Bookmark and Share

Michael Excels At Oak Ranch

December 19, 2007

By J. Blake Ragsdale

The sun settles behind the trees on the Oak Ranch property as the red and pink colors painting the sky fade to black. The boys living at the ranch tidy up the barn and make sure the horses are secure for the night.

“Do you hear that?” child care worker David Vandy says looking towards the barn. He spots a cheerful Michael inside putting away a horse bridle. “Michael’s whistling again.”

Twelve-year-old Michael has lived at Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Oak Ranch near Broadway for a little more than a month. The whistling and wide smile on his face, however, are brand new. In a short time, Michael has made great strides.

“He’s different now,” says child care worker Myra Vandy. “He’s positive. He’s becoming a leader in the cottage.”

It’s quite a change from the youth who first stepped inside the ranch’s Ewing House residential cottage. Poor choices and problems relating with his mother and brother brought Michael to BCH. Angry, Michael rebelled when he arrived. But with the help of Oak Ranch staff members, the structure of the ranch, and the support of his mom, Michael is turning a corner.

“I realized how good I have it,” he says. “And I’ve got close to the Lord.”

After a time of cottage devotion with child care workers Bobby and Sonya Dalke on Monday evening, November 26, Michael asked Christ into his heart. “That’s when the whistling started,” David explains.

Whether doing chores, homework, or other activities, a happier Michael can be heard whistling throughout the cottage.

The ranch’s horses have also played a large part in his progress. Michael, along with the other boys, regularly spends time caring for the horses and participating in specialized equine therapy sessions.

“Cash is my favorite,” Michael says of the 13-year-old black and brown horse. “I felt something for him the first day I was here. I really like him.”

The horses have helped Michael better manage his anger. “When I’m angry I think about the horses a lot,” he says. “They’re calm and they make me calm and relaxed.”

Michael’s working hard to improve his school grades as well as his relationship with his mom.

“I respect her more,” he says. “We’re getting closer now and not arguing as much.” Michael still has more goals to accomplish before returning home becomes a reality, but no one can deny that he’s come far in his short time at Oak Ranch.

“I want to learn from my mistakes,” Michael says assuredly. “I want to be happy.”