10 YEARS OF MAKING A DIFFERENCE

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, I am reminded daily of the children that have called Seamark Ranch home.  Many keep in touch and share their accomplishments and their trials with us.  It is such a blessing to see what God is doing in the lives of our Seamark family-even the trials.  

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:3-5 

A recent contact with Michael Heinz is just such a blessing! Nine-year-old Michael came to live at Seamark Ranch after a disrupted adoption. A sensitive young boy with an endearing smile and a likeable nature, he found a safe, nurturing home and family at Seamark. Michael joined a scout troop that met a Seamark, and with support from his housedad and troop leader, he participated in a Pinewood Derby and camp-outs. Michael learned to hunt. He played lacrosse and other sports on community teams. Michael grew into a kind and confident young man. After four years at Seamark Ranch Michael was adopted into his “forever family”. Of course, he will always belong to the Seamark family, as well.

We are so proud of ROTC Cadet Airman Michael Heinz pictured here with U.S. Congressman Brian Mast at a military ball. Michael is a fine young man with a great future ahead of him.

Please join us as we give thanks for each of the precious young lives transformed by God’s grace over the past 10 years and join us in praying for more children to find a loving home at Seamark Ranch.  

From a Mother's Heart: Part 2

FROM A MOTHER’S HEART:  A CHAT WITH LINDSAY HARVEY, BOYS’ HOME HOUSEMOM

What’s your favorite memory of your mom?  

My mother taught me to love unconditionally, to be forgiving and to always love my family no matter the circumstance in life. She has been an incredibly faithful mother as well as a faithful daughter to her mother. I’ve always admired the way she took care of her mother and that has made me understand my role as both mother and daughter. 

What’s your favorite memory of your mom?  

When I was a child I was in and out of the hospital a lot and my mom never left my side. 

What do you want to impart to your Seamark children?

I want them to understand forgiveness through the eyes of God. I want them to learn to forgive each other and those people in their lives that have hurt them in the same way that God has forgiven us for the terrible things that we have done. I also want them to know that it’s ok to be a kid again. I want them to know that even though their life is different than other kids their age because they are here at Seamark, it does not mean they deserve any less in life. I want them to see Seamark as part of the plans and promises God has for them.

What has been your biggest challenge as a Housemom?

Both the challenge and the blessing of not having raised my own children. While I have learned a lot about being a mother from many of the wonderful mothers that are part of the Seamark family, God has also given me great peace and wisdom in being able to raise my Seamark children. I want to see immediate changes take place in our children’s lives and am learning to be patient and trust God when those changes haven’t happened as quickly as I prayed they would.

Do you have a “Mom story” you would like to share?

The Boys’ Home held a family photo-scavenger hunt! Chris took one team in a golf cart and I took one team in my golf cart and we raced around the property taking photos of items we found on our scavenger hunt list. The boys became incredibly competitive and it made for lots of laughs. 

And of course I love the time I can spend with the kids at the barn, riding horses, and helping prepare for horse shows. Horses helped change my life. I want to help the kids have their lives changed by horses, too.

 

Season of Prayer 2017

Won't you join us in Celebrating 10 Years of Home and Family during our Season of Prayer and help us move forward with Building Dreams for the Future.  Please join us in praying daily for Seamark Ranch between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, May 14 – June 18.  We give thanks for each of the precious young lives being transformed by God’s grace over the past 10 years and we pray for more children to find a loving home at Seamark Ranch.  With that in mind, pray for God to build and grow our Seamark homes and programs.  

Second, please consider making a special gift to Seamark Ranch to remember or honor your loved ones during this special season.  Return your gifts in the enclosed envelope and indicate your tribute information, visit our website at www.seamarkranch.com or call our office at (904) 288-8885 with credit card information.  We will send a card to your recipient to let them know of your tribute.  Through your prayers and your gifts you can make a lasting difference in the life of a Seamark Ranch child.  

https://seamarkranch.com/Donate

From a Mother's Heart: Part 1

FROM A MOTHER’S HEART:  A CHAT WITH NANCY GRIMES, GIRLS’ HOME HOUSEMOM

What’s your favorite memory of your mom?  

