Let me take a moment to explain a little bit about Joy Ranch here, before we jump into the day-to-day life. You already know we're working at a children's home and you may have an idea about what that means, but I want to share with you about Joy Ranch in more detail.
First, their website is: www.joyranch.org and I would encourage you to spend some time checking it out and watching the videos. Most of what you’ll find here is taken from the website. Joy Ranch exists “to provide a welcoming, safe, caring and Christ-centered environment to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional and social needs of children and their families in crisis.”
The vision for Joy Ranch began over 50 years ago with Reverend Richard McHenry and his wife, Mary. They received a letter regarding a troubled young boy without a permanent home. They were asked to take this boy to their Bible camp. They immediately agreed and saw the boy thrive. Soon, they saw a more urgent need to find the boy a home. Thus, Joy Ranch was born. The McHenry’s stepped out in faith and trusted the Lord to provide the means for a children’s home. And provide He did! Today, we have 5 cottages on 62 acres of land and have served over 5000 children in need. Our director today has a deep desire to create a culture of excellence, a concentration on ministry and a commitment to team work. And that is exactly what you’ll find here!
We provide short-term and long-term housing to children in crisis. Some are privately placed and others are placed by the department of social services. Some have parents who are incarcerated, hospitalized or have passed away. Some have parents who are involved but can’t take care of them. Others have family members who have stepped in the gap. We have a boys’ home and a girls’ home as well as a transitional living program. We take children ages 5-17, though currently the majority of our kids are in their teens. Each home can house up to 8 children and a set of house parents.
Miller cottage is our home. We have 6 boys right now, ages 12-16. As their house parents, we are in the home all the time with them. We fix their meals, do shopping for the home, take them to appointments, take them on outings, etc…We are “on duty” 5 days (24 hours) and “off” for 2. During our off days, the relief house parents come in and do the things we typically do the rest of the week. They have their own bedroom in the house for when they are on duty. We have our own apartment…technically two – we sleep in a small upstairs apartment during our “on duty” days so that we can be close by and hear if someone is sick or playing PlayStation in the middle of the night or things like that. When we’re off, we stay in our downstairs apartment, which is much more like your average apartment. We’re pretty content with both spaces. Regardless of whether we’re upstairs or down, we have plenty of room and nice comfy beds on which to sleep. And the girls have special “upstairs toys” and “downstairs toys” to help them with transitions. Now, to work on getting me some special “upstairs toys” and “downstairs toys” … :-)
A typical day means waking up at 6am to get the guys breakfast. They get up between 6:15 and 6:30, get ready, eat and head off to school. During their school day, we have some down time, but each day is different. Provided no one is sick, suspended from school or having to be run to an appointment, we can use that downtime how we choose. We do have paperwork and meal prep to be done as well as the weekly grocery shopping. There are always things that pop up, so we’ve learned already not to count on having “free time” every day while the kids are at school. And that’s ok with us – part of the territory. When the day is free, however, we take the girls to the library or the playground or the pool at the wellness center (where the ministry has a membership.) The first round of boys get home at 2:50 and they have free time until the second round gets off the bus at 4/4:15. They all have an afternoon snack and some free time before jumping into chores and study hall. Then it’s dinner, evening chores and an evening activity. Usually that’s something like going to the wellness center to play ball, playing video games, watching a movie, going out, special events, etc…Then it’s time for showers and bed. After they go to bed, it’s time for Jason and me to wrap up the day’s paperwork and get prepped for the morning before going to bed ourselves. It is a full day – and no two days look the same. You never know what’s going to pop up! Nonetheless, we love it. And we are eager to get to know our boys better and just experience life with them. So there you have it - this is what Joy Ranch is all about. Next up, meeting the boys and seeing the wonderful chaos that is life with them.