Marlie: Focused on what matters most

Pretty blue eyes, framed by strands of long blonde hair, sparkle and dance as Marlie, 9, is working on a jigsaw puzzle on a table at Veigel Home. This little ball of sweet energy keeps at it until she finds a piece that slips in place and fits. Her face does a little happy dance!

As with the puzzle, Marlie’s also figuring out what does and doesn’t fit in her life.

First and foremost, she loves Jesus.

“If I could sit down with Jesus and have a talk, I’d ask Him why He made wasps,” she said, chuckling. “There’s sure a lot of wasps around!”

At Boys Ranch, Marlie is learning skills she will use the rest of her life. Some of it she sees modeled by her Boys Ranch mentors, some is learned from hands-on activity. She likes arts and crafts. She bakes and sews. She cleans. She takes good care of her own things. She is a good friend to her peers and she openly communicates with the trusted adults in her life.

At her age, the expectations for Marlie are simple: She has some basic household chores and she should do her best in school. Most of all, she should just be a kid.

“Marlie does her chores better than some of our girls who are much older,” said Randy Todd, her housefather. “She takes a lot of pride in how her room looks.”

One thing Marlie is especially good at is loving and being loved by others. She is everyone’s ‘little sister’ at Boys Ranch, a role she gladly accepts.

Marlie is quick, however, to point out that she has two real older brothers living at Boys Ranch, Malakye and Elijah.

These brothers are one reason Marlie is here. Keeping siblings together is a priority for Boys Ranch.

Marlie and her two brothers had been living with their great-grandmother since 2014. Despite significant health issues, Marlie’s great-grandmother adopted the children after they’d been in four different foster homes in two years. The children had been repeatedly removed from their parents’ home.

Caring for three children who, at the time, were under age seven was overwhelming. Their elderly caretaker’s health continued to diminish, so she reached out to Boys Ranch. Originally, she asked to place Marlie’s two rambunctious brothers in our care, with plans for Marlie to join us eventually.

When it was just Marlie and her great-grandmother, things were far more manageable, yet Marlie was being saddled with a big responsibility — being prepared for the day something might happen to her caregiver. Marlie’s great-grandmother fretted over the situation. She knew Marlie needed to be somewhere else. Three months after her brothers moved to Boys Ranch, Marlie joined them.

The siblings have excelled in our therapeutic community. In a place where they can feel safe and know they belong, they’ve also found achievement and purpose.

There’s no shortage of adventure for Marlie, either. She’s a courageous participant.

Even at her young age, she completed the Boys Ranch Gauntlet Race, a challenging test of endurance and agility, last year. She even earned a medal for her efforts.

There’s a horse in the Boys Ranch herd named ‘Link;’ he and Marlie are on a first-name basis. She rides him every chance she gets. She’s climbed rock walls, fished and even rode a calf at the annual Boys Ranch Rodeo.

Marlie loves school and is a very good student. She is a fourth-grader at Mimi Farley Elementary School.

While still very much a child, Marlie knows that being close to God can help her have a good life. Family is important, too. She likes the idea that she has two families now, a biological family and a great-big Boys Ranch family.

For Marlie, there’s no shortage of love and support. Her young life is just beginning. And, thanks to the support she has at Boys Ranch, her opportunities are endless.

Marlie: Focused on what matters most

Scroll to Top