Final blog by former Ranch youth and employee Justin Waldrop
Almost four years ago, Dr. Geoff Pawson took a chance and hired a graduate on the Ranch Ehrlo programs. That graduate is me. I spent ten years at Ranch Ehrlo (1988-1998), essentially growing up in the Ranch. I have always said that Ranch Ehrlo basically raised me and was/is my parents; I was eight when I arrived and 18 when I left. My formative years were spent at Ranch Ehrlo; my identity and personality shaped by the agency.
Thus, it has been an interesting relationship to have with an agency that was like my parents and then became my employer: a Ranch Ehrlo graduate turned communications professional. I think there was a lot to learn and to face on both sides upon my employment. I certainly grew and learned about the agency from the “other side”, which helped me to understand my past. That has brought me some peace and resolution in my life.Not a day passes where I don’t remember Geoff and what he did for me. I was at an extremely low and difficult time in my life and he and Ranch Ehrlo were there for me. I will be forever grateful for this help. But I have also grown to recognize when I need to move on and make my own way in the world again, knowing I have the support of the agency, “my parent”, behind me always.
Geoff has been the main father figure in my life and his loss was particularly difficult for me to process. I believed Geoff to be invincible and thought he would be around forever. I was terrified when he passed away from cancer in early 2012, because I thought my connection with the Ranch Ehrlo Society was gone. However, I discovered that his legacy lives on though, in each and every person who is involved with the Ranch Ehrlo Society. And so I can keep Geoff in my life through the people he touched and knew.
In my four years working for Ranch Ehrlo in communications, I had the great privilege to learn about all aspects of communications. I was able to learn basic graphic design in which I have found a passion. I was able to go back to school, completing both a Certificate in Public Relations and a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in psychology. I learned the value of continuous learning and that growth and success mean being teachable as well as a critical thinker.
Additionally, being able to work at Ranch Ehrlo these past four years, surrounded by an incredible amount of support, allowed me to really stabilize and figure out my path in life. I was quite disillusioned about my career path and who I was as a person. Now, I know I want a career in communications. I know that I stand for equality, diversity, peace, and harmony. I know that I want to be the best person I can be and help others to do the same.Needless to say, I will take all my lessons and experiences with me on my next adventure in life as the Communications Coordinator for the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan. I will continue to be a supporter and ambassador for the Ranch Ehrlo Society. I am and always will be eternally grateful that the Ranch Ehrlo Society exists and helped me.
Justin Kyle Waldrop