The room filled with hats of every variety, fluffy feather boas, fancy foods and dainty tea cups. Such flamboyance isn’t what the senior girls at Cal Farley’s are used to on a daily basis, but it has come to symbolize a rite of passage.
“I think we’ve done it long enough that it’s a tradition the girls look forward to,” explained Suzanne Wright director of training at Cal Farley’s and a former girls’ community (Cal Farley’s name for the area of Boys Ranch reserved for girls homes) supervisor. “The first few years, everybody thought it was kind of odd … The food was unfamiliar, and the girls were a little bit more timid. But (now we try) really hard to serve things that are familiar and comfortable, yet kind of fancy.”
Now in its sixteenth year, the Cal Farley’s Girls Senior Tea is an annual event that began as a way to recognize the seniors’ hard work and set these young women apart.
“When I started to supervise the girls’ community, I thought we should have a senior tea, a way to honor the girls — you know, since they live at a place called ‘Boys Ranch’.”
In 2017, Cal Farley’s is celebrating the 25th anniversary of introducing girls to our Boys Ranch campus.
After opening with a prayer, this year’s 12 female seniors enjoyed tea and refreshments at the First United Bank office in Amarillo, Texas, while learning about finding their passion and purpose from speaker Shawn Winger.
“He said ‘Your passion should be for God, which will lead you to your purpose, which is to love other people,’” Wright explained.
Other speakers and Cal Farley’s alumni reminded the girls of God’s love for them, as well as the role Jesus and the Holy Spirit play in a Christian’s life.
For the past seven years, the tea has been hosted by a group of women near Cal Farley’s who call themselves The Princess Ministry. They provide everything from napkins and tableware to decorations to the event venue itself. But, Wright said, their work starts months in advance of the actual event.
“I give them the girls’ first names in January, and they start praying over the girls five months ahead of time,” Wright said. “And, they purchase gifts for each of the girls. The last few years, they’ve gotten luggage. This year, they also had a gift that had a journal, a scarf, a necklace and a framed picture with their name and a scripture. They just do really cool things for our girls.”
Wright said a point is made to recognize each girl individually.
“At the end, we give the girls their gifts and have them all stand up and introduce themselves. They say their name, how long they’ve attended Boys Ranch High and what their plans are after graduation. And then we clap like crazy and take pictures like we’re the paparazzi.”
After all is said and done, the seniors write thank you notes to their hosts for the generosity shown them. Generosity is the lifeblood of Cal Farley’s. Just as The Princess Ministry makes the Girls Senior Tea possible, the generosity of Cal Farley’s donors across the nation make possible all the programs and services that help change young lives.