Monthly Archives: August 2017

FVC 2017

When a man is incarcerated, not only is his life changed, but also his partner and their children. Those left behind are “forgotten victims”, left without the support of their partner. They must work alone, providing adequate support for themselves and their children.

They must take on the role of the absent partner in the lives of their children, trying to keep some semblance of normalcy, while also being treated by many as a “second class” citizen. Recognizing the importance of identifying and supporting these victims, a resolution was introduced in 2013 in the Ohio Legislature by two representatives.  Ohio Senator Cliff Hite introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution (S.C.R. 8), while Ohio State Representative Lynn Wachtmann introduced its companion, House Concurrent Resolution (H.C.R. 8). The Ohio Senate voted 33-0 in support of S.C.R. 8 on April 10.

“I am proud to sponsor this resolution and believe that, once people recognize the negative impact of these ‘forgotten victims’, the citizens of Ohio will step up and comprehend the importance of strengthening these families, not tearing them down,” said State Senator Cliff Hite. “Nationwide, there are more than 1.7 million children that have an incarcerated parent and these at-risk youth need encouragement, not to be regarded as second-class citizens, lest they prolong a generational cycle of incarceration.”

This resolution recognizes the month of April as “Forgotten Victims of Crime Recognition Month”, identifying and bringing greater awareness to the “forgotten victims” of incarceration, the family members whose lives are altered when their loved one goes to prison. “As a sponsor of this resolution in the Ohio House of Representatives, I trust that the citizens of Ohio will become more aware of how incarceration impacts everyone, whether they are the victim of the crime, the citizens, the community or the family,” State Representative Lynn Wachtmann said. “These ‘forgotten victims’, the partners and children of those incarcerated, deserve to be treated with the respect due any other citizen.”

“We are thankful of the work of State Senator Hite and State Representative Wachtmann in seeking to recognize the plight of the forgotten victims of crime” – the families of the person incarcerated,” said Catherine Tijerina, Co-Executive Director of the RIDGE Project. “As a former forgotten victim myself, I am pleased that this legislation will bring to light the necessity of reaching out to the families affected by incarceration, and will highlight the importance of encouraging them and providing a lifeline during this challenging time.”

The RIDGE Project works to counter the potential devastation on the family when one member of the family is severed from the family unit through incarceration, leaving behind family members who become victims themselves.

“Through the work of The RIDGE Project, we have the opportunity every day to advocate for those who do not have a voice, the forgotten victims of incarceration,” Ron Tijerina, Co-Executive Director of The RIDGE Project said. “We appreciate these efforts by Ohio’s leaders to highlight the need for awareness of victims of crime who often go unnoticed by our society.

Film Camp

The RIDGE Project hosted their 14th annual Film Camp this year from June 21 – 26, 2017 at YMCA’s Camp Wilson in Bellefountaine, Ohio. Teens ages 12 – 18 from all across Ohio to take a stand against risky behaviors.

Camp participants divided into small teams to create a 30 – second long Public Service Announcement (PSA) encouraging their peers to avoid sex outside of marriage, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy relationships, and other risky behaviors. At the end of the week, teams they competed for a chance to be chosen as “best production” and the winning PSA will be aired on major TV channels!!

Throughout the week, students also participated in workshops to equip them to make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid risky behaviors. Other activities include PSA filming/editing, group activities, access to YMCA’s Camp Wilson, and more! Subscribe to our newsletter to find out more info on the next Film Camp, coming June 2018.

Download the Student Registration Packet

You can conveniently pay for your film camp registration here.

Pay here

Download Adult Leader Volunteer Application

If you are at least 21 years of age and would like to volunteer as a camp leader, please complete the application and include a current background check with your submission.

Catch With Dad

Come to Fifth Third Field and enjoy a great time with your kids on Sunday, June 18, 2017

Being a TYRO means you have made a commitment to being the best father you can be….so let us help you make happy memories for you and your family! This Father’s Day weekend, start it out right by coming to 2017 TYRO Catch With Dad event!

