Big Oak Ranch

Issue: 03 2023

Cover Name Caden 2023-3 box


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01. A Note from Brodie

As the son of a teacher, the “new year” for our family always began with the start of school. Likewise, with a mission centered around caring for children, we have also adopted that perspective as an organization. So every staff gathering in September is set aside for our New Year Vision Cast.

With your partnership, we have experienced growth that directly impacts our ability to serve children in need - from new homes, to enhancing training and services provided to our children and young adults, to new collaborative relationships with like-minded organizations, to building onto our incredible team so we are prepared to best serve those in our care, tackle emerging challenges and advance our mission.

While responsibility can be viewed as what others expect of us, accountability is what we expect of ourselves. So, as we move into our “new year,” our focus is on unwavering accountability. To do that, we ensure each member of our team is in the right seat with the right responsibilities for the next season of growth because we realize the importance of each person playing to their strengths while effectively managing their weaknesses. It is dishonoring to God not to embrace and play to the strengths He has given us, but it does not give us freedom to withhold boundaries that protect against our weaknesses.

We consistently encourage our kids and the team who serves them to know who they are, to know their strengths and give their best. But when the going gets tough in an area where we are weaker, the predetermined posture of quitting is often verbalized as, “That’s just not something I’m good at.” Maybe not. Maybe it won’t ever be a strength to which we play regularly, but we can manage it by finding a way that we can contribute well. Doing so might be the difference between success and failure.

Within our families, professions and areas of service, let’s know our strengths and give our best. Let’s manage our weaknesses so they aren’t a detriment to the goal. Today requires our best like yesterday didn’t happen.

Keep Planting!

Brodie Croyle

Brodie Croyle
President & CEO

Brodie, Kelli, Sawyer & Luke Croyle

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!

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Birthday List Digital Timbers September 2023 with cake
Birthday List Digital Timbers October 2023

03. Growing Oak


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GO Placement DT Josh Issue 3-2023

Josh, 17



      • Has lived at Big Oak Boys’ Ranch for five years
      • Lives in the Bullock Home with houseparents, Tyson and Abbie Simon
      • Attends Church of the Highlands with his Ranch family and serves on the parking team
      • Is a Junior at Westbrook Christian School
      • Is part of the Scholar’s Bowl team
      • Plays clarinet in the Westbrook Christian School band
      • Enjoys trying new foods from different cultures
      • Is interested in video game development and hopes to study that further in college



The Perkins Home loved visiting Washington, D.C. this summer.


Look what JP reeled in!


It's taco night for Victor and Miguel.


Julio won first place in his obstacle course.


Hard work pays off! We’re so proud of you, Trey.


Jonny and Chad enjoyed their time in Idaho with On River Time.

“For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

PSALM 33:21-22

Items Needed for the Boys' Ranch


Cookie Sheets

Kitchen Trash Bags

Outdoor String Lights


Toilet Paper

Twin XL Boy Comforters


4th - 6th Grade Level Books

Shower Curtain Liners

Laundry & Dishwasher Pods


Please send donated items to:

Big Oak Boys’ Ranch

250 Jake Mintz Road

Gadsden, AL 35905

04. Growing Oak


Growing Oaks Girl Issue 3 2023
GO Placement DT Kayleigh Issue 3 2023

Kayleigh, 17


  • Has lived at Big Oak Girls’ Ranch for four years
    • Lives in the Jernigan Home with houseparents, Doyle and Karen Fletcher
    • Attends Northpark Baptist Church with her family and is involved in student ministries
    • Is a senior at Westbrook Christian School
    • Is on the A/B Honor Roll
    • Enjoys reading novels featuring utopian societies
    • Expresses herself through painting, drawing, and costume make-up
    • Plans to apply to ASCEND after graduation and is interested in the field of computer science



Chaslin & Jasmine are ready to spin!


Meagan & Emma Joy spent the afternoon painting their nails.


Keyara worked hard to prepare for the P21 Rodeo.


Hayden made a new friend this summer.


Congratulations on purchasing your first car, Macey!


Happy birthday Sara Grace!

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89:1

Items Needed for the Girls' Ranch

Persil Detergent

Dishwasher Pods

Kitchen Garbage Bags

Paper Towels

Swiffer Wet Jet & Refills

Laundry Detergent

Toilet Paper

Brooms & Dustpans

Dusters/Refill Packs

Feminine Products

Razors/Shaving Cream

Tooth Paste/ Tooth Brushes

Bath Towel Sets

Dish Towels

Pillows/Pillow Protectors

Twin Sheets

Hobby Lobby Gift Cards

Target Gift Cards (for twin bedding)

Please send donated items to:

Big Oak Girls’ Ranch

6000 Shelley Drive

Springville, AL 35146

05. P21 Rodeo

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Within Big Oak Cattle is P21, an 8-week equine ministry. Led by our Cattle Directors, Drew and Sissy Jackson, this initiative provides opportunity for our boys and girls to discover their capabilities, utilize their gifts, and rebuild their ability to trust through teaching that aligns with the Gospel.

At the end of these 8 weeks, we host the annual P21 Rodeo! During this rodeo, held this year on July 31, our children proudly present all that they have learned. From relay races and obstacle courses, to barrel racing and team penning, we are always impressed with how far they’ve come. It’s a joy to see smiles on the faces of those whose hard work has paid off, and we are immensely grateful for all that God has done within the lives of our children this summer.

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“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests in the Lord.

Proverbs 21:31

06. A Life Changed

Michelle's Story

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In the early 1980s, it was rare that a father would obtain sole custody of a child, much less a baby girl. I was very young when my mother left me with my father. Thankfully, my grandmother stepped in to assist raising me. The majority of my younger years, I lived in the small town of Marshalltown, Iowa. My father was a truck driver at that time and my grandmother often required the aid of family and friends to help with caring for me. We lived in various places, moving often. At the age of 6 or 7, we lived in South Carolina.

