Wednesday, October 14, 2009

October Rancher of the Month

This is April*. She comes to us from a home in the southern United States by way of her family ranch in Nebraska. April is an outdoors kind of girl who loves animals, bugs, snakes, dirt, rocks and anything else from nature. She is a kind and gentle person who needs lots of hugs--on her own terms only--and understanding from her house parent and friends.

April likes to collect things and has, in the past, hidden her collection quite cleverly. Recently, however, she has created a display in her room of the things she has collected and is very pleased with the outcome. Her house parent is very pleased as well.

April is extremely creative. She makes up songs on the spur of the moment and has an amazing sense of color and design. In our fiber workshop, she makes hand made felt and blends surprising colors together that make for beautiful patterns. She also quite accomplished at needle work of any kind.

She likes to work in the garden and will work from begininning to end at any task she is set to. Pulling weeds is her summer project and she enjoys being responsible for keeping the flower beds around her house clean.

April is happiest when she can walk out on the Ranch and talk to the animals in the pastures. They come to her readily because she is so gentle with them and has a special ability to calm them and earn their trust. We call her "The Goat Whisperer."
April is good company. She likes to talk and joke while riding along to appointments and shopping. She doesn't ask for much and is very easy to please, which makes her even easier to spend time with. Mostly, April wants friends and caregivers that will take the time to earn her trust and will stay in her life a long time.

We're pleased to call April our friend. She is absolutely...

...bursting with abilities, capabilities and possibilities!!!

**Triangle Cross Ranch does not use Ranchers' real names in our public posts.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Folk Camp Highlights

We held our first Folk Camp this fall with the theme of "getting to know our pioneer roots." Our new activities director, Randee, put it all together. The Ranchers participated in candle dipping, weaving, quilting, making butter, milking goats, square dancing and a host of folk crafts, games and activities.

Camp fires, singing around the fire, hobo dinners and storytelling topped off each evening. Camp ended with a good old fashioned pot luck supper and barn dance. Mike Heroy, of Dry Creek Band, and Ron Camerrer, of the Gospel Bluegrass Jam Group, were the musical heroes of the night.

It was a full week and the Ranchers are happy to go back to the regular schedule, including plenty of time to rest.

Randee and Hannah, our camp coordinator and photographer---AND energetic life coaches!

And finally, our very pretty little visitor.
Come on out and visit us anytime. We're always glad to see you.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


One of our employees spoke last week with a staff member from the local Community Center Board. This is the agency that receives and allocates the state funding for care for disabled adults in the county. This staff member mentioned that she had always viewed the Ranchers at Triangle Cross Ranch as prisoners because she thought they were isolated and "held hostage" at the Ranch. I want to respond to that point of view.

The system endorsed by the state of Colorado specifies that adults with disabilities must be integrated into the community. This is not a choice. This is a mandate. At first blush, it appears that this philosophy is so correct and so right on target that few people ever challenge it. Of course disabled individuals should be included in the community at large! Of course adults with disabilities should be surrounded by all types of individuals and be considered a vital part of the "normal" population! Who can disagree with that? I can't!

However, in practice, the issues are more than just integration and inclusion. DD adults are very open to use and abuse by others--people who, both disabled and non-disabled, have something to gain from manipulating and controlling. The instances of abuse are many and include everything from financial exploitation to sexual abuse. Let me tell you some stories to illustrate this important situation.

Gina spent several years in a state funded facility in Mississippi. The youngest child of the family, she had lived with her parents and traveled extensively with her mother until the time of her mother's death. Gina is diagnosed with mild retardation and has behaviors that include stealing, hoarding and gathering "shiny stuff" and "pretties", and items that are related to nature. When promised gifts and goodies, Gina will do whatever she is told to do in order to get her prize. In the previous facility, staff members and other residents purchased sexual favors from Gina in exchange for marbles and trinkets. Gina lives at the Ranch now, and after a brief and very difficult period, is blooming little by little.