TYRO Catch With Dad includes tickets to the Mud Hens game, meal voucher, parade entry, opportunity to play catch on the big field, and more! Note: access to Hensville Park inflatables area is available for $3 entry fee (to outside organization putting on that separate event).

Tickets are limited and will be available on a first come basis. Don’t forget to invite your dad as well!

For more information please contact Beth Brown at (419) 439-1811

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Families must go to the St. Claire Street entrance, near Hensville Park area. Sign in tables will be available for families to receive their tickets and food vouchers beginning at 4:30pm on gameday.


Toledo Ohio TYROs

A group of TYROs in the Toledo, Ohio area recently participated in the fifth annual “Dunkin’ 4 Donations” charity event held December 21 at Scott High School’s Ben E. Williams Field House.  Founded under the brand, “Hands Over Hearts”, the basketball charity event is held each year to raise money and collect toys for local shelters and less fortunate and needy families.

RIDGE case manager and facilitator Willie Knighten helped to organize a group of nearly 20 TYRO men to either participate or attend the event.  The TYROs, along with other local men, not only gave back in the form of donations, but also demonstrated to the city’s urban youth population what a good role model looks like – something desperately needed for many of today’s inner city youth.

The event was featured in “The Sojourner’s Truth“, a local Toledo publication.  Society editor Carla Yvette writes, “Former gang leader Willie Knighten, Facilitator and case manager for The Ridge Project, an organization that specializes in healthy families, responsible fatherhood and healthy marriage along with men of TYRO, an accountability community for ex-offenders, says they were honored to be a part of the event when approached by organizers and donated over

TYRO Dawn Lamb

It has been said that perseverance is not a long race, but many short races one after another. This certainly holds true for Ms. Dawn Lamb, single mother of two, who is a TYRO making history as the first woman to gain employment through one of our partner trucking agencies.

Dawn came to The Ridge Project via a referral. When she initially filled out the application, a local facilitator, Bryan Luton, was able to meet with her. Dawn told Bryan that she was interested in obtaining her CDL. He cautioned her that the company was a flatbed steel-hauler that requiring hands-on freight. He also described the position and the fact that it was a physically demanding job. Her response was quick and simple – that she was not afraid of getting dirty. Dawn entered the program and went to each and every class on time. She would often talk about how tired she was because she worked a late-night job in addition to participating in the program. But, she was not going to let that hold her back. Bryan gave her a YMCA scholarship form to get a free membership to work out so that she could condition her body in preparation for job.

Dawn took the recommendation and began working out regularly. After she graduated from the TYRO program, she went straight to our truck-driving partner and entered the driving program. They immediately reported that she was at the top of her class. Dawn aced all of her classes and passed her CDL driver’s exam on the first try, when many others (men included) had to take it more than once!

Soon after, Dawn pursued an opening with the company that employs graduates of the program. They initially expressed some concern about her ability to do the physical labor, but Bryan assured them that she could get the job done. It wasn’t long before the instructors reported that she was doing extremely well, excelling in every area. They even remarked that, in one instance, there were two men trying to tie down a load who were unsuccessful in their efforts. But Dawn succeeded in tying down her load and entered the truck ready to work.

She also earned accolades for being a safe driver and for keeping up with her given workloads. When others had their doubts about the power of this young lady, her determination triumphed. Dawn is living proof that, with perseverance, you can achieve any goal that you set your mind to, even when the odds are stacked against you!

A TYRO making some amazing strides

Sometimes a bit of inspiration is all it takes to jump start transformation in our lives. TYRO Danny C. is living proof of this. While incarcerated at Toledo Correctional, he heard a speech from a RIDGE Project facilitator that he credits as the beginning of the turnaround that has become his life. “When I heard him talk about his life and how he changed, it made me want to change as well.”

