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.
I received a lot of feedback. When I put it all together with everyone's suggestions, I had nothing left. There was really nothing I could say that didn't seem to rankle someone. I was too strong in the position. I hadn't taken a position. I shouldn't make virtue statements. I should be clear. Things aren't just cut and dried. Perhaps don't use this word, that name, that inference...
Please understand, these are people with big brains who I respect immensely. They were providing advice because I asked for it. However, they also gave input because they care deeply for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, the amazing children we serve, the staff who work here, and the good work that needs to be done each and every day. They truly want to ensure that anything I write does not draw attention away from our mission to "help at-risk children and their families succeed in the name of Christ."
The experience made me sad. It seems we are all so tightly wound about so many things that anything might "set us off." Standing for just about anything will generate the ire of someone. Our emotions are like the fans at a high-pitched, highly competitive hockey game. We are waiting to cheer on the fight when it finally breaks out. Heck, we may even fight in the stands. So, we decide it's best to stay quiet.
Because it is not my way to say nothing, I have tried to boil my thoughts down to the two things I feel really need to be said.
#1. Covid-19 has changed the way we live together. It will take a long time for us to establish new social norms and habits. Kids and families like those served at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are particularly vulnerable to social upheavals like unemployment and stress and illness. The children will continue to have needs. And we will care for them. As said by Mahatma Gandhi or Hubert Humphrey, depending on who you ask, "A society will be judged on how it cares for the most vulnerable in its midst."
#2. Being a faith-based Christian organization means we rely on the only source of values that matters. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." —Galatians 3:28. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a healing place for all children. The children we serve at the Ranch, and our staff, are every color of the rainbow. Even our logo tries to show that beauty. These children each deserve the chance to become their best selves.
And so, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch moves forward. We are blessed by our ministry and sense of purpose. I am hopeful that this is something we can all agree on.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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