Dear MicheleI, wanted to send you this letter reiterating how much we value the partnership Rick's House of Hope is able to maintain with Juan Diez Rancheros. It has been amazing to see the progress that kids make while working with you and your horses.
It occurs to me that we have worked together to help kids and families for over 2 years now, and it has been a while since I wrote a letter of thanks for all the great work you do and your support of our kids and families here at Rick's House of Hope, center for grieving and traumatized children.
It has been and exciting privilege to work with a variety of kids, dealing with a variety of issues, and yet still see the way they connect and move forward through the services Juan Diez Rancheros provides. Thank You so much for your dedication to such important and valuable work.
MSEd, LCPC Program Director, Rick's House of Hope Center for Grieving and Traumatized Children
I heard about Juan Diez Rancheros from a presentation Michele gave at our church. At the time I was not sure if it would be a therapy that would help my son or not but a friend encouraged me to call. My son had been diagnosed Tourette's Plus and PDD-NOS. He really struggled with social interaction. Michele agreed to meet with us and see how things go. After the first meeting, I knew this was it. Eli was talkative and even told Michele it was nice to meet her which was so out of character.
He looked forward to his therapy. It was a place he felt safe and not rejected. Even I benefit from the peacefulness in the building waiting for him. I can actually relax. After two months of going, Eli became more conversational and approachable in group settings. My family noticed a huge difference at family gatherings. I told Michele at Thanksgiving time that I was most thankful to her for drawing my son out, the happy boy that I knew him to be. He has started trusting more, sharing, and expressing himself in a more appropriate manner. Michelle is now helping him process emotions which he has been receptive. It blows my mind how the animals just know what he needs, Juan actually hugged him back the other day. Eli is learning with Juan, Zoey, and Angel that life is much happier when working together than forcing an outcome that would just make him happy.
The best way for you to understand how this therapy is helping heal my son emotionally and understand himself and others better is to show a picture of him before and one of him after he has been going to the ranch just under a year, he is genuinely happy, for the first time in a long time. Betsy Jones.
Thank you for letting Angela work with you at Juan Diez Rancheros this past summer. She enjoyed it so much. As you may remember, Angela has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She has significant behavioral problems at home and at school. In fact the first time we stopped by your facility, I had just picked Angela up after she was suspended from school that day. These disorders cause Angela to have a lot of Anxieties, problems controlling her emotions (fits of rage) and low self-esteem. When Angela was working with you she was focused, happy, and helpful. It was a very positive experience which she is very proud of. Thank you again for all that you do for the children, the horses, and for Angela! Angela looks forward to coming back during the summer break from high school. Thanks Again,
Davenport Iowa December 2011
My name is Rosie Alonso and my 12 year old son, Daniel has been attending Juan Diez Rancheros for a few months now. I was referred to Juan Diez Rancheros from a co-worker. They knew of Daniel's problem and thought it to be a great idea! Daniel had developed what we thought was just a defiance issue, and would not go to school. After getting him to his pediatrician and then a therapist, we found out that there was a lot more to it than just that. Daniel has depression and anxiety (which we have been told his vision problem causes the low self-esteem, and probably has contributed to that).
These conditions have caused Daniel to develop a phobia, with regard to school and the 'what if's'. The first day we were there, I knew that it was going to be wonderful for Daniel. Michele had taken Daniel and myself on a tour of the ranch when we first arrived and introduced him to each of the horses and ponies. After the introduction, I let Daniel go with Michele to explore. He was told to choose a horse that would be 'his'. Well, he picked Sienna. She had a bit of a sad story behind her. As Daniel and I drove away that first day, he told me something interesting.
He told me that he chose Sienna because she is blind in one eye and kind of shy's away from people because of that. Daniel said that was special to him as he has a lazy eye and he is almost legally blind in that eye, and that has been a cause for low self-esteem for him. He got a huge grin on his face and said that they were 'connected'. I have seen wonderful progress in Daniel. He is not as shy as before, and I love that, because he smiles a lot more! He has a lot more patience than before, and a feeling of responsibility. He loves to know that he is a part of 'bettering' someone else, in this case, the horses and ponies that are at Michele's place.
After hearing each of his new found friends' stories, I think he has opened his heart to love and that is wonderful, because I think Daniel had gotten used to closing out others around him. He is going to school now, with no hesitation and has made many friends (and he has told all of them about 'his' horse) making friends had always been a struggle for Daniel. He looks forward to every Saturday, 'his' day, as he calls it.
I think that this has been so beneficial for Daniel, and I cannot thank Michele and her helpers enough!!
The biggest thing that she has learned was not just to regurgitate what she'd been told or taught, but to actually find that she could put her hands on what she needed. By coming and working with the horses few times, she was able to figure out that she had to do what was right for her. Not just what Mom would do, or Dad would do to comfort her, she had to find her own comfort. That was her breakthrough, she wasn't coping before, she wasn't using what she knew in the moment she needed it. Here with the horses, they play different games, and they set up different scenarios, and the animals become a person.
The animals are alive and can sense what she is feeling and kind of fill the gap for her. It isn't just a play time, it's a living being that she can put through the scenarios and she has to be the one that is in control. So I think the piece that has helped in her regular counseling sessions is that we are not just talking about different things that can come up, she's doing them. We were at the store and they had plastic animal figures, she wanted the horses. She wanted the one that looked like Juni and the one that looked like Chancho. She has them in her bedroom and she makes up the different scenarios, and I really think that is important. She is really taking it in and taking it to heart. It's been invaluable for us to have a peaceful home life now. It's been two years of bouncing back and forth and we really have never gotten to that next level, or over that hump and I can finally say after two years I finally have my child back, at least she is not hurting the way that she was.
Thank you so very much for having the Putnam Museum Summer Campers at your Ranch. When we walked by the Ranch, I didn't know how much there was to explore, especially for young children. However, the campers loved petting the horses, seeing the Prairie Dogs, and trying to find Tadpoles in your pond. We all loved your Ranch! Also, Thank You for a nice question and answer session. We noticed how well you worked with the Children. It is great to have such a kind neighbor. We look forward to seeing you again soon! Thanks Again!
Director of Children's Education Putnam Museum
CF Youth Hope
Thanks so much to Juan Diez Rancheros for providing amazing, life changing experiences for our children! The kids are still talking about driving their horses! Most of our children had never been up close with a horse, let alone been able to ride one! We loved the kids' smiles! Your gentleness and guidance helped their hard masks fall off for a time of fun. Michele, you are what makes this program work! We were so impressed with your endless patience and genuine caring for our children. You filled the children's love buckets up with your wise and encouraging words! When we talked this week about being afraid, and how God is always with you several children brought up the horses! You never rushed the children: you made every one of them feel precious and special! AND thanks for persevering through those hot, hot days! Thank You again and again for helping our children have precious summer memories that will last for a lifetime. We pray that you will be blessed abundantly! Sincerely,
Barb Montgomery Children's Director, CF Youth Hope
Jennifer Kabel Children's Assistant, CF Youth Hope 9/15/2011