Spring Corral 2020

50 Years of Service

How many young married couples, with bachelor’s degrees in each of their pockets, a 5-month-old child, and opportunities galore would purposely choose to come to a  desolate stretch of land, and move into a house where they would immediately be responsible for 12 children? Not many that don’t either have some sort of self-loathing personality issues or strong faith that leads them and a desire to improve the lives of “the least of these.” Fortunately for The Ranches, it was the latter when Mike and Nikki Kull took up residence and employment at what was then, New Mexico Boys Ranch. 50 years of service later as they retire from service to what is now, New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranches, Inc., or more commonly, The Ranches, I had an opportunity to interview them about their work lives, well spent.

Let’s meet Mike and Nikki Kull

In December of 1970, Mike and Nikki arrived at Boys Ranch. When they entered their new home, Nikki said she asked Mike, “Are we at the end of the world?” He didn’t answer. To say it was a discouraging moment, would have been a gross understatement. But, as they later recalled, it was what they pledged to do, and the adventure was on. They got to learning how to care for children, fixing up the place and staying very busy. Deciding they needed to improve the facilities and grounds, he set about planting trees, landscaping, raising funds for continued growth and replacement of facilities, and ensuring the future of the Ranch.

Over their 50 years, they moved up and moved off The Ranch to run the organization from the office, first in Belen and later in Albuquerque. Due to Mike’s firm belief that children should not suffer in times of economic downturns, he established the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch Foundation to provide endowment funds that often provided the needed resources when tough financial times hit. Donors throughout the state soon petitioned The Ranches to place facilities in their areas. Eventually, with lots of donor support, The Ranches opened Girls Ranch in Lamy, Families for Children in Albuquerque, Hart Youth Ranch in Melrose, The New Mexico Family Connection, Pippin Youth Ranch in Clovis, and Mountain Vista Ranch in Albuquerque and these programs expanded their services throughout the state.

What is the hardest time at The Ranch?

Mike responded that closing down programs left him feeling like he had let down the people that supported their creation. When asked, Nikki’s reply to the same question was the change in attitude by people not understanding what a vital and quality role The Ranches plays for some children, families. The Ranches serves children and families that are seeking help and don’t want to surrender their children to the state while simultaneously also serving many children in state custody who have grown weary of the foster care system. For Nikki, dealing with this has been very discouraging; but, they would make no different choice in how they spent a large portion of their lives.

What the most hopeful time experienced, at The Ranch?

Mike shared that once, in their early years, funds were critically low, and they could not cover payroll. He then went to the Lord in prayer, and he made a deal. If God would meet this need, he would remain fully committed to the success of The Ranches. So, Mike took a leap of faith and handed out paychecks knowing there were inadequate funds to cover them…and then he prayed. The very next morning, a generous donor unexpectedly met that need with funds that covered all of those paychecks. Since that time Mike has been happy to keep his deal.

What your wish would be for the future of The Ranches?

“The Ranch will be better and stronger with Heath and Lani in the leadership positions.”

They would appreciate gifts given to The Ranches in honor of their 50 years of service. Helping out with the day-to-day operations is an ongoing need. This is especially so with the economy impacted by the ongoing health situation in our country. Together they asked for readers to remember The Ranches in their prayers and when possible, with their contributions.

Read the full Spring Corral 2020 here….