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Assurance Home — Improving lives of teens

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Amy Lignor
Special to the Daily Record

The Assurance Home is in its 41st year of operation, and even though decades have passed, it remains a loving, caring place for teens. Ron Malone oversees the Assurance Home as executive director.

Ron Malone, Assurance Home’s executive director (Amy Lignor Photo)

Without Malone — and a group of people who, in 1975, got together to address problems facing teenagers — this location, with a supportive staff, wouldn’t even exist.

Looking back, the Assurance Home and its affiliate, the James Ranch Youth Shelter, have garnered a variety of media attention, from spots on CBS’ “Eye on America” to articles in publications, such as New Mexico Magazine. Making a name for themselves, the home serves children ages 13 to 18, and wants nothing more than to make lives better for them.

“Our belief,” Malone says, “is that most of the problems our kids encounter is a result of them being mistreated in some way, or having suffered some sort of trauma in their lives. Our philosophy is to take them in, put them on a gorgeous property and surround them with loving adults. This gives them a chance to process their trauma, and shows them there’s a good chance their life will improve.”

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This is exactly what Malone, the staff and the board of directors have done. The adults working with the teens on a daily basis are role models, and the clinical program has three master’s level therapists to help the kids move on to better days. The program strives to teach all ages how to take care of themselves so that when the time comes, they’ll have the skills to either move forward with their education, or head into the workforce.

From everyday chores where they earn an allowance, to learning how to cook and plan menus, everything that’s done at the home helps them progress in life.

Ron and his wife, Brenda, are a “picture” of success when it comes to having a stable, loving relationship. High school sweethearts in Artesia, when they moved to Roswell, Ron said it was difficult to find a job because he was still unsure of what he wanted his career to be.

“We moved to Roswell in 1974, and I got a job at the Chaves County Boys Home,” Malone said. “I only worked there for about six months when it closed. It was for delinquent teenage boys either on their way to or from Springer. That job literally showed me what I wanted to do.”

Upon its closing, many people in the community felt the loss and knew there was a need for a program to help teens.

“We didn’t know exactly how to address the situation, but after studying the problem, we thought we’d start a home for abused and neglected teenagers and attempt to help them before they ended up getting lost in the criminal justice system,” he said.

As much as the times have changed, the little farm house sitting on 18th Street has also seen its share of alterations, including the addition of bedrooms, a library, stables and more. The home grew to become one of the nicest places for kids in the entire country. They’ve even established an art gallery showing the works of teens and staff. Each one has a story to tell.

Fun activities are also enjoyed on a regular basis: ski trips are taken, day trips to Albuquerque where they can go to the zoo, shop at the malls — all the things teens like to do. They even have a summer youth project where the kids work at part-time jobs gaining vocational and social skills, and knowledge they need when it comes to saving their money.

Thousands of kids have passed through the doors of Assurance Home, and one of the biggest benefits is that Malone can see the success of what they’ve done reflected in the lives of their children.

“Our kids keep in touch with us long after they’re gone,” Malone said. “We have many who like to remember us, as well. One has become a substantial donor to the home. He always remembers his time here; it was the first time he was ever able to celebrate the holidays, which is why he sends a wonderful donation at Christmas. It’s his way of thanking us, as well as supporting perhaps more children who are experiencing the holidays for the very first time.”

Assurance Home has many success stories to be shared.

When asked about the largest change he’s seen with the current generation of residents, Malone said, “I think that kids today are more challenging because they have a lot more distractions, like cellphones and video games that keep them from actually having to be connected with people. A large part of our success has to do with making connections and building relationships, and we’re pretty good at breaking through all those distractions in order to do so.”

There are two ways to donate to this group. One is through the Assurance Home, where donations like gift certificates, local theater tickets and monetary donations can be made to take care of the kids and their everyday needs. The second is through the Assurance Home Foundation, which is where money can be donated to keep the home up and running for years to come. People may specify which area they wish their donations to go to, and it will be placed accordingly.

There are even those who have remembered the Assurance Home in their wills. In a memorial garden on the property, there are plaques placed that commemorate those gifts. In addition, a thrift shop is run at 916 E. McGaffey St., where all sales help fund the home’s daily operation. They have also just completed their second annual golf tournament to benefit the Assurance Home, which was successful.

Malone is a “spokesperson” living two separate lives; the family life and the Assurance Home life.

“I have my wonderful wife, Brenda, who I love with all of my heart, and two sons that I absolutely adore,” he said. “My Assurance Home life takes a lot of energy, but my family has always been my source of strength through all my days. When Assurance Home came along, I knew, and still know, that was it. Things turned out exactly the way they were supposed to. I love doing what I do; I like it as much today as I did when I first began.”

Thus, the Roswell community — as well as all the children who need him — can celebrate the fact that Ron Malone has no plans to retire anytime soon.