Big Oak Ranch

2024 Issue 2


Enroll in digital-only (email) delivery of our Timbers publication

01. A Note from Brodie

As I say often, the choices of today are important because they serve as a catalyst for our children's and our mission's tomorrow, therefore, today deserves our best. In that light, as we pursue our goals to expand Big Oak Ranch's influence and reach, we practice, each and every day, the dedication to being better in all areas of our mission. We make the best choices today in order to become better at filling gaps for children in crisis because the story we get to tell is worthy.

You see, this story of Hope is an incredible story of redemption that gives eternal purpose to the 50-year story of Big Oak and to each person who is and has been a part of it. Houseparents don't just "take care of kids," they serve as the mom and dad our children desperately need and equip them for a bright future full of Hope. Our Facilities Team doesn't just "maintain our buildings," they help create spaces on Ranch and at ASCEND where our children, young adults, guests and staff can encounter Hope. Our Communications Team advocates on behalf of children who desperately need Hope, not by merely "sharing pictures, words and videos," but by connecting you to the heart of our mission, to the needs of our children and to meaningful opportunities for you to point them to Hope. As a partner in our mission, you don't just "support," you mobilize help to children in need so they can discover the Hope that breaks negative cycles of the past. The harmony in our service is a song of testimony that declares the story is worthy.

In leading our families, let's define the specific gaps God is calling each of our family units to fill. Let's make sure our spouses and children truly understand the unique and eternal roles they have in helping fill these gaps through sharing the story of Hope. Those in need around us will be moved by the harmony in our stories. Let's diligently practice filling the gaps to which we've been called, realizing that today's efforts deserve our best...because the story is worthy.


Keep Planting!

Brodie Croyle

Brodie Croyle
President & CEO

IMG_9382 3 (1)

Brodie, Kelli, Sawyer & Luke Croyle

02. Birthdays

We are intentional to celebrate the lives and joy of the moment. Join us in celebrating our children’s birthdays!

Birthday List Digital Timbers (June)
Birthday List Digital Timbers (July)
Birthday List Digital Timbers (August)
Birthday List Digital Timbers (September)

03. Growing Oak


DT Growing Oaks Boy Issue 02-2024
GO Placement DT Miguel 02-2024

Miguel, 13




      • Has lived at Big Oak Boys’ Ranch for six years
      • Lives in the Spradling-Mason Home with houseparents, Dave and Dana Williams
      • Attends Catalyst Community Church with his Ranch family
      • Is active in the student ministry at church
      • Is in the 8th grade at Westbrook Christian School and is on the A-Honor Roll
      • Plays football for Westbrook
      • Will participate in a mission trip to Honduras this summer with his houseparents
      • Makes good decisions, is very responsible, and tells the truth even in hard situations


GO Boy Pic 1 02-2024

The Holle Home living their BEST life at Disney

GO Boy Pic 2 02-2024

Leo showing off his turtle find of the day — a favorite pastime at the Boys’ Ranch

GO Boy Pic 3 02-2024 REV

Happy birthday, Braxton!

GO Boy Pic 4 02-2024

The Perkins Home enjoying a family day watching the Blue Angels fly!

GO Boy Pic 5 02-2024

Travis at his 6th grade Graduation. We’re so proud of you!

For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.

Psalm 33:21-22

Items Needed for the Boys' Ranch

Subject Dividers

Teen Boy Backpacks

Laundry Detergent


Twin XL Sheets

Men's Deodorant

Clorox Wipes

Laundry Baskets



Men's Razors

Dishwasher Tabs



Please send donated items to:

Big Oak Boys’ Ranch

250 Jake Mintz Road

Gadsden, AL 35905

04. Growing Oak


DT Growing Oaks Girl Issue 02-2024-2
GO Placement DT Girl 02-2024

Jalyn, 17




  • Has lived at Big Oak Girls’ Ranch for 5 years
  • Lives in the Brewer-Calhoun Home with houseparents, John and Amanda Gasser
  • Attends Church of the Highlands with her Ranch family
  • Will be a senior at Westbrook Christian School
  • Is a hard-worker and bought her first car this year
  • Loves shopping and Chick-fil-A
  • Supports her family and friends and cares greatly for them
  • Is looking forward to her senior year and excited for ASCEND
GO Girl Pic 1 02-2024

Brianna is ready for a trail ride

GO Girl Pic 2 02-2024

Chelsea, Kaylee, and Lexeigh at their music recital. We are so proud of you, girls!

