Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

Transitional Living Program Launches Young Men as Capable, Caring Christian Adults

By Janet Anderson and Jonathan Chambers
Austin and John

“If it weren’t for Boys Ranch Town, I’d probably be living on the street, in a gang, doing drugs, or who knows what,” said John, a young man who graduated from residential care and is now living in our Transitional Living Program, Circle T Ranch.

His friend, Austin, chimed in, “Me too. I came from what people call the ‘ghetto’. I lived in Tulsa and my brother helped me move here.” His brother met a staff member in a college class and knew immediately that Boys Ranch Town could help Austin make a better life.

Both of these young men are now college students at OSU-OKC, working, and creating the life they never thought possible before they moved to BRT.

Austin and John both major in the Criminal Justice program at OSU-OKC but they have different goals for after graduation. Austin hopes to join the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol. He plans to use his encounters with at-risk youth to share with boys in situations similar to his that there is a place that can help them change their life.

John doesn’t plan to join a police force, but rather wants to keep his options open for a while longer and see what God shows him.

Both Austin and John have maintained close relations with their family. Austin explained that being a resident at Boys Ranch Town helped him to stay close to his family. He explained, “When I lived in the shelter, there was no way to call, email, or visit my family. Here at BRT I was able to talk with them on the phone, and even visit them now and then.” 

John echoed Austin’s thoughts and said, “I was in several shelters and even though there were times when we all went outside to play, mostly we just sat in one big room and watched TV. Boys Ranch is way better.”  John and his brother, Bill, came to BRT together, lived in the same cottage for a while, and then separated to live in two different cottages. John chose to move to a cottage with boys closer to his age. After a time, both John and his brother were adopted. However, they are able to stay in touch with each other and their sisters because BRT’s program made that possible.

Both Austin and John are able to go to college through the help of Pell Grants, but they both explain that even though the money is provided through the Pell Grant program, neither of them would have ever considered college if they hadn’t seen that it was possible by living at Boys Ranch Town. After high school graduation, boys that participate in the Boys Ranch program have the option of transferring to the Transitional Living program called Circle T Ranch.

Studies show that only 2 to 4 percent of children who grow up in group care are able to further their education compared to the thirty-four percent of their peers in the general population. Because of this statistic, Transitional Living is a vital part to the ministry at Boys Ranch Town. Now there is the option of continued growth, stability, and chance of success. Before this program existed, residents would be on their own once they graduated high school. This meant they would immediately go from living in a structure-oriented, educational environment where life skills would be learned and houseparents would hold them accountable to their actions and goals, to a situation of being on their own trying to find a job, maybe going to school, and juggling the two while somehow making ends meet.

The Transitional Living program at Boys Ranch Town offers young adult men a launching pad into life by giving them a place to live while they go to school, maintain at least a part-time job, and become better prepared for life through various life skills classes.

Boys Ranch Town was blessed with a brand new Transitional Living facility which opened in May 2014 called Circle T Ranch. Appropriately, “T” stands for transition. Circle T Ranch is made up of two duplex-style buildings and one suite-style house with an extra room for a mentor/RA. The area also has a disc golf course and a basketball goal for them to enjoy. Our hope is that these young men will continue to develop into capable, caring Christian adults during their extended time at Boys Ranch Town and become compassionate members of the world around them. The boys are taught to remember that they will remember the path to independence can only be found through total dependence on Christ.

Both of these young men nodded in agreement when Austin said, “There’s no doubt where I’d be if I hadn’t come here. And there’s no doubt that I would never have had the chance to go to college if it weren’t for this program (Transitional Living). I wouldn’t have dreamed it was possible.”

March, 2015


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