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.”