Small Steps that Make a Big Difference

Small Steps that Make a Big Difference

Small Steps that Make a Big Difference

Most things we learn from birth to adulthood come in small steps.

When we learn to eat solid foods, we don't start with a T-bone, but mushed banana or rice cereal. When we learn to drive, it is usually around the block, not cross-country on Route 66. When we learn to read, Dick and Jane usually come before Dostoevsky.

Oftentimes, the children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch haven't experienced the small steps. They haven't been nurtured along the way. They had to leap headfirst into the big things. They had to defend themselves and survive. They had to learn how to push others away to keep themselves safe. Or, they had to "parent" younger siblings when Mom and Dad were too challenged with their own issues—addiction, relationships, violence, money, mental illness—to parent. Sometimes, their own psychiatric issues make learning pretty chaotic.

So, at the Ranch, we spend a lot of time teaching "social skills." The socialization that a child gets in a healthy family...manners, kindness, empathy—are often lacking in the children here. Again, they have been working on big things, not the "niceties" of life.

But, it is those "niceties" we didn't learn that often get in our way. Whether in relationships or the workplace of school or just in a family, it is the "niceties" that make people successful. Knowing how to ask for and appreciate help. Knowing how to take turns. Know how to listen without interrupting, are all skills that most successful, and happy, people share.

Today I walked out of our dining center to find two of our boys from the Fargo Youth Home in the shrub beds outside the building. A staff person was next to the beds. The boys were walking between the plants, moving the foliage aside, obviously looking for something. So, I joined them.

"What are we looking for?" I asked as I pushed a bunch of decorative wheatgrass to the side thinking if I saw anything it was most likely the lost item!

"My paper airplane. It flew right in here." And we kept looking.

I don't know where that airplane landed, but we didn't find it. We looked under every plant. No luck.

When it was obvious it was futile, they ran to the van with the staff beside them. She assured them they could make many more airplanes.

As I headed over to the other building, the van pulled up beside me and the passenger window rolled down. The hapless "pilot" said, "I asked her to stop so I could say thank you for looking for my airplane with me. It was nice of you to help." As they drove away, I went back to my office with a happy heart.

It is about the small steps.

Stay well.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch


Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch continues to move forward with its important work. In the midst of all that is going on, many of our friends and supporters are looking forward to the future when they can enjoy community with friends and resume their regular activities. In response to the current situation, Congress recently enacted several tax law changes. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch has compiled some resources to help you with your tax planning and to offer some ideas for you to consider if you are thinking about making a gift in support of our mission during this time. To view it, click here or on the image above.


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