The Fargo Youth Home is a Qualified Residential Treatment Program of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. It is located in a residential area away from our main campus. The children who are at the Youth Home are generally 14-18 years old. They tend to have fewer family or social connections and are also in need of less intensive treatment and supervision. They are working on independent living skills, some hold jobs, some go to public school. They may ride public transportation or take driver's education. They are taking charge, and responsibility, of their own lives.
They are still kids.
With all they have seen and endured and navigated and learned, they are still children. They like to laugh and play games and act silly. They make friends and then argue with their friends. They worry about acne and bad breath. All that stuff.
Sometimes they really make me think. One day, the staff and kids decided they would plan a pizza party for the upcoming Thursday night. They would order pizza to be delivered, and maybe watch a movie, since they didn't have school that Friday.
Unbeknownst to them, the pizza order was enhanced. We ordered pizza (many different kinds and too many so they could graze), soda, dessert – the whole kit and caboodle. It was a "pizza feast." Sort of what you'd do for your family for the "big game." They ate most of it... and had cold pizza for breakfast in the morning... because that, too, is what kids sometimes do.
One of the boys in the Youth Home decided to write a thank-you note, which made its way to my desk. In it he wrote, "Thank you for making our Thursday absolutely wonderful." I had to think for a moment why that simple sentence held my attention.
Then I got it. When would a child in a "normal" family ever think to be grateful for delivery pizza and soda? When would it have occurred to my children to write a formal thank you note because there was more than one kind of pizza to choose from? What does it take for me to think an evening was "absolutely wonderful?"
How precious are these kids to be thankful, in spite of all they have gone through, for such a little thing? As they heal, they notice, not only the absence of hurt, but the presence of simple happiness.
We all should.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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