It was all about successes and looking toward the future Saturday night as the Rabiner Treatment Center celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Hundreds of current and former Rabiner employees, Iowa State Police Association members, as well as friends and family of those involved in Rabiner's 50-year history stopped at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites to celebrate the center's successes.
Brad Klug, Rabiner's chief executive officer, said the celebration kicked off with public tours of the treatment center's campus. More than 100 people took tours.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Brad Klug, CEO of Rabiner Treatment Center, speaks to visitors Saturday during a tour of the facility in honor of its 50th anniversary.
"The tours give our kids and staff the opportunity to show off what we're about," Klug said. "We want to take a look and reflect on our first 50 years and all the different efforts that got us here today."
Klug said those involved with Rabiner over the years have become family. Several members of that family, including two men who were helped by Rabiner as children, spoke about the successes they've had thanks to the center.
Toby Welsh, of Mason City, said he entered Rabiner when he was 16 years old after getting caught stealing a car.
"The staff and counselors cared so much," Welsh said. "Things have gotten a lot better for me."
Welsh ended up coming back to Rabiner as an adult to work as a teacher for a few years.
"Every time I come here, there's always something new and something improved," he said.
He's working with a business partner to build a guitar that he plans on donating for Rabiner's music classes.
Another Rabiner alum, Jeff DeWall, of Storm Lake, said his time at the center was special.
"We might have complained at the time we were here," DeWall said, "but we knew people here cared about us."
DeWall said the Rabiner staff had a positive impact on not only his life, but every boy he knew at the center.
"It's got to be really rewarding for you knowing that you've got to be one of the only five or six people that cares," he told the staff during his speech. "You made a difference in my life. I'm here because of you."
He takes comfort in knowing Rabiner remains strong, he said.
"It's a neat feeling to know my home is safe and will be here 50 years from now," said DeWall.
Originally called the Jerry Rabiner Memorial Boys Ranch, the idea for Rabiner was born from a conversation between a man named Louis Rabiner and his friend, Fort Dodge Police Capt. Marion Lamb.
Rabiner was troubled by the fact that runaway boys would be put in jail because there was nowhere else for them to go. Rabiner, whose son Jerry was killed in a car accident in 1953, told Lamb he would be willing to donate land if the ISPA would open a boys home there.
The ISPA unanimously approved the proposal, and groundbreaking on the center was held on Sept. 2, 1962.
Today, the center includes five residential cottages, a middle school, high school, vocational program and a baseball team.
Most of the center's boys are there because of court order through the Iowa Department of Human Services and Juvenile Court Services. While some of them are sent there for breaking the law, others go there for community safety reasons. Some are sent there because of fights at school, and others because they need treatment for conditions such as autism and fetal alcohol syndrome.
The Rabiner Treatment Center has a broad range of treatment programs, which include day treatment, day school and the weekend program. Klug said between 2,000 and 3,000 boys have been through the weekend program since 2002, and more than 70 percent did not re-offend over the following year.