“Hey, it’s Joy Ryan.”
That’s the first thing I heard when I walked into my local YMCA to work out on Sunday.
People don’t normally yell my name in public places. Working at a non-profit children’s treatment center is not a high-profile job. And at my core, I am not a high-profile type of person.
When I located the source of the voice, I was delighted! A group of Ranch children were in the lobby with our staff, checking in for a couple of hours of activity.

The young lady who had called out looked at me somewhat ruefully. Truth be told, I didn’t look so good. I had just driven 3 ½ hours across the state on a Sunday afternoon and was a little bleary. No make-up, hair in a ponytail, workout pants, and a t-shirt (emblazoned with Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch on the front). Not my “I’m at work” attire. I watched her as she took this all in and figured out what to say next.
While we have, thanks to you and all our Ranch friends, lots of activity spaces and things to do on our campuses, trips into the community to work on social skills, appropriate boundaries, and public interaction are also part of healing. These kids haven't been taught the things you and I learned about what and where and when to say or do certain things. Many also have mental health issues that make being in new surroundings or with new people difficult. With a lot of coaching and supervision, the children gain confidence, socially, as well as, physically.

“Are you here to work out?” she asked. Kind of an obvious question, but pretty standard for polite conversation.
“Yes. I just drove a long way and want to get the kinks out before I go home. You?”
“Yup,” she replied. “I’m going to work out and Otto will help me.”
“Have a good workout,” I said.
“You too.” She replied.
In the gym, I got several glimpses of her and Otto moving from one weight station to the next. Quietly, smiling, out in the world.

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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