New Perspectives - Feb,
2002 Issue #90
Ain’t No Ghosts Around Here
By Gabriel Rivera
The Ranch House
Gabriel I. Rivera/ Marilyn Siegel, Owner/Operators
The spirit of Gabriel Rivera is very much alive. I write
this in an effort to bring clarity to the situation. Unfortunately, TREX has been dissolved, but the work goes on under a new
name, The Ranch House. This new project is a collaborative effort with my partner, Marilyn Siegel, CSWR.
The Ranch House is ideal for males ages 15-17 who have completed some type of intervention program, but cannot go home as yet.
These teens should demonstrate average to above average cognitive abilities and mild to moderate emotional needs. The work will
not differ much in focus/goal from the TREX program, however it will be more of an in-house, transitional program to address adolescent’s
needs. The Ranch House offers a program in which the teens reside with us, maintain a sense of structure through a daily schedule,
work projects and daily groups along with academics at our district high school or local community college. We also include
increased family intervention and support; this encompasses monthly workshops and family therapy on a bi-monthly basis.
Professional Staff: I have worked with youth for over 27 years, with experience in outdoor experiential education and adolescent counseling
in a variety of settings. For five years I worked for special schools in California and Oregon as a counselor, teacher and wilderness
director, and was Bilingual and ESL Instructor and advocate for the education of migrant children for four years. I have also
worked with the state-funded programs for chemically dependent teens, as well as children in residential foster care. For nine years,
I owned and operated TREX, an emotional growth, character development program.
Marilyn Siegel, CSW-R has worked with youth for 23 years, serving as an educator, a therapist and an advocate in a variety of contexts
in New York City. For six years she worked as a teacher in city funded programs. Thereafter, she worked with children,
adolescents and families in outpatient substance abuse and mental health programs and homeless shelters for eight years. She
also served as the clinical director of an outpatient child and adolescent treatment program while concurrently in private practice
for the past six years.
Program Description and Philosophy: Our focus is to address essential issues of character, awareness and accountability, ownership
and empowerment. The foundation of our program is built upon the understanding that today’s adolescents are in dire need of
a process that allows them to deal with the increasing conflict and confusion they face every day. They need a process that
challenges and acknowledges their physical and mental as well as their emotional and spiritual struggles and accomplishments.
Today’s youth are well armed with too much information and very little wisdom. We, as a society face the dilemma of teaching
as well as learning the lessons in life that only time and experience can teach while living in a freeze-dried instant world.
Adolescents need acknowledgement from “elders” who inspire dignity and honor. They need a process that calls out to personal
fortitude and allows them to embrace the passionate and enduring spirit of their youth.
It is from this perspective that we believe a control-based approach towards accountability does not work presently with most teens.
A greater awareness of who they are and what they need in the comprehensive sense is required for adolescents to realize self- empowerment
and begin to make choices that reflect ownership. We facilitate this process. Within that framework, we also address the
issues of education and family. In turn, the participants gain awareness and “tools” through a structured program which
incorporates work projects, academics, group and individual counseling and family guidance and counseling.
To conclude, I am still very much in the work! Please feel free to contact us for further information and/or questions.