It's around 6:00 am on a school morning and the boys are getting ready, cleaning their rooms and making their beds, eating breakfast, and then off to school. When they arrive home from school there are room checks, homework and tutoring if needed, chores, and finally some “free” time before dinner and bed. Everyone gathers around the dinner table as one big happy family around 5:30 pm to enjoy dinner together. This is also a time to share about the day, learn life-skills, and a shared inspirational thought for encouragement.
The staff at Eagle Rock Boys’ Ranch are always wide-eyed, looking for opportunities to build each young man through strengthening different areas of his life, whether communication skills, hygiene skills, work-ethic skills, conflict resolution skills, or time-management skills.
Finally, at 8:00 pm, our boys are preparing for the next day with showers and picking out their clothing for school. Lights are out by 9:00 pm on school nights and 10:00 pm for the weekends. This schedule doesn’t include counseling or therapy sessions, Dr. appointments, trips to the store, extra-curricular activities, transportation to and from work, or school meetings.
Eagle Rock Boys' Ranch places a sustained focus on character building through intentional and individualized case management in the areas of: integrity, anger-management, behavior modification and coping skills, conflict resolution, personal development, healthy life-styles, respect for authority, healthy relationships and boundaries, self-discipline, self-control, strong work-ethic, interpersonal skills, life-skills coaching, mentoring, and academic success.
We encourage our boys to excel through sports, extra-curricular activities, civic involvements, giving back to the community, and working. Eagle Rock Boys are just like every other kid their age, they've just seen a lot of heartache that has taught them to survive rather than thrive. Our goal is to teach them to believe in themselves and SOAR!
Our Independent Living Program (ILP) offers an alternative living arrangement whereby youth live in community-based housing rather than in a foster home or group home setting. This living arrangement allows our boys the opportunity to learn the dynamics of making their own decisions associated with living “on their own”, yet still under supervision in a structured and monitored environment conducive to building strong young men! Youth in this program are nearing emancipation time where the State of Alabama Department of Human Resources will no longer hold custody.
Each ILP resident has set goals with their case manager / therapist. All boys in ILP are either working towards furthering their education through college, trade school, or other non-traditional college options, or seeking and maintaining employment ample to meet their needs. At Eagle Rock Boys’ Ranch, we truly strive to "parent" with the same passion we have done with our own children – because these are our boys too! We are family; the only family many of them have.
The boys have to work and save enough money to pay for deposits. Eagle Rock Boys’ Ranch provides extensive training on life skills such as preparing meals, doing their laundry, cleaning their home, living cooperatively with housemates and neighbors, controlling guest that visit their home, appropriate behaviors and conflict resolution, handling basic maintenance needs, simple repairs, and how to call the landlord about problems. Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list, but we strive to prepare them for what it will be like to live on their own. We work on creating and maintaining order in a living space, training for basic first aid, obtaining and using transportation to their job or other needed resources, safe use of household appliances, identifying safe and affordable housing, negotiating a lease, meeting obligations of a lease or housing contract, as well as the consequences that will be imposed if they don't! Young men in the ILP program gain experience and knowledge in proper interactions with, as well as the expectations of a landlord, preventing actions that might lead to an eviction, and understanding landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities, including how to handle complaints.
Our Ranch Director, Belinda Hiti, is passionate about teaching our young men about financial literacy; how to prevent becoming financially insecure with proper decision making and financial planning. She works with each resident independently to create a financial plan and budget. She teaches them how to save for things they want instead of purchasing on credit. Young men have the opportunity to learn about shopping and how to become good stewards of what they have. Using tools from Dave Ramsey such as the envelope system for their budget items, and software such as "Name Every Dollar,” Belinda places a sustained focus on teaching financial concepts to our boys, knowing it is crucial in our efforts to break the cycles of poverty and dependency upon governmental programs. Our young men experience a feeling of satisfaction when a “rainy day” arrives and they have successfully planned for that emergency. They realize that sometimes you get sick and miss a day of work. Sometimes your car will need repaired or the tires will need to be replaced. We teach our boys to have a minimum of $1,000 in their emergency fund. That’s a lot of money for them right now. They learn as they excel professionally and their income increases, so should their emergency fund.
Belinda shares, “It is fulfilling to see them work hard and get excited about paying their bills and always having a little extra spending money. We teach them to never rely on credit, but to save and wait for purchases they truly have decided they want! I believe this may be one of the most important things we do to prepare our young men for real life outside of Eagle Rock! At first their accountability is great, but as they progress we become less and less involved in their finances to prepare them for life completely on their own!”
Founder and Executive Director, Scott Hilton, talks about a component of our program known as the "Goody Store." He shares the vision and concept behind the store is to teach our young men financial concepts and strong work-ethics they will need in life.