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On paper, Zoey’s story had a ring of familiarity. She was starting to run with a bad crowd, getting into trouble, and failing in school. She and her
family agreed that something needed to change. However, when Zoey arrived at the Youth Ranches, everyone immediately noticed that there was nothing typical about this young woman.
“When I first got here, honestly, I liked it a lot. It was a family.” Even though Zoey was excited about the atmosphere of the Ranch, like most boys and girls who are new to the program, the transition was a little rocky. Zoey moved into the girl’s cottage on campus and had to quickly learn how to navigate different social situations. Sometimes it felt easier just to stay in her room.
“Eventually I started going out and talking to people and going to the different activities,” Zoey said. “I came more out of my shell.”
Once everyone met the real Zoey, it became evident that she was a driven and outgoing person. After sitting down with the teachers at the Donald Ralph Cooke School, they came up with a plan to help Zoey catch up and graduate on time. Zoey jumped at the opportunity, impressing all of her teachers with her intelligence and determination.
“Once I started school at the Ranch, I got ahead. I was always passing with an A/B average, nothing less,” Zoey said. Education is vital to Zoey’s plans for the future.
After graduating a semester early, she was accepted at Polk State College and moved to the Polk Sheriff’s Charities Scholarship House to get started on her AA degree.
“I plan on getting my nursing degree and eventually going to med school to get my cardiac surgery license,” she explained.
This career path might sound daunting to some, but for Zoey, it’s a goal she has carried with her since she was a child.
“Cardiac surgery is a big thing because one of my friends died of cardiac arrest. I want to do better and help people.”
All Zoey needed was a path forward. Her ambition and determination took care of the rest. At the Youth Ranches, she not only got access to educational tools to get ahead, she also got a chance to participate in campus activities like Riding Ranchers.
“I love to be outside and I love riding horses,” she said. “I learned a lot. When you’re just riding with friends, you’re not learning patterns and what to do with a horse if something happens. So there’s definitely a lot of training lessons I learned in the Riding Ranchers.”
As part of the Riding Ranchers, Zoey rode in the Grand Entry Ceremony at the 62nd Annual Boys Ranch Open House and Horse Show. The Riding Ranchers practice for months to memorize and guide their horses through a complex choreographed riding routine.
Another thing that made a big difference in Zoey’s time at the Ranch was the cottage parents and staff who continued to encourage her on her journey.
“The people that took me aside and talked to me—that had a big part in what turned me around,” she said. “I had a lot of big things going for me here.”
With encouragement from the staff and friends she made in her cottage, Zoey continued to improve during her time at the Ranch. She has risen above all expectations and created a solid plan for her future. Her personality shines through everything she does, and she is excited for the opportunities to meet and talk with new people as a college student.
Looking back, Zoey knows she wouldn’t have been able to get this far without them help of the Ranch. Without your support, none of this would be possible! The unique atmosphere of the Youth Ranches, the academic opportunities, and the family of staff that is dedicated to seeing her succeed—all of this helped put Zoey on a path toward a bright future.
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The Junkluggers of East Tampa, St. Pete & Clearwater Selects the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches as a Corporate Partner
DATE: February 25, 2021
CONTACT: Wayne Witczak (386) 842-5501
SUWANNEE COUNTY, FL – The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is pleased to announce that the Junkluggers of East Tampa, St. Pete & Clearwater has selected the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches as a Corporate Partner.
Founded in 2004, Junkluggers is an eco-friendly junk removal company committed to the environment and the communities they serve. “The amount of household and commercial waste that ends up in landfills on a daily basis is astronomical,” said Junkluggers Franchisee Ryan Akers. “We believe that a lot of this is avoidable, and with just a little attention to detail—and a lot of love for our planet—we can help reverse this growing problem.”
“The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches sees this as a natural fit with our organization,” said FSYR Director of Development Wayne Witczak. “We teach our kids to be good stewards of the environment and to leave it better than they found it. It just makes sense that we would partner with an organization that has a similar corporate value to our own.”
As a Corporate Partner, an organization agrees to raise awareness and funding for the mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches by incorporating a culture of giving through every aspect of their business enterprise. They are committed to making a difference in their communities and look for opportunities to have a positive impact.
The mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is to prevent delinquency and develop lawful, resilient and productive citizens. This year the Youth Ranches will serve over 4,000 boys and girls.
This charitable nonprofit corporation was founded by the Florida Sheriffs Association and operates three residential child-care campuses and three youth camps. Additionally, it provides community-based services to as many of Florida’s neglected, troubled children as funds will permit. Voluntary contributions are the primary source of funding, especially thoughtful gifts made through special bequests in wills and trusts.
The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation and the American Camp Association. If you would like more information about the Youth Ranches, please contact us at 1-800-765-3797, or visit www.youthranches.org.
