Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children


Raising Boys

Foundation Donors Help Provide Consistency in Young Lives

“If you have kids, you know it takes a lot of money to raise them. We’re raising 44,” said Brent Thackerson, Boys Ranch Town campus administrator.  “I’d like to say a big thank you to those people who give funds through The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma because they are taking part in helping us raise our boys.”

Justin Endecott is no longer a boy, but a married 20-year-old young man who spent some formative years as a resident at Boys Ranch Town. Today he helps with the Boys Ranch Town horse program.

He arrived at the 140-acre working ranch in Edmond as a 14-year-old with anger problems and returned to his family about three years later a different person, he explained.

“God brought me to the Boys Ranch,” Endecott said confidently. “The relationship I had with my dad wasn’t good. I had anger issues and no self-control. My house parents, the Rileys, helped me through that. Instead of getting mad back at me, they let me blow off steam; we’d talk about the problem, express things, and communicate. There was a lot of consistency. I knew what to expect. There were no surprises.”

The consistency is found throughout the campus and in the five cottages that typically house about eight boys each. A married, Christian couple serves as house parents for each cottage. The house parents and boys go to church as a family and the boys follow a daily routine of chores, homework, after school horse training and small animal programs, and Bible study.

“The Ranch influenced my walk with Christ,” Endecott said.  “I think when I went back home my dad saw that I was excited about church and that I was serious about praying. It flipped a switch for him, too. He’s now very active in church. My relationship with my dad went from bad to excellent.”

Boys come to the Ranch for a variety of reasons, Thackerson explained. “They are not here because they are bad kids, but in many cases were placed here by DHS because their parents weren’t doing their job.”

Others are at the Ranch because a family member placed them as a last resort when they could not manage the financial or emotional strain. No matter what circumstance brought the boys to the Ranch, the staff has the same goal for each, to give them a sense of self-respect and an identity in Christ.

“We try to teach all the boys manners and respect and how to be a good citizen. We want them to function in society as caring, capable Christian young men,” Thackerson said.

Shandrell Henderson, a 17-year-old high school junior, has grown up at the Ranch. He was 11 when he first arrived.

He loves to read, play football, run track and sees himself as a leader one day.

 “The Ranch has been a good blessing to me. It helped me get rid of my bad attitude. I used to like to fight. I think God has given me a great place to stay and he’s helped me to be wise in my choices and become the person I want to be. Before the Boys Ranch, I couldn’t picture myself as a leader. But today I can,” Henderson said.

Because of the generosity of donors, the Foundation was able to distribute $3.1 million to Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children in 2007—more than $600,000 of those funds went to the Boys Ranch Town to help with the daily expenses.

“Our biggest expense is the kids’ medical needs and the cost of feeding 44 children,” Thackerson said.

Another focus of Boys Ranch Town is to help the older boys, high school age, learn to manage on their own once they leave the Ranch. They are required to get jobs off campus when they reach high school. During their last year of school, they participate in the Ranch’s transitional living program. They learn independent living skills such as time management and money management skills.

The Foundation’s annual distribution also helps the Boys Ranch Town to grant scholarships to the residents who want to attend college.

“It is a big responsibility for our staff to guide these boys each day. To know that donors are supporting us with not only funds but prayer, too, is uplifting and helps us keep going. I pray every day that the Lord will give me and my staff strength to make right decisions with these boys. Because when they leave here, even if they go to college, they have to know how to live on their own,” Thackerson said.

The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma | Generosity Magazine | Spring 2008
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