GO Girl Pic 3 02-2024 REV

Danisha's 16th birthday!

GO Girl Pic 4 02-2024

Happy birthday, Chamma!

GO Girl Pic 6 02-2024-1

The Jernigan Home is ready for a wedding

GO Girl Pic 6 02-2024-2

These girls had the best time at our golf tournament in Fairhope

“Lord, you are my God: I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.

Isaiah 25:1

Items Needed for the Girls' Ranch

Laundry Pods

Persil Detergent


Native Deodorant


Dishwasher Pods

Feminine Products

Outdoor String Lights

Hobby Lobby Gift Cards


Cordless Vacuums

Card Games/Board Games

Please send donated items to:

Big Oak Girls’ Ranch

6000 Shelley Drive

Springville, AL 35146

05. Welcome to ASCEND

ASEND Interior Wide Angle

Pathways to Independence.

ASCEND effectively prepares our young adults, ages 18-24, by guiding them through their chosen pathway and helping them take ownership and gain independence along the way. ASCENDants are now able to live in community both socially and physically thanks to the grand opening of ASCEND in Birmingham. This 2.32 acre and 45,770square feet of living and learning space was meticulously planned to provide enough independence for students but not without the support of fellow ASCENDants as well as on-site Village Guides. We want our ASCENDants to experience community and a culture of growth, perseverance, achievement, and trust in God’s perfect plan for their lives. Our goal moving forward is to secure the support needed to operate the program for up to 48 ASCENDants.

Upcoming ASCENDants
Current ASCENDants

Through the generosity of our faithful supporters, the building of ASCEND has been completely funded. 

ASCEND Donors (Summit Club)

Guiding our Young People into Successful Adulthood.

Through ASCEND, our children learn to fully transform the dependent habits learned on the Ranch into the independent habits necessary for adult life. Most parents know how difficult it can be for young people to transition from high school to college or career training successfully. There are so many challenges — social, academic, spiritual, financial, and emotional. It can be a make-or-break time for many young people.

Resources to equip young people during this crucial period, even for those who haven’t come from broken homes or painful pasts, are vital. It’s a widespread need that affects young adults from all walks of life.

We teach the essential life skills that every young adult needs, and each ASCENDant earns greater accountability and responsibility along the way. We provide the spiritual, professional, and personal life preparation that helps each young man and woman walk the path of their unique, God-given purpose.

ASCEND Hallway
ASCEND Pathway
ASCEND Front View

Take a Virtual Tour of ASCEND

06. A Life Changed

Amanda's Story

A Life Changed Placement 02-2024

My parents divorced when I was young, and my mother was granted full custody. She married an alcoholic who physically abused her and began sexually molesting me. Even after I told my mother, she chose to stay with him. Fortunately, my kindergarten teacher noticed the signs of abuse, took me into the hallway and gently asked if I was being hurt. I trusted her enough to be honest. DHR was called, and I was immediately placed in my father's custody. Then came lawyers, my first court hearing and meeting with a judge. During this, my stepfather was also in a drunk driving incident that took the life of a young lady. Those charges were added to what was pending from my case. He took a deal and plead guilty for a lighter sentence, which spared me from having to testify against him in open court. I was five years old. 

In the beginning, living with my dad was great, and I felt safe. He remarried, and together they made sacrifices to accommodate me. My father worked a lot to provide for us, so the day-to-day responsibility of the home, including my care, primarily fell to my stepmother. Over the years, bitter ongoing conflicts with my mother took their toll. In middle school, my father's job moved us 45 minutes away. It gave us distance from my mother, but also took me away from my friends, my school system, and my grandmother - my only consistent safe space in life. Homesickness caused me to struggle socially at my new school. At home, things with my stepmother were rapidly deteriorating. She became pregnant and suffered a late-term miscarriage. She couldn’t even look at me afterwards. In hindsight, I can’t imagine the grief she struggled to express. "Hurt people hurt people,” and disagreements between us eventually led to a physical altercation that prompted me to ask my dad to leave. 

