Views from the QCA: Help at-risk youth, support Arrowhead Ranch
By Shirley Sparks
In 1980 when I quit teaching Home Economics full-time, I
responded to an ad for a “Grandmotherly” type to teach boys how to bake cookies.
I was only 50 and didn’t feel that old, but applied anyway.
Since I had
been teaching Bachelor Living at the high school level for more than 10 years, I
was overqualified, but was accepted as a volunteer at Arrowhead Ranch in Coal
Valley. I taught basic cooking, nutrition, meal planning, economics, manners,
etc. I taught one day per week for 11 years.
I cared deeply about each
boy all those years. I taught in a basement room away from all staff, with no
way to get help if needed. Not only was there never any trouble, but all showed
me great respect (maybe because they always got something to eat!).
boys were sent to Arrowhead for a variety of reasons: schools, probation
departments, court orders, etc. Sometimes to avoid the Department of
Corrections. At that time no girls were there, but always from 72 to 80 boys.
With the economy in Illinois today, there’s only 31 males and females total. Now
if they have to go to prison instead of Arrowhead, that is condemning them to a
life of crime.
Can’t something be done about this? In 66 years, Arrowhead
has been rescuing at-risk youth, very seldom did they ever get in trouble again.
They entered as troubled boys but about a year later were released as
responsible young men.
Recently I read an article from the New York Times
from Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is disgusted
with Washington legislators who are “coddling” the super rich. He said, “Poor
and middle class fight for us in wars and we get extraordinary tax
Buffett’s article reminded me that John Deere and Caterpillar
announced that last year each company earned the biggest profit they’ve ever
What would it take for a few of these companies to establish
Arrowhead back to making responsible young men out of troubled boys? The lovely
residential facility is there. Dorms to house the boys, lovely grounds cared for
by the residents. The girls are housed in the original farmhouse. Dining rooms
to hold all, classrooms, etc.
Besides the lawn, the boys had chores
inside too; they helped in the kitchen, laundry, etc. Please help to place any
at risk youth in a safe place and a place where they are helped to become
prominent members of our society.
Shirley Sparks lives in