News and Events
“Being at VTR gave me strength to say “no” to my homeboys and to drugs. It also helped me reconnect to my family.”
Niko, 2013 Graduate
June 1, 2017
Happy Grads & Dads to you ALL! It’s June and time for school to get out and attend celebrations. My High School graduation was 1969 from North Branch High School. I was happy to have that part behind me and looking forward to leaving home and going off to college in the fall. Now all of the sudden I’m 66 years old looking forward to retirement, social security, Medicare, annuity values and slowing down. Where has time gone?
June of 2017 and we are about to celebrate High School Graduation with 3 of our youth and Program Completion for several others. They have found HOPE and are looking forward to a brighter future as a result of their time with us either in our Short Term Residential Treatment Programs (formerly known as Group Homes) or with one of our Resource Families (formerly known as Foster Families). For our kids, they didn’t even think they were smart enough to finish high school when they came to us. They will have their caps and gowns, walk in with other students, hear their name called and we will all cheer for them as I blast my trumpet!
Our 30th Anniversary on May 12th was sensational. If you were not there, you missed a wonderful night of fun, food entertainment and just being in a beautiful and peaceful spot at Wolf Lakes. We unveiled our new name, logo and mission. We are now doing business as RAY OF HOPE, A Valley Teen Ranch Organization. How do you like our new logo and name? I read a devotional by Rick Warren this week. He said, “You can go 40 days without food and 3 days without water, you can go 8 minutes without air, but you can’t go a single second without HOPE. It’s an essential part of life. When HOPE is gone, life is over”. That’s what we do as HOPE DEALERS at RAY OF HOPE! We are living with HOPE everyday with our kids. We may be the only light and HOPE that they ever see and know. It seems like there is a shortage of HOPE in our society. God’s word is where I go for my shots of HOPE every day!
As we look to the summer our kids will go to summer school for 5 weeks then we have our Summer Olympics with KYJO Group Home at the Ranch, followed by Summer Camp at Calvin Crest. Then in the middle of August, we start school again. We are going to have a new Principle and one new teacher in the fall, too. We are doing interviews this week.
Your gifts this month will go towards our summer activities with the kids, which includes $155.00 for campers & staff at summer camp, trips to the beach, to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other short trips.
I appreciate your support, encouragement and prayers.
13 May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Keep HOPE Alive,
May is a month to remember and reflect. It is a time to remember the lives of our loved ones with the celebration of Memorial Day, and a time to look back on what has been. May also occurs during the season of spring where we enjoy new life and HOPE for a bright future ahead of us. So it is only fitting that it is during this month of May, that I announce to you all that Valley Teen Ranch is in the process of remembering the old and transitioning to the new.
As many of you know, we are celebrating 30 years of service to our youth, our families, and our community. Such a landmark has brought about the discussion of who has been at Valley Teen Ranch, and where we need to go to continue to make a difference. In the past 30 years, many things have changed including the issues our children and youth bring with them and our expansion from the Group Homes at the Ranch to include Foster Care, Adoption and Transitional Living. Also the way the State of CA licensing has changed regulations, the costs for the care we provide, and the ever evolving Human Resources laws, just to name a few. In the past three decades our society has also gone through major changes that impact our children and youth. Things like legalization of Marijuana, general drug & alcohol use and abuse, the breakdown of the family, domestic violence, gang involvement, ineffective educational methods to teach our types of kids, suicide, mental health problems, poverty, less prevention programs, decay of moral values and character development, and less interest in any type of spiritual guidance.
As such, we have, through much work, prayer, and input from our Board of Directors and Staff over the past year, decided to rename and rebrand our organization. Valley Teen Ranch will now be known as Ray of Hope – A Valley Teen Ranch Organization. Our new logo will be launched at the Anniversary party. We have also refreshed our mission, vision, and core values statement and have included them on the second page of this letter.
We are so excited to share this news with you, as each one of you is a part of where we have been and where we are going! The needs are indeed great and the methods have had to modify, but we are still anchored to the ROCK of our Faith which gives us HOPE to serve the 70 children and youth in our care every day! We work with our kids to show them, love them, feed them, laugh with them, pray with them, and lead them into a new way of thinking, believing, behaving, and ultimately living a HOPEFUL lifestyle when they leave us.
