Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Power of Positivity in Doing God's Work

The Power of Positivity in Doing God's Work

Deaconess Kelly Bristow is the Spiritual Life Coordinator on the Minot Campus of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. She is a woman of deep faith in Christ, unbounded love, commitment to mercy care, and she's smart.…

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Finally Family: One Young Man's Journey to Find Love and Acceptance

Finally Family: One Young Man's Journey to Find Love and Acceptance

Mannie was just an infant when his parents dropped him off at a family friend's and didn't come back. Mannie, now age 16 and wise beyond his years, says matter-of-factly, "They weren't ready, or didn't have the proper parenting to take care of me." No anger. No resentment. Just calm acceptance of his reality. But it hasn't always been that way.…

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It All Started with "Yo."

It All Started with "Yo."

I love the Ranch kids. Really. Sometimes they are hard to like, because they've learned lots of ways to keep people at arm's length, most of which are pretty effective. But, when we love them through it, they find their best selves on the other side!…

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Going Home Sober

Going Home Sober

This morning I sat in a Core Team meeting for a boy in our care. Core Team meetings are where we bring together the child and everyone involved in the child's care to discuss how well they are making progress against their goals. The child has a full voice in talking about the goals of treatment, what is working, what isn't helping, whey they want to improve on next, and the challenges they are facing. Around the table, sit people from his or her cottage treatment team, occupational therapy, mental health therapy, psychiatry, nursing, spiritual life, and social work.…

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The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Montana District Grants $2,100 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Montana District Grants $2,100 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will receive $2,100 from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Montana District during the 2020-2022 biennium to underwrite the costs of updating the salad bar on our Bismarck Campus. Funds received will be used as part of an overall transformation of the Nutrition Center on our Bismarck campus. The purchased equipment will allow us to offer additional healthy items during meals.…

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Diane Larson, Ron Greenmyer, and Tim Mihalick Appointed to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Boards of Directors

Diane Larson, Ron Greenmyer, and Tim Mihalick Appointed to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Boards of Directors

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch welcomed Diane Larson, Ron Greenmyer, and Tim Mihalick to its Board of Directors.…

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What is Your Favorite Chilli?

What is Your Favorite Chilli?

Most Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch employees here during a "regular" workday, eat lunch on campus. Our food service staff members are pretty amazing regardless of which campus you are on, and the food is quite good. Considering the volume they make and that they make it appeal to kids and adults, I am impressed on a daily basis.…

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The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Wyoming District Grants $3,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Wyoming District Grants $3,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will receive $3,000 from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Wyoming District during the 2020-2022 biennium to support its Spiritual Life programming. Funds will be used specifically to purchase new chapel furnishing on our Bismarck campus.…

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Ranch Kids Head Back to School

Ranch Kids Head Back to School

I was recently reading through the Spring 2019 issue of Ranch Voice (click here to read more), and was reminded why we, and our kids, love our educators! As you read these snippets, you'll realize why our educators are so special.…

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Keeping Our Kids Safe

Keeping Our Kids Safe

When the first child at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch tested positive for COVID-19, I felt like a tractor ran over me. We had already experienced staff who had tested positive and had quarantined away from work. That was worrisome, they are such good people. Thankfully they have all returned healthy and virus-free But, a child? The kids come here to be safe, and I "let" this child get sick.…

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The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Iowa East District Grants $7,036 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Iowa East District Grants $7,036 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will receive $7,036 from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Iowa East District during the 2020-2022 biennium. Funds will be used to underwrite the cost of purchasing steam tables for the nutrition center on our Minot, ND campus.…

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Creating Space for Learning

Creating Space for Learning

School is so much more than a place to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. In school, children learn how to work in teams, how to build relationships with their peers and adults, and how to manage their emotions and feelings when in a bustling and energy-filled environment. If kids in treatment can learn to operate within those environments, rather than isolated from them, they have a better chance of success when they leave treatment. School gives them a place to practice the new skills they are learning in a "normal" environment.…

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Why is Everyone Smiling and Happy?

Why is Everyone Smiling and Happy?

