Gift of Love: Azleway Boys Ranch - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Gift of Love: Azleway Boys Ranch

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(KLTV) -

Each week we introduce you to a child that is available for adoption. While many children are placed in foster homes, there is one East Texas organization that helps boys recover from the mental and physical abuse they faced during childhood and transition into the real world. We're talking about the Azleway Boys Ranch.
    
Stepping on to the campus, we find a group of boys playing basketball after lunch before getting ready to head back to class.

Executive Director of Azleway, Gary Duke says it all started in Tyler back in 1979 with a cabin OF 8 boys. Now Azleway has a wide reach with homes and offices in Houston, Nacogdoches, Big Sandy, Corsicana, Palestine and Dallas-Forth Worth. 

"Azleway is an organization that provides care for primarily victims of abuse and neglect.  They range in age from 2 or 3 days old up to 21 years of age," Duke said.

In 2015, there were more than 2,000 boys and girls who called Azleway ‘home,’ through Azleway Children’s Services, Azleway Boys’ Ranch, or Big Sandy Ranch.

"We have a lot of kids in foster care. In fact, the majority of our children are in foster homes," Duke said.

And many of those children wonder about their future.

"These kids often have no one. I have lots of girls for instance wonder who's going to walk me down the aisle. Who's going to be there if I graduate from high school or college," Duke said.
    
Their founding program, the Azleway Boys Ranch, works from a trauma informed care model that is designed to keep the boys safe, help teach them internal control and equip them with the skills they need to become a productive citizen or move to a less restrictive environment like foster care or adoption.

"Most of the children we serve have been traumatized and they have been victims of abuse or neglect and actually neglect is one of the most disruptive forms of abuse," Duke.

"The first two years of life are critical for developing trust issues and being able to self sooth and regulate your own emotions," Duke said.

And this is where Azleway steps in... to give these boys the tools they missed in childhood.

"They were often unable to function in a foster care setting or an educational setting," Duke said.

Many of the children attend Trinity Charter School located on the ranch allowing the boys to get more services and one on one time. 

Employment Specialist Austin Bailiff says the Boys Ranch has a transitional living program that helps the young men learn social and job skills.


"One of the big things that these guys don't get is socialization experiences. I've had a guy once that didn't know what a waitress was when she came in to serve food," Bailiff said.

Bailiff also helps the boys from age 14 and older with interviewing skills, job applications and resumes, knowing that some will never find a forever family and will eventually age out of care.

"I see a lot of really scared little kids honestly. They haven't had a lot of opportunities to be able to see what it's like. A lot of us were just able to watch mom and dad and say oh, this is how Dad speaks to his boss, this is Mom speaks politely to someone. They don't get that," Bailiff said.

"These kids are simply kids that have had a rough start. They need guidance. They need support. They need help. They need people that care," Duke said.

And at the Azleway Boys Ranch they have an entire staff doing their part to show these boys the Gift of Love.

By the way, in 2015, Azleway completed 48 adoptions, with ages ranging from 1 to 17 and 400 adoptions since the adoption program started four years ago.

Since the state only pays for 70 percent of the cost for a child to be at Azleway,  funding this program is crucial to the children of East Texas. If you would like to help, Azleway is hosting the Texas Equestrian Gala this Saturday at the Texas Rose Horse Park to raise funds to close this gap.
    
You can find out more information about the fundraiser, how you can help in other ways and donate here.

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