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Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches Partners With Firehouse Subs Founders for 'Double the Fun' Campaign
Sorensens offer $250,000 in matching donations for Camp Sorensen
HILLIARD, Fla., Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches today announced a partnership with brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, the founders of Firehouse Subs, to launch a "Double the Fun" campaign supporting Camp Sorensen in northeast Florida.
Robin and his wife, Tabitha, made an anchor donation of $900,000 earlier this year to purchase the former First Baptist Church Jacksonville Hilliard Retreat Center and turn it into a Youth Ranches summer camp. The Sorensen brothers are now providing up to $250,000 to match donations supporting the new camp.
"We are thrilled to continue our support of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and the life-changing work of their camp programs," Robin Sorensen said. "Camp Sorensen will impact so many kids in northeast Florida, and we encourage others to join us in this worthy cause."
Camp Sorensen hosted its first group of campers in August and offers activities for children that include team-building, high ropes, challenge course, canoeing, archery and a host of traditional camp activities. During the remainder of the year, Camp Sorensen offers programs on leadership, diversity, athletics and team-building through community partnerships.
"Once again, we are incredibly grateful to the Sorensens for their generosity and enthusiasm for supporting the mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches," said Youth Ranches President Bill Frye. "Their generous match offers us the chance to multiply the effect of every donation and will help us serve more boys and girls at camp next year."
Donations to Camp Sorensen can be made to the "Double the Fun" campaign online at youthranches.org and will be used to add a chapel, pool and bathhouse, canoe and kayak launch as well as for renovations to the chuck wagon kitchen and bathrooms.
About the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches
The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children through its three residential child-care campuses (Live Oak, Bartow and Safety Harbor) and its three youth leadership and summer camping programs. Founded in 1957 by the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Youth Ranches has served more than 165,000 children and families.
The mission of the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches is to prevent delinquency and develop lawful, productive citizens. Voluntary contributions are the primary source of funding, especially gifts made through special bequests in wills and trusts. The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, Inc. is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children, Inc. and the American Camp Association. For more information, visit youthranches.org.
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‘I think this person will be surprised to hear their name called,” Mr. Fletcher announced to the crowd at the 2020 Boys Ranch Awards Banquet. In one hand was a microphone and in the other was the highest award given at this event: the Program Director’s Award. “But they will forever remember the night when they heard the name… Adrianna.”
Adrianna, known by everyone at the Ranch as A.J., made her way up to the stage to receive her award, one hand on the stair rail and the other lifting up the front of her white and gold evening gown. As Mr. Fletcher predicted, she was very surprised to be handed the glass trophy inscribed with her name. “I thought I was in trouble,” A.J. remembered. “Adrianna is my ‘getting in trouble’ name.”
When she looked out at the crowd, A.J. caught sight of her cottage mom holding back tears. A.J. is a quiet, reserved young lady. She keeps her head down, works hard, and supports her cottage behind the scenes whenever she can. Despite keeping a low profile, her work ethic and dedication are evident to everyone around her. Her on-campus job at the Ranch is working with the Maintenance department. She can often be seen mowing grass, planting flower beds, and maintaining other areas around campus.
“When I was little I kind of grew up helping people mow grass and stuff. So I already know how to do this.” The work is familiar and rewarding. “I like to show off a little bit,” A.J. admitted.
“I like to get the job done. If I’m mowing, I want to get the job done. If I want to get the plants planted, I have to get that job done.”
This attitude earned A.J. a second award at the banquet: Hardest Worker. “A lot of you lead by example,” Mr. Howard, who works in Maintenance at the Boys Ranch, said to the crowd. “I couldn’t be more proud to work alongside you. But I’m happy with this choice because…she works for me,” he said, grinning.
Along with a strong work ethic, A.J. is also known for her determination. Once she puts her mind to something, she finishes it. When signups opened on campus for Riding Ranchers, A.J. was one of the many Ranchers who showed up to the meeting. One of the most difficult things Riding Ranchers have to do is learn a choreographed riding routine for the Boys Ranch Open House Grand Entry ceremony.
“It’s easy when I picture it in my head,” A.J. explained, “but when you’re trying to control a horse that’s really stubborn, it’s tough.”
Despite being thrown from her horse a few times during practice, A.J. got up, brushed herself off, and got right back into the saddle. Her perseverance and drive to pursue what she wants is reinforced by the support she receives from her cottage family. “Here it’s really different, especially my cottage parents. Here we do things as a group.” When A.J. needs support, she
knows she can go to her cottage mom and talk. “I used to be super quiet and by myself,” she explained. “And now, since I’ve been here, I’ve bloomed like a flower.”
After she graduates high school next year, A.J. wants to find a job and an apartment so she can be close to her family. Living at the Ranch has given A.J. a chance to flourish and has put her on track for a successful future.
“This place has helped me so much,” she said. “I’m always smiling and I like to put smiles on other people’s faces.”