My mother instilled in all 5 of her children that family comes first.  You do whatever it takes to be there for each other and always stay close.  She has been with the Lord for 4 years now and we siblings are closer now than ever. 

What’s your favorite memory of your mom?  

When we were very young my brothers and sisters and I would spend winter days outside sledding and snowball fighting with Dad.  Soaked to the skin, we would take off all our wet layers of clothing in the cellar and head upstairs to find Mom making us hot cocoa on the stove.  I can see her to this day!

What do you want to impart to your Seamark children?

I would like to instill family values in each girl that comes to our Girls’ Home.  Most of these girls have never sat around a dinner table, eating and sharing their day.  Talking one-on-one with each girl is also very important to me.  When their time comes to depart Seamark I want them to be able to say “Mrs. Nancy showed me what a loving, Godly Mom should be.  And I want to be that for my own children one day.”

What has been your biggest challenge as a Housemom?

When a girl just doesn’t want to let go of her old, destructive ways and surrender her life to the Lord.  God has such a better life waiting for her through Jesus Christ and Seamark Ranch.  

Do you have a “Mom story” you would like to share?

Three of our older girls attended a Youth Discipleship Camp over a weekend at our church. One of the girls suffers from abandonment issues and just “knew” we would be gone when she returned.  When I came to pick up the girls at the end of the weekend they saw me across the parking lot.  Their faces lit up and they came running to meet me, yelling my name and hugging my neck so hard it actually hurt.  But it was the best “hurt” – one I will always treasure.

Season of Prayer 2017

Won't you join us in Celebrating 10 Years of Home and Family during our Season of Prayer and help us move forward with Building Dreams for the Future.  Please join us in praying daily for Seamark Ranch between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, May 14 – June 18.  We give thanks for each of the precious young lives being transformed by God’s grace over the past 10 years and we pray for more children to find a loving home at Seamark Ranch.  With that in mind, pray for God to build and grow our Seamark homes and programs.  

Second, please consider making a special gift to Seamark Ranch to remember or honor your loved ones during this special season.  Return your gifts in the enclosed envelope and indicate your tribute information, visit our website at www.seamarkranch.com or call our office at (904) 288-8885 with credit card information.  We will send a card to your recipient to let them know of your tribute.  Through your prayers and your gifts you can make a lasting difference in the life of a Seamark Ranch child.  

https://seamarkranch.com/Donate

Giving Thanks

From time to time, we can all benefit from a break. Just a little time to turn aside from our every-day tasks, reflect on the year, and prepare so that we can finish the year strong.  Fall is the perfect time to do this as we feel the change in the air.

This has been a year filled with triumphs and tragedies, both large and small, at Seamark Ranch. Our Seamark family has experienced the heartbreak of losing family members in a tragic accident and a friend to cancer.  At the same time we have made new friends that have joined our Seamark family.  We are praying for other Seamark friends going through difficult times right now. While we welcomed seven new children to Seamark this year, we had to turn away others because our homes were full.  We saw “break-throughs in learning” for two of our students while we expanded our school facilities to be able to help even more students.  We even weathered a hurricane this year!

A highlight of our year was the adoption of one of our young men by a very special Seamark family.  As November is National Adoption Month, I hope you will celebrate this family’s story on the next page with us.

Looking back, I can say that I am thankful for each and every one of these opportunities because they have helped us grow, encouraged new ideas, or spurred us to action. We can truly give thanks always to God for all things.  His ways are higher than our ways and He holds the future of Seamark Ranch in His loving hands. 

As we seek to finish strong, I hope you will consider a year-end gift to Seamark Ranch.  Once our 2016 budget is met, all additional gifts can go toward building our next homes. Please be in prayer for our next homes and help hasten the day when we can help even more children. 