One of the best parts of his recent promotion is that it allows him to make hiring decisions. This has enabled him to “hire more TYROs like me; I have had 3 TYROs in the last week.” This is significant because Danny wants very badly to give back to others that are trying to start over – a desire he says he learned from his facilitator. The only thing in Danny’s life that he values more than helping others is the relationships he is building within his family. “When I got sent away, my family didn’t want nothing to do with me,” he recalls. “Now my ex-wife and I are learning to get along and, because we have a daughter together, that’s important. It’s important she knows her family is there.”

What Danny has done is nothing short of spectacular. He finished his RIDGE Project courses and officially became a TYRO, which in turn motivated him to “look for work right away as soon as I was released from prison.” As it turns out, he returned to the same job he had been forced to leave when he was first incarcerated.

He recalls how tough that was. “To start with, some people did not want to give me another chance because they remembered who I was. So, I told them I was different now and talked to them about the classes I had and stuff like that. Then they voted to bring me back.” That was six months ago and to say that this TYRO has made the most of his opportunity would be an understatement. “I came on as a driver putting in a lot of hours per week. After a bit, they saw what my work was like and promoted me. Now I’m a supervisor.”

Louis Nanez, Jr.

Louis “Louie” Nanez, Jr. grew up on the west side of San Antonio in the mid-1970s. Like so many kids in urban areas, he was exposed to gang violence, drugs, and the rougher aspects of street life at an early age. At 17 years old, his parents knew they had to do something and pushed him hard to enlist in the military. He did, joining the U.S. Navy upon graduation.

However, Louis’s troubles didn’t end there. He became heavily involved in the party life that often envelopes young men, drinking at first, and then moving on to more serious habits like cocaine. But, life kept rolling on. Louie married and soon had three daughters to take care of. “My addiction was pretty bad when my kids were young,” Louie explains. “I was arrested several times in the 1990s.” But, with the resolve to come clean, he was eventually able kick his drug addiction.

It appeared that things were turning around. Louie was feeling good about losing the addict label. But, it wasn’t long before his inner struggles manifested themselves in another way. Anger became his new outlet. He lashed out at everyone. Frustration and irritation ruled his life. Then, after an assault incident in 2010, Louie was arrested on multiple charges and sent to prison. Louie was determined to keep his family together. But, life in prison doesn’t make this an easy task. So, Louie began exploring programs within the prison system and was referred to one administered by The RIDGE Project, the TYRO Dads program.

As many readers know, TYRO literally means to be “a man worth following.” At first, Louie didn’t buy it. He didn’t think one program could make that much difference in a man’s life. But after a couple of sessions, he was all in. “It was relief,” Louie commented. “Hearing other men’s stories and how they were proud to share about fatherhood made me want to do the right thing.” Louie would send letters to his wife Melissa about what he was learning and how he was becoming a man of honor. During TYRO, he knew he wanted to move onto the next level and he enrolled in The RIDGE Project’s couple communication program, a curriculum that teaches men how to communicate with their wives.

After 18 months, Louie was released from prison. Last October, he took another big step and moved to Hawaii. He and Melissa now live on the island of Maui. Louie works as a tour guide on Mt. Haleakalā. “I am learning to hunt wild pigs and spear fish. I’m reinventing myself at 51 years old,” he beams.

“The RIDGE Project has changed my life,” Louie says. “My wife reaches out to grab my hand now when I need it. I have a great job now.” He explains how it has been a lot of hard work, but that it’s worth every bit of it. Louie’s advice to other clients considering the TYRO program is simple. “Do it! There really is life after prison, and you really can change the world one person at a time.”

TYRO Times Spring 2017

The 2017 Spring edition of TYRO Times is packed with some great update on what is happening in the world of RIDGE and TYRO.

From trainings in New Zealand to our annual gala event in Mansfield, Ohio, this issue will keep you in the know about how we are transforming individuals, families, and cultures both near and far. Just click the link to get full access to this exciting edition!

TYRO Times Spring 2017 Edition for publication, May 25, 2017.