I truly love the Ranch kids. They surprise me every day with their courage, resilience, desire to be their best selves. This morning as I walked through the dining room at breakfast time, several of the girls stopped me to teach them how to do the Star Trek “live long and prosper” sign with my hands. Much giggling and goofing later, we settled for them making the peace sign.
For many of the children, their journey also includes their first real consideration of God and His role in their healing. Tara, whose story follows, was a child who opened her heart to the work of treatment and the word of the Lord. These children are remarkable.
It wasn't until she came to the Ranch that 15-year-old Tara really realized how badly her life got sidetracked.
"There was a lot of stress," she says. "I wanted to get out of the house. I did drugs and tried running away. And I had friends who were bad influences. They weren't good friends."
Because of those difficult circumstances, combined with the tragic passing of her dad, it's easy to see why Tara was angry. Really angry. She lashed out often at family and friends. "At the same time, I didn't even understand why," she says. "I had a lot of anger toward my mom."
So much anger
Much of Tara's anger was directed at her mom. She was not a strong parenting influence in Tara's life. Worse, at least one of her mom's boyfriends sexually abused Tara and her sisters.
By the time Tara was referred to the Ranch, she'd become hostile, resentful, and belligerent. Anyone would have.
Thanks to donors and other partners, Tara got the help she needed at the Ranch. Because she now has more stability in her life, she has been able to do better in school.
Tara also learned the value and reward of hard work. She was able to help in the Ranch kitchen, for which she was paid. "It's really fun. I love cooking and cleaning. You have to have a good heart and be very caring."
Best of all, Tara discovered the spiritual side of her life, saying the most important thing she learned at the Ranch is faith.
New faith — and a reason to hope
When she first got here, Tara says, "I didn't want anything to do with God or Jesus. I didn't believe. But now I pray every night and read the Bible. It really helps."
She credits the Ranch. "The staff here are very supportive. Jay [one of the Ranch's spiritual life specialists] really helped. I got baptized here."
Tara recently finished her treatment at the Ranch and went to live with an uncle who offered to take her in. When she left, she was looking forward to a new life with a caring family. "I'll be going to a new school, starting fresh," she says. "I'm really going to miss this place."
We miss you too, Tara.
If you have a child in your care who needs a place to heal, contact our Admissions Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-221-5304. Or to learn more, go to https://www.dakotaranch.org/treatment/.