Mark is an autistic man who came to the Ranch at the age of 22. His parents, not knowing what to do with him, used Mark for free manual labor at their home and business and locked him in his bedroom each evening and whenever they weren't at home. When they were gone for weekends, Mark was left locked in his room with no one to help him or interact with him, a limited supply of food and water and a toilet "container". Mark was hit over the head with a 2x4 by his father because he couldn't perform his work duties to his father's satisfaction. A few weeks later, Mark was brought to the Ranch and abandoned. Every time money became tight for his family, they would lobby to bring him back home so they could control his SSI and SSDI. Mark refused to return to his parents' home. He lived at the Ranch for 22 years until just recently when he became eligible for comprehensive services through Medicaid.

David was placed in two different group homes in his 36 years, one lasting several weeks and the other less than 48 hours. Each placement ended because David was severely beaten by staff members and retrieved from the hospital by his mother. David is a very big person with a kind and gentle heart, but very little self control and no concept of his strength. To integrate David at this time would put David's safety at risk and would scare the people that he comes in contact with. David is living at the Ranch and working at learning proper social interactions with a small group of people who know and care about him.

Bob has lived in several group homes in Colorado. Even though his mother lives quite close and is very involved in his life, he reports that he was raped by another male resident during one of his placements. Bob is autistic with mild retardation, so it's difficult to determine details and time periods from his reports. Bob also has an excellent memory and he struggles with his memories, which appear to be vivid. He lives at the Ranch, feels comfortable enough to share his fears with his staff member and enjoys life, for the most part.

Levi came to the Ranch as a very high functioning 18-year-old. He had serious problems with judgment and decision making and refused to stay on the Ranch because he believed he could live on his own. Levi left the Ranch and refused his parents' oversight, moving in with a person he met at a job interview. This person talked Levi into signing over his SSI and SSDI in payment for a place to live. Levi was kicked out of the house after 3 days and it took another 90 days for his SSI and SSDI payments to be restored to his parents. Levi was later talked into participating in credit card fraud. He was arrested while the person who used him in the scam disappeared with the money. He has been homeless for weeks at a time and continues to be manipulated by predators who can spot him a mile away. We do not know where Levi is at this time.

I could go on. Triangle Cross Ranch is not a facility for abused adults. We deal with very typical DD people, and yet the stories of past abuse are more the norm than the exception. Is this a failure of the state system? Not really. Many DD adults thrive in the established system, but like any other model of care (including Triangle Cross Ranch) it is not a system without its problems.

Not all DD adults are able to thrive when thrust into the larger community. Some need additional oversight and some the acceptance and security of living among peers within the same community for lengthy periods of time so that their self-esteem can grow. The Ranch is an option for such people. They have the opportunity to work on-site. They have recreational options along with friendships and relationships. Most importantly, they have the opportunity to interact with the larger community, but on their terms and at their own rate, rather than according to a government mandate. The limitations in place at the Ranch are designed to protect the Rancher from harm by predators, hold Ranchers accountable for their own actions and teach and train them in the ways of adult behavior. To perceive Ranchers as hostages is to misunderstand the needs of the Ranchers and to be misinformed of the facts.

No single model of care has all the answers for DD adults because they are all so different and their needs are so varied. The people who house and work with DD adults, loving them purely for who they are, are heroes no matter what model they follow. I believe that the CCB staff member is changing her point of view. Why else would she admit to such a thoroughly biased opinion without knowing the facts? Because of our model of care, TCR is denied government funding. In many ways, this is freeing because we can continue to care for our Ranchers according to our convictions and according to actual needs, rather than assumed needs. In other ways, it's troubling because those agencies that receive government funds tend to quote the party line, making judgements without benefit of knowledge. I can't blame them. You just don't bite the hand that feeds you.

However, regardless of the perceptions of those who are uninformed, Triangle Cross Ranch will continue to become a viable option for those whose funding has been cut or eliminated, for those who haven't been able to find success in the larger community and for those whose families just feel better knowing their family member is sheltered from predators.

Come on out and visit us. Be informed. Find out for yourself. We're always glad to see you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June Rancher of the Month

Our June Rancher of the month is Eric**. Eric comes to us from Florida, by way of Georgia. He works at a local goat dairy, helping with the daily chores and the bi-weekly raw milk deliveries.

Eric is a quiet and unassuming person who is soft spoken and kind to the other Ranchers. Many of our Ranchers look up to Eric because he is so kind and patient with others. They voted him into the office of Ranch mayor last November and he has since passed his office on to another Rancher.

