Llahoma’s Story: In her own words
An Unimaginable Childhood
Llahoma was only 10 years old when her parents divorced. Soon after that, her mother became pregnant with another man’s child. Her mother went from job to job. Over the next 3 years, they were evicted often and a variety of men were in and out of Llahoma’s life. There was no stability.
Llahoma’s mom and her live in boyfriend were both addicted to drugs. Her mother would often try to barter her for sex in exchange for more drugs.
First, her mom was trafficking drugs. Then she started an escort service. Every day was filled with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In the 6th grade, Llahoma only went to school for 3 months. She was beaten so badly that year that she couldn’t use her arm.
When Llahoma was 13, her mom had sobered up, but she thought Llahoma was the cause of all her problems, so she decided that sending Llahoma to live with her dad was the solution. She took Llahoma to Toad Suck Park near Conway, gave her a scribbled note with a number for a taxi, and an address she believed to be Llahoma’s dad’s. Then she left.
This was the last time Llahoma saw her mother alive.
Llahoma was not a welcomed guest at her father’s house because he had a girlfriend who had her own child. Llahoma was devastated. But fortunately, this situation led to her finding the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch.
“It was hard when I first came to the Ranch. I didn’t want to talk to the counselor, I just wanted to listen to my Walkman. After all the hurt from my mom, I felt that my dad didn’t care either.”
Soon after Llahoma arrived at the Ranch, the staff and her doctors discovered that she was addicted to amphetamines and was experiencing withdrawals. She had no idea that her mom’s boyfriend had been slipping her drugs to be able to sexually abuse her.
The Next Chapter
Although Llahoma’s story began with an unimaginable childhood, thanks to loving houseparents at the Ranch and generous donors who make the our work possible, this story gets better.
Once her system was clean, Llahoma realized she was in a safe place at the Ranch. And Ranch life was so much better! She got real food every single day – and someone actually cooked her food. She was also able to bond with other girls at the Ranch who had been through similar situations. She no longer felt like an outcast because the girls had each other, and the guys were like real brothers. She knew they had her back and that the Ranch was a safe place where no one would come in her room at night.
Dr. ‘G’ was Llahoma’s counselor, and he was so helpful in her recovery. He taught her how to have appropriate interaction with men and not be afraid. He taught her who she could be.
Llahoma says that houseparents are truly the unsung heroes of the Ranch. They not only care for the children’s physical needs, but they also make every child feel safe and loved.
Not long after coming to the Ranch Llahoma got a job at age 14. The Ranch encourages Ranchers to get jobs. She saved her money, and at 16 she bought a car. She excelled in school. She was Vice President of the ART Club, active in her schools chapters of Future Business Leaders of America and Future Farmers of America, and she played softball. She loved staying busy with her school’s extracurricular activities, and her houseparents always encouraged her in her endeavors. Upon graduation she got a full ride scholarship to Henderson State University, where she attended their Honors College.
Llahoma became involved with the Humane Society and was the youngest person ever elected to their Board of Directors at age 20. Later, she received a job offer from the Red Cross and moved to Baltimore. She also worked with Americorp and the Domestic Peace Corps.
At age 25, Llahoma learned that her Mom had cancer and had passed away, so she returned to Arkansas for the funeral.
Llahoma has a big heart for animals, and after returning to Arkansas, she was offered a Regional Training position for Petco as a Behavior Consultant working with abused animals. Many of her clients referred to her as the “Dog Whisperer.” Not only had she been abused, but she formed special bonds with her pets that had also been abused.
A Bright Future
For awhile, Llahoma served as the Regional Philanthropy Officer for the American Red Cross. Today, she is the Chief Development Officer for a Boys and Girls Club in Wisconsin. When she isn’t at work, overseeing a multi-million dollar budget, you can find her at home or adventuring with her daughter!
Thanks to everyone that supports the Ranch, Llahoma has grown into a successful young woman. She tells us, “I have found my voice and it is strong!” So from Llahoma, her daughter, and everyone at the Ranch, we are grateful to everyone who played a part in Llahoma’s story.
“This is my story. I would not be the woman or the mother I am today without my story, and the Ranch is a big part of that.”
You Can Help
Llahoma’s story is just one of more than 2,400 boys and girls who have called the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch home over the 40 plus years. Thanks to generous supporters of the Ranch and their love for children, lives are changed every day at the Ranch. With an annual or monthly gift to the Ranch, you too can impact the lives of children children like Llahoma who have been neglected, abused and abandoned. Click here to give today.
As an honorary member of the Arkansas Sheriffs’ Youth Ranches, you become our partner in serving hurting children. We could not do this important work without the faithful support of friends like you.
Many of our Ranchers have had a difficult past, but at the ASYR they find a brighter future. But we can’t do it without friends like you! You can join us in this lifesaving mission by committing to an annual or monthly gift today.
Did you know that a monthly contribution of just $25 can help provide:
• New shoes for up to six of our boys and girls
• A monthly allowance for one child
• Caps and gowns for all of our graduates
• Birthday gifts for 12 children
• Feed for our goats and other farm animals for one month
This year, you can make a difference in the life of a child. Click here to become a Hope Builder with your monthly gift to the Ranches.