“Merry Christmas, Honey! Time to wake up and see what Santa brought!” These words are music to most children’s ears. But, Ruby* can’t remember the last time she heard such words of kindness, security, and love.
Seven years. Eight different foster home placements. And now, at age 14, Ruby is in residential treatment at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch. Ruby and her younger brother and sister were removed from their mother’s custody years ago when the ravages of drug addiction completely took over their mother’s interest in her children.
The State tried to keep the siblings together in foster placement. However, this noble effort led to an unforeseen catastrophe. Ruby and her two siblings were sent to live with a couple who already had three other foster kids. With six kids under one roof, things got chaotic at times. The foster parents used belts and verbal abuse to control the children’s behaviors, which led to an investigation and ultimately separate foster placements for Ruby, her brother and her sister.
The trauma Ruby suffered, along with Major Depressive Disorder and a history of neglect and psychological abuse throughout her childhood, led Ruby to Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch. Ruby finally found something she could rely on at the Ranch – safety, security, supportive staff and professional counselors to help her work through her illness.
Ruby has a way to go in terms of her therapy, but at least now she can talk about her fears and sad feelings instead of retreating into a protective shell, like a turtle.
Even though Ruby won’t be spending this Christmas with her brother and sister, she is still grateful for what she has. Ruby says, “I like eating dinner with the kids in my Lodge and the staff. It’s like we’re a family.” Ruby even jokes “We say ‘please and thank you’ when we pass the food around the table . . . I’ve never done that before!”
Thanks to a “Secret Santa” program made possible by one of Yellowstone Foundation’s long-time donors, Ruby and the other boys and girls spending this Christmas in residential treatment at the Ranch will each receive two or three modest presents, beautifully wrapped by volunteers from the community. The Ranch will provide a special Holiday Dinner and fun programming to keep the kids active and engaged throughout the Holiday Season.
None of these special touches would be possible without generous donations from loyal friends like you. In the face of rising health care costs and budget cuts from the State, Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation’s on-going financial support of the children at the Ranch and in its Community Based Services programs is more critical than ever. We can only support the Ranch and similar organizations if we continue to receive help from our donor friends like you.
Ruby desperately needs the treatment services provided by Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, and we desperately need your gift to make sure the Ranch remains a premier provider of care for emotionally troubled boys and girls.
I wish you and your loved ones a Blessed Christmas, and please know you have my lasting gratitude for your support.
Bill Hritsco, President
*Name changed to protect individual’s confidentiality.