Of all of our Ranchers, Eric is the most apt to jump in and help out with the most difficult jobs, especially when it includes manual labor. Eric is also a tremendous help to his house parent because he qualifies to cook and work in the kitchen.

Eric spends his free time taking long walks and watching his favorite TV programs, as well as helping our Ranch manager with whatever work needs done around the Ranch.

Eric is good company. He talks about his life, his opinions (which are many), and his family. He is also a good listener, patiently hearing some of the other Ranchers saying the same thing numerous times. He never complains. He is a friend to all, Ranchers and staff alike.

The staff is very proud of Eric. He quit smoking this year, which may be one of the hardest things he's ever done.

Eric's greatest desire is to live on his own. The Ranch will be opening an independent living home early next year and Eric will qualify to live in that house. It will be the first step towards his dream and we're pleased to be able to offer him this option.

...bursting with abilities, capabilties, and possibilities!

**Triangle Cross Ranch does not use the Rancher's real names in our public posts.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Miracle of Summer Color

Triangle Cross Ranch is located in the "Great American Desert". Our climate could be considered extreme to some, with cold and harsh winters and hot dry summers. If it weren't for irrigation, we would be living in a barren desert.

And yet look at what God does for us!!

This summer, so far, we've had a lot of rain. After several years of drought, the rain is a blessing and reward.

God shows His glory in all climates and in all seasons. These little bits of color are part of His fingerprint of creation. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Ephesians 2:10

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
John 17:24

Each of our Ranchers is work of God's glory, showing a unique part of His character to the world.

"All men are like grass and all their glory is like the flowers of the fields. The grass withers and flowers fall. But the Word of the Lord stands forever."
1 Peter 1:24

"Consider the lillies of the field. They do not labor or spin, and yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was arrayed as one of these."
Luke 12:27

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

Baby Goats Arrive!!

Our first angora kids of the season arrived on Friday afternoon between 1:30 and 2:00 pm. The twins, a brown male and white female, are racing around their little shelter, literally bouncing off the walls.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June Rancher of the Month

This is Bruce.** Bruce is definitely his own person. He works 4 days a week at a local restaurant as a dish washer and pays his own bills here at the Ranch. He loves to watch TV, especially sports and the news. If we ever need to know what the weather will be we can always trust his reports.

Bruce's routine is very important to him. He lives by the preposted menus, the calendar and the schedule of activities. Deviating from his routine brings him unbelievable stress so things are very predictable in his life and we work hard at keeping it that way.

The Colorado Rockies is one of Bruce's favorite teams. We occasionally get free tickets from friends and donors and the outings to the games are some of his best times. Bruce takes his transistor radio with him to the ball park and listens to another game being played while he watches the Rockies play. He knows all of the statistics of nearly all of the American League and National League players. He's a wealth of information and very handy to have at a baseball game.
Of course, the Broncos are Bruce's other favorite team and he catches every game he can on TV.

Bruce likes to watch action movies with kissing in them. He laughs at each and every kiss, blushes every time and comments about the couples who kiss on the screen. Some of his favorite movies are The Mask of Zorro and Top Gun.

Bruce bottle fed his own Nubian kid this spring and named it, what else?, Bruce! Happily, the fact that Little Bruce was a girl didn't interfere with their relationship at all.

Bruce has been here at the Ranch for 22 years, longer than any other Rancher, board member or staff member. He has seen more than he is able to communicate in those years. He has recently come to the top of the federal funding waiting list and will be moving away from the Ranch to live closer to his job in a host home in Greeley. He's nervous and excited all at the same time. The uncertainty of where he will live and who his housemates will be is causing him stress, but the staff and Ranchers all tell him how much his new family will love him and how happy he will be. After all, what's not to love? He should move to his new diggs by the end of July.

Bruce recently told us that he "wouldn't even miss this place." He laughed after he said it and we knew he was starting to separate. It was sad for us, but a necessary step for him. He loves his house parent, Pauline, very much and depends on her for much more than help with daily living skills. She provides the sense of family, love and unconditional acceptance that Bruce needs to thrive. The local agency is doing their very best to find Bruce a family whose style is a lot like Pauline's.

Needless to say, we will all miss him desperately. This is the next step that God has for Bruce and once his routine is established, he will bloom where he is planted, just as he's bloomed here at Triangle Cross Ranch.

The best of God's blessings to you Bruce! We love you!

