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Posted December 2, 2004 

Our son XXXXX has been at Whitmore Academy for over 10 months. We are so deeply blessed by the genuine changes and growth in his life.

Out of sheer gratitude to Mark and Cheryl, we have written this letter of recommendation from our hearts. I pray many other parents will follow suite.

Berin and Lisa Gilfillan

---- Original Message ----

December 1, 2004

To Whom It May Concern:

Re: Whitmore Academy from Rev. Berin and Lisa Gilfillan (parents of XXXXX)

Our son XXXXX has been at Whitmore Academy for over 10 months now. We adopted him from a Russian orphanage when he was 11 years old. We missed 11 years of parenting and this naturally resulted in certain behavioral issues in his life. When he was 13 years old we put him in a lockdown program in Missouri. The year was difficult for him but he made some progress. He also had learned by that stage to speak English, which helped greatly. When he was 16, we put him in a public school for the first time. He ended up gravitating to the wrong friends and soon began using over the counter drugs and marijuana. He ran away from home and his life began descending into an abyss. Because of his background, he was extremely closed up and refused to share his feelings and emotions. Knowing that a lockdown program would not work again for him, we began researching the nation to find the most outstanding program we could find.

During our investigation of different programs, we came across an organization called Parents Universal Resource Experts, PURE ( This group researches programs all over the nation. Their number one recommended program to us was Whitmore Academy. Based on their recommendations, we enrolled our son at Whitmore.

During the past 10 months, we have been awed and blessed to see the incredible progress our son has made. A few months ago he wrote this in an email to another parent of a child in the program:

"I have been here for almost 8 months and I can't believe the progress that I have made in a very short time."

Our son XXXXX has made huge strides at Whitmore Academy. He has broken the addictions over his life and he has started to really express his feelings and beliefs for the first time. XXXXX now expresses love and appreciation for us as his parents in a genuine and real way. He has had open email communication with us over the past 8 months without supervision and has also spoken to us weekly on the phone. He has many times shared his love and respect for Mark and Cheryl and after 4 months at Whitmore, we gave him the open option to return home. He instead chose to stay at Whitmore.

Whitmore has been a place of healing, help and hope for XXXXX. I cannot tell you how much we as parents appreciate all that Mark and Cheryl have done for our son. He has grown to love horses and to love the outdoors. He has learned to handle relationships in a safe family environment and he has learned to become accountable for his actions. My wife and I are strong evangelical Christian ministers but at no point have we felt that XXXXX has had the Mormon religion imposed upon him. He has been allowed to read the Bible and his Judeo Christian values have been strengthened.

My wife and I will gladly stand in court and testify to the value and blessing of the Whitmore program to our family. I spoke to my son today and he spoke of how the police had come in to forcibly remove one of the kids from the program. He said the way it was handled was traumatic to him and to all the kids in the program. We believe this investigation is a witch-hunt. If it needs to be done, let it be done in a way that is respectful, professional and impartial. I believe the facts will speak for themselves that the program Mark and Cheryl run is certainly one of the finest of its kind in the nation. We certainly are enormously grateful that it has been there for our son and we will fight to see it there for many other families who need the same kind of help that we have received.


Rev. Dr. Berin Gilfillan

Copyright © 2004, Woodbury Reports, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(This article may not be reproduced without written approval of the publisher.)

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