Guest Commentary: A Time for Children During the Christmas Season

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Guest commentary

Time is ever-changing. The minute that just passed will never come again ... nor this one ... nor the next. While none of us has the power to control time’s inevitable movement, we do have the opportunity to use our time on Earth to use our talents for the betterment of others. That, I think, is time well spent.

When I was 13 years old, my brother and I became orphans on Christmas Eve. After suffering through the death of our parents we were homeless and our lives seemed hopeless. The best I can remember of those difficult days was time was my enemy. Each day seemed to bring another sad situation and frightening challenge.

Finally, I was saved by the caring concern shown by the faith-inspired family of a group home — a safe refuge which proved to be my salvation. For the first time in many years I was safe, secure and able to feel the love I so desperately needed to build a positive life.

Over the years, my faith in God and sense of devotion to the people who make a positive difference in the lives of children have proved to be the beacons which lead me forward. Ten short years ago, a group of loving leaders in this Southwest Florida region heard my message about the need for a place of safety and enrichment for the children in our community who were as desperate for a secure home as I was some decades ago. In 2003 that dream became a reality.

Liberty Youth Ranch in Bonita Springs is not just a place to live. It is a place of learning to love. The food we serve our children is for the nourishment of their bodies, but we also serve up generous portions of spiritual sustenance, inspiring educational opportunities and a set of ideals which are meant to last a lifetime.

Every day at Liberty Youth Ranch provides us with an affirmation that helping children transform their lives is not just what we do, it’s who we are! We are guided by the belief that their difficult life experiences do not dictate our children’s futures.

We are not in the miracles business; we are satisfied to leave that to powers greater than ours. We do, however, hold fast to the principle that leading from the heart has a way of making wonderful things happen. Every child has the basic needs of physical health, safe shelter and a purpose for living that fuels success.

Some 2,000 years ago in a place far away, a child was born who was cared for and soon became known as the most caring teacher and life-giving messenger of his time and thereafter. On Christmas Day we celebrate the birth of Jesus whose life light shines brightly for us to see what is truly important.

It’s my view that all faiths bring a core meaning to life and give each of us the power to prove our worth by practicing justice and devotion to others, no matter their age, race, economic status or unique situation in life.

I believe my own reason for living is deeply rooted in one reality: Just as I feel saved, so I am committed to save another. For me, that’s the meaning of Christmas, which I faithfully practice in my life’s work at Liberty Youth Ranch.

I believe that each one of us has a calling if we are willing to listen carefully. As we are called, so it is up to us to respond in ways that give comfort and joy within our own powers. We all have the opportunity to strive for being our better selves to the fullest and providing for others who need us.

We welcome those who would like to become involved with Liberty Youth Ranch and join those who serve with joy all seasons of the year. It feels that this season of devotion provides a special time to see who we are, learn what we do and get a good sense why we are so dedicated to touching the future — one child at a time.

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