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The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Grants $81,680 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch at National Convention

The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Grants $81,680 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch at National Convention

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch will receive $81,680 from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League to support the Deaconess Ministry portion of its Spiritual Life programming. Recognizing the need to minister directly to the hearts of the young girls and boys in their care, in 2018 the Ranch called LCMS Deaconess Kelly Bristow to complement the work of the Spiritual Life staff.…

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MDU Resources Foundation Grants $4,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

MDU Resources Foundation Grants $4,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

MDU Resources Foundation awarded $4,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to purchase a commercial gas stove for the Nutrition Center on its Bismarck campus. The purchase is just one part of an overall transformation of the Nutrition Center.…

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FM Area Foundation Grants $3,500 for Wellness Program at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

FM Area Foundation Grants $3,500 for Wellness Program at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The FM Area Foundation granted $3,500 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to support the Wellness Program on its Fargo campus. Funds will be used to purchase items and accessories such as helmets, rollerblades, bikes, longboards, skateboards, and more.…

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God's Grace and Mercy

God's Grace and Mercy

Chapel Services are at 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays on all the campuses of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. We do not require children or staff to attend. But, many do. Last week, I was on campus in Minot for Chapel. Minot is our largest campus, our seminal campus. Chaplain Rick Jones and Deaconess Kelly Bristow do a beautiful job of bringing His word to the kids in a way that relates to them. Yesterday the message was from Romans 13, where Paul talks about how to think about “authorities.” Chaplain Rick was able to make sense of God’s delegation to “authorities” in his name, while acknowledging that many in authority had been the very people who had victimized these children. He explained how the authority was from God, but how the person in that position may be in the clutches of sin.…

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A Very Special Thank You

A Very Special Thank You

I hear the same lament over and over from friends, particularly grandparents, aunts, and uncles who live a distance away. "Why don't kids today ever send thank you notes?" and "I have to call to see if they got the gift, because I never hear about it from them." I honestly don't know if it is worse than in previous generations. My mom and dad made sure I wrote thank you notes. But I also remember when, having heard nothing, they would ponder whether a gift they sent had ever been received.…

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Kiwanis Club of Minot Provides Funds for Library Books at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Kiwanis Club of Minot Provides Funds for Library Books at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

The Kiwanis Club of Minot granted $300 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to purchase library books for Dakota Memorial School, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Reading offers children at the Ranch the chance to expand their horizons beyond the tough and often traumatizing lives they’ve lived. It stirs the imagination, stimulates creativity, gives freedom to the soul, and inspires kids to dream big for the future.…

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Dirt is a Happy Place

Dirt is a Happy Place

When I was a kid, I didn't really appreciate all the work that went into raising food. Gardening was a lot of work, and it took away from what I wanted to do—generally anything except work. I've since gained an appreciation for gardening, and even gave it a name, "dirt therapy." For some people, digging in the dirt, watching plants grow, and harvesting vegetables all come together to create a sense of accomplishment and well-being.…

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The Wisdom of a Child

The Wisdom of a Child

We should never quit growing and learning. One of my former bosses, a remarkably wise man, always said, "If you are the same person next year that you are this year, you're not very interesting." His point was that each year we should evolve, learn, have new experiences... maybe even change some strongly held opinions.…

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Putting on the Brakes

Putting on the Brakes

Imagine driving through the middle of town during road construction season trying to navigate unexpected stop signs, orange cones, and random holes in the middle of the road to get through to the other side safely. Most of us are familiar with applying the right amount of pressure to the brake and gas pedals to get through the construction safely. For some, it's second nature and requires very little active thought.…

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A Future He Never Imagined

A Future He Never Imagined

Now, in his second time at the Ranch, Jeremiah wants the help he needs. "I want to get stuff done. I want to be able to communicate efficiently and to have friends, good friends. My therapists at the Ranch are really helping me with those things. They are helping me with pretty much anything you can name that a young adult needs to live independently." In therapy, Jeremiah has learned to talk through his uncomfortable feelings and emotions. "I think the only way to go forward is to be uncomfortable when you're talking about something. If you stop talking every time you're uncomfortable, it's not going to help you. You have to just sit there and cry and work through things." While at the Ranch, Jeremiah also developed coping skills, learned how to interact with other people, and worked hard to repair and rebuild relationships with his parents.…

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Becoming Adults: Preparing Ranch Kids to Live in the World

Becoming Adults: Preparing Ranch Kids to Live in the World

In so many ways, the children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are just like other kids. They may have endured more trauma than others and need help to heal and move forward, but like all kids, they face a full range of choices as they step out into the world. Just like their peers, some Ranch kids go to college. Others aren't interested or suited for that path.…

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Vocational Education Through the Years

Vocational Education Through the Years

In the 1960s, Dakota Boys Ranch faced some serious education issues. At that time, the Ranch's education program consisted of two elementary teachers, one full-time and one part-time. Consequently, the Ranch was basically dependent on the public schools for educating the boys living at the Ranch. Many of the boys had special education needs and most had difficulty functioning in the public school setting due to backgrounds of neglect.…

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Getting Some Zzzzzzzzz's: Helping Ranch Kids get Good Sleep

Getting Some Zzzzzzzzz's: Helping Ranch Kids get Good Sleep

Imagine what it would be like if you couldn't go home at the end of a long day and crawl into your own safe, comfortable bed. That's what it has been like for many of the kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch—their beds, and sleep in general, have not always been a safe, comfortable place. Some didn't have a bed and spent nights on the floor, on the couch, under the kitchen table...wherever they fell asleep. Others hopped from couch to couch with their families—never knowing where they would spend the night. Many see nighttime as scary because that is when bad things happened to them. They come to the Ranch we expect them to sleep in an unfamiliar place surrounded by people they don't know.…

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NASA Botanist on Mars

NASA Botanist on Mars

The children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch have endured so much. They have been busy surviving, not learning basic life skills. So, we try to teach them.…

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Are Some Kids Better Off Without Their Families?

