From Trauma to Trust; changing lives at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Trauma. It can change a life forever.

Help us change Trauma to Trust on Giving Hearts Day, February 12, 2015.

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch serves children who have experienced or witnessed trauma. Our children have been affected by trauma in multiple ways.

For Darrin (at left, with his family), it was acts of rage and attempted suicides brought on by repeated bullying.

“I am often asked, ‘If there is any one thing in your life you would like to go back and do, what would it be?’ I have always said that I would repeat my time at the Boys Ranch without any hesitation. I have no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t attended the Ranch, I would either be in prison or dead today.” Darrin now works with a company that contracts with the Department of Defense.

Hear Darrin talk about his life:

For others, like Juanita, it was destructive self-harm when she was sexually abused by a member of her own family.

Juanita struggled with self-worth and blamed herself for what happened–even though she was only a child when the abuse began. What she learned from the caring staff at the Ranch was life-changing: “They told me that I was important and that I could make a difference.” Juanita is now looking forward to her third trip to Africa as a missionary.

Hear Juanita talking about her life:


Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch uses a Trauma Informed Care treatment approach, which focuses on four primary areas: mental/behavioral health, autism, addiction and sexual responsibility. Our professional staff do not ask the children, “Why are you doing that?” Instead they ask, “What has happened to you?” This helps our staff to understand what our boys and girls are going through, so they can then create treatment and education plans.

Soothing rooms are integrated into both the residential areas and classrooms. One child may learn better if they can stand instead of sit at a desk. Another may need to sit inside a small area to feel safe; still another may need to have a weighted quilt across their lap to soothe them. All these are tools to assist our boys and girls as they work through their trauma and garner coping skills for when they are back with family, friends and the community.

Our children receive help from professional and highly-trained staff and
educators, but we can only provide our boys and girls with the tools they need to succeed in the name of Christ because of generous gifts from our donor-friends. The need is great.

Please help us to bridge the gap
from trauma to trust.

Give generously February 12, 2015, at

Who knew? Pigs, blankets, auction?

The annual Pigs ‘n a Blanket quilt auctions began in Fargo, Sept. 15–same date as ESPN Game Day. Go Bison!

But despite the crowd downtown, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch drew a crowd of its own–nearly 300 people, who bid on quilts and silent auction items, which raised more than $12,000 for children at-risk, who are in the Ranch’s treatment programs in Fargo, Bismarck and Minot.

Now we’re winding up for auction #2 in our statewide event. The Bismarck auction will be this Saturday, Oct. 11, on the Bismarck campus at 1227 35 ST N.  The schedule has a quilt preview at 10 a.m., lunch served from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m..

Check out our ad here:  Pigs in a Blanket 2014 Bismarck REV

The live quilt auction starts at noon, with 83 quilts from across the nation up for bid.  You can see some of them by visiting

And just so friends on the western side of North Dakota don’t miss out, we have our annual Pigs ‘n a Blanket on our Minot campus, 6301 19 Ave NW, on Tuesday, Oct. 21. Check the Pigs ‘n a Blanket link at to learn more.

Join us to “wrap children in love!”




Heading Home event brings in $77,000 for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

There is something to be said from hearing a story from its source, and better than that, hearing it filled with emotion and a genuine humility for what life has handed out.

That’s what more than 100 guests heard when they attended Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch’s Heading Home event August 7, at the Fargo Holiday Inn.

Darrin Berndt and Juanita Hoeger, both former residents in residential treatment programs at the Ranch, spoke to guests of challenges and overcoming obstacles, working through their issues, and how they continue to persevere.

Berndt, 45, is from Washington state, and was a resident on the Minot campus in the mid-80s. His issues of anger and rage started at a young age while he was coping–in secret most times, with bullying. Berndt was extremely small for his age, which kids and sadly, some adults, pounced on. His anger eventually ended him in a psychiatric hospital and later, at the Ranch, where he made what he calls his first “real friends.” Berndt now works with a company, which contracts with the Department of Defense.

Hoeger, 20, was a resident in the Fargo programs only a few short years ago. An abusive situation led her to cutting, a form of self-harm. While at the Ranch, Hoeger discovered the kind of love that never changes–that of her Lord, Jesus Christ. The Spiritual Life program at the Ranch and its leader, Jay Schaefer, made a great difference in her life. After being at the Ranch, Hoeger attended missionary school, has been to Africa twice, and will return there in 2015.

