November 27, 2013
The Sheriffs Reasons for Creating the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches
By: Steve Casey, Executive Director
Imagine this scene, it’s a fall day in Florida in 1957, and an elderly lady arrives early one morning at the Sheriff’s Office and asks if she can speak with the Sheriff about a private matter. After a short wait, the lady is ushered into the office of the Sheriff and takes a seat. During the meeting, she tells him she is having problems with her grandson’s behavior at home and he is failing in school, and she is worried about the gang he is now hanging out with. She also tells the sheriff it is rumored the gang is involved with drugs and even carries weapons. She advises the Sheriff, her grandson lives with her now, as her daughter was killed in an auto accident a few years back, and his father wants nothing to do with him. She says her husband passed away a few years ago and she needs help raising the boy but does not know who she can turn to in this situation. She then asks the Sheriff if he can help the family or knows anyone who can. The Sheriff says YES and then tells her about a new program the Sheriffs have just created called the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch to assist youth and families like hers. He then places a call to the director of the ranch and arranges for a case worker to meet the family.
While this is a fictional story, over the years, more than 100,000 real youth in similar situations have participated in these interviews and voluntarily taken up residence at the Youth Ranches. These placements forever changed their lives for the better and put them on the positive track they needed so they would not end up in jail or even worse. The Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranch story is an amazing example of how the Sheriffs in our state met and continue to meet the needs of their community. We hear a lot on the news today about high profile cases (i.e.: murder, robbery, rape, etc.,) and the high speed vehicle pursuits which happen from time to time, but the work that is going on at the youth ranches year around is just as important to us all.
This week, I had the pleasure of attending the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches (FSYR) Board meeting in Manatee County. One of my duties at FSA is to serve as a liaison between the FSA and the FSYR boards. These boards coordinate their actions to support the youth ranches which in turn provide these deserving kids with a safe, a home like environment, where they can learn and grow up into fine young men and women who will be an asset to their community. At the meeting, I gave them an update on FSA activities and I heard reports from the various committee chairs (i.e.: educational, business enterprises, fundraising, investment, etc.) regarding the operations of their programs. Sumter County Sheriff Bill Farmer is the Chair of the Board and he works closely with FSYR President Roger Bouchard to ensure the program quality is maintained at the highest possible level. The vast majority of the youth which reside at the ranches go on to graduate from high school and then either attend trade school or college or join the military. No surprise that quite a few have even decided to enter the career field of law enforcement and go to work for local Sheriffs’ Offices. I am proud of the great work that goes on at the youth ranches and I encourage you to learn more about them by visiting their website at www.youthranches.org and make a donation to this great program.
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