Strong communities are needed for at-risk children to thrive. Alan Dimmitt knows this firsthand after enduring his own hardships in life at an early age. As an orphaned child, he found hope at a Christian youth ranch in Texas.
Today, Dimmitt is the founder of Liberty Youth Ranch, paying it forward to help other vulnerable children in need. Sitting peacefully on 156 acres in Bonita Springs, the ranch serves as a long-term, trauma-informed children’s home for abused, neglected and at-risk children in Southwest Florida.
“When a child or sibling group are in need of a home and stability, this is where caring adults can turn,” states Dimmitt. “We believe hope and healing happen best when children are in an environment that meets their basic needs, encourages their individual passions and promotes excellence in achievement.”
Liberty Youth Ranch is one of four charity partners carefully chosen by Bobby Nichols – Fiddlesticks Charity Foundation, which organizes and runs the annual Nichols Cup Pro-Am Golf & Tennis Tournaments in Fort Myers. This year, the ranch was awarded a grant of $155,000 to help with their mission.
“The specialized care that Liberty Youth Ranch provides in our community is exactly why we selected them as one of the main beneficiaries of our signature fundraising event,” said Mike Lancellot, president of the BNFCF’s board of directors. “Thanks to the funds generated through the Nichols Cup, we’re fortunate to further our mission of supporting important causes for at-risk children in our region.”
Serving children from ages four and up, Liberty Youth Ranch provides a year-round, permanent home with consistent meals, medical and dental care and quality education. Children are commonly referred to Liberty Youth Ranch by school guidance counselors, teachers, pastors, concerned family members and Florida’s Department of Children and Families.
Everyday life at the ranch is designed to raise children who can integrate their past experiences into their lives, maintain connections with their communities, achieve lasting and meaningful relationships, and thrive at home, in school, and in the workplace – like what it did for Dimmitt.
“We measure the success of our programs by a different yardstick than most,” said Dimmitt. “For us, it’s showing our children that they deserve to be loved, protected, and cared for. It is watching them thrive in an environment with no more uncertainty.”
There is also an important focus on the educational outcomes of residents, who resume their schooling on campus while living at the ranch. Dimmitt says the average grade point average (GPA) of children entering the youth ranch is 2.131. Within a matter of six months, the average GPA increases to about 3.181 with a promotion rate of 100%.
Along with quality education, the program at Liberty Youth Ranch aims to create a loving environment that teaches the basics of family life, everyday life skills, physical health, counseling and spiritual development so each child reaches their full potential. As one of the state’s few 100% privately funded residential programs for at-risk youth, the ranch has stayed committed to financial stewardship since the beginning.
As Liberty Youth Ranch also celebrates our 20th year, we are humbled to have maintained a social service organization with no governmental funding, a debt-free campus, and a heart to serve regardless of financial means . . . Our community is so much stronger because of the generosity of organizations like Bobby Nichols – Fiddlesticks Charity Foundation. We are truly grateful for everything they do for families in Southwest Florida.
This year, the Foundation wrapped up its 20th annual fundraising tournaments and auction gala at Fiddlesticks Country Club in February, raising a record $1.7 million in donations to serve abused and at-risk children. In 20 years, more than $15 million has been donated to support local children’s charities. Other charity partners include Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, Abuse Counseling & Treatment and Blessings in a Backpack.