We had a young lady at the Ranch who really touched my heart. Whenever she would see me, she would yell, "Joy," and then scurry up to wherever I was. She'd give me a side hug and beam from ear to ear. Over time, I made it my mission to teach her to shake hands firmly, with eye contact. She was an excellent learner!
One of the most delightful parts of our connection happened after our greeting, response, hugging, and hand-shaking. We would just be quiet with each other. Whether at lunch, walking on campus, or sitting in chapel, she didn't have anything more to say to me. She just wanted me to "be" with her. So, we did.
She worked very hard in school and in treatment. She was a leader in her cottage and in the classroom. Wonderfully, she found a perfect foster home that understands her, her past, and her boundless potential. She has been gone from the Ranch for nearly a year. She is living with her foster family, excelling in public school, and making friends. How do I know?
At our graduation ceremony in May, I heard a familiar, "Joy," from across the dining room. I looked up and there she was, scurrying as usual, but with a brightness and confidence that shone from within. She had been invited to the Dakota Memorial School Senior Banquet and was there with her foster family. She took my hand AND gave me a side hug. She excitedly told me she is going to be a Junior in high school in the fall, she isn't playing volleyball anymore but is involved in music. AND, in her words, "it's all going so good!" Then, we just quietly stood for a few minutes until it was time to start the festivities.
I like "being" with this young lady. She doesn't ask for much...just to be seen, recognized, and worthy of your time. And, you know, so do I. When she calls my name, shares her story, and spends quiet time with me, it simply fills me up.
The kids we serve have been through so much and have seen so much. They need care and treatment and education and medicine and occupational therapy and schedules and feedback. And, sometimes, just like the rest of us, they just need someone to sit with them and quietly "be."
Please pray for our kids and staff—and take a few minutes to just "be" with a child in your life.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch