Thursday, September 14, 2006

Believing in Others

As our van pulled up to the ranch to start a three-month program fortroubled boys, we passed a cowboy on his horse. Bill was the owner ofthe ranch, and he sat at the gate to wave us in. We made eye contact through the dusty window and he winked at me and touched the brim ofhis cowboy hat in welcome.

All summer long Bill and his ranch-hands taught us to ride horses, bale hay, chop wood, and roundup cattle. He understood the value ofworking with your hands, and we respected him for his knowledge and gentle leadership. He knew how important it was for boys like me toknow that someone believed in them. He trusted us to do the job and do it right, and we didn't want to let him down. Several times that summer he took me fishing and we not only talked about how to cast aline and bait a hook, but also about my dreams and what I wanted from life. He encouraged me to make goals and shared stories from his own experiences.

The last day at the ranch, Bill pulled me aside and commended me for the work I had done that summer - not only on the ranch, but also onmyself. He told me if I ever needed anything I could count on him.Four years later, I took him up on that offer. I called him up and asked for a job. I told him how his confidence in me had given me the courage to change my life. I explained that I wanted to help others in the same way. He offered me a job on the spot. I'm proud to say that each summer I'm the one who opens the gate for a van full of young men who need someone to believe in them, so they can learn to believe in themselves.

"The values we live by are worth more when we pass them on...."

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