So Much More Than His Labels

So Much More Than His Labels

So Much More Than His Labels


I've been invited to several events lately—most were invitations extended by friends of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch who want others to hear about our ministry. I attend their Honey Sundays, prayer breakfasts, social group meetings, etc., to talk about the kids who come to the Ranch.

This week I have a story to share—a story full of joy and heartache. Meet Daniel*.

Daniel has struggled his entire life and has been given several labels defining his challenges: Defiance Disorder, Bipolar Schizophrenic, and Developmentally Disabled.

But Daniel is so much more than a label. He is also friendly, affectionate, creative, silly, entrepreneurial and kind. I have witnessed him go out of his way to encourage a fellow classmate or staff. Recently, he offered to help me clear plates when he saw me carrying some for others. More than once he has stopped by my office to say hi—and seeing him boosts my spirits.

God is working through Daniel.

One day, he came into my office after helping harvest vegetables in the garden. His cheeks pink from the early morning chill, he brightly proclaimed a successful harvest. Standing in my office, holding a big bowl of tomatoes and peppers, Daniel began to ponder the cost of this valuable commodity he had helped nurture and grow.

"Fifteen dollars for a green pepper," Daniel said. "But these big tomatoes are twenty-five bucks each!"

I chuckled to myself quietly as I admired his optimistic business plan. If only we all saw such value in the fruits of our work.

It is in these simple moments that I feel the presence of God. Here is a child abandoned by his family and so many others, reaching towards the future with hopeful optimism. Not every day...Daniel continues to have bad days, and he will his entire life. But on this day, he was very proud of the tomatoes and peppers he planted, tended, and harvested.

God has a plan for this young man, and I know that plan will unveil itself over time. Thank you for your prayers for our children, and for your financial gifts—without your support, much of the work we do at the Ranch would be left undone.


Janet Zinke
Senior Development Officer
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

*Name changed to protect the privacy and confidentiality of this young man.

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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.

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