Are Some Kids Better Off Without Their Families?

The mission of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is "to help at-risk children and their families succeed in the name of Christ." Yet, one question I get asked a lot is, "Aren't all these kids better off without their screwed up families?" Sometimes it is worded much more compassionately. Sometimes it is even more judgmental. Sometimes it is hard to answer with a quick "Yes" or "No."…

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God-Inspired Interruptions

God-Inspired Interruptions

In a book I'm reading, the author talks about God-inspired interruptions, which reminded me of a recent moment of inspiration outside my office at the Ranch. My office is situated across the hall from Shayla Leinen, Principal of Dakota Memorial School on the Fargo campus. Throughout the school day, kids come to Shayla's office, sometimes with an emergency or a behavioral issue, and sometimes just to say hello. Shayla is amazing with our kids; she truly cares about each one of them.…

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Come and See

Come and See

The sermon at my church recently was about the phrase in the Bible, "Come and see." The point of the sermon was that the phrase was only used when "see" really meant "know." "Come and look," according to the speaker's study of the Bible, meant "Come and draw your own conclusions." But "see," was used when the conclusion was not up for debate. For instance, in John 11:34 in response to Jesus asking to see Lazarus as he lay, unarguably, dead.…

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Verendrye Electric Awards $1,850 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Verendrye Electric Awards $1,850 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Verendrye Electric Cooperative awarded $1,850 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to upgrade the security on its Minot campus.…

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Jesus—the answer to everything: Young Ranch resident turns abuse and abandonment into authentic joy

Jesus—the answer to everything: Young Ranch resident turns abuse and abandonment into authentic joy

Sierra, a 16-year-old on our Minot campus, recently shared her story with other residents during Ranch Life (a twice-monthly event where Ranch kids hear inspirational speakers or participate in a service project). While she talked about her childhood as one of abuse, abandonment, and rejection, she focused on joy and Jesus. She wanted the other residents to know they don't have to be defined by their past.…

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Second Time Around

Second Time Around

Ariel is at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for the second time. Her first time at the Ranch was as a resident, and now she is back as an employee, working with kids who struggle with many of the same challenges as she did.…

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He Writes the Songs

He Writes the Songs

Thanks to the generous donors who make it possible, Selby, an educator, singer, and Grammy-award winning songwriter, spends several days writing songs with Ranch kids each year. He connects with students on a personal level, engages them in authentic musical experiences, and inspires them to pursue their own artistic expression. Most importantly, he listens to the kids' stories and helps them turn memories and hopes into songs.…

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"I made a good investment."

"I made a good investment."

"I grew up looking at the south end of a draft horse," said Iowa native, Gilbert Grienke. "I was driving a team of horses behind farm equipment when I was hardly old enough to walk. You love every horse you've ever driven." Horses are what attracted Gilbert to the Ranch. "You use horses to calm the kids and that was something I hadn't seen before. There is something about horses—their honest, forgiving, and calming demeanor somehow helped raise this old man and keep him out of trouble. They are wonderful around kids."…

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Grocery Store Lessons

Grocery Store Lessons

When I was a teenager, going to the grocery store with my dad was so painful! Going with Mom was great. My mom was an excellent cook. We lived on a farm, raised all kinds of vegetables and fruits. Had our own chickens. Bought eggs from a neighbor. Now all that is cool, but then it was necessary. Still, we went to the grocery store for all the fill-ins. She taught me about different spices, oils, and the difference between baking soda and baking powder, while we went up and down the aisles at Hugo's, the local store. Best of all, Mom was a shy and reserved woman, not one to draw attention to herself... so shopping with her was just her and me.…

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Caught at a Crossroads: Two People, One Story

Caught at a Crossroads: Two People, One Story

Samantha wants Ranch donors to know how grateful she is for the held she received at the Ranch. "Not everyone comes out successfully, but most do, and they're very grateful for the help they get," she said. "People who donate [to the Ranch] really want to help these children and teens. They want them to know they are cared for and they want them to get better."…

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Creating Lifelong Connections: The Role of Case Managers at the Ranch

Creating Lifelong Connections: The Role of Case Managers at the Ranch

I sometimes joke that my job as a case manager is a little bit of everything, usually all at once! The real answer is that I, and other case managers at the Ranch, support the long-term success of our kids by advocating for them and creating community connections. Accessing resources to help young trauma survivors succeed is challenging for families who are not well-versed in navigating the web of community, state, and federal human service systems. Securing the community support and aftercare services is so important to the long-term success of Ranch kids—so, case managers help families get everything in place.…

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