— Chapter 8 —

It was surreal—driving down that same road he had traveled down so many years before. But this time, Cory wasn’t the passenger. It was paved, now, that once gravel road. It was smooth, and obviously fairly new.

Cory looked up as he pulled into the driveway of the Joy Home. His previous Counselor, Bruce, was waiting for him on the porch. Cory put his car into park and took a deep breath, his fingers drumming on the steering wheel.

“What if I’m not cut out for this?” Cory thought, turning off the ignition. His eyebrows pinched together as he tried to imagine his new role as Program Assistant. “I don’t know if I can help these boys. Being a Program Assistant…maybe it’s not for me.”

Cory startled at a loud knock on his passenger window. There was Bruce, smiling and waving him out.

Cory stepped out of the car, giving Bruce an apprehensive look.

“I’m excited for you to meet the boys,” Bruce said, putting his hands in his pockets. “They may not act like it at first, but they’re excited to meet you, too.”

Cory smiled at the words, his thoughts flitting back to his time at the Ranch, “I remember that feeling. All of those people—those ‘adults’—who were there to help me. Some tried way too hard, some were too much. But the ones that made the biggest impact—that’s who I want to be for these boys.”

“Are you ready to go inside?” Bruce said, leaning against Cory’s car. Cory nodded, and the two of them walked toward the Joy Home. Bruce gave the front door a small knock. They waited, listening to the movement inside.

Cory knocked once more, and the door was opened to a house of seven boys. Those boys—they were him. He didn’t know them, but somehow knew them. From the moment he locked eyes with those boys, he understood. He felt their pain, their hurt, their confusion, grief and loss.

It was then that Cory realized he could connect with these boys like no one else could because of what he experienced as a boy growing up. A joyful grin suddenly appeared on Cory’s face. He was supposed to be here.


As weeks turned into months, and the months into years, Cory served as a Program Assistant at Eagle Ranch. He ran PE classes and simply spent time with the boys. Listening to them. Hearing them. Understanding them. Walking with them through their pain until they found healing.

Cory, bottom left, with other Program Assistants at Eagle Ranch. Learn more about the role of Program Assistants by clicking here


Cory’s story is one of many children’s stories from Eagle Ranch. Your support goes toward providing a home, counseling, education and spiritual guidance to children in crisis. Consider making a gift at EagleRanch.org/GIVE