Please consider a living memorial for a loved one this month as we celebrate Memorial Day the end of the month. Your gift will honor or memorialize your loved one and will be invested into the life of a young person who needs HOPE today.
Thanks for your prayers, confidence, support and encouragement.
Keep HOPE Alive,
Valley Teen Ranch, now doing business as Ray of Hope – A Valley Teen Ranch Organization, is pleased to announce our new mission, vision, foundational pillars, and theology of mission statements.
To provide HOPE to vulnerable children, youth, and families through life changing relationships and experiences.
That all children, youth, and families will live and THRIVE in safe and healthy homes.
- It is our goal that everything we do inspires HOPE.
- People & Relationships
- We are committed to people, and look to develop and support respectful, healthy relationships.
- We believe that faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen, and all things are possible!
- Integrity & Excellence
- It is our goal that all of our actions and interactions would be marked by integrity and excellence.
Theology of Mission:
A ministry of reconciliation through evangelism, discipleship, and social responsibility.
Happy Spring! I hope you are enjoying the rain, the green grass, rose buds, Blossom Trail, baby lambs and daffodils. All signs of God’s Presence and Power! He brings new life, change and growth and we get to see it all over the place! In the past 3 months we have had 9 young men successfully complete our program at the ranch and 4 other young men ran away and have not returned. We have also finalized 4 Adoptions into ForEver Families. Our challenges and our victories seem to come together on a regular basis!
One of our young men at the ranch who has been with us for 10 months has had some amazing growth in ways that you wouldn’t normally think of when you think of our young men in our care. He turned 18 in November and is in one of our Special Education Programs in school. He was very low functioning when he came to us. These are some of the things he has accomplished with us so far. He learned to tie his shoes, to swim, to tell time and to shave. He has also increased his reading level by almost 1 whole grade level. He has also had almost perfect attendance in school and received recognition and awards for his classroom participation. He has also made some mistakes but has been honest in admitting he did something wrong, accepted the consequences and not repeated the same behaviors. Considering where he came from, and how he had been treated his entire life by his family and in school, these are major miracles. How it appears outwardly is that he now smiles, plays, participates both verbally and physically in activities. He says thank you and receives help from his peers as well as our staff and teachers. Reunification with either of his parents is not a possibility at this time, for reasons that would make your skin crawl. We need a caring and patient Foster Family for him. IF you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a Foster Parent, we have free, no obligation orientations in our office the third Tuesday of every month from 6-8 PM in our office. The needs are great and the families are few.
Keep HOPE alive as we forge ahead together.
Thanks for your continued prayers and financial support. We appreciate YOU!
“It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13: 6-7
Stay Strong and Have Courage,
Happy Valentine’s Month! You are loved. You are Lovely. You are a Loving person. Your Love shines through you. Love conquers fear. God’s Love is unconditional and free. Love trumps hate. Start each day with a Loving attitude. Love God. Love your neighbors and Love yourself. Love breeds HOPE.
I hope you are feeling the love of this message and season.
We are doing our best to give love to our kids who have not had a loving relationship or environment to live in. They are very love deprived and therefore don’t know how to receive love. Our job isn’t to make them love us, it is to help them learn that they ARE lovable, have worth and can see themselves in a different way. Every day we start by waking them up in a calm and kind way. They get their showers and get dressed in clean clothes that fit. We eat breakfast together around the table by taking turns, sharing and having conversations that are not filled with profanity, complaining and arguments. Our day also includes a group prayer asking God to help us each day and thanking Him for making and loving us! Eventually they begin to understand and accept our love and begin to accept this new way of living and start to change their views of themselves. Love does change us!
