One of Eagle Ranch’s first residents, Matthew, recently returned to Eagle Ranch to visit his former houseparents, Tony and Trisha Dittmeier, and counselor, Bruce Burch.
In 1985, 11-year-old Matthew rode along with family as another relative considered coming to Eagle Ranch. Matthew liked what he saw and decided the Ranch was the place for him. He informed his school in Stephens County that he would be leaving even before he and his mother had fully discussed the possibility.
Matthew’s parents divorced when he was two years old and he assumed the “man of the house” role at too young an age. He remembers at age six feeling responsible to make sure the bills were paid. Matthew’s parents loved him but had their own struggles. Fortunately, he had extended relatives to stand in the gap and support him through the
years as well.
Happy memories, laughter, discipline and hard work are memories Matthew took from Eagle Ranch. He looks on his three-year stay fondly. Matthew arrived in the first year Eagle Ranch had children, which meant literally rolling up your shirt sleeves and pitching in to help establish the place. The fruits of his labor are still evident today.
When walking the campus during his visit, he pointed out a ditch he remembers digging as a result of missing curfew by four minutes.
His housedad, Tony, was a former Marine and instilled the value of hard work, laughter and teamwork. He also learned how to resolve conflict in healthy ways.
Trisha, his housemom, he remembers as happy, upbeat and energetic. They reminisced about having house tours at 9:00 a.m. in which she would mobilize the troops early to have the house clean and presentable. She also established how to run the house with a chore list, and Matthew remembers learning to cook by helping her with dinner.
Counselor, Bruce, taught Matthew to talk about his feelings. He describes Bruce as a confidante, someone who makes you feel like you are the only one on the planet. Thirty years later, we all still value this quality in Bruce!
Now 40, Matthew said Eagle Ranch set a model for what life should be and influenced the choice of his wife, Jennifer, a strong Christian woman. They have built a beautiful family and have two children, Grace (6) and Robert (4). Today, they are still involved in the Presbyterian Church in which they married in 2005, and Matthew is a project supervisor for Kaiser Permanente in the San Francisco area.
We are so proud of the man Matthew has become and the life he has built with God’s help.