I was recently reminded of the story of a gentleman who took a morning walk along the beach. A storm had passed through the area overnight, washing thousands of starfish onto the beach. They stretched out to the horizon before him as far as the eye could see.
As he looked out at the helpless creatures, he noticed a small boy who, like him, was walking along the beach. Every few feet, the boy bent down, then rose to throw something into the ocean. As he drew closer, the man saw the boy was returning the starfish, one by one, to their ocean home.
“Young man, what are you doing?” the man asked.
“The tide washed all these starfish onto the beach,” the boy explained. “Without help, they’ll die.”
The gentleman put his hand on the boy’s shoulder. Motioning up the beach, he said, “Son, there are thousands of starfish on this beach. You can’t possibly reach them all in time. I’m afraid you won’t make much of a difference.”
With a wisdom beyond his years, the boy bent over and picked up another starfish.
“Mister, it makes a difference to this one.”
With that, he threw it into the water and continued along the beach.
Like the starfish in our story, there are thousands of young people across the United State, facing bleak futures without much hope. Yet, like the boy on the beach, Cal Farley’s helps every child entrusted to our care.
And, here is where our story takes an interesting turn, because what stands out to me most about that story isn’t the boy’s dedication to helping those starfish. Nor is it his wisdom in seeing his impact on each creature’s life.
The power in that story lies in the encounter between the boy and the man. You see, our relationships with others, whatever form they may take, can have a far-reaching impact. Like the missing piece to a puzzle, the right relationships can bring things into focus and reveal meaning we never realized was there.
The man in our story saw life in an entirely new way that day. A few well-timed words from the most unexpected source may very well have opened his eyes to a lifetime of cynicism.
In much the same way, youth at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch are spurred to personal growth and maturity through healthy relationships formed in our care, both with their peers and their adult mentors.
There’s another truth about relationships hiding in that story, though.
You see, I believe the adult in our story wasn’t just touched or perplexed by the encounter. I see as that story’s end a man and a boy, working together on that beach, reaching far more than either could have rescued alone.
That’s also where you come into this story. As the president and CEO of Cal Farley’s, I know so well we couldn’t do what we do without you. Each day, you help us reach one more child. You help us show him or her their potential for greatness.
That couldn’t happen without a strong relationship, without the trust you place in us. Our relationship with you is one for which I am profoundly grateful. Thank you!