 From our Seamark Family to yours, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!

Adoption Day

Hadoptjudge.jpg

Our Seamark journey started on a little league baseball field in Green Cove Springs when a young man from Seamark Ranch was placed on the same team as our son.  As the season progressed and we started to learn more about the boys living at the Boys Home, God started to open our eyes as to just how privileged and blessed our own family was. We were challenged as a family to start giving back and investing in something that was much bigger than our own lives.  We started volunteering at Seamark and soon found ourselves falling in love with the Ranch, their programs, the house parents, and most importantly the boys.

While all of the other boys at the Ranch still had some family contact, this young man was placed at Seamark with a “No Contact Order”, meaning no contact from his biological family.  Seamark allowed us to go through the approval process so that we could start bringing him into our home on some weekends in hopes that we could help fill that hole in his life.  Last fall while attending a Worship Expo I felt for the first time that God was asking me if we would be open to the idea of adoption.  We already had four biological children, a very busy schedule, and I had an incorrect view that adoption was reserved for couples that couldn’t have biological children.  But God started to place people and situations in our lives that made it clear by the end of last year that we were in fact called to make this young man a permanent part of our family.  He continued to spend most weekends and breaks in our home and was placed in our home full time this July.  This past Friday his adoption was finalized and he will forever be ours and we will be forever his.

Our Seamark story is unique in that it ended with this young man becoming a member of our family.  But what isn’t unique is that there are other children who call Seamark Ranch “home” who need mentors and families who are willing to get outside of their own lives and will start to invest in them.  There are countless ways to get involved so please contact the Seamark Ranch office.  You have an opportunity to make an incredible impact on these children’s lives, and you might just be surprised to find that Seamark will make a huge impact on yours.

- Brian P.

Man in the Hat

The man with the hat is Dan Horner, and he serves as the Seamark Ranch Facilities Coordinator. A native of North Dakota, Dan grew up learning a lot of the skills he needs to run a ranch, but he shares that at Seamark Ranch, the mission is much greater than that. “I pray that the kids we have here, and the ones that have been and are yet to come here, see that we are trying to teach them life skills for their future. We want to instill a solid work ethic for the benefit of their future.”

And that is where Dream of Better comes in. The Dream of Better word that Dan chose for the Seamark children is RESPONSIBILITY. Dan explains, “Because that is what builds character in these kids. It has been a blessing to see the changes in the kids that have been here for some time. We all have learned patience and have gotten closer to God, because no one can do this without God’s help.”

One area that Dan is particularly proud of, and involved with, is the one-acre blueberry patch. This year, Seamark is having a record harvest of blueberries, having already exceeded last year’s record harvest of 850 pounds. Seamark children, house parents and volunteers also pick, so people can buy blueberries that are already packaged to go home. Sale of the blueberries helps to fund the Boys’ and Girls’ Homes’ summer vacations, so Dan’s Dream of Better word, RESPONSIBILITY, becomes real in the blueberry patch.

Dan and his wife, Mary (along with their two children, Christian and Sarah), first came to Seamark Ranch as house parents. Fred Meiners had arranged to donate a pool, from the ranch, to Dan’s church. Dan was sent to pick it up, and while he was there, Fred gave him a tour. Like many others, Dan recognized the need for a place like Seamark…a place that provides stability, safety, love and family. So, it wasn’t long afterwards that Dan and his family became part of the Seamark family.

Dan sums it up, “This is not an easy task—teaching kids—but it is rewarding.”