This year begins our 30th year of operation at Valley Teen Ranch. We are going to have a big celebration event on Friday night, May 12 at Wolf Lakes. Your SAVE THE DATE CARD is coming this week! At that event we will roll out some minor changes as we “refresh” our name, our mission and our plans for the next 30 years. HOPE is still our main theme as we continue to “Build Young Lives” in our Group Homes which are now called Short Term Residential Treatment Programs, in Foster Care, Adoption and our Transitional Living Home. You will be receiving a special invitation to our event and we are also going to be looking for at least 25 sponsors for our “Evening with the Stars.” Our Stars will be former children and young adults who were formally in our programs and have now grown up to become productive citizens and have embraced the love we shared with them in their own lives, their spouses and children, too!
Please continue to support our work as you give, pray and love us at Valley Teen Ranch. Also continue to love one another in your words and actions. Check out Hebrews 10:24-25.
Love, Hugs & HOPE,
Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” (NLT version)
Happy New Year to you and your family! We have HOPE and are OPTIMISTIC that 2017 will be our best year ever!
Mark your calendars NOW for our 30th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION ON FRIDAY NIGHT MAY 12, 2017 AT WOLF LAKES! Our theme is “An Evening with the Stars”. We ended this year with a fantastic Feature Article the Fresno Bee did on Valley Teen Ranch. Click here to read the article. It was published 12.19.16 and the reporter Carmen George did a fantastic job! This was my favorite Christmas Gift. Carmen called ME!!!!And we made it on the front pages of section 1 and Section 2!!!! Unbelievable and awesome! We had 2 of our young men successfully complete the program and our Christmas party for one of the houses the day she came to do her “reporting.” In addition the 2 boys in the article will be successfully completing the program in January and one of them will also receive his HS diploma!!! These are HUGE accomplishments for these young men. WE are very proud of them. One of the things we ask them to do when they complete the program is to write a letter that goes to the Juvenile Judge, their Probation Officer and to me! Here is a little part of one of their letters. The part that says it all is as follows, “We all make mistakes but the one thing that comes out of these mistakes, is we usually learn a lesson. I’m here because of wrong choices I’ve made in the past. I took responsibility and I don’t want to make the same mistakes in the future. The staff at VTR has helped me. They have done stuff my father couldn’t teach me. When I first got to VTR I was angry and disappointed with my situation, but now I’m glad God put me here. I’m thankful for the different people I have met and for the places I had the opportunity to visit that I had never been before. Thank you VTR and God!” This young man has truly seen, heard, felt, tasted, touched, and smelled a new way to live. Continue to pray for him as he went home to his family, in the same neighborhood and is only 15, so he has a few more years to go before he can receive his HS Diploma! He has lots of challenges as he leaves us and goes back home. Now we are accepting new young men to take their places and the process starts all over with each of them. My dad used to tell me, “Plan your work and work your Plan!” God says, “For I know the Plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are Plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 & “We know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his Plans.” Romans 8:28. Plan to have a wonderful 2017 and thanks for your continued support to Valley Teen Ranch.
Stay Strong and have Courage,
Tis the season to share the JOY of giving, receiving, seeking “peace on earth,” decorating the house, “Making a list and checking it twice,” baking & eating our favorite cookies, sending Christmas Greetings, listening to or playing that awesome Christmas music and MOST of all, celebrating the Birth of Jesus. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. We also share love, care and concern for friends in ways we may not have been able to during the year.
With all the chaos of the election behind us I believe that Showing Kindness is even more important and significant. We all need to heal. Our kids and staff at the ranch are primarily of Hispanic and African American decent. It is very challenging to help every one of us keep it real, but not in an adversarial manner. It is giving us the opportunity to listen more, care in a more outward way, speak of HOPE more, show kindness, practice what we preach and be an example of a peace maker.
The last day of the semester will be December 16 at which time we will be having 3 more of our young men successfully complete our program and go home to their families. We will also have our end of the semester Awards Ceremony/BBQ Party. I am positive that all of our young men have made significant progress in their academics this semester. It is always a wonderful time to celebrate their accomplishments with them. They can see, hear and feel HOPE for a brighter future for themselves, especially in their education.
As you examine the blessings of 2016 and determine how you will give this Christmas season, I want to encourage you to remember our work at Valley Teen Ranch in your yearend giving. We ARE a qualified 501©3 charity and therefore will receive a tax deduction for your gift. You will receive a year end receipt from me by the end of January. I do not solicit via phone calls. This is the letter you receive to ask for financial help to allow us to keep our programs going forward. I thank you in advance for including us on your giving list this year.
