Special guest blogger, former Ranch youth Aaron Gilbert.
You have to know where you have been to know where you are going.
Ranch Ehrlo Society played a large role in my life, helping me change the path I was travelling and saving me from a life of bad choices.
I was recently standing in line at a local store, people watching and bumping up the line every few inches, when I caught a glimpse of a well-recognized logo. The green and white encrusted patch on a man’s jacket held my stare for a moment and spread a smile across my face.
“Do you work at Ranch Ehrlo?” I asked the man.
“Why yes, I do,” he responded.
That one question led to the beginning of a new relationship with the agency. Memories of living at the Ranch flooded my mind and an unwavering desire to share my story spun off the tip of my tongue.
“Ranch Ehrlo saved my life,” I told the stranger.
Within a few minutes of conversation, I agreed to visit the Buckland campus (northwest of Prince Albert) to share my story with the youth.
I’m now 33 years old and have a life that I am proud of; I have a beautiful house and a new car, I have a wife and three children whom I love, and job which I enjoy.
But my life wasn’t always so great, and that’s what I wanted to share with the kids.
Recently I took a turn back in time as I pulled into the Buckland campus. I stood in front of two dozen youth and told them about my journey.
I came from extreme poverty, and a family of alcoholics, I told the kids. I used to steal, I used to fight, and I was the first child in Grade 7 to be arrested at school.
When I was first moved to Ranch Ehrlo I thought it was a punishment, but as the years went by, I realized it was a blessing. The staff showed me that people do care and they opened my eyes to the world and what it had to offer.
I have learned that success comes from little steps which eventually lead to big leaps of change.
I want the youth at Ranch Ehrlo, and all children, to know that they are not “bad kids”.
“Don’t ever think badly about yourself, you’re all good people,” I told them. “Nobody is born bad. There are always two choices in life: a good choice and a bad choice.”
“Make sure you’re proud of who you are and what you do.”