ALVORD—Teaching the message of Jesus Christ to youth has long been a passion for Jason and Corilee Boer, owners of Destiny Youth Ranch in rural Alvord.
Not even the struggle of a lagging agriculture economy is getting in their way. The husband and wife team are pushing forward, eager to continue their mission.
However, like many other entities, Destiny Youth Ranch is reaching a critical stage in terms of finances.
“The last few years, it has been a struggle to meet the expenses — the feeding of all of the horses,” Jason said. “It’s always our hope and prayer that when we do an interview that a church, business or individual reads it and says ‘Yes. I agree with what they doing and I want to partner financially with them.’”
Destiny Youth Ranch is nondenominational. That means no particular church provides financial backing. That also means the Boers have to do a lot of fundraising.
“A lot of kids that come here do not go to a church so we get horses to help share the Gospel,” Jason said. “We go out and fundraise all year-round but it is a challenge because the ag economy is not good. We want to reach people that like what we are doing.”
The Boers do not draw any kind of salary from the nonprofit organization and all the staff members are volunteers.
“Every dollar that is given to us goes directly into the ministry,” Corilee said. “Few nonprofits can say that.”
With a stable of 55 horses of various breeds and an average annual cost of $1,200 per animal, the cost to attend a Destiny Youth Ranch camp could easily exceed $400. However, the Boers do not want money to get in the way of children receiving Christ’s message, so they only charge $125 per child per camp and have made scholarships an option.
The $125 pays for food, a Bible, a T-shirt, paper products and craft supplies, and a straw cowboy hat to take home. Jason said each camper also is given a pair of cowboy boots to wear at the ranch, but those have to stay behind.
Destiny Youth Ranch opened its barn doors in August 2009. It hosts overnight camps for youth ages 7-17 and family retreats. The main pull of the Destiny Youth Ranch are the horses which are all rescues.
“We were trying to figure out a way to get kids to come to Alvord and tell them about Jesus,” Jason said. “We needed that hook.”
Corilee said the horses are obtained from kill pens and the volunteers at Destiny Youth Ranch manage to rehabilitate them before putting children in the saddle.
The campers and volunteers form bonds with the horses. The acceptance between the horses and the campers is long-lasting. Corilee said that returning campers will request specific horses.
“The horses speak to the kids through their rehabilitation,” Corilee said. “These horses had no hope and now they do have hope so they are coming up to the kids all the time.”