Before Shelterwood, “it was complete chaos,” Tracie Manriquez says. Yet today, three years since her daughter Kate’s graduation from Shelterwood, the family is transformed. Rafael Manriquez, Kate’s father, points to a simple but profound change: “Before Shelterwood, Kate referred to me as ‘Rafael,’” he says. “Now, she calls me Dad.”
Rafael and Tracie were consumed with worry about Kate’s increasingly reckless behavior. “Our marriage was on the rocks, relationships were ruined, Kate was making bad decisions because she was insecure and did not respect herself,” Tracie says. “Every day was just a battlefield — every day, we were fighting, arguing and worried about what Kate would do. Nothing worked, and she was just getting worse.”
She had fallen in with the wrong crowd and Kate hit her lowest point when she and several other students were arrested. “That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Tracie recalls. “She was dealing with some serious stuff.”
Tracie and Rafael had been looking at programs in California, where they lived, but Kate’s grandmother found Shelterwood. Although it was far from home, Tracie and Rafael knew it was the best option for Kate. “It was perfect. We liked the role Shelterwood had in being both Biblically-based and therapeutic. We applied, they accepted her and within a week of her arrest, she was on her way to Shelterwood,” Tracie says. She and Rafael hired a transport agency because they knew they personally would not have been able to get Kate on an airplane.
Tracie reflects on the day Kate arrived at Shelterwood. “That day was sad. I felt guilt and failure, but I also felt relief. It was the hardest day of my life.”
Slowly but surely, God used Shelterwood to change Kate’s heart. “Kate felt like the other Shelterwood students had a worse family life than what she had. That opened her eyes to realize, wow, she was not alone and she needed to take back control of her life,” Rafael says.
“Her Shelterwood counselor really saw in her that she had a heart for God and needed some direction,” Tracie says. “I saw her gain respect for herself, and she found who she was in Christ. For the first time she felt beautiful. She dove into Bible study and really took hold of that and ran with it.”
Integral to Kate’s healing was the combination of multiple forms of therapy. Kate enjoyed serving on the kitchen staff. “She really embraced that and she felt that she had worth and had something to give back,” Tracie says. She also learned a lot from the ropes course. “The ropes course helped her learn how to depend on others. To be outside and to do something different than she had ever done helped her build confidence.”
Rafael also points to the excellent education Kate received while at Shelterwood. “The education was great,” he says. Kate graduated six months earlier while she was there and she even received help with her college applications while she was at Shelterwood.”
Three years later, the entire family has been transformed. “Our whole family is in a much better place,” Tracie says. “It was hard to trust Kate before, because what she was doing was hurting the family. Today, Kate takes responsibility for her actions, while before it was always the blame game. We have a very strong relationship because of her time at Shelterwood. Several times, she has said, I just want to make you proud. That means so much to us from where we were before.”
Today, Kate enjoys her full-time work as an assistant property manager — and as her relationship with Rafael and Tracie continues to strengthen, Katie is embracing her Shelterwood testimony. “Kate is getting ready to speak at our church about her time at Shelterwood. She hopes to help other girls. She knows she was led through this experience and she wants to help other girls who are struggling with what she has faced.” Read about Kate’s journey from her perspective.
If your teen’s story sounds like Kate’s, Shelterwood can help. Take the first step towards transformation for your whole family. Reach out today: 866.585.8939.