"I'm ecstatic," he said.
The new home opened this week as two girls moved in Monday; the house has room for four girls in total.The Timothy Hill Children's Ranch, which, for 30 years has offered multiple transitional houses, as opposed to traditional group homes, for homeless, abused, and neglected teens at times of crisis in their lives, was founded by Jerrell and Fern Hill.
The Hills had taken in many foster children, and it was the dream of their son, Timothy, to open a ranch for young people in crisis, where they could feel safe and "have wide open spaces to ride horses," according to the THCH website.
Timothy Hill was tragically killed when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle at 13.
Today, his dream lives on in the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch, and his brother said the goal was always to offer a haven for both young men and women.
With two residential group homes, each hosting 12 young men, as well as six transitional houses, each with a maximum of four residents and a caretaker, for the past 10 years, the goal has been to add a home for young women, Hill said.
"While in general, there are less girls in placement through foster care in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, there is still a lot of need," Hill said.
The Timothy Hill Children's Ranch, Hill said, is unique in that it specializes in transitional housing for 17 to 21 year olds, the typical age when foster care children age out of the system and often find themselves unable to live independently and, subsequently, left with little resources, unemployed, and even homeless.
Other agencies, Hill said, might expect that once a teen graduates from high school, they should pursue a college or military career.
"A lot of teens aren't ready," he said.
With the need for transitional housing growing for young women, Hill said he worked with the Suffolk County Department of Social Services to begin placement of young women in the new home.
The home on Sound Avenue was purchased a few months ago, Hill said.
Both the young women, who moved into the new home on Monday, are Suffolk County Community College students with jobs.
"One thing I'm proud of, as an agency, is that out of our transition program, we've got 20 young people between 17 and 21, and 100 percent have jobs," Hill said.
Each young man or woman living at a Timothy Hill Children's Ranch facility must be either working, in college, or a combination of both, Hill said.
"Everyone is going to get productive and start doing something significant with their lives," he said.
Several of the young adults have licenses and are able to drive to work, Hill said.
The facilities offer critically important life skills to foster independence, Hill said.
"We teach them about budgeting, setting up bank accounts, developing resumes, how to cook and shop. They learn to live on their own, but they also have mentors that live with them, to help guide and coach them."
One bonus to transitional housing, Hill added, is that the cost to operate such facilities, while about the same as a traditional homeless shelter, "is significantly less — about 40 percent of the cost — of jail or a traditional residential setting. It's much less expensive, so you don't have a huge cost to the taxpayer. And this helps keep kids off the streets, keeps them productive."
For Hill, keeping the vision of the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch alive is deeply fulfilling.
"It's an honor to work with these kids. Seeing them turn their lives around is a complete joy. We're realizing the vision of what the Timothy Hill Children's Ranch was founded on, and committed to moving forward."
Hill thanked the Town of Riverhead for allowing "us to be neighbors."
While at times, Hill said there have been some who might "not love everything" about the Ranch, he added, "As a whole, most people embrace the concept and appreciate what we're doing to make this area and community a better place."