After losing her daughter to suicide nearly three years ago, a Santa Clarita mom set on a mission to help troubled youth by creating SRD- Straightening Reins.
Debbie Rocha founded the organization after her daughter, Samantha Dyer-Rocha stepped onto Highway 14, ending her life.
"We started (the organization) in honor of my daughter who passed away when she was 15-and-a-half. She struggled with depression,' said Rocha. "Some days very difficult and some day I muster throughit. I was blessed with 15 years with this amazing and talented young lady."
SRD-Straightening Reins uses horses and donkeys to promote emotional growth in teenagers, she said.
"My younger son, Joseph and I started this in honor of Samantha to provide for safe place for kids to go after school and weekends. In addition to a safe place, we also provide counseling," Rocha said. "The reason why we chose to do this with horses is because they are nonthreatening, it builds confidence, they can focus on being simplistic and there are no judgements."
The ranch officials service 30-60 kids every week and are open all week to "help kids get the tools they need to deal with day to day pressure," she said. The organization is funded completely on donations and they do not turn anyone away.
SRD- Straightening Reins counselors work with kids from organizations such as various honor societies, DFYIT, theSanta Clarita Domestic Violence Center and California State University, Northridge.
"The bottom line in making a positive difference is for the kids to see there's nothing they can't do," Rocha said. "We want to empower youth to realise they can achieve their goals."
The next event the SRD- Straightening Reins officials are planning to host is an Open Barn on Sunday, Nov. 16 from 1-4 p.m.
The nonprofit was recently nominated by the SCV Latino Chamber of Commerce for their leadership award.
SRD- Straightening Reins officials offer equine counseling for youth and their families.