“I was first introduced to The RIDGE at RiCI where I was serving a 4 year sentence. I was just trying to take as many programs as possible at the time. My main goal was getting home to my family. In the beginning I couldn’t imagine the impact that The RIDGE would have on my life.
It started with TYRO Dads (a parenting class) and went on to Couple Communication 1 & 2, which I was able to take with my girlfriend and mother of my children at that time. At this point I had taken 20-30 programs, but The RIDGE was different.
A lot of programs offered, were just that, programs. Half the time the facilitators didn’t show up or we were working from a book doing things that were common sense: “Don’t yell, don’t fight, be patient.” We took programs because the end result was a certificate which looked good when you were up for release. But The RIDGE was not one of those programs. The facilitators which were sent to RiCI were more than that. Not only did they believe in what they were teaching, they were living it. They held us to a higher standard and we were called to the carpet if we were not living right. These were actual mentors that were setting examples in the way they treated their wives who were often present at events, by the way they handled relationships with us and with their relationships with the prison staff. They were true men of their word. The skills that we were learning were steps and taught us to think of our actions, words and listening skills in a completely different manner.
Upon my early release court date, I contacted a RIDGE staff member who I had become close with and informed him of my upcoming hearing. He told me that The RIDGE would try to put something together to be sent about my time with the program. At my hearing, my lawyer came with a few letters, one of them being from The RIDGE. In this letter they stated my time with the program along with the changes that they saw in me. The judge was astounded to see a letter from such a positive and influential program and I believe it played a big part in my early release. The RIDGE did what no other program had done for me. It vouched for me and the man that I had become because of their materials and relationships. My time with the program did not end there. We were able to go to a couple’s workshop in Cleveland and solidify communication skills that we had learned in CC 1 & 2 and we got to spend time with other couples and their staff.
I was then asked to speak at their first annual Forgotten Victims gala, where I was given a chance to share my story of success and to give much deserved credit to Ron and Cathy and all the others who play a part in what they do. This past August I married my longtime girlfriend and mother of my children. Two of The RIDGE facilitators and employees proceeded over our wedding. These are people who we consider friends and family and it is people like them who make the program exactly what it is. They believe in the program so much that if you yourself give into it, you cannot help but believe and live it yourself.” - Damien Beauford