"...bursting with abilities, capabilities and possibilities!"

**Triangle Cross Ranch does not use our Ranchers' real names in our public posts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

May Rancher of the Month

This is Alex.*** He is a wonderfully energetic young man who comes to us from Kentucky. Alex has been at the Ranch for nearly a year and the adjustment has been a challenge for him. As of today, he's ever so proud to call Triangle Cross Ranch "my Ranch" and to name all of his friends.
Friends are important to Alex. He left behind a long list of close friends in Kentucky to live closer to his family. As he continues to settle and adjust, Alex finds himself more and more in demand with the other Ranchers. This pleases him to no end.

Alex loves to work. He's all about work and being busy. Unlike some, Alex loves to work in the gardens, help with the horses and alpacas and help the staff with grounds keeping. He also delights in helping get the evening meal ready and serving others. His heart is truly a servant's heart. The only thing he hates to do--with a passion, I might add--is housework.
Alex also loves to be praised for his efforts--don't we all? He thrives on nearly any kind word directed his way. Alex also likes keys, as they are symbols of power to him. His favorite reward for adult behavior is a key to carry on his ever expanding ring. None of his keys open a single lock, but that's not really a concern to him. He loves the sound of them jingling against his leg as he walks around the property. He loves to feel their smooth and rough parts and see them reflect the light. Mostly, he loves to compare the number of keys he carries to the keys his life coach carries. It makes Alex feel important to be trusted with so many keys.

Alex will trade in some of his keys for a cell phone in the near future. This is another symbol of power and an enormous reward for long term adult behavior. While there will be no service on the phone, he enjoys "talking" to his family and friends throughout the day. This will make his weekly phone call from his parents even more special as he'll have a chance to think through and practice his conversations.

Speaking is difficult for Alex, but he uses sign language and is able to use enough words to make his thoughts and opinions known. And he has LOTS to say!! His favorite things to talk about are his family, his friends, and the projects he wants to see in the future. He has more ideas than one young man should have room for inside of him--a large gymnasium, a giant red score board, a swimming pool, a riding arena, a new office building, lots of new Ranchers, concerts, baseball games--the list grows weekly.

Music moves Alex outside of himself. He's one of God's true praisers, conducting the earthly and heavenly choir with gusto whenever there is live music. He uses a white baton to conduct and does so without a moment's thought--it's just part and parcel of his perfect spirit. Alex reminds us that even though our Ranchers may not reflect perfection on the outside, their spirits are completely intact and completely perfect. Their child like souls demonstrate the things that make children so endearing and disarming--enthusiasm, imagination, trust, love without conditions and implicit faith. Thank you Alex, for helping us to become as little children, which pleases our Father enormously.

**Triangle Cross Ranch does not use our Ranchers' real names in our public posts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

March Rancher of the Month

Meet Laura!* She's our March Rancher of the Month. Laura is non-verbal, but she communicates better than most. She's been a Rancher for 14 years and never wants to live anywhere else.

Laura loves music and dancing. She sings long and loudly when given the chance and freeform dances until she drops--literally--whenever there is lively music. Laura is full of life and loves to tease. She uses sign language on occasion to get her message across, but her facial expressions say more than any sign language could.

Laura is in charge of the house dog, Tasha. She feeds her, walks, her, cleans up after her and watches out for her safety. She does an amazing job at it and Tasha loves her and trusts her. Laura also has a pet bunny that receives exemplary care. She takes care of her bunny all by herself and never needs help with this task.

Laura's room is organized and clean nearly all the time because it's very important to her--it's part of her routine and she thrives within her routine. She has pictures of horses, wolves and eagles on her walls. Her favorite movies are westerns that feature John Wayne, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger.

Laura loves gentle hugs, tickling and laughing, cuddles, and hand holding. She's an unrepentant tease, reveling in giving the staff a gentle poke in a ticklish spot, then running away and laughing at their surprised reaction.

Laura hasn't always been as relaxed and secure as she is today. She's had her share of stressful times and bouts with temper tantrums and such, but the Ranch has become her home and it's a good fit for her. The longer she lives at the Ranch, the happier she is. In fact, the longer we have Laura with us, the happier we are, too! She is a pearl of great price and a treasure to all of us here.

...bursting with abilities, capabilities and possibilities...!

