On August 3rd, I celebrated my eighth Ranchiversary! I came to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in 2015 after spending over 22 years at another human service organization. Before that I worked in the corporate world and I’ve also done some university teaching in communications and business.
I have made a habit of loving my jobs, wherever they are. (In college I shoveled dirt for the Forestry Department. As a farm kid, I was well prepared!) Life is too short to go into each day not liking what you do.
The Ranch is different though. I am very grateful to work at the Ranch. It is the first job in my career to which I have felt truly called. It is the hardest job I’ve ever loved.
This Ranchiversary, my closest colleagues conspired to send me poetry throughout the day. Each shared their favorite poem, Bible verses, freshly written haikus, and even one AI-generated poem about being an accountant! It was a delight.
I wanted to share one of those poems with you. Tammy Noteboom is the Ranch’s VP of Communication. She has an almost 40-year career of excellence in giving people their own voices and finding ways for each person to share their story. If you have ever seen Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch's magazine, Ranch Voice, you’ve seen Tammy’s work.
I am sharing this poem because it is incredibly clever, and it also represents, in poetry, what your support helps us do here at the Ranch. I tell supporters that your gifts and prayers help these precious children find and become their best selves. The poem demonstrates that in its form.
First, when you read the poem conventionally, it represents the way many of our children feel when they come to our door. Now, read the poem again, one line at a time from the bottom up. That is how we strive to help each child feel when they leave our care. With your help, we turn them upside down!
I'm very ugly
So don't try to convince me that
I'm a very beautiful person
Because at the end of the day
I hate myself in every single way
And I'm not going to lie to myself by saying
There is beauty inside of me that matters
So rest assured I will remind myself
That I am a worthless, terrible person
And nothing you say will make me believe
I still deserve love
Because no matter what
I am not good enough to be loved
And I am in no position to believe that
Beauty does exist within me
Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think
Am I as ugly as people say?
(Now read bottom up)
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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