Its a chilly Fall evening, the cottages all nestled quitely on top of the Joy Ranch hill. The cold wind cuts through the air and brings with it the feeling that Winter is just around the corner. As the sun slowly sets, all is quiet.
Walk inside of Leebrick cottage, however, and the scene could not be more different:
Laughter and friendly chatter fill the air as the warm glow of the Christmas tree flickers by the window. A couple of guys sit at the kitchen table, bickering over a game of cards while they sip chocolate milk. Michelle is just taking out a tray of homemade gingerbread cookies, and the smell floats through the house; she tries to shoo away a hungry teenager, but he manages to steal a cookie anway. In typical Michelle fashion, she grins and scolds him lovingly, and he engulfs her in a huge hug. Jason is sitting on the couch chatting with two other boys, enthralled in a conversation on why Batman is indeed THE best superhero, while Quinn and Cocoa, the canines of the family, lie curled up at their feet. Their daughters, Evy and Elianna, sit with two of their house brothers and chat as they all color furiously.
The house is warm, and cozy, and happy; it is loud, and busy, and bustling, and right when you walk in, it feels like a home.
This is true year round: no matter the season, the Rashes make their home feel cozy and bright.
12 years ago, Jason and Michelle met while working at a residential ministry in Vermont. At Michelle’s reluctance, they became friends. They started spending more and more time together, and the rest is history…this past June, they celebrated their 10 year anniversary! But their time spent at this facility solidified more than just their love for one another.
Their experience working at the residential facility where they met confirmed in them a desire, calling and passion to one day work with kids in a residential setting.
After they got married, they moved into other roles for a while; Jason worked as a corrections officer and a security guard, while Michelle home-schooled their two daughters and volunteered at a pregnancy resource center. Through these years, their call towards ministry working with adolescents never left. So, in 2013 they began praying about going back into ministry. While researching options and praying for God to open the right doors, they learned about children’s homes and were immediately intrigued.
As they began to apply to several places, they came across a little place called Joy Ranch. They decided to apply and
come down for an interview. They fell in love with Joy Ranch and their lives have never been the same since!
Michelle and Jason describe their journey here as one so full of “God moments” that they could probably write a book about it! They believe that houseparenting is what God designed them to do. Michelle and Jason are very open about the fact that they love each of their boys as if they were their own, and spend any amount of time with them and their boys, this is not difficult to see!
Aside from parenting up to 8 boys and 2 girls, the Rashes enjoy watching The Office and snuggling with their dogs, Quinn and Cocoa. Jason loves playing basketball, spending time with his dogs, and anything related to Batman. Michelle enjoys cooking all kinds of delicious foods, snuggling up with a good book and cup of tea and building relationships. Their oldest daughter, Evy is an artistic soul and loves playing outside and watching movies. Ellie is a relational soul and loves playing pretend, dolls and riding her bike. Both of the girls love being at Joy Ranch! They consider the boys their brothers and they love having a full house. Even on their days out of the cottage, they are eager to get back to their Leebrick family. This past summer, the Rashes were elated to open their home to one of their former Leebrick boys, Isaiah, who is currently serving in the National Guard. He loves fixing up his truck, hanging out with the guys in Leebrick cottage, and recently adopted a stray cat, Midnight!
So what would Michelle and Jason like you to know about Joy Ranch?
“Joy Ranch may be a small ministry, but the work God does here is powerful! This is a home to kids and the cottages run like a family. This isn’t shift work or an institution. Every staff member here is deeply invested in what we do and these kids are cared for and loved immensely. This is very much a family!”
And it’s true! No matter how little or how long a child comes to us, we love them and care for them deeply, and consider them a part of our family.
For Jason and Michelle, this is not just a job: this is their calling; the boys in Leebrick are not just residents: they are members of their family; and Joy Ranch is not just a facility: it is their home. And we could not be more thankful or more proud to call them our own!