The weight and gravity of my question had enough impact on my dad that he called Big Oak Ranch. A few days later, my stepmother drove me to the Girls' Ranch and dropped me off. Seeing her drive away, I felt instant relief from the long burden of living in the midst of her mental health crisis. 

The years at the Ranch healed me one day at a time. I developed close bonds with my houseparents and genuine “forever” relationships with my Ranch siblings. I thrived at Westbrook and made friendships I keep to this day. I excelled at sports and loved being part of the youth group at our church. The stability of having a Christ-centered family showed me that forgiveness is possible even in the deepest of hurts. The Ranch salvaged what was left of my childhood and taught me that the generational curses that wounded me didn’t have to be left unhealed to bleed onto my future children.  

Amanda Speaking at GR

Amanda speaking at an event at the Girls' Ranch

Amanda at the Ranch ...

Amanda basketball

playing basketball at Westbrook

Miracle Strip

with her Ranch family at Miracle Strip in Panama City

Amanda Prom

at her Senior prom at Westbrook

Golf Tournament Amanda

at a Big Oak Golf Tournament with Mr. John & her Ranch sisters

Christmas at the Ranch Amanda

with her Ranch family at Christmastime

Amanda Family Beach Trip

on a family beach trip with her housemom and sisters

I would love to say I did everything correctly after leaving the Ranch, but I made some decisions that went against what I had learned there. I had a daughter out of wedlock and then entered an unhealthy relationship with an alcoholic who exhibited abusive behaviors. One particularly hard night, I felt the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit say “You are repeating the very things I delivered you from.” And I was. So I prayed, “If you free me one more time, I will put in the work to heal and not do to my baby what was done to me.”

As He always is, He was faithful. I left that relationship, with His guidance every step. I started all over again as a single mom until I met the man that came in like warm sunshine after a long rain. Lance loved my little girl as his own from the day he laid eyes on her. My greatest and most unexpected blessing, she deserved every drop of love he could give her and more. She was happy to tuck herself safely in his heart as his daughter, and seeing their relationship grow allowed me to begin to forgive my own early mistakes as her mother. Lance and I are married and have also added two more daughters to our growing family with our fourth child due any day. Our girls, Gracelyn (15), August (3) and Junah (2) have parents that have committed to being spiritually and emotionally healthy and consistently present in their lives. We are firmly rooted at Victory Church in Pell City, where we also live. Lance works for the Anniston Army Depot and serves as an assistant baseball coach at Victory Christian, where Gracelyn attends high school. I primarily stay home with the littles but also freelance as a writer for Big Oak.

Wedding Day

Amanda & Lance on their wedding day

G and Baby A

Gracelyn & baby August

Christmas 2022

The Rowells - Christmas 2022

I kept my promise to God. I have actively sought to immerse myself in relationships and resources that benefit my personal growth and spiritual maturity as a wife, mother and friend.

Big Oak was the vessel Jesus used to show me what He could do through a healthy family that served and loved Him. While I have come a long way, my legacy, the Ranch’s legacy through me, is my deep unyielding heart for Jesus, my beautiful marriage and my precious babies. The greatest “thank you” that I can ever hope to give to Big Oak in return for what it has given me is to raise a generation that will never need the Ranch for themselves, but will have hearts and hands to maybe one day serve it in some capacity for those, like their mama, that find Home through its gates.

Amanda Family

Amanda and Lance with their girls

07. Spotlight



Drew & Sissy Jackson

Big Oak Cattle Directors

We are the Jackson family. It all began with a blind date that both of us said no to several times. Once we saw a picture of each other and the "blind" part was out of the way, we quickly agreed to a date. We will celebrate 10 years of marriage in October.  Labor & Delivery Nurse, Travel Nurse, School Nurse, Realtor, Government Contractor, Alabama Power Contractor, Oil Salesmen, Bronc Rider, Farmer, Tree Surgeon and House Flippers are a few of the titles and adventures we’ve had together… but, our favorite title we’ve held is Mom and Dad. 

Jackson Family Photo DT larger
Jackson Boys Photo DT REV

We have 3 incredible little boys. Creede (7) loves camping and turkey hunting. Ben Luke (6) loves to throw ball and build epic hot wheels tracks. JW (4) loves to catch any critter he can get his hands on and make people laugh. We love doing anything outdoors together. We all love to ride (horses and bikes), camp, fish, golf, hike, hunt… if it is outdoors, we are game! 

