Friday, June 25, 2010

The Ranch

This the Boys' Ranch where Jim has been working for the past several years. It is a detention facility where boys who have been made wards of the court spend up to a year for felonies they have been convicted of while under the age of 18. Since they are juveniles they are required by law to attend school and Jim works for the Court Schools Department of the County Office of Education.

He has spent his career on a very special mission, trying to educate these young boys and also give them a reason to have hope that even though they have had a rough start they can turn things around and make a difference by making different choices in their future. Most of the boys are facing some very difficult challenges. The boys represent every race, creed and color.

Many have educational challenges and learning disabilities and most have been denied the advantages of any kind of a healthy family life. Most of them, although they come from all walks of life, have backgrounds that allow them to see very little hope of getting out of the very deep rut their families have lived in for generations.

Those preceding generations often foster and produce neglect, abuse, drug addictions, crime, and lack of education and unemployment. Many of the boys although under 18 are already the parent of a child, or two, belong to gangs and feel no hope of ever getting out of the only life they have ever known. And they are usually pretty angry.

But here in this facility they are given a chance to see that they can overcome obstacles, make positive changes, succeed in small and also big things, contribute to society in a good way, learn to work, and escape the life that led them to being in spot they are in in the first place.

Ironically, they go to jail to learn how to be free of the lives they been living on the outside. For some of them it is the best place they have ever been. For the first time in their lives they are guaranteed a roof over their heads, three square meals a day, structure, discipline and accountability for their actions. I could not be more proud of the things that Jim has accomplished in this school and the lives he has changes and influenced for the good.

Not every boy escapes the probability of going back to his old way of life~ but some do. And therein lies the carrot, hope and the reward for those special people that dedicate their lives to making a difference in the life of a boy. The rewards come in many ways beyond the paycheck.

At one time Jim was the Principal of the school but he missed the one on one with the boys and eventually went back to the classroom and only part time administration. For the past two plus decades he has created a perfect dream job for himself. There has never been a day when Jim did not look forward to going to the Ranch. I don't think a lot of people can say that about where they work consistently, day after day year after year. I truly admire him for that because a lot of that is just purely a great attitude and positive work ethic.

He has walked this hallway many times.

The classroom part of his great set-up,
he has a cool private office right behind this.

Jim teaches character based literature and wood shop to the boys at the Ranch. His classroom is about the size of four or five regular classrooms and there is an amazingly well-equipped wood shop where the boys learn all about working in the real world and being productive and being successful at work. He essentially teaches life skills that give these boys a great chance to succeed through exposing them to what will be required of them as adults.


Mixing wood working and character building.

The shop and why Jim wants
to build one here at home!


This is the shopbot

This machine can make many wonderful things like the sign that Jim made for our lawn jockey that says, "Garden Party." It can do vinyl lettering and all kinds of other neat graphics on wood, comes with a manual the size of an encyclopedia and took a long time to learn how to run on the computer. They made most of their awards for the various banquets and awards ceremonies with it. Jim will truly miss this baby! With it the boys had lots of opportunities to serve the community.

The boys have a well-rounded experience
at the ranch including field games and
team sports in a great rural setting.


They have animals so they can learn to
nurture and take responsibility.
They have cats, chickens, goats and llamas
on the ranch.


They plant and tend a large vegetable garden.

Their tomatoes are coming along nicely!

They do a lot of the yard work and
maintenance around the property.

They work in the kitchen.

They study and grow academically.

They have a nice gym with plenty of equipment
to keep them fit and healthy.
These are just a few of the great things
offered to them at the Ranch.

On Wednesday Jim's mom and I were invited out to the Ranch for a surprise party and lunch for Jim. It was really nice and we were so glad to be included. Here are a few photos of the people that came to say their good-byes to Jim. Some have been retired for awhile and some are going to be there for a long time yet. It was neat to see everyone that could not make it to our party on Saturday.

Mike
Mike took many photos and added a training video Jim made and created this great DVD for Jim that was played at this party and also at ours. It was really done well and pretty funny! I know it took many hours of work and we really appreciated it.

Justin, Jim, Katie

Jim and Tommy who retired a few years ago.

