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.

Washington Times Prints Editorial from Ron and Catherine Tijerina

– Friday, January 24, 2014

It is somewhat ironic that as Washington lawmakers and the Beltway media look back on the 50-year war on poverty, they overlook another equally significant 50-year anniversary that has actually limited the success of this effort: the sexual permissiveness of the 1960s cultural revolution.

That revolution championed a culture in which rules, responsibility and the traditional family were disposable. Building strong families is inexorably tied to eradicating poverty. Unfortunately, the revolution of the ‘60s has more effectively shaped our culture than the war on poverty.

Today, we are living in a world where most of the professed goals of the sexual revolution have been realized. We have experienced true sexual freedom. The millennials have coined the term “friends with benefits.” They can and do hook up at will. Unfortunately, we have found that what was supposed to bring freedom has instead shackled us to activity without meaning.

The seeming meaninglessness that accompanies sex without intimacy has entirely shifted our collective understanding of the most fundamental unit in our society — the family. Family has become disposable. Is it overreaching to link the breakdown of the family to a generation of teens that has become so jaded that they can take pleasure in so-called games like “Knockout” — knocking out a random stranger on the street with one punch? We think not.

It has been the most vulnerable, in particular children and the economically disadvantaged, who have borne the brunt of the consequences of this societal upheaval. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, children from father-absent homes are significantly more likely to be poor and most at risk. This is the price of freedom without restraints. In this light, it becomes painfully clear that the casualties of the sexual revolution are still being counted.

We have spent our lives in the trenches of family triage. In a society where families are disposable, families on the fringe — poor families, families of the incarcerated — are especially disposable. Our organization, the Ridge Project, fights every day to stabilize and rebuild families who society has kicked to the curb.

So what is the answer? The first step toward any kind of recovery is admitting fault. For starters, how about a generational mea culpa? By and large, parents in America owe an apology to anyone born after 1980. We were wrong. We were selfish. Learn from us.

Truly, there is no such thing as a disposable family. There are no lost causes if we are willing to take action. It is time to restore families — to emphasize and teach the value of healthy relationships. Only then can we begin to heal, and to feel again.

We must have a serious conversation about robust policies that support and strengthen family bonds for the families most at risk. In Ohio, we championed a recent legislative initiative called the Forgotten Victims of Crime resolution.

This resolution established the month of April as a time to raise awareness of the plight of families of incarceration. There are more than 2 million people incarcerated in the United States, many of whom are parents and who have lived their lives in poverty.

According to a recent report by RTI, incarcerated fathers have half the marriage rate, nearly twice the divorce rate, but the same rates of paternity as men who have never been to prison. When a person is sentenced to prison, his family is kicked to the curb.

Given that the children of the incarcerated are statistically much more likely to become incarcerated themselves, it is not inaccurate to say that when we fail to support these families, we have begun the process of imprisoning these children. For our nation to not intervene to stabilize the most fragile families is both immoral and unsustainable.

We are sounding the alarm for the millions of children of incarcerated parents who are caught in the social injustice we created when we embraced the lie that there are no consequences for abandoning self-control.

The war on poverty was never intended to become the war on family. We are calling on our nation to begin here, to fight for the most disadvantaged families, to create radical changes to policies that have an entrance process but no exit strategy, that sentence families to generational poverty and entitlement.

We look to members of communities across the United States to uphold the value and dignity of families, and urge our fellow citizens to reclaim and restore healthy relationships and healthy families. It is time to admit that we were wrong: There is no such thing as success or liberty without healthy families.

Ron and Catherine Tijerina are co-directors and co-authors of the TYRO Dads curriculum and “High Five: Love Never Fails” (Dream Pump, 2013).

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/24/tijerina-casualties-of-the-sexual-revolution/#ixzz3VuRoQfOC

Ohio Congress Enacts Legislation Remembering Forgotten Victims of Crime

Ohio Congress Enacts Legislation Remembering Forgotten Victims of Crime

The 130th General Assembly of the State of Ohio voted yesterday to approve Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 8. SCR 8 formally designates the month of April as “Forgotten Victims of Crime Recognition Month” throughout the state with the stated goal of “recognizing the adverse impacts upon children of incarcerated parents.”

In addition to encouraging “all citizens of the state of Ohio, along with all state and local agencies that interact with the families of incarcerated Ohioans, to join with the General Assembly in acknowledgement and support of the families and children of incarcerated Ohioans”, the resolution designates April as Forgotten Victims of Crime Recognition Month.