We are the Cattle Directors, meaning we oversee all things horses, cattle, and pastureland. Basically, we put the “Ranch” in Big Oak Ranch! Our family ate over 24,000 pounds of beef this year, and we got to raise every pound on-property. Ranch work provides countless opportunities to teach our children about stewardship, accountability, work ethic, trust, teamwork, and the list goes on. We love that our family gets to know, teach, and love our kids through the horse and cattle program.

Full-time ministry was never in our plans, but thankfully, God’s plan prevailed. We can now look at our first 10 years of marriage and see how God was preparing our hearts and guiding us to Big Oak from the beginning. We joined this family in February of 2022. That’s exactly what Big Oak is… a family. We love God and each other, we are honest, we stick together, and we live out disciplined lives. This family is on-mission to love and care for every abused, abandoned, and neglected child, and it is our greatest honor to serve here!



50th Invite DT 02-2024

Celebrating 50 Years of Sharing the Hope of Jesus

We hope you can join us, along with other supporters, resource families, staff members, volunteers and many of the over 2,000 children and their families who have called Big Oak HOME since 1974.

50th Schedule DT 02-2024 larger

08. Ways to Help

There are many ways you can have an impact on the lives changed at Big Oak. Please choose the option that works best for you, and know that we appreciate your support – no matter how or where you choose to give.

Daily Prayer

Daily prayer is a true source of power, with the ability to effect positive changes in our children’s lives. We humbly ask for you to pray daily for our staff and children.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

1 John 5:14

Critical Support for Daily Necessities

Critical Support for Daily Necessities

Every gift matters. Gifts of $25, $50, $100 on a monthly basis help sustain our mission and allow us to increase awareness so that more children can be served! You can write a check each month or set up an automatic payment through your bank.

Memorial & Honorarium Program

Memorial & Honorarium Program

The Memorial Program allows you to honor a deceased loved one. The Honorarium Program allows you to celebrate special friends or relatives on occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. In each case, we will send an appropriate letter acknowledging your gift.

If you have questions about our Memorial/Honorarium Program, please call the Business Office at (256) 892-0773, ext. 1313, or email Mary Hutto at mhutto@bigoak.org.

In Kind Donations

In-Kind Donations

As a professional, you can provide tremendous help to our children through in-kind donations of your skills and expertise. Donations of in-kind services by doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professionals are tax-deductible, but more importantly, they make a huge difference in the quality of our children’s lives.

If you are a professional who would like to donate your services, contact:

Robin O’Leary at (205) 467-6226, ext 1226, or roleary@bigoak.org.

Resource Parenting

Resource Parenting

Resource Parents are a critical part of this ministry – supporting our houseparents and offering our children extended family. One weekend each month (Friday – Sunday), each child has the opportunity to join their Resource Family – to simply be a part of their lives. 

The relationships built and enjoyed through this valuable part of our mission are life-changing for our children and our resource families.

Corporate Matching Gifts

Corporate Matching Gifts

Please join us by checking if your employer has a matching gift program. If so, your HR Department can tell you what steps need to be taken to apply for the matching gift. Your gifts could have double or triple the impact as we work together to relieve the suffering of children. The request might require Big Oak Ranch’s tax ID number, which is 23-7413017. If you have any questions, please contact Robert Duke at robert.duke@bigoak.org.

Heritage Giving

Heritage Giving

For gifts of personal or real property, trusts, life insurance, marketable securities or estates, phone the Business Office at (256) 892-0773, ext. 1317, or email robert.duke@bigoak.org.

Big Oak Cattle

Big Oak Cattle

Big Oak Cattle is a self-sustaining production system for naturally raised beef that feeds the families of Big Oak. But its true mission is to help our boys and girls rebuild trust and learn responsibility and life skills by working together caring for our animals.



ASCEND is one way we keep our core promise, “We’ll stick with you until you are grown.” Through this ministry, we provide life skills training for our 18-22 year olds. We support each young person’s goals, whether it’s through a fully paid college education or skilled trade certification. We also provide the spiritual, professional and personal life preparation that helps each young man and woman walk the path of their unique, God-given purpose.

Back Cover Collage (Digital) 02-2024

“... So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3