Seamark's Mudders

Vicki and her husband, Bobby, first heard of Seamark Ranch when it was still a vision, shared by Keith and April Denton, the Seamark Ranch founders. After that, they were inspired to host dinner events where they could share the vision of a Christian children’s home in northeast Florida. By 2007, Vicki was serving on the Seamark Board of Directors, at the encouragement of friends, Jenifer Skinner and Allene Zvara. We are thankful to Vicki and Allene for venturing to North Carolina’s furniture capital, High Point, to select and purchase furniture for the Boy’s Home…no small task, as it had to be functional, attractive, comfortable and DURABLE. They recruited decorators, Jane Roseborough and Christie Martin, to help. When you visit the Boys’ Home you will see that the results were beautiful!

Having grown up in a stable and loving family, herself…and having  provided a similar  warm, supportive and safe environment for her own  family…Vicki acknowledges that  what she has experienced is not the norm,  and should not be taken for granted. She is  continually impacted by seeing  the Seamark children flourish and grow after leaving  their previous  unimaginable experiences behind them. The impact of FAMILY on the  children is huge, requiring day-to-day patience, stamina and dedication.  For it is in  the framework of FAMILY that these children are loved, taught,  worked with and  ministered to.

And then came the Seamark Mudder! Vicki’s son, Trip and son-in-law,  Daniel, are  frequent mud run participants—and through their experiences,  had often talked about designing a best-of-the-best mud run course. The idea of the Seamark Mudder sprang from a Seamark Board of Directors retreat, where members were challenged to dream of ideas that would help the ranch generate revenue, become more self-sufficient and gain more visibility in the community. After floating the idea of a mud run fundraiser to her family, they all signed-on to help and the Seamark Mudder was born!With the help of her family, numerous other leaders, Board members, ranch personnel and volunteers, the inaugural Seamark Mudder, in 2014, had 365 participants and raised over $40,000. The second Seamark Mudder is scheduled for April 18, 2015. It looks like it will now be an annual event!

While Seamark Ranch may now look like a lot of buildings, animals and crops, Vicki emphasizes that Seamark is all about the kids. In a FAMILY, the cycle of abuse and neglect can be broken. In a FAMILY, the children can receive the educational help that they need. In a FAMILY, they learn wholesome work and play. In a FAMILY, they learn of the love of Christ, the care of a mom and dad and the support of siblings. And it all happens on 468 beautiful acres! How great is that?!

Mentorship

After their friends, Rich and Tracy Dawson (Seamark’s Boys’ Home parents) introduced them to Seamark Ranch, and the unique needs there, Margie and Dwayne felt God’s call to accept the new challenge in a new setting.

Since being at Seamark, Dwayne and Margie freely share that they have had their patience tested, and their gift of mentorship has been stretched to a whole new level. The difference, now, is that they are mentoring in a family setting. As a FAMILY, with many different and often heart-breaking life stories, they are constantly reminded of why God has placed them where they are. But, as a FAMILY, they have been able to instill strong Christian and family values…teaching youth to strive for their best, plus a little more.

And as they love, mentor and teach youth at Seamark, the journey has been fun and exciting, as well as challenging.  And with all else that they learn, the youth learn to love in return…which Margie and Dwayne say is their greatest impact and reward.

Gift of Love

The family knows first-hand the difference a home like Seamark Ranch can make in the life of a child. Willard Bland’s father passed away during the Depression years leaving Willard’s mother to care for seven children. The family was very poor and providing for all seven children became impossible. At age 13, Willard and his younger brother went to live at a boys’ home in Jacksonville. Willard spent his teenage years at the boys’ home and always remembered it as a good experience and opportunity for him. Willard and Evelyn met in Green Cove Springs and were married for over 50 years. Willard passed away in 1988 and Evelyn in 2009. They left a legacy of 9 children, 34 grandchildren, 70 great-grand children and 32 great-great grandchildren and counting. The Bland family is a testimony to the impact one life can have on generations to come. Our thanks go out to David, Ellie and the entire Bland family for honoring the memory of their parents by embracing the mission of Seamark Ranch to transform the lives of children in need – one child at a time.

How do you honor the memory of special people in your life? Investing in Seamark Ranch and the life of a child is a great way to start. Click here to make a Tribute Gift this Christmas.

