Ranch of Opportunity residents enjoyed a special prom event on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Widder/KDW Photography)
Ranch of Opportunity residents enjoyed a special prom event on April 20. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Widder/KDW Photography)
On April 20, 14 girls attended a special prom event at Eastway’s Ranch of Opportunity, a tranquil, 22-acre residential treatment center for girls ages 13-18 who have suffered severe trauma in childhood.

The Ranch of Opportunity provides a peaceful, spacious and healthy environment for children to live, learn and grow during a six- to eight-month residential treatment program. The mission is to create new chances, new choices and new hope for traumatized children and their families by breaking the vicious cycle of child abuse and by addressing the self-destructive behaviors brought on by experiencing severe trauma in childhood.

Located in Washington Court House, the Ranch serves up to 30 girls from ages 13-18. The organization’s focus is trauma-informed care. According to their website, all programs are licensed by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and are accredited by CARF.

 


For prom night, the girls were treated to a day of beauty, new dresses and shoes and a limo ride to Dakota’s Steakhouse, followed by dancing to a DJ back at the Ranch.

The girls started primping at 9 a.m. They got their hair and makeup done by volunteers and staff, including six people from Dayton and Columbus.

Dresses and shoes were donated from a variety of individuals for the girls to wear and to keep. All of the makeup was donated as well, with many different brands and styles, including foundation, blush and 20 sets of fake eyelashes. A variety of butterfly, feather and bird temporary tattoos were also a huge hit with the girls.

A nail technician volunteered her time at the Ranch and provided manicures for the girls before prom. She was able to do whatever they wanted besides fake nails, including nail art, which the girls loved. The main colors selected were pink and purple, with a few girls wanting a French manicure.

For most of the girls, this was their first prom and first time riding in a limo. They went out for a steak dinner at Dakota’s in Hillsboro, escorted in a stretch Hummer.

This was the third prom Belinda Lorenzo, a nurse at the Ranch, had experienced.

“There’s a lot of excitement and nervousness leading up to it,” Lorenzo said. “Girls don’t know what to expect. We try to keep it a secret.”

Several of the girls spoke about their experience from the prom event as well as their time at the Ranch. (Names have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Morgan, a 13-year-old, said that “getting all prettied up” was fun.

“I picked this dress out myself. My first thought was to go with something bright and colorful,” she said, showing her bright pink dress with a beaded bodice. “I put it on, and it fit perfectly. I came out, and I was smiling as bright as I could.”

Wearing the gown made her “feel like a princess,” Morgan said. She also got her hair styled in a top bun with curls on the side and bangs.

“I’ve had the style in my brain for a week,” Morgan said. “It looks great. I wanted this.”

Morgan also had a butterfly temporary tattoo applied to her shoulder in honor of her mother.

“I got a butterfly on my shoulder, gold feather on my foot and my nails done,” Morgan said. “My mom has a butterfly on her back. She never got it finished. Mine is pink and matches my dress perfectly. Butterflies are my favorite and my mom’s. It symbolized new life for my mom.”

Spending close to six months at the Ranch has helped Morgan change and grow, she said.

“I was angry when I got here,” Morgan said. “My caseworker was straightforward about it. I wanted to get out the door. But when I got on the unit, I tried to make friends.

“Sometimes people think I have an attitude when I make a first impression, but I settled in the first day after I calmed down. I used to cry at night, but then I started talking to people. I met Tara, who is like my big sister. She saw the real side of me … the caring side of me. At first, my defenses were always up. It’s changed a lot. I’ve done pretty well here.”

Another Ranch teenager, 17-year-old Ashanti, wore a soft pink dress with ruching at the bust line, silver sequined cap sleeves and silver heels. She had her hair done by a Ranch therapist, who spent an hour and a half doing a crochet.

“We went to the shop, and I couldn’t find a dress,” Ashanti said. “None of them would fit. I first decided on a purple one, but then they brought more dresses to the Ranch. I said, ‘oh my gosh, I want to try this one on!’

“It fit perfectly, and I just felt like a queen. It was so beautiful. It gave me a feeling I never felt before. It made me feel so happy and made me feel wonderful, like nothing can break down my spirits when I have this dress on.”

Ashanti has been at the Ranch since January and has never been to a prom before.

“When I first got here, they told me about prom in April, and I thought, ‘well, this is going to be my chance to dress up,” Ashanti said. “I’m going to be a flower, and I’m going to bloom.

“This day has been wonderful. I am like a flower. It has rained, but the sun came out and I have bloomed. I was like a caterpillar, and I have turned into a butterfly. I thank everyone for giving me this beautiful day.”

Ashanti said she was grateful to the Ranch for the special event and for giving all of the girls “a chance to be ourselves.”

“This place just brings my spirit up,” Ashanti said. “They give us all a chance to be ourselves and to be who we really are and not to hide out.

“These people here really help us. They made us feel like beautiful queens. Yes, we have been abused before, but today they made us feel like queens and have helped us to know that if your heart believes it, you can achieve it.”

Another 17-year-old at the Ranch, Marissa, had a special time at prom because this year’s event fell on her birthday. She wore a green and black brocade dress, saying, “It’s my color.”

Marissa said she had never been to a restaurant before.

“It’s the best moment to me,” Marissa said. “I feel like everyone here is a sibling. They mean so much to me. I love them to death.”

For more information on The Ranch, visit http://ranch.eastway.org.