Eye on the Desert

Calicinto Ranch receives $25,000 from H.N. & Frances C. Berger Foundation

Calicinto Ranch receives $25,000 from...

SAN JACINTO, Calif. - For Gina T Calicinto Ranch is so much more than a place to spend her summers. It's a part of who she is.

"When I was young and I came, I felt safe and I felt like I could express myself and there was a lot of people who loved me and there was a lot of friends I made. And this camp helped me through a lot," Gina said.

Gina came to Calicinto Ranch when her mom was incarcerated. When she was 12, her mom passed away in prison. The ranch what helped her through that difficult time.

"She loved us. I'm glad I met this camp and I was here because they comforted me. I felt like this a family, a home," Gina said.

Now she returns to the camp in a leadership role, helping her siblings and other kids going through similar issues.

"It makes me really happy that I can be a leader to them, to the kids around and that I can help them. And I can understand what they've been through," Gina said.

With the help of the H.N. and Fraces C Berger Foundation, the ranch has $25,000 to put towards their programs.

"We're so grateful. It is absolutely going to be going for allowing children to come to camp. It does cost about $500 per child to come to cover all the costs here at Calicinto Ranch," said Sophia Pirelli, the executive director of the ranch.

Pirelli works with kids across Southern California whose parents are incarcerated.

"There are 70,000 children of prisoners and we realize seven out of 10 of these children will follow their parents without intervention," Pirelli said.

That intervention is the camp's main goal. As kids just like Gina learn how to ride horses and fish, they also learn self confidence and forgiveness.

"It is a Christian camp and we are teaching them Bible stories. A chaplain from the prison system will come and talk to the kids about the importance of letting go and forgiveness and not being bitter or angry," Pirelli said.

That's something Gina knows will stay with her for the rest of her life.


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