Former RBR Boy Testimonies

BoogieEmmanuel “Boogie” Feggins1989-1997

He loved to dance when he was a boy, so his cousin nicknamed him “Boogie.”  People still fondly call him “Boogie” to this day, especially when they remember how his feet flew swiftly and gracefully across the high school football field as a star running back for the Palatka Panthers.  Emmanuel “Boogie” Feggins was fast … fast enough to carry the ball to victory again and again back in the early 1990’s.  He was fast and he was smart, too.  He earned the respect of his team-mates, coaches, teachers and classmates by being a stand-up guy on and off the football field.  It was no surprise to anyone but “Boogie” when he was crowned Homecoming King in his senior year of high school.  READ MORE

 

derek-1Derek Cribbs – 1990-1996

Derek Cribbs came from a rough family situation in Palatka, Florida.  He went to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch for the first time when he was in 3rd grade.  “Mom was on her third marriage at the time and she was involved with drugs,” recalls Derek.  “It was a good time for me to leave.”  Derek stayed at the Ranch for two years until his mother pulled him out.  With Derek and his younger sister in tow, their mother left town.  After about a year, they landed back in Palatka.  “We were living with my grandparents in a small, single-wide trailer,” says Derek.  “It seemed like everybody was fighting everybody about everything, so I asked to go back to the Ranch.”  This time, Derek stayed at the Ranch for three years.  Again, his mother pulled him out and, again, the home situation was as unstable as ever.  Luckily, the Bailey family of Palatka knew and loved Derek, and took him in until he graduated from high school.  “The Baileys had been my babysitters when I was about two years old,” says Derek.  “He was in law enforcement and she was a nurse. They are fine people.” READ MORE

 

GordonGordon Philbrick1959-1968

Saturday, April 4, 1959 is a day that Gordon Philbrick won’t forget.  That day, he rode with his mother and grandmother to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch where his older brother, Clark, lived.   When Gordon saw Clark, he jumped out of the car and ran to him.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his mother talking to Ranch Director Skipper Pierce.  “Gordon,” Skipper called to him, “I want you to go with your brother to see the horses.”  As the boys headed for the corral, Gordon heard his mother’s car starting up and turned just in time to see the dust flying as she sped away.  “No goodbye.  She didn’t even say goodbye.” Gordon was numb.  He stood stock still, watching the car disappear.  Then a strong arm encircled his shoulder.  “C’mon, let’s go see those horses,” said Skipper.  As they walked, boys began to show up.  One by one the boys welcomed Gordon, each of them shaking his hand. “I was 11 years old and I wasn’t used to shaking hands, but I liked it.  Then Mr. Pierce said, ‘You’ll find that everybody loves you here.’  That was the day I died and went to heaven.”  READ MORE

 

semoRobert Siemiatkoski – 1965-1972

Orlando, Florida is the home of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, but for the Siemiatkoski kids back in the 1960’s, life was anything but magic.  Their step-father, an Italian chef, beat them mercilessly when he was angry and often punished them by depriving them of food.  “We were so hungry, we ate the dog and cat food he put out for the animals,” recalls Robert. “I was deathly scared of him.”  Neighbors in their trailer park regularly reported the child abuse to social services.  The Siemiatkoski kids were thrown back and forth between the Parental Home for Children and the trailer park, where their step-father waited with his own evil agenda.  “My step-dad was teaching us how to steal,” Robert remembers. “He’d take us into stores and show us how to put things in our pockets. We were learning the wrong ways of life.”  Read More

 

Jonathanharper.Jonathon Harper – 2000-2004

Back in New Mexico, Jonathon Harper seemed to stay in trouble.  He was defiant and didn’t want to play by the rules at school, but when he wasn’t allowed to walk with his class at 8th grade graduation because he’d spent three-quarters of the year in ISS (In School Suspension), Jonathon decided it was time for a change.  His great-uncle, Carlton Spence, had been telling him about this place in Florida called Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, and his cousin, Steven Harrison, had been to the Ranch, come home, and was ready to return … so, about a week after 8th grade was over, 14-year old Jonathan Harper boarded a plane with his cousin and flew into a brand new life. Read More

 

timofficerTimothy Officer – 1996-1999

As he sat alone late at night in the Chapel at Rodeheaver Boys Ranch on Sunday, September 15, 2013, Timothy Officer opened the Bible and began to read the familiar verses of John 3:16 (For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.) and Jeremiah 33.3 (Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.). For the first time, the words filled him and he understood.  For the first time, Tim felt the living presence of Jesus Christ and knew his life would never be the same again. Read More

 

BillBennettRev. Bill Bennett (1957-1962)

Now retired and living in Austin, Texas, Rev. Bill Bennett is a highly respected Episcopal Priest and former Rodeheaver Ranch Boy. An eloquent writer and orator, Rev. Bennett is uniquely equipped to tell his own story: Read More