Arrowhead Ranch is alive, well, and still in the business of helping young people who are facing challenges to succeed.
That’s the message Luis Moreno, the newest CEO of this iconic 75-year-old Quad-Cities institution, delivered recently to reporter Jim Meenan about a facility now in a “rebuilding” stage. And it’s one he is eager to share with all who have a stake in its success, which is anyone who wants to build a better community.
Moreno wants the community to know that Arrowhead is no longer the last-chance home for troubled boys who are one step away from prison that had been so well known to generations of Quad-Citians.
Instead, today's focus is on "those low- to medium-risk students who we are trying to help get back with their families and back with their school settings,” Moreno said.
Residents also no longer are referred to Arrowhead from the Department of Children and Family Services in Chicago. Arrowhed has redrawn its residential map, and while referrals still can come from DCFS, they also come from the courts, school districts and families.
However students get there, Arrowhead continues to offer a full-scale education for both college-bound and non-college bound students. Modern-day Arrowhead also is giving added emphasis to providing residents with “the best therapeutic care possible so that we are able to place them back with the family as soon as we can,” Moreno said.
Who are the kids Arrowhead now serves? “They kind of fall out of the mainstream of life,” according to Mary Davidson, the marketing and development director at Arrowhead. “They have problems with the home, school and community. And then we not only treat their behaviors, we also hear the story and help them process the story of their past.”
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That, in turn, helps them recognize how their behavior affects others involved in the process. “We try to teach the young men out here that there are consequences to their behavior, and your family bears those consequences,” Moreno said.
The goal, he said, is that when residents leave Arrowhead, “even if they are in an environment that may be negative, that they may be able to make the right choices so that they can carry on with their lives in a positive manner and become members of society who give back and not see where they recede back to where they used to be.”
When the latter happens, too often law enforcement gets involved. Moreno is well aware of where that leads. He's a former East Moline cop who also is an educator with experience with student conduct issues, including as dean of students at Black Hawk College.
Betsey Morthland, former executive dean at BHC, is among the Quad-Citians singing Moreno’s praises. “He was the individual who would handle things like student code of conduct issues," Morthland said. "He’s such a likable gentleman that he’s the sort that would just stand in the lobby at the college, and students would come up and talk to him. He would ask how their week was going and that kind of thing. He was perfect in the role of dean of students."
Those characteristics also make him a good salesman for a facility that has seen its once-high public profile diminished.
Moreno has begun by reaching out to local media, agencies that help troubled kids, the Quad Cities Chamber and community groups and civic organizations to “talk about what we are and who we are again.”
It’s a story worth hearing, and sharing.