So much in life is about familiarity and context, isn't it? When we grow up around music, we expect music to be part of our lives. When we grow up around books, we think learning and curiosity are the norm. When we grow up with pets, we feel comfort and respect for animal "friends." You get the idea.…

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The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Oklahoma District Grants $5,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Oklahoma District Grants $5,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will receive $5,000 from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Oklahoma District during the 2020-2022 biennium to support its Spiritual Life programming. Funds will be used specifically to renovate the bathrooms in the Chapel on our Minot, ND campus, which is part of an overall chapel renovation.…

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The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League South Dakota District Grants $3,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League South Dakota District Grants $3,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch received $3,000 from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, South Dakota District to support its Spiritual Life programming. Funds will be used specifically to purchase audio equipment for the Chapel on our Minot, ND campus, which is part of an overall chapel renovation.…

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Horses and Kids

Horses and Kids

Occupational Therapy (OT) is one of the really important elements of treatment for children who are trauma survivors. At Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, our OTs and COTAs (certified occupational therapy assistants) teach children how to understand and manage their sensory input to help them control emotions and reactions. Our OTs provide our kids with many tools — breathing techniques, light panels, therapeutic swings, handheld manipulatives, and even real, live horses!…

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Keeping Ranch Kids Busy During a Pandemic

Keeping Ranch Kids Busy During a Pandemic

Life has been different for the precious boys and girls at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch this summer. Fortunately, the quality of care and the amount of attention they receive hasn't changed. I asked our amazing Wellness Coordinators how they are keeping the kids engaged physically and mentally this summer—despite the challenges created by COVID-19.…

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A Hard and Joyous Day

A Hard and Joyous Day

Two weeks ago, a 20+ year Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch employee passed away suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition. The Ranch — his coworkers, the children, and the ministry — were at the center of his life. A couple weeks ago, Chaplain Rick and Deaconess Kelly led a memorial service for staff and residents. It was a hard and joyous day. We planted a tree in his honor. We read scripture and sang Amazing Grace. We also placed a plaque at the base of the tree, made here in the woodworking classroom of the Ranch. The plaque, at the request of the kids, included images of kittens, as he had been a true "cat person."…

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Sam’s Club—Bismarck Grants $1,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Bismarck Grants $1,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Bismarck granted $1,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to underwrite the cost of materials for the students at Dakota Memorial School. The granted funds, donated through Sam’s Club’s Community Grant Program, will be used to purchase textbooks and school supplies for the upcoming school year.…

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Cass County Electric Cooperative Grants $2,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Cass County Electric Cooperative Grants $2,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Cass County Electric Cooperative granted $2,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch toward the completion of an innovative remodel of Dakota Memorial School—Fargo, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Dakota Memorial School is a fully accredited school designed to provide best-in-class trauma-sensitive education for at-risk children. The population includes the children in our psychiatric residential treatment facilities, as well as Day Students from public schools in the surrounding area.…

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Therapy While Bouncing Up and Down and Doing Somersaults

Therapy While Bouncing Up and Down and Doing Somersaults

I have written before about how important it is for us, when helping kids heal, to meet them where they are at. We must, as Stephen Covey famously writes, "seek first to understand." Sometimes it is very hard to understand a child who cannot express themselves well, or does not have the vocabulary to explain.…

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"When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Just Like You!"

"When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Just Like You!"

I received a very sad letter in the mail today. It was from Maxine Beckwith, a Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Board Member. Maxine is the last remaining Board Member who had joined the board prior to the introduction of term limits. As such, she has been on the board for nearly 40 years. And she has made every moment count. Her letter says she is choosing to retire from the board at the end of this operational year.…

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Something We Can All Agree On?

Something We Can All Agree On?

I was working on a blog post that was truly in sync with all the unsettledness in the world. It seems important to talk about the pandemic and the death of George Floyd and racial injustice and political derision and how the Ranch views and deals with all these "things." I wrote a couple drafts, and then sent it to several people — from different political leanings, races, educational levels, and life experiences — to ask them for their thoughts and input. I don't usually do that, but the message is so important and I wanted to make sure I stated things well.…

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Your Story Is Important

Your Story Is Important

A big part of my job is thanking some amazing people who care deeply for the precious kids we serve at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. When I call or visit to thank them for their prayers and/or financial support, I have the incredible honor of hearing their stories and learning why they support the Ranch.…

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Our Four-Legged Staff Know a Little About Unconditional Love

Our Four-Legged Staff Know a Little About Unconditional Love

At the Ranch, the four-legged staff that work with our children know a little about unconditional love. The horses like Odin and Lena and Starbucks listen to the children's pains and fears and hurts. They gently walk with them. They carry them and their troubles without complaint. The therapy dogs like Bailey and Mack nuzzle and snuggle and love being petted. And they listen too.…

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