The Resolution was the brainchild of RIDGE Project Co-Executive Directors Ron and Catherine Tijerina. The Tijerinas, who were introduced in the House of Representatives before the vote, had been looking for a congressional sponsor for this type of legislation for 15 years before the joint resolution was introduced in the Senate by Cliff Hite (R Findlay pictured with Ron and Catherine Tijerina) and was brought to the Ohio House by Representative Lynn Wachtmann (R Napoleon) earlier this year. The bill enjoyed overwhelming bi-partisan support in both chambers; so much so that all 33 Senators and 54 Representatives added their names as Co-Sponsors of the bill. SCR 8 passed unanimously in the Senate and enjoyed a margin of 92-1 in the House.

Senator Hite believes the resolution will help “people recognize… these ‘forgotten victims’, “and hopes that “the citizens of Ohio will step up and comprehend the importance of strengthening these families, not tearing them down.” Representative Wachtmann agreed. “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.”

“This is a significant day for this group of people who have historically had little to no voice” said RIDGE Project Co-Executive Director Catherine Tijerina. “Speaking as a former forgotten victim it is gratifying for our struggle to be officially recognized. SCR 8 will bring awareness to the plight of the families and children of prisoners while hopefully serving as a catalyst for social change. Ron and I envision a future in which these families are given opportunities to thrive. As a society we need to stop sentencing children to lives of stigma and poverty when their parents are incarcerated. This resolution is an important step in the right direction.”

RIDGE Project Co-Executive Director Ron Tijerina added “This is what The RIDGE Project is about and we are glad to have more public focus on the group of people we have given so much of our lives to support. We are grateful to Senator Hite and Congressman Wachtmann who have faithfully and diligently championed not just this resolution but the cause it represents.”

The RIDGE Project is a Christian, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 2000 that provides services through partnerships with churches, schools, and state and national agencies to serve the youth and families of Ohio. Additionally, the organization strives to inform individuals, communities, the media and local and national policy makers of the importance of strong families. The organization has been recognized as a federal Department of Health and Human Services “Best Practice” program, and has been identified nationally as a leader in family and youth services.

Center for Self-Sufficiency Partnership

MILWAUKEE SERVICE ORGANIZATION COALITION BENEFITS FROM NATIONAL EXPERTISE

(Milwaukee, WI)— Families in the greater Milwaukee area will benefit from the experience of an Ohio family who has taken their struggles not as defeat, but as a means of defining a better future.

The Center for Self-Sufficiency (www.centerinc.org) and the Milwaukee County Department of Child Support Services (county.milwaukee.gov) hosted a symposium on January 13 and 14 for a group of eleven organizations that are coalition partners in providing services to low income and formerly incarcerated fathers under federal Department of Health and Human Services “Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood” and “Community Centered Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education” grants. The presentation was also attended by a representative from the office of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson.

Milwaukee is tackling the tremendous challenge of reducing recidivism and providing opportunities for success for these families who are impacted by incarceration. The Center and MCCSEA are at the center of this fight. “Our area is facing significant challenges in reducing recidivism and helping fathers to be successful in their families and in employment” noted Angela Turner, President and CEO of the Center. “Our coalition wants to bring in the most effective means to get the job done, and we are excited to work with Ron and Catherine Tijerina to make that happen.”

Ron and Catherine Tijerina, Co-Executive Directors of The RIDGE Project, Inc. (www.threridgeproject.com) have helped thousands of families emerge from the grips of generational poverty and incarceration to have healthy and successful futures. The RIDGE Project has shown significant reductions in recidivism and high employee retention rates for graduates of the program, which is centered in Ohio.

It is the desire to see this success replicated that Catherine Tijerina says “motivates us to take our message of hope to communities across the nation.” Ron Tijerina agreed, noting “effective reentry is about realizing that y ou can start over. There’s no such thing as a disposable family. Any family can be saved if you’re willing to work hard and given the opportunity to do so.”

The RIDGE Project is a Christian, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 2000 that provides services through partnerships with churches, schools, and state and national agencies to serve the youth and families of Ohio. Additionally, the organization strives to inform individuals, communities, the media and local and national policy makers of the importance of strong families. The organization has been recognized as a federal Department of Health and Human Services “Best Practice” program, and has been identified nationally as a leader in family and youth services.