NEW LONDON (NBC 26) -- At the Rawhide Boys Ranch, the mission to transform lives and serve local youth remains constant.
Just about everything else has changed in the past few months.
“When this first came about we had to look at everything that we were doing. So, safety is obviously first and foremost important thing, keeping our youth and our staff safe from the COVID virus," Rawhide CEO and President Alan Loux said.
First, Rawhide closed campus to off-site visitors. The school, cafe, and popular Equine therapy were all closed. Then, those services started to adapt. School moved from the Starr Academy into the youth's residences. Teachers would work through several different subjects, and youth did online learning as well.
“We had to change very fast. We didn’t have much time, and so within the course of 48 hours we were able to change a lot of our practices," Roux said.
Another big change came from car donations. Quickly, Rawhide's biggest source of revenue stalled. In response, the organization introduced contact-free pickup of cars and boats. It's helped Rawhide through a tough fundraising time.
“This has really been challenging from a financial standpoint," Loux said. Our costs have gone up to be able to serve the youth more and in different ways, and our revenue has gone down.”
Loux said the community can help through this pandemic. Cherry Starr is writing a letter to the organization's donor base, cars are being accepted, and financial donations can go a long way to help Rawhide continue its mission even as so much else has changed.