Monthly Archives: June 2016

A Quilt for Every Kid

Written by Public Relations Intern Morgan Tuss

Fourteen-year-old Avery* was struggling with suicidal thoughts, depression, anger, and sadness. In desperate need of help, her family decided the best place for her to find hope was 3,000 miles away at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch in Montana.

“I’m a long ways from home,” she said, thinking of her 5,000-person hometown in Alaska.

When Avery first arrived on Yellowstone’s campus, she felt overwhelmed.

“At first it was kind of scary being in a new place. But you get the feeling that people care about you.”

rylie-quilt-hand-4-webAvery had a warm and cozy treat when she first checked into YBGR. She was able to choose a hand-made quilt to keep her company during her stay at Yellowstone.

“I was actually really surprised,” she said. “I thought, ‘That’s really cool.’”

Avery chose a quilt that is scattered with earthy tones, moose, and trails like the Iditarod.

“When I’m missing home, I can see it and it makes me feel better.”

Avery’s quilt was made with love by three quilters from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Harlowton, Mont. They make dozens of quilts each year for the youth of Yellowstone.

“Those kids, some of them come with absolutely nothing,” said Sue Fortune, one of the quilters. “It really just tugs at your heart.”

Fortune estimates their quilting group has made more than 1,300 quilts for Yellowstone’s kids since 2005. However, keeping up with the amount of quilts needed for incoming YBGR kids is tough. The group started with 22 volunteers, but now just three ladies participate.

“It takes a lot for the three of us to turn out the quilts we do,” Fortune said.

They also rely on donations for materials from generous church members and others in the community. Fortune said she wouldn’t want a YBGR kid to go without one.

For Avery, receiving a quilt helped her settle into her life at the Ranch and heal from wounds of the past. Starting at age seven, Avery endured abuse. She was then diagnosed with posttraumatic stress, major depressive, and generalized anxiety disorders.

“I thought that I would never want to live or enjoy living.”

But the Ranch has given her life again. She has found purpose with various work crews on campus. She earns money by cleaning dishes and tables in the dining hall. She also works by tagging, branding, feeding, doctoring, and cuddling the Ranch’s calves.

“It’s really fun,” she said.

Her time at the Ranch has changed her.

“I’ve been able to do things for myself and helping myself allowed me to help others,” she said. “It’s gotten better since I’ve been at the Ranch, which I never thought I’d get to say.”

And as for Avery’s quilt, you won’t find it bundled in a corner or strewn on the floor. It is proudly displayed across her bed in the lodge, ready to keep her warm at night.


Please call Sue Fortune at 406-632-4204 if you are interested in quilting with or donating to the volunteers at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.


*Name changed to protect client confidentiality

Yellowstone Hires Permanent CEO

The Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch board of directors has appointed Mike Chavers as the permanent chief executive officer, effective August 1.

Mike Chavers, CEO
Mike Chavers, CEO

“I am honored to be offered the opportunity to serve as the CEO of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch and to be a part of the incredible history and mission of the agency,” Chavers said. “I look forward to helping YBGR continue to make a positive impact in the lives of youth. As a native of the west, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my career in an area which I still call home.”

Born and raised in Idaho, Chavers pursued his education and career in Illinois. He has worked at Indian Oaks Academy, Nexus, for the last 22 years. Most recently, he has served as executive director of the organization.

Chavers holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Olivet Nazarene University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the Moody Bible Institute. He is a fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform.

Yellowstone’s Board of Directors Elects Officers

The Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch board of directors has elected officers for 2016-2017. The board re-elected Dr. Ronald Sexton as the Chairman. In addition, members elected Chip Youlden as Vice Chairman and Bob Carr as Secretary/Treasurer.

The board renewed the appointments of Sexton and Youlden, along with Stella Ziegler and Dr. Bob Wilmouth. In addition, the board welcomes a new member, Perry McNeese. The slate of nine members also includes Ken Woosley, Bill Goodwin, and YBGR’s chief executive officer.

YBGR’s board members consist of professionals from communities across Montana who volunteer their time to serve Yellowstone. They support YBGR’s employees, who work with children who struggle with controlling emotions and behaviors.

Shaving Cream and Spirituality Found at YBGR Camp

YBGR Spiritual Life Director John Dailey is spearheading the camp.
YBGR Spiritual Life Director John Dailey is spearheading the camp.

Close to 45 youth at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch are starting their summer break by acting, splashing, sliding, dirt biking, baking, and bouncing throughout campus this week.

“One game the kids will love is called Splatter Ball,” said YBGR Spiritual Life Director John Dailey. “They will toss a whiffle ball filled with shaving cream at one another. That’s one sticky game!”

The activities are a part of a three-day summer camp, hosted by Yellowstone’s spiritual life program and the Young Life organization. The camp aims to connect YBGR youth with Young Life volunteers, who are positive role models for the youth. Young Life, a globally-recognized organization, helps young people grow in their faith.

“The kids get to do things they normally don’t get to do in a controlled and structured setting with adults who care about them,” said Keith Dow, the area director for Billings Young Life.

Dailey and Dow said the kids will eventually wash away the shaving cream, but hopefully not the memories, connections, and hope for the future.