Recent Historic News
Ranch Good Days will open a Charter School in the Rosebud-Lott School District of Central Texas. The school will serve teen girls interested in a high school degree with particular interest in one of the following three areas - Health Care, Small Business Ownership and Agriculture. All graduating students will be enrollable for college. For more information and be put on an enrollment list, please sall 254-984-2400.
Our first meeting of concerned individuals desiring a community based solution to helping needy families educate their children was held in Northwest Denver Colorado in August 2003. Attending were parents and elders of diverse ethnic backgrounds including those of Native American, Asian and African American and Chicano heritage. Also in attendance were community leaders and professionals, listening to gaps in services for youth, with an obvious group resonating to the top of need - teen girls! Teen girls were more likely to give in to their personal goals
It was decided there that the future Ranch Good Days non-profit organization would strive to aid the least served demographic - teen girls. Ten years later, in the shadows of internet pornography, smuggling and trafficking, and the even more prevalent sex trade, we deem teen girls are in more dire need than ever before.
Founded in 2003 and now re-located to Central Texas, Ranch Good Days (RGD) has been a year round residential program that provides health services and equine assisted therapy to at-risk girls, ages 12 to 21, from Texas. RGD has been the only equine assisted therapeutic home exclusively for girls and offers two distinct programs — the first serving young women suffering from trauma attachment and another serving day treatment to children of military families at Fort Hood and other .
Girls are immersed with nature and animals in their therapy, studies and everyday activities. RGD horses, canines, and felines inspire our girls to develop respect and understanding for the animals they work with. Many of the ranch's animals are those rescued from neglect, abuse, abandonment, sometimes orphaned (see pictures at www.ranchgooddays.org).
Our Executive Director worked for many years with youngsters from the western Tribal communities. RGD Colorado adhered to NICWA (National Indian Child Welfare Association) training training for staff so they could accommodate American Indian girls. Ranch life brought a wealth of positive experiences as girls come from all nations to find their faith and understanding in the world around them.
In our first five years, RGD was located in Carbondale, a Colorado mountain community between Glenwood Springs and Aspen. At that time, RGD cared for teen girls in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond to the Ute Mountain Ute and Southern Ute Nations in Cortez and Ignacio, Colorado. In a matter of a few short years, our Girls Ranch provided homes for girls from Eagle, Mesa, Jefferson Counties.
All the girls were assigned horses to care for and participated in equine therapy. When deemed healthy enough, our girls participated in 4-H and local Rodeo. The Ute elders visited our girls and shared their culture among us and subsequently became a fascinating program component. The elders, many of which were Christian, came to visit our girls and share stories of the land and how their early people lived amongst it and cared for it. Creating a permanent home, one that allows them to grow roots and have connections; hence, the lesson learned.
History of our Equine Therapy Program
Living in the mountains, the Ute people focused on the horse culture and the economic stability it brought them, as they were not of the warring nature like the prairie tribes. Between the 16th and 18th century, the Ute’s became one of the first North American Indian people to fully adopt a horse culture. Early on, Ute people were connected with the horses both for their livelihood and then with their culture. Our Ute elders of today tell of inspiring stories about their horse culture and when they visit the ranch, the children learn and understand the positive horse medicine for themselves. One Southern Ute elder, Anthony Burch, a horseman for his entire life, was particularly insistent that our Girls Ranch program use healing from the horse. He saw it RGD as a model for other Indian Nations to use and consider for residential care centers among native communities. On one of the last visits spent with Mr. Burch before his October 2008 passing (at age 91), he asked with a big smile – “when can we start in Texas?” Anthony bequeathed his custom made saddles for our Texas Girls Ranch in hopes that the girls will always know he supported them and their activities with the horse, much like he had done for so many decades.
