Tammy Noteboom is our VP of Communications. I have been blessed to know Tammy for many years, as we worked together at another agency before both finding our way to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. She is very talented at her work. Our websites, social media, and Ranch Voice all come under her umbrella of work, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s great for the Ranch. On a personal level, Tammy is unflaggingly kind, intelligent, and curious… and did I mention kind?
On Monday, I heard her talking with one of our Occupational Therapists, Jordan, in the hall outside my office. Tammy said, “Well, I have a blanket here if that helps.”
Curious, I walked into the hall. There is an entrance door just a few feet away. Outside, sitting on the concrete in front of the door was a young boy, Jimmy*. He is a day student at the Ranch. Just from the way he was sitting, I knew he was crying. Jordan and other staff were with him, so I went back to my office knowing he would be OK.
First of all, it was a rare North Dakota winter day that wasn’t frigidly cold. It was cold, but he was safe outside with his coat and boots on. Tammy’s blanket was added security.
Second, I have the desire to know “the rest of the story” when I can, so later in the day I asked our school folks what had been on this little guy’s heart.
Jimmy’s processing skills are slow, and he is often filled with emotion, thus he rarely speaks. He has great family support, which is one reason he is a delight, even with the obstacles he faces. He can’t always behave the way other kids might, but he is a gentle soul.
As staff worked with Jimmy that day, he finally was able to share that a beloved uncle had died—thus the tears. We learned the death was weeks earlier, but the funeral was the previous Friday. Since the death, and even at the funeral, Jimmy had not shown much emotion nor spoken about it. His crying at the door was the first he had allowed himself to grieve. Everyone recognizes that it is good he connected to his feelings. Shayla Leinen, our Fargo DMS Principal, made space in her office for both Jimmy and Jordan. After contacting Mom, Jordan transported him home for the day. She also explained to him that going outside during school was scary for her with all the cars and such. He said he “would try not to ever do that again then.”
When sharing this story, our Superintendent of Dakota Memorial School, Marcia Bartok said, “He is a cool 8th grader.😊When I was on campus, Jimmy and I bonded as he chatted away with me on several of his favorite topics each day. I had no idea how special that was until I learned he is talking to select individuals now. I must share that one of his select teachers is his math teacher! She figured out that if he could write on a whiteboard, he will engage in math and loves using markers to do his work. Currently, math is his best subject, with art a close second.”
The next day, Jimmy was in school, bouncing and learning and doing math.
He faced his emotions and learned that he is surrounded by kind people… like Tammy and Jordan and Marcia and Shayla and his mom and all those who showed love and compassion when he most needed it.
Please keep our kids and staff in your prayers.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.
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Hope is a very powerful thing. For kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, hope can mean the difference between successful treatment and giving up on life. You can provide hope for our kids. Your message will let a boy or girl know that someone cares and wants them to succeed. It's easy to do and takes just a few minutes! Send a message of hope to a child at the Ranch by clicking on the link above.
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