“Can I borrow a cup of sugar?”
The words, so common as to become woven into American cultural discourse, somehow harken back to a more idyllic time in our nation’s history. They evoke mental images of a day when no man or woman was a proverbial island, when being short that cup of sugar or unable to find the right wrench in the toolbox meant reaching out to a neighbor, not a solitary jaunt to the local big-box store.
In that idealized era, we didn’t hesitate to connect with the man or woman next door. We knew them, and knew them well. We spent time in each other’s homes, went to church with each other’s families and often helped raise each other’s children.
We were good friends, an extended family.
I doubt it will surprise many when I say that sense of community is something that’s often lost in today’s increasingly mobile, less interdependent society. How often today do neighbors socialize together in the front yard as their children laugh and play at their feet?
As such, is it any wonder so many technological developments — social media, interconnected video games and mobile devices of every shape and size — in some way exist to (theoretically, at least) bring people together, as if we’re collectively searching for the societal relationships our culture lost along the way?
No matter what form the latest development takes, what gadget or gizmo next comes down the pike, humankind always will have a need for the sense of belonging that flows from community.
I’m happy to assure you that very basic human connection is alive and well at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch!
Here, the adults and children who live in our homes — who form a chosen family — experience community much as our nation did for so many years. I suppose our campus’ isolated rural location partly explains it: At Boys Ranch, not having that proverbial sugar or tool potentially means an hour-long drive into town!
Yet, our physical isolation is only part of the explanation.
When I see an email from a houseparent to our entire community asking for that cup of sugar or asking for help with a project around the home, I see our experts intentionally modeling for our boys and girls exactly what we aim to instill in them — a sense of belonging. Every man, woman, boy and girl at Boys Ranch is a vital part of our community. As such, we strive to always be quick to meet each other’s needs, to lend a hand, to be a listening ear or a willing shoulder.
And, yes, to share that cup of sugar.
Boys Ranch exists for these things. A simple cup of sugar might very well facilitate a conversation that changes a young person’s life forever! And, knowing you’re part of a community that will never leave you provides a stability every child wants — and deserves.
Thank you for providing them a community that will always affirm: This is where you belong!