Ranch Good Days relocates Headquarters to Texas :
In April 2008, the RGD board met and discussed what to do about having a permanent home for our girls to live leave and return to as adults. Dr. Donna Otabachian brought up the idea of relocating the home to place where foundations were already helping financially, Texas. Scott Chaplin of Carbondale, CO agreed that there was some real potential for a girl’s home in Texas as property in Carbondale had not been donated. With the lease of the Carbondale home running out (the home was to be sold by the Trust Fund corporation of Queens, NY) our non-profit could not compete with the $600k price tag the sellers demanded. RGD came up with a short term housing solution and then we decided to look for property in Texas.
In October 2008, after the crash of the world financial markets, the Board conferenced one last time to say we must pack and move to East Texas around November 1, 2008. Dr. Donna arrived to Pittsburg Texas on November 9, 2008 with two girls (waiting for two other girls to join us later). Director Dr. Donna brought the entire equine therapy program, canines and the long standing house cat, most of which were rescued animals.
Six months went by and another move to Central Texas happened. We were located on a remote 54.5 acre ranch in Lott, Texas – one that completely sustains our 10 therapy horses and offers room for our future Academy for twenty teen girls. Although our Executive Director Dr. Donna carried a foster care license in order to care for girls deciding to leave Colorado and to live in Texas, as well as to serve a few girls in Texas, she no longer desires to offer support services for girls in the foster parent system. Instead, Dr. Donna volunteered herself to bring finality to the quest of a permanent home for the new Texas non-profit corporation, Ranch Good Days, aka Texas Girls Ranch.
To do this required enormous sacrifice as Dr Donna and her 15 year daughter packed up and lived in a camper trailer at a nearby camp where they single-handedly took care of the therapy horses, dogs, piggy and kitties. Not an easy ordeal at all as Donna's daughter was being home-schooled through k-12.com and she was struggling to find horse-feed from the drought stricken area. Dr Donna talks about that summer when the heat was 117 out and the winter chill wasn't as bad as the cedar allergies from living in the camp woods. Dr Donna's friends did not leave her and occasionally she was asked by local therapists to visit teen girls in need of help in the area. Then in March 2012, the Lord moved Dr Donna and her daughter to a one owner home on 20 acres.
The Texas Girls Ranch is now headquartered in Temple, Texas as it has grown roots in the Central Texas community. The supporters of the Girls Ranch include individuals, businesses, and foundations. In addition, Dr. Donna works with leaders of area youth ministries, Fort Hood chaplain’s, Victims Assistance programs, USDA Rural Development - Community Facilities, and Care Network providers of Central Texas to pool resources design a supportive transitioning plan for teen girls into college and career.
The Girls Ranch seeks to serve teen girls who have had bad things happen to them, and need a helping hand up. Our other group of teen girls we desire to help include the teen mothers who gallantly deliver their babies and unselfishly offer their children into adoption. To our knowledge there is no other all-girls home assisting teen girls in the way described above.
The USDA Rural Development office considers the Texas Girls Ranch to be filling a critical gap in services for a historically underserved demographic. Girls served meet all the US Department Housing criteria defining poverty. PAVNET – Partners Against Violence Network finds the non-profit Ranch Good Days a project worthy to use as a model for other communities to consider for their displaced teen girls. RGD has offered to share knowledge and “shortcuts” with other organizations to consider providing a teen girls home for their community.
Teen girls attending the Texas Girls Ranch Academy will live year-round boarding school. The program is based on a continuous improvement model with particular emphasis on regularly scheduled, outside assessments and evaluations.
Phase two of this project, the TEXAS GIRLS RANCH ACADEMY, is preparing to purchase land and expand another 20 beds. Under the direction of Dr Donna Otabachian, RGD will be the only full-time boarding school offering equine assisted therapy exclusively for girls. This community facility will work in tandem with local mental health and medical service providers. Under the theme of learning about sustainable living, our students will participate in ranch eco-system projects, renewable energy learning, and 4-H animal and home economic projects.
Texas Charter School, Accreditation, and Monitoring