Sometimes people don’t believe me when I explain that everyone at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is part of the children’s healing. It is obvious that the doctors and therapists and nurses and residential treatment specialists and teachers and everyone who works directly with the kids make an impact. But, it goes so much deeper than that. Whether it is providing a clean bed to sleep in, or well-maintained buildings and grounds, or nutritious meals that taste good, each Rancher makes a contribution.
Every once in a while, someone will challenge that. “Give me a real example,” they’ll say.
So here is a very real example of how the long-time groundskeeper on our Minot Campus makes a difference in the lives of our kids. Bart Burns is quite a guy. He is an ace with all engines and also attended Bible College. He spends his days keeping the outdoors of the Ranch beautiful and is also quite sought after as a high-quality community theater actor. He writes lovely, funny emails encouraging folks to refrain from parking on the grass, driving into the ditch, or racing over speed bumps. They are so good that people look forward to his gentle reprimands.
Bart shared this with me one day as he was reflecting on his career at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.
“Good morning, Joy,
Being a groundskeeper for my nearly 19 years, I do not usually interact with the residents, but one incident from about 12 years ago has always stayed close to my heart. We had some different situations with our residents then, but occasionally I did have a few kids work with me. Before the Glen Ista Arena was built, we had to tear down and salvage the horse lean-to. This one young man, who was so very quiet and well-mannered, talked about things with me while we worked. One day as we were pulling nails and such, he turned to me and said, 'I hope you won’t get mad at me for saying this, but I wish you were my dad.' How can anyone experience that and not be changed?
"I have been a very fortunate man to have the joy of having two children. My son, who will be 30 years old in July, was born with (or however it happens) PDD from the autism spectrum, ADHD, and Tourette’s Syndrome. He has such a pure heart and great compassion for others. I think that he is one of those fortunate people who God gives certain abilities so that can touch others in profound ways. Thanks. Bart.”
Yes, Bart. God does give certain abilities to touch others in profound ways. Just as your son fills your heart, you filled the heart of that boy who worked beside a man he could respect.
Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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