By Jim Vetter, Vice President of Community and Partner Relations
I love the energy of the new school year. The excitement of new classes, new teachers, and new hopes fill the air as I walk around the treatment center. The kids are talking about their dreams for the future—when they graduate and strike out on their own. Ranch staff are glad to be back to the routine and structure after summer vacation—and they are excited to reconnect with their students.
I realized going back to school is not so exciting for everyone when I shared a lunch table with one of our kids (I will call him Allan) on the 4th day of school. He was talking about his school experience, which was filled with negativity. Allan told me school was a waste of time because people in his family don’t graduate.
When I asked why he would say that, Allan said, “That’s just the way it is.”
Of course, I told Allan the Ranch was in his life to change the way for him, but our discussion stuck with me. It reminded me that my school experience was very different from Allan’s. And, that Allan is not alone. Many of our kids have accepted the life they live as “just the way it is.” At the Ranch, we can change the life trajectory for these kids. We can light a spark inside them—we can instill in them a burning desire to change their environment, their world view, and their future.
Most of our kids come to the Ranch with no idea it is possible to make those changes—we show them another way. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Over the years, I have seen so many kids make changes and live lives beyond their expectations.
How do we light a spark in our students, so they see the possibilities? I believe we start right where we are at. As Vince Lombardi says, “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”
If you work directly with the kids, do your best. If you pray for the kids and staff, pray wholeheartedly. If you donate to the Ranch ministry, give from the measure of what you have.
Romans 12:6 tells us, “We all have different gifts, each of which came because of the grace God gave us.”
Every one of us can use our God-given gifts and talents to move kids from “that’s just the way it is,” to imagining a different and better future. My one encouraging comment at lunch may not be enough to light a spark in Allan on its own. But, all of us working together can build a raging fire!
Learn more about Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch at DakotaRanch.org.
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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.