May 3, 2005
Dannelle Epps learned to control her future before the future got a chance to control her.
After about a year at Girls Ranch in Scottsdale, the once troubled teen is moving forward with her life.
"I needed some discipline and motivation," said Dannelle, 17. "I was bad.’’
The nonprofit ranch provides a calm setting while teaching teenage girls the structure they need and the consequences of their actions. From the china cabinets that line the dining room to a tabby cat nestled on a bed, it feels like home.
Because the ranch doesn’t resemble a juvenile detention center, it makes sense that Dannelle is comfortable here.
She loathed it at first, but soon warmed up to knowing she lived there for her own good.
Dannelle plans to study chemistry and pre-med in college. She credited the ranch for pointing her in a positive direction.
Check it out
To learn more about Girls Ranch or to volunteer, visit
www.azgirlsranch.org or call (480) 941-0150.
"This place gives you boundaries," she said. "It’s what a lot of kids need. They kind of keep you grounded."
Girls Ranch, near Hayden and Osborn roads in Scottsdale, started in 1952 and was led by former Maricopa County Sheriff Jewel Jordan.
Supported by private and corporate donations, the ranch needs money for operating costs.
At about $1,800 a month per girl, 10 teenage girls can live at the ranch. Most come from low-income families. Parents stay involved with counseling and learn along with their teens.
"We’re preventing escalation of the girls’ issues," said Amy Schwabenlender, development director and a former volunteer.
The experience ultimately increases the likelihood that teens will stay out of the taxpayer-funded juvenile justice system.