Gary Priour, founder of the Youth Ranch, graduated from Harvard University in 1969 with a major in English Literature. He taught high school and college before devoting himself full-time as a single parent to the care of his 2-year-old son. His involvement with abused and abandoned children began in 1972 when, at his day-care center in Portland, Oregon, a mother left a 3-year-old girl for whom she did not return. He has been involved with the care of such children ever since.
Gary returned to his hometown of Ingram, Texas, in 1975, to ask his father to carve out a small piece of family land for the purpose of building a children’s home. Gary told his father that caring for abused and orphaned children had become a calling that would be advanced greatly by having a place to build.
Gary remembered many boyhood hours of exploring on the land where the Youth Ranch now stands. His father agreed to the gift, but with the stipulation that Gary surrender his part of other land in exchange for an early inheritance
Gary had to ask himself, “Are you willing to give away a larger inheritance, along with your time, in order to realize this dream?” The answer was yes.
A love story followed the gift. There was no money, but unexpected resources were offered. Builders came as volunteers. Community leaders gave endorsements. A telethon was hosted on local TV in 1978 to raise funds.
A design larger than anyone could grasp seemed to enfold the project. Contributors would “happen by” at just the right time. Needs were always met.
Priour attributes the success of the “miracle valley” to faith, focus, and perseverance. Says Priour, “We have a saying, ‘one ticket to the customer’. We’ve always stayed committed to our mission, and God did the rest.”
Says Gary, “I remain amazed at what God has done. It looks to me like, if we follow the trail of guidance the Father leaves in the clues of daily life, we, and the children we care for, are heirs to a legacy of miracles.”
This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. — John 15:12