When the first child at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch tested positive for COVID-19, I felt like a tractor ran over me. We had already experienced staff who had tested positive and had quarantined away from work. That was worrisome, they are such good people. Thankfully they have all returned healthy and virus-free But, a child? The kids come here to be safe, and I "let" this child get sick.
That may be the hardest part of this job.
Those of us who care about children, whether it is the good folks who work every day to help kids at the Ranch heal, those of us like me who keep the wheels turning, or folks like you who care and pray and send support and good vibes, we want to be able to promise each child they will always be safe. I really want to look at a child and say "no one or nothing will ever hurt you again."
But I can't. The world isn't like that.
Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes people are mean. Sometimes someone betrays our trust.
Our work here at the Ranch is not to make the world perfect for the children. We can't, only God can do that. However, with His help, we can help children find their strength, their voice, their resiliency. They can learn they can overcome obstacles, and that they don't have to give up being their best selves. They can make choices, they are seen, they matter.
So, our staff kicked into high gear. They made a special room for the child in a staff meeting room. They dedicated a bathroom to this child. They donned all kinds of PPE, took one-on-one shifts, and played games and read books and even went on bike rides (although positive – the child was asymptomatic). They showed this precious child what people being their best selves look like. They showed her she is strong and resilient, and she matters.
I am so grateful to work at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Please pray for our staff and children.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
P.S. Since the original writing of this article, the child has tested negative and has no further issues related to the virus. No other children have tested positive at this time.
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