*Triangle Cross Ranch does not use our Ranchers' real names in our public posts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Meet the Parents...Uh...Life Coaches

Triangle Cross Ranch operates within a protected community and under a life coach philosophy of care. Our staff members live on the Ranch, creating a family style home for our Ranchers. It's an unusual way to run a facility, but it's the best way to ensure the acceptance, security and self-esteem of our Ranchers. Oh, wait, I think that's our mission!

We are the only facility of our kind in the state of Colorado, and only one of four in the nation. The state disapproves of our model of care because we do not "integrate" our Ranchers into the community at large. Rather, we provide a sheltered environment that allows them to progress at their own rate. They are given the opportunity to live next door to their closest friends and peers and to relate with society on their own terms.

Our model of care is Christ-centered and highly relational. All teaching, training and behavior modification happens within a relationship with care givers who truly care about the Ranchers and are dedicated to pursuing their best interests. Isn't that what God does for us? We don't always succeed in walking out Christ's character, but it only makes us rely on Him more each day.

With that said, here are the heroes who live and work with our Ranchers:

This is Donna. She runs a co-ed house with 2 women upstairs and 3 men downstairs. Donna is our senior life coach. She runs a tight ship and can handle nearly anything thrown her way. She's been at the Ranch for 7 years and says that she'll retire to the Ranch and live out her days here.

Martha and her family have been with us for just less than a year. Martha moved into the house and promptly created close relationships with the 3 women in her house. Martha is the mom that many are missing in their lives and yet has the backbone to hold them accountable for their actions. She's a terrific guide for them and has the patience to talk them through their many emotional ups and downs.

Pauline is the "grandma" who runs our men's house. She has 3 strapping men in her care and she keeps them well in line. Pauline has the patience it takes to help the guys learn to treat women correctly and to treat each other with respect. She provides security, love and consistency--just exactly what they need.

Our Ranchers are learning to pray Colossians 1:9-11 this year. They're praying for our staff, family members, volunteers, donors, board members and for each other. Here is our own version of this scripture:
Colossians 1:9-11

We pray for you every day and ask that your head will be filled with God’s thoughts and God’s ideas.

We ask that your life would be a picture of Jesus and that you would know Jesus better and better every day.

We ask that you would become stronger in the power of the Holy Spirit and that you would be patient as God makes you more like Him.
If you're reading this today, we will be praying for you, too. God's best to all of you!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

February Rancher of the Month

Meet Dave*. He's one of our Ranchers. Dave is a kind and gentle person who loves to help people. He's looking for a job right now and would like to work at a grocery store or some other kind of store. He's got experience in that kind of work.

Dave's got a great sense of humor and is an unrepentant teaser of other Ranchers, staff and visitors. He would like to have a girl friend, but God hasn't brought him the right one yet. Dave knows that women need to be treated differently than men because they have different likes and dislikes than men. He has excellent manners and makes friends easily.

Dave needs a few more seconds to answer questions than most. He thinks deeply and carefully about things and takes his time to put his words together, so it's always worth the wait. Dave is one of the best housekeepers in his house. He does the dishes and wipes the counters and stove top after every meal and nearly always responds when someone needs help with their chores.

Dave has a room full of DVD's that he likes to watch. He especially likes High School Musical 1 and 2. He's not very interested in live TV, although he got a very nice new television for Christmas. He wants to learn new things--things like painting with water colors, crochet, knitting, wood working, and carpentry. He's made a crochet chain several feet long and is now learning to turn it and crochet in the holes all the way back. Dave asked for help in painting a picture of red roses for his mother. He's also painting some ceramic green ware to fire in our kiln in the spring.

When people visit the Ranch, Dave is one of the first to shake hands and speak. He attends many Ranch tours along with the Director and offers his advice and guidance. As a valued Rancher, Dave knows that his input is not only important, but vital and eye-opening for others.

Overall, Dave is a wonderful and incredibly able person. He's a good friend and excellent companion. He'll never judge another person for making a mistake or for the way they look. He hates name calling and being treated in a mean way, so he'll never do that to someone else, at least on purpose. He's responsive, responsible and respected by the other Ranchers and by the staff.

"...bursting with abilities, capabilities and possibilities!!!"

*Triangle Cross Ranch does not use Ranchers' real names in our public posts.
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