Former Estevan resident Todd Moroz and his family have dedicated the last few years of their lives to helping other families.
Moroz and his life Lara are the house parents at the Broken Arrow Youth Ranch – a faith-based ministry near Wood Mountain in south-central Saskatchewan. The ministry has been operating since the spring of 2008, and the Moroz family has been involved with it from the outset.
The Broken Arrow Ranch's mission is "Families Helping Families," Moroz said. It's a full-working ranch, and children who reside on the ranch get to work with cattle, horses, miniature horses, sheep, goats and chickens.
"We take children into our care for an extended period of time, typically a year or more, and our goal is to work alongside the family – not just to care for the children – but … to help them towards greater growth and stability so that they can be reunited, and so that they're well on their way for success," said Moroz.
The children stay at the ranch while their parents recover. Children who are school-aged attend classes at Glentworth Central School.
Moroz was working as a pastor at a church in Wood Mountain when the senior pastor and his wife, Rick and Corrine Aupperle, first had the vision for the Broken Arrow ministry. Broken Arrow officially opened in the spring of 2008, and the Aupperles would remain in charge until retiring in 2010.
Other couples work at the ranch as well, and they live on site or nearby.
"We also have a lot of volunteers on site, whether it's for work projects or to help in any way," said Moroz. "And we have a retired couple – one of our board members and his wife – who are willing to live on site to play the role of grandparents on the ranch."
Twelve to 14 people reside on the ranch, Moroz said. There are five children who are at Broken Arrow on a full-time basis, and two pre-school youth who are there for five to 15 days a month.
The location seems remote to a lot of people, he said. Only a handful of people live in the small village of Wood Mountain. But the isolation works in their favour.
"The ranching lifestyle, our horsemanship program and interaction with the livestock have been huge in terms of being able to pour into the kids' lives, and the life lessons they have learned from that," said Moroz. "When it comes to working together and playing together outside, the chores and all those things have been a big part of the program."
The surrounding community is incredible, too, he said, as neighbours have capitalized on every opportunity to help the children. They'll donate orphan calves, or involve the ranch's children with chores.
"The saying that 'It takes a village to raise a child' really comes into play," said Moroz.
Broken Arrow doesn't always have fairy tale endings with the children that they assist, Moroz said, but they have seen turnarounds with many of their youth.
He cited the example of one teen who is now 17 and thriving.
"He said 'I've been thinking a lot about you guys lately. I wanted to thank you for all that you did for me. You saved my life,'" said Moroz. 'He said 'I love you guys, I'm graduating this year, and (asked) would you consider coming to my graduation?'"
Moments like that make the challenges associated with the program worthwhile, he said.
A fundraising hockey game for the ranch will be happening on Sunday, December 29 at 3 p.m. at Spectra Place. The Broken Arrow Youth Ranch Charity Classic will pit the Broken Arrow Bruins – comprised of players from the Estevan Midget AA Bruins teams that played from 1983 to 1986 – against the Estevan Strippers and Estevan Bruins alumni.
"It's kind of like a reunion for us," said Moroz, who played for the midget AA program from 1983 to 1986. "Many of us haven't seen each other in 20-something years."
The Broken Arrow Bruins' roster is almost full, but Moroz would like to add one or two more players.
"Some are in a situation like me where they haven't played recreation hockey for six years or so," said Moroz. "They've been really gracious and willing to lace up to skate in this one again. Other guys have been playing regularly over the years, and we're counting on them to carry the load."
There will be many activities for families at the game as well.