Glenn from probation and Jim

Jim and retiree, Ted

Ted, Penelope, and Ted's wife

Jim and Ricco the cook!

Jim and Justin

Jim and Mark

The thing about retiring it is a lot like being pregnant. You know that someday you will do it. You anticipate it as a 'someday kind of a thing,' you finally face the reality that it is happening this year and it will truly change your life.

Your friends and family throw you a shower, and then another one as a surprise. You find out there will be one more lovely party before you reach your scheduled due date, which is Tuesday. You truly appreciate it, but at this point you are just about done with the waiting, the excitement, the labor, the pain of transition and you just want to have the baby! Happy "Re-Birthday" on Tuesday, James, it has been a long nine months and we are ready for this wonderful new change that will bring lots of fun and enrichment into our lives!

We have only a vague idea what it will be like but we know it will be good. Just like when our Jennifer was born, each day it has gotten a little bit better until we cannot imagine it any other way and we love being parents. And that is why retiring and being pregnant are so much alike. When one door shuts, God opens another window of opportunity. Carpe Diem, Love!

5 comments:

Jim said...

This is GREAT!! Thank you Love.

Caroline Craven said...

All three of your last posts were great. I loved seeing where Jim worked. I have always known that he teaches somewhere and worked with troubled youth but the rest was so very vague. So wonderful that so many people turned out to wish him well- a tribute to the kind of guy he is! I love the picture of Lanette, Barb, Maureen and Connie - Marueen is wearing her hair differently and I didn't recognize her. You yard is fabulous! I love the path that leads to secret place. I can't believe you had 62 people back there. And cudos to your brothers - what troopers. It looks like it was a grand party!

Marie said...

How wonderful to be able to see where Jim has worked all these years Bonnie!! I am sure it was a very rewarding job in a lot of ways and a lot of satisfaction must have come from knowing that he was helping to make a difference in young people's lives. There are some very sad stories out there. Your retirement posts have been just wonderful Bonnie. I can tell how very much you love Jim and how proud and dedicated you are to him. It's just so very wonderful. This begins a new chapter in your lifes and new challenges. I am sure you will soon begin to write a beautiful story on it's pages too! xxoo

Sister Susie said...

God love them all! The talents the LORD gives to people to work in certain areas of life is amazing to me! I find it very challenging to work with only a few a year that are having these difficulties (and kindergartners at that.) I praise God these older children have role models they can learn from and just pray the LORD leads them to continue this lifestyle of works. Thanks for sharing!
Blessings to you and yours,
Susie

Nellie's Cozy place said...

MORNING BON BON,
HOW ARE YOU THIS LOVELY DAY?? IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL OUT I JUST WANT TO BE OUTDOORS, BUT THEN WHEN YOU GO OUT YOU WANT TO COME BACK IN AFTER ONLY A FEW MINS. IT IS SO DARN HOT!! POO!!

THIS IS SUCH A WONDERFUL POST ON JIM AND HIS CAREER. BET THAT WAS SO SPECIAL TO HIM THAT THEY HAD A PARTY FOR HIM TOO!! WHAT A NICE SURPRISE, SO GLAD THEY INCLUDED YOU. I'LL BET HE HAS TOUCHED A LOT OF YOUNG LIVES FOR THE GOOD, WHAT AN AWESOME THING THAT IS. AFTER ALL THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT TOUCHING LIVES.

SO NICE THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO RECORD ALL THESE EVENTS SO YOU CAN BOTH LOOK BACK IN THE YEARS AHEAD AND REMEMBER ALL THESE SWEET MEMORIES AND FRIENDS AND GESTURES OF LOVE AND APPRECIATION.

I STILL HAVE TO READ PART 2 ABOUT YOUR PARTY FOR HIM. THAT IS NEXT!!
HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND THANKS FOR COMING BY AND LEAVING ALL THOSE SWEET AND ENCOURAGING COMMENTS YESTERDAY. IT ALWAYS MAKES MY DAY JUST TO SEE YOU HAVE COME BY.
BLESSINGS AND HAVE A FUN AND RESTFUL WEEKEND,
LOVE YA, NELLIE