I also pray that you will enjoy love and togetherness with your family and friends. The older I get (66 on December 5!) the more I appreciate kindness, thoughtfulness, support and love from those around me. It also gives me great joy to pass that on to others as well.
Have fun and enjoy the “Reason for the Season,” the birth of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Keep looking up and sharing Hope and Peace with everyone you meet.
Joy to the World…..Silent Night and Peace on Earth,
Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. (Psalm 95:1-2)
Fall is here and we are beginning to enjoy the double digits, the County Fairs, windows open rather than AC, and getting ready for long sleeves, sweaters and socks! It is amazing to see God control the weather, seasons and temperatures. Another obvious sign of who is in charge of our world (that HE created for us to live in and enjoy!).
In case you missed our 15th Annual Fashion Show/Luncheon last week, I wanted to share a few comments from our awesome guests but especially our young people that I interviewed. I always interview (sort of like Oprah) some of our kids from each of our programs: Group Homes, Foster Care, Adoption and Transitional Living. One of our foster girls who is 10 told me she would go up on stage with her foster family but didn’t want to talk, which is always their choice. So I interviewed her foster mom, and older (15 years old) foster sister. Our foster parents started with us just to do foster parenting. When these 2 young girls were placed in their home a year ago….they fell in love with them and through some circumstances with their biological families they became adoptable. Therefore they will be in their last foster home and their second FOREVER FAMILY!!!! After the interviews were complete, Miracle walked towards me like she wanted to talk. I asked her if she had something to say, or if she wanted me to ask her questions. She said, “ask me questions, please!” So I asked her how old she was, what grade she was in and what she liked to do when she wasn’t in school. Then I asked her if she had thought about what she would like to be when she grew up. To my total amazement she said, “I want to become a Foster Mom!” I was flabbergasted…..and thrilled! That says tons about how she feels about being with this incredible foster and now adoption family. God always has a plan!
All of our kids are going to school every day, learning how to care for their bodies, how to pray out loud, go to the Dentist, learn social skills, manners, how to play and have fun without fear and be loved by people who care! They are growing in a safe and healthy home, in some cases, for the first time in their young lives!
As we look towards the last quarter of this year I hope you will continue to keep us in your prayers, your giving and your faithful friendship. We appreciate all you are doing for and with us. More kids are successfully completing our programs, being reunified with their biological families or being adopted. Our days are full of challenges, surprises and rewards. We need YOU and Jesus more than ever before!
Be Blessed MORE!
Keep HOPE Alive.
Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well. – MATTHEW 6:33
The thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat. The Rio Olympics had it all! What incredible athletes from all over the world who came together to compete in their specialties. We watched and cheered for them. They did their best and made life long memories of their accomplishments. They all have HOPE!
At Valley Teen Ranch we have shared that same kind of HOPE, HELP and Celebrations in the past few weeks. I’ll just highlight a few.
Two of our teen-age boys were baptized. I’ll call them Jaime and EJ. Jaime is 18 is about 5’1” and weighs about 100 pounds. He is extremely hyper both physically and verbally. He was our overall Most Inspirational in our Summer Olympics as he encourages everyone, gives compliments freely and likes to win! EJ is 16 about 5”4 and weighs about 200 pounds, wears thick glasses, has some developmental delays in his thoughts and speech and moves slowly. He has learned to swim this summer and has accepted the encouragement from Jaime. Together they have started school, gotten Baptized together and are making progress. They have HOPE.
This week we got a call from Fresno County CPS for a baby that was born in Junes as a drug exposed preemie who weighed 2 pounds. He now weighs 4 pounds and needs a foster home while they try and find a relative placement as the parents need drug rehab services. One of our Foster Parent families picked him up from the hospital and are caring for his special formative needs. He has HOPE!
We have had a few young kids who are not happy with their lives and don’t want to live. We have worked with Law Enforcement, Ambulance People, Crisis Intervention specialists, Doctors, Social Workers as well as our staff and foster parents to help them find their way through their crisis. We have shared HOPE with them. They have HOPE!
