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Mike Rounds Up New Courage

October 1, 2009

By W. James Edminson

Mike makes good choices. Mike’s “exceptionally good” work ethic opens doors. Mike shows courage as he learns to focus on the future and not live in his past.

“Before I was a joke,” Mike confesses. “I did everything I ‘wasn’t’ supposed to do. I had no control over myself.”

Mike has been at Oak Ranch in Broadway for nearly ten months. He and his younger brother Andrew live in Ewing House. Their older brother Nick lives at Mills Home in Thomasville.

“You can’t do anything about the past,” he continues. “It’s the past, but I’m looking to the future.”

The three brothers’ home fell apart after their parents’ divorce. First, they went to live with relatives, and then the siblings lived in a non-BCH residential facility.

“I was just mad inside,” he says. “Now, I’m better. The anger is not gone, but it stays in my past. I’m planning ahead.”

A junior in high school, sixteen-year-old Mike excels in mathematics. This year he is a peer tutor helping other students. He has decided he will be a math teacher and is working toward that goal. Mike is enrolled at the community college already building college credit.

“Mike has wanted this,” house parent David Vandy says. “We have helped, but he has made it happen. We’re very proud of him.”

Ewing House has two sets of house parents that rotate in caring for the boys. The home-style environment encourages the group to foster a feeling of family while staff members and house parents work to reunite children with their families.

“We are close, more like family,” Mike asserts. “This is not just a place where kids are stuck. Everyone here is working to make my life better. I’m not just buying time.”

At the stables, Mike moves toward the fence. He reaches down to grab a tuft of grass. Two horses spy the offering and gradually draw near.

The ranch setting has been good for Mike. This summer he worked 20 hours a week helping staff maintain the immense property.

“I helped paint that shed,” he says boldly. “We baled hay and repaired fences and gates, too.”

He spent a large portion of his time “weed eating” tall grass, earning the nickname “Weed Eater.”

“I enjoy working,” he says. “I would rather be busy than sitting around the house. I hate doing nothing. It aggravates me.”

Mike learns many things by being around the horses. He and the other children at Oak Ranch benefit from riding and, more importantly, caring for the horses.

“It takes time to properly groom a horse,” Mike says with authority. “You learn patience. The horses need me to help maintain their good health, but they also demand their space. You must respect them.”

Things are improving for Mike’s family. His relationship with his aunt and uncle who are his custodians is better. Also, his relationship with his mother grows stronger every day.

“My mom has made some mistakes,” Mike admits, “but she is striving to do right. She is a good-hearted person.”

Mike describes his mom as his best friend.

He admires her willingness to help others and looks forward to their visits.

“I am very grateful,” Mike says . Mike is a Christian. Daily, he begins his prayers by giving thanks. “I realize I can’t do anything without the Lord.”

The boys and house parents have devotions every morning, and the group attend church regularly.

“I am blessed to be here,” he declares. “Everyone encourages me to do what I need to do. They are awesome people, and I care about them.”