Our team at The Buckeye Ranch is dedicated to the success and healing of all our children, youth, and families. We could not do our work without such a brilliant team of individuals. We know the road to healing can be scary, especially if you don't think someone understands what you're going through. That's why our team wanted to share a bit about themselves to let you know that it does get better, and we're here to support you in any way that we can.
I started at The Buckeye Ranch with Permanent Family Solutions Network as both an ongoing caseworker and a Transition Age Youth caseworker and I now work in the Foster Care department as a Licensing Specialist. I grew up in a non-affirming religious community and was not able to come out as lesbian until I was in college as a young adult. I have now found accepting and loving communities in all areas of my life! I am so thankful to be able to work for an organization that allows me to help create a world in which all people are valued, loved and cared for.
I’m from Columbus, Ohio and have been working at The Buckeye Ranch for four years. I currently work in Permanent Family Solutions Network’s kinship program. I enjoy my job because I get to place children with family and work on preserving family connections. I love getting to work closely with my kinship caregivers. My support system has been my greatest resource. Growing up I was a cheerleader and was surrounded by people in the LGBTQ+ community that greatly impacted my life. My family has supported and loved me through it all.
To the caregivers reading this, have an open mind and love your child through this process. Advocate for them. Find your support and never be afraid to walk away from people who do not support you or your child’s journey. You may have bias and tough questions to ask- ask them anyway. People in the LGBTQ+ community understand this may be new or uncharted territory for you. Give yourself room to grow. Never stop learning and growing.
My advice to children and teens on this journey: LOVE yourself first, find your voice, find your people that love you unconditionally. Your identity is yours. You get to write your own story.
I am currently the House Coordinator at the Nelson House unit of our Residential Program. I started working at The Buckeye Ranch in July of 2019. I initially was employed as a Child Protection Specialist III at PFSN but transitioned to my position at the Residential Program in October of 2020. I have felt accepted and have not felt like my being a part of the LGBTQ+ community would impact my ability to grow with this team. I enjoy and feel very proud about my position as I am able to work with and provide support to youth who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
I’m originally from Indianapolis and went to Purdue for undergrad, then lived in Cincinnati, and finally moved to Columbus for graduate school at OSU. I loved Columbus so I’ve set my roots here. I work in the Foster Care department as our Associate Director. One of my favorite parts of my job is helping reinvigorate staff or foster parents commit, understand, and accept the children and families in the community we share. I’ve been at TBR since 2008 and have filled the roles of community-based clinician, a community-based supervisor, mental health group leader, trainer, and LGBTQ+ clinical lead and most recently joined the Foster Care department about six years ago.
Know that this is a journey. Your knowledge, growth, and acceptance won’t come without great joy, excitement, challenge, and possibly grief. Be patient with yourself and with your loved ones.
For me, meeting people has always been the most helpful way to learn and grow. Understanding others’ stories and experiences have lent to a broader perspective of my own experiences, beliefs, and goals. Reaching out to Stonewall Columbus, Kaleidoscope Youth Center, one of Columbus’ LGBTQ+ affirming churches, or campus groups to meet people who will be like you and also unlike you, is great learning. I won’t lie, I have my favorite resources too – here are a few to check out:
- Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth
- But I’m A Cheerleader (2000, film)
- For the Bible Tells Me So (2007, documentary film)
- Growing Up Trans (2015, Frontline documentary)