Meet Rich and Tracy

Rich and Tracy Dawson have been houseparents for the Seamark Ranch Boys’ Home since early 2013. Having two teenage children of their own they know first-hand the trials, tribulations and overwhelming joy of being parents. They began their journey with Seamark back in 2010 when Tracy became a teacher for the Seamark School. We are truly grateful for their dedication to Seamark Ranch and our children.

Describe your first day at Seamark.

Rich — “I arrived and was in shock at how beautiful and huge the property was, and I couldn’t believe that I now lived here.”

Tracy — “My first day at Seamark was short but amazing. I was a volunteer and loved the school and the kids. Then my first day in the Boys Home was exciting. The boys were very welcoming and they seemed so excited to include us in their family.”

Who has made the biggest impact on you during your time at Seamark? How and Why?

Rich — “Tracy has made the biggest impact. Her spirituality and love for the kids helped me validate God’s plan for my life and my family.”

Tracy — “The kids impact me, still, every single day. When you go into this as a servant of the Lord, you expect to ‘change’ the kids lives … but in turn, they change yours. My husband has grown so much, spiritually, and now I see an incredible side of him that I never knew. It’s amazing how God works through the lives of the people and children around you. This is a truly amazing family.”

How has your life changed since being at Seamark?

Rich – “My hair is much more gray! My life has changed from ‘me’ to ‘them.’ I have learned a lot about myself, and about what I put my parents through as a child. It helps me relate to the kids when they struggle.”

Tracy – “Life is definitely busier! Last spring, we had seven kids in organized sports at one time… all on different teams. There were the dreaded late practices and games every single night. But I soon learned that it was such a necessary component for a child to ‘master’ something all on his or her own. I grew to enjoy every single game, and our entire family would support each other.”

Why did you choose “Strength” as your word?

Rich – “I have learned to be strong and to have perseverance–sticking with the kids when all others have given up on them.”

Tracy – “God gives us strength to do many tasks … but this is not only physical strength. It involves an emotional and spiritual strength that doesn’t come from practice. It comes from the love of Jesus.”

What made you want to join the Seamark Ranch family?

Rich – “GOD. Tracy and I owned a small business, and although we made it through the toughest economy, I would pray to God daily that I was following His guidance. Twenty minutes, after one particular prayer, Fred Meiners called and asked, ‘Have you ever considered being a house parent?’ I said, ‘No, but I will now!’”

Tracy – “God put it all in place for us. We fell in love with Seamark the moment we stepped into it, and we have never questioned it … even on the difficult days.”

What has your overall journey been like?

Rich – “It’s been an eye-opening journey to realize how many people in the world care about kids they don’t even know. The donations, such as meals and Christmas presents, that are given here every year are amazing. They care so much, and many of them will never meet the children.”

Tracy – “Truly amazing journey. Heart wrenching and joyous, all at the same time.”

Has any Seamark experience, in particular, had a positive impact on your life?

Rich – “One of our boys, who was only here for ten months, impacted me. I saw how his parents did him such an injustice, in not caring for him or helping him. And then I saw how much he improved over such a short period of time … including losing 51 pounds!”

Tracy – “I had an experience with one of our boys where I felt at the end of my rope. I could not reach him, and he couldn’t understand how he was a child of God and was forgiven. He was so trapped within himself. He ultimately left for a more therapeutic program and I felt I had failed him. A year later I found his prayer journal. There were forty-four separate pages with prayers written down, and each one was a prayer for Rich and me. Seamark did make a difference for this young man. Yet, it wasn’t ME who reached him … it was Jesus.”

What do you want people to know about all of you and about Seamark Ranch?

Rich and Tracy – “We need more help and support. We will always have the ability to incorporate more homes here, but we need people who are willing to take this risk and become parents to kids who have no parents. You will find much joy when you give up your life and dedicate it to someone else.”

What is your word?