A wonderful teenage Eagle Scout did his Eagle Scout project with us at VTR. He purchased and installed a flag pole and then also got a flag that had flown over the US Capitol on the 4th of July. We raised the flag together with the boys as I played the National Anthem and we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, together. We as AmeriCANs all have HOPE!
We had 2 Adoption finalizations this month as our children were officially adopted into our FOREVER Family. They have HOPE!
Please continue to pray for us. We need more Foster Parents who will take older youth and sibling groups. We need more boys at the group homes who will not run away and will receive the HOPE we are offering them.
Thank you for your prayers & your financial giving to us as we continue to give HOPE to our kids.
Your Hope Dealer,
Connie R. Clendenan, CEO
Valley Teen Ranch
P.S. We STILL HAVE A FEW SEATS OPEN FOR OUR FASHION SHOW/LUNCHEON ON SEPTEMBER 24 AT THE GOLDEN PALACE. CALL 437.1144 FOR YOUR $40 TICKET TODAY.
Another hot summer in the San Joaquin Valley is coming to an end. School starts for our young men at the ranch on August 11! This week they are at Calvin Crest Camp learning about nature, the Creator, sleeping under the stars, sitting around the campfire telling stories, and making memories that they had no idea existed.
Last week we celebrated our 7th Annual Summer Olympics, with KYJO, another local boys group home. We had about 45 kids that participated in athletic events including: flag football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, Billiards, track, bench press, sit ups, push-ups and up-downs. Also they participated in academics: poetry, an essay on where you see yourself in the next 5 years, art work, Trivial Pursuit, Spelling Bee, Checkers and Dominos. There were 4 teams. We mixed our kids with the kids from KYJO. Each event had a 1-4th place team and at the end of the week we had 4 winning teams. Each team member received a medal, a certificate and a team picture…..and a huge Tri-Tip BBQ. We also had a Most Inspirational and a MVP from each team and an overall MVP and Most Inspirational. They learned how to participate, how to encourage the ones who lost, team work, sportsmanship, and FUN…without getting into a fight, quitting or running away! Major Victory for all of us! AND no serious injuries either! I wish you could have seen them as they played their hardest. Considering very few of them have ever played any kind of organized sports, been picked to be on a team, won a medal, finished what they started, (even if they lost,) and played for and against people they didn’t know and sometimes didn’t even like (primarily due to their gang affiliation). Quite the lessons they experienced! We all did our best to keep them going every day from 8-noon, in that blasting heat! They all had their inhalers and were not going to be defeated! Our mottos: “Keep your eye on the prize! Run and don’t get weary! Finish strong! Don’t give up! YOU can DO it! Your Team needs YOU! I’m so very proud of YOU!” By Friday we were all moving slower! But we had swimming, the awards ceremony and then the Tri-Tip Lunch. We kept them hydrated with water and gator aid every day, too.
As we watch the Rio Olympics this month I will be equating our kid’s victories to those athletes; in a different sort of way. Our kids never trained but they are all Champions and deserve to have their faces on the Wheaties Box, from our Summer Olympics!
With all the racial turmoil in our world I can honestly say that at Valley Teen Ranch we are culturally and ethnically diverse, culturally sensitive, living together in a peaceful and respectful environment, demonstrating fairness and equality and have ZERO tolerance for anything else! Respect breeds trust which brings hope and freedom. We live it out with our kids and staff, together! The Golden Rule is our standard. It works, and it’s free….NOT always easy but it IS happening with all of us.
As we head back to school we are getting the kids their fall and winter clothing, school supplies, new tennis shoes, sports equipment and school uniforms (Grey polo shirts). Your giving this month will help with those extra things.
Keep on Keepin’ on and we will hopefully see you at our Fashion Show Luncheon on September 24 from 10 AM-2 PM at the Golden Palace. Tickets are $40. Our theme is “It’s a Mexican Fiesta!” Call the office today or go online at valleyteenranch.org to get your ticket(s).
Stay strong , have Courage & GO FOR THE GOLD everyday!