno. David resigned in 1989 and Connie became the interim director and later the C.E.O.
The second home was built and licensed in May 1991 and the third home in 1998. There is also a swimming pool, ropes course, equestrian program, basketball court, soccer, baseball and football fields, sand volleyball pits, school, and shop building at the ranch.
Valley Teen Ranch, Inc. became a licensed Therapeutic Foster Family Agency in 1990 and another license was granted to operate an Adoption Agency in 1998. A Transitional Living Home was purchased and is operated with a grant from HUD in 2002. An on-site School was built and opened on the 80 acre property in 2005. It is operated as a Community Day School in partnership with Golden Valley Unified School District. The office building in Fresno on W. Shaw Avenue was purchased in 2003.
The mission of Valley Teen Ranch was established in 1983 and remains the same today, “To provide HOPE to vulnerable children, youth and families through life changing relationships and experiences.”