PERRY COUNTY, Ark. – Just outside of Conway in Perry County sits a 116-acre oasis of serenity. It’s a place where men, like Chase Chism, come to renew their lives.
Four years ago, Chism sat in one of the seats at Renewal Ranch after battling addiction for 15 years.
“I just hated who I had become,” he recalled. “I bottled up a lot of emotions, and I started drinking like most kids do, and I realized that it felt good and that it numbed the pain.”
The drinking led to experimenting with drugs, like opioids.
“Once I started that, it was just kind of a snowball,” Chism said. “If you do one thing, you’re willing to do the next and the next, and it just kind of got out of control after so many years.”
That was until he found Renewal Ranch, a one-year faith-based recovery program for men. It starts with living on the ranch, attending 600 hours of classroom instruction, and participating in 300 hours of community service.
“We said if we help one person, if one person gets it, it’ll be worth it,” Renewal Ranch executive director James Loy remembered of the program’s beginnings.
Fast forward to 10 years later, and 600 men have now graduated from Renewal Ranch. Loy said 60% of the graduates have remained sober for at least a year.
In 2017, Rainwater, Holt & Sexton awarded Renewal Ranch with the Difference Makers award and a $1,000 donation. In March, the law firm hosted a contest for the five-year anniversary of Difference Makers by having the public vote for one of the past monthly winners to win the Cap Stone Award and a $5,000 donation.
FOX 16 News was there when Loy and Renewal Ranch were surprised with the announcement that they’d won the Cap Stone Award.
“Oh my goodness, what a blessing. Thank you. Thank you,” Loy said. “We know that there’s so many worthy causes out there and we’re just humbled and grateful when people consider us and what the Lord’s doing out here. This is a tremendous, unexpected blessing and we are just super grateful to receive this.”
Renewal Ranch has big plans to build a new 42-man apartment complex on the ranch. They hope to break ground in June.