TYROs are taught how to own their stories, their experiences, their decisions, and their consequences. This ownership allows them to tell their life story as it happened from their personal account, rather than allowing others to take control of the experience. By doing this, TYROs are able to move past obstacles and become stronger individuals and to better serve their relationships. Here are some testimonials we’d like to share.
“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.”
"I never would have thought that the father of my children would end up in prison serving a four year term. It just wasn’t my life. Yet one day, it was. I wasn’t sure what to expect of him or how our relationship would weather this storm. I wasn’t sure how my family was going to look throughout the sentence and especially how it would look when he was released. What people fail to realize is that it’s not just the prisoner who serves time. The whole family itself receives that same sentence and suffers in ways that the prisoner does not.
While in prison, Damien linked up with The RIDGE Project and I couldn’t imagine the blessing that it would bring. Damien was never a bad father or a bad man to me, however, I always knew that he wasn’t doing his best. He had more to give he was just too caught up in other things to apply himself. TYRO Dads taught him how necessary it was to step up and be the man that his family needed. Couple Communication 1 & 2 taught us how to deal with conflict and solve problems in a healthy way. However, those programs alone weren’t what taught him or any of those other men all of the necessary lessons; it was the relationships formed by the facilitators with them that impacted them the most. They were real life examples of men who were doing exactly what they were teaching. They were who they said they were and they held Damien and all those other men to the same standards.
I couldn’t have imagined that after a forty-one month prison time that my family would emerge stronger, healthier and more functional than it had beforehand. Damien is no longer the father of my children, he’s my husband and my best friend. Our whole relationship I always felt like I was trying to teach him how to parent and I find myself now learning lessons from him. The RIDGE Project helped to give me a better version of my husband and gave my children a better version of their father and I am forever grateful for what they do.”
"I can honestly say that since completing the TYRO program with The RIDGE Project and re-entering my community, I have done a complete 180 degree turn from being an unreliable, criminal-minded, non-existent member of society.
I've now proudly become not only a contributing factor in my family, but my family's provider, protector, and anchor. My once-estranged four-year old son now sees me as a hero, as do as my two step-children. I'm proud to say that I've just achieved two full years of continuous sobriety and, considering that alcohol and other substances were once the only thing that my mind could think of, that's one amazing accomplishment.
Now my life is filled with beauty, honor, and integrity. My wife and I have been married now for over a year, and we welcomed a beautiful baby girl named Ashlynn into the world June 14th of last year. I haven't missed one day of her life, and all of that is a direct result of the things that I learned in The Ridge Project's programs. So, to The Ridge Project, Mr. Willie Knighten, and all my other TYRO brothers, I'd like to say ‘thank you, God bless you, and here's to another year of being leaders in a society wonderful enough to give people like me a 2nd chance at the American Dream."
Mr. Roddy showed me how to love myself, which in turn has showed me how to love others. He taught me the true meaning of what a man is. Today I’m a father, friend, neighbor - a man of honor and integrity a man worth following. Without this program there’s no doubt I would of been a statistic. Instead, I work full time. I’m a father of 3 and a grandfather as well. I’m a loving husband and provider, not only financially, but emotionally too.
I heard out of my son’s mouth something I never thought I would hear – ‘Dad, I wanna be just like you!’ Today my answer is ‘Son, I WANT you to be like me too.’ I made myself transparent and no one can tell my story. That alone has set me free. I now look in the mirror and like the new me. I am a TYRO.”
Ron and Catherine Tijerina are true catalysts for change. They are authors of the inspirational book, High Five - Love Never Fails, nationally‐renowned speakers and Founders of The RIDGE Project and TYRO Support Services.
Copyright 2017, The Ridge Project
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