The evening brought in more than $77,000. The funds raised will help the Ranch to add a Chapel, gymnasium and nutrition center to its Fargo campus, located at 7151 15 St. S.

Visit our web at to read about many other former and current residents via our Read My Story and Resources links.

Join us for Heading Home August 7th

Al and Johnne Bierdeman Center for Hope and Healing

The treatment center is one of two buildings on DBGR’s Fargo Campus.

Please be our guest Thursday, August 7, for our Heading Home events.

Join us on the Fargo Campus for tours from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., and join us for dinner at the Holiday Inn, beginning with a 5:30 p.m. social.


Listen to our invite here: Heading Home

Directions to campus:  Drive south on 25th Street to 70th Ave. Take the roundabout east one-half mile and our campus is located on the south side of the road. From I-29, take the exit to 52nd Ave. S., drive east to 25th Street, then south to 70th Ave. You will see Davies High School at that roundabout.

This year, we are welcoming back two of our former residents as guest speakers, so if you’ve ever wanted to hear how DBGR has helped the children — and hear it from the source, this is your opportunity.

The tours are an open house event—simply show up and we’ll enjoy showing you around our newest campus.

To RSVP for our dinner, visit here. There is no cost for dinner at this special fundraising event.

Please consider joining us for Heading Home.

Media are welcome to attend and film this very special fundraising event.

For more information, call Carla Isom, marketing public relations director, 701.364.0264 or email

Making Marathon Monday an historic one

Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Fargo Marathon Charity Team. We’re called “Making Strides” and that’s what we intend to do–make strides to eliminate some of the myths surrounding our children in residential treatment programs. I hope you support us on Marathon Monday, May 5, for an online giving opportunity based on the Fargo Marathon website.

I sometimes get to work with our youth and those are the days I treasure most.  Some of our young ladies helped me sort through quilts for our auction last summer. One of those young ladies was discharged this past year, but contacted me via our website.  I called to visit with her and asked why she wanted to tell her story now — she is only 15.

“While I was at the Ranch, I hated it. I had some really hard days. You saw me like that, when I was having bad days. It was very hard for me. But when I got out–almost immediately, I found that everything I learned here HAD helped me and I want everyone to know–everyone, that the Ranch is a really good place. It has helped me. I want people to know that now.”

I’m writing this for her.

And, I’m writing this for a young boy, recently discharged, who said to me, “You won’t forget me, will you?” Never, I said.  I will never forget you.

These kids are unforgettable. They have lived through some traumatic times and still, most of them persevere.

So can we do less than that?  Help us make some strides for the kids and join us online Monday, May 5. It’s the first-ever Marathon Monday–let’s make it an historic one!
— Carla Trittin Isom, marketing public relations director


Big Hearts give BIG

Thanks to The Impact Foundation, Dakota Medical Foundation and some generous donors, who helped Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch raise $18,975 is its very first Giving Hearts Day!

We’re overwhelmed by the generosity, the caring and the HEARTwork.

Thank you!

Emil Pig, from our Pigs ‘n a Blanket quilt auctions, even got into the event, waving at passers-by in Bismarck, N.D.

Countdown to Giving Hearts Day

We’re doing some HEARTwork for the kids at the Ranch…


Here’s one reason why:  nearly 40 percent of our children in psychiatric residential treatment have no family to call their own.

Doing some HEARTwork for them!

Let’s do some HEARTwork for them. Let’s help take care of them–that’s what FAMILY does!

Please visit
on Thursday, Feb. 13, and donate to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.  We promise, your HEARTwork won’t be wasted…

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher promotes the Ranch for Giving Hearts Day

Jeremy Horst, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, is promoting Giving Hearts Day for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch: via @youtube

You can help us too via VISIONbanks:

See Jeremy’s video here:

And vote for his video here:

1st place will receive a $750 donation, 2nd  will receive $500 and 3rd will be receiving $250.

Dear Santa…letter #1

Letter from a child

The children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch enjoy helping others. This year once again, the children are writing Letters to Santa to assist Macy’s in their “A Million Reasons to Believe” campaign for Make-a-Wish.

We thought you’d enjoy reading some of those letters. It shows how kids in treatment facilities care about what’s going on in their world and in the lives of others–not just themselves. It shows how much they care.

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22 (NIV)