My dad worked as a mechanic and I recall rising at dawn to make our lunches and prepare both of us for the day. I was always an hour early to school, and sometimes more, so the janitor would greet me to let me in. After school, I would ride the trolley around town until my father’s shift was over. By this age, I had already established my independence. I had an aunt and uncle in Gadsden that graciously opened their home to me as my father struggled to maintain steady employment or found himself needing professional psychiatric care.

Fast forward a few years, and the lack of consistency and oversight drove me to be an incredibly angry teenager. I rebelled, big time. My school grades were tanking. My attitude was that of a “know-it-all” and I was spiraling out of control. When I was 14, I ran away from home. Once found, I was transferred to a local youth shelter in Gadsden. I stayed there for six weeks, and I wasn’t allowed to be outside as I was a flight risk. Family members pleaded with me to return home. Unbeknownst to me, my family reached out to Big Oak Ranch. I left the shelter in Gadsden, and a police officer escorted me to this unfamiliar place in Springville, Alabama – the Girls' Ranch. The ride in the back of that police car would be the ride that most likely saved my life.

I arrived at the Girls’ Ranch as a scared, broken, and angry teenager. Like many of my ranch brothers and sisters, I had witnessed and experienced more than my fair share of abuse and neglect. Thankfully, that angry teenager didn’t deter Larry and Beverly Elliott. Instead, they accepted the challenge and stood by me as I worked out all my rage. Their go-to for me to remove rage was for me to step outside of our home and scream at the top of my lungs. I am loud, but luckily there were what felt like hundreds of acres surrounding the Girls’ Ranch. Under their care, I began to blossom. My school grades improved, I was able to take part in sports, and I gained confidence. I finally felt safe. I had structure for the first time in my life. These were all the things I longed for.


Michelle and her housesister, Carrie in 1994


Michelle with friends at the 1996 Westbrook Christian School prom

Mom and Dad Elliot taught me how to drive a stick shift and manage money. My Ranch family experienced several vacations such as camping trips, Disney World, Atlanta, and skiing in Colorado. Ultimately, they taught us that hard work pays off.

Thompson Home Trip, 1994, Michelle Fogle, Rachel Fisher, Trinity, Carrie Holley, Bev Elliott


Michelle and her Big Oak family on vacation in 1994

After time, my houseparents were called to serve at another ministry. I truly admired them, and I continue to find happiness in many outdoor activities that I had experienced with them. Through the adjustment of new houseparents, Ranch staff stepped in to our home, helping my Ranch sisters and me. Through this change, my world felt upside-down again, but it really wasn’t. God was speaking all along.

With nearly three years of family devotionals at Big Oak and involvement in church and choir, I was able to better understand God’s love. Witnessing the sacrifice that houseparents make to follow God’s call of serving at Big Oak Ranch is a true testament of that love. Houseparents are heroes to many children, including myself.

Despite having houseparents who showed love, care and concern for me, during my senior year, I found myself discontent and confused about what path to take. Just a few months from high school graduation, my dad moved back to Gadsden and I moved back in with him to finish school there. I was eager to live my life and take on the world. But after only eight months of living with my father, he kicked me out. I was barely 18 and back to being independent and alone, but this time, equipped with life lessons and a clearer understanding of my potential from my time at the Ranch.


Michelle with many of her Big Oak family at the 2022 Family Reunion

The stability, consistency, and accountability from the staff at the Ranch gave me a solid foundation and an example of how good life could be. I credit my success throughout adulthood to my experience at Big Oak. I will forever be grateful that I was given a chance and look forward to seeing how, I too, can serve God and His children through Big Oak Ranch.


Michelle Fogle, Cassie, Charlie, Girls Ranch Lake, 2023 (3)

Michelle with her dogs, Charlie and Cassidy, enjoying a visit out to the Girls' Ranch lake

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”


07. Spotlight



Catherine Brown

Growing up in North Alabama, I had always been aware of Big Oak Ranch. Ten years ago, while traveling close to the Girls’ Ranch in Springville, I decided to make an impromptu visit. It was just me, unannounced, curious about this “home for abused, neglected, and abandoned. children.” In that moment, the words I needed to accurately describe what I was seeing in front of me were immediately unavailable. I felt a “stirring” inside that was foreign. Simply put, I knew this place was special.

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My job for the last 14 years with Crown Financial Ministries gave me the opportunity to teach basic financial management in various environments. I organized small groups in churches, created curriculum and taught within several business and rehabilitation settings. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A close friend contacted me to field a need Big Oak had within its ASCEND support branch in Birmingham, and suddenly, I was reconnected with that unique feeling I’d had years before at the Girls’ Ranch.

We all identify that feeling in our lives with words like purpose, calling and vision. At Big Oak, we refer to it as our “why”. In joining the Ranch as Advancement Director, I’m confirmed in my ‘why’. I’m called to help tell the story of the Ranch and share the need for our children to discover their path to healing, pursue a personal relationship with God, identify their true design and break the generational cycle of neglect, abuse and abandonment.

Years later, I understand that my impromptu visit wasn’t random at all. My path was meant to cross with Big Oak Ranch. I look forward to visiting with many of you through a phone call, coffee, a tour of the Ranch or Big Oak event. We have so much to share about how God is currently moving at Big Oak, as well as life-changing plans for our children’s future!

Plant Today!

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11



Planting Oaks Intensive

We recently hosted 31 individuals with 11 ministries from across the country here at Big Oak Ranch for our Summer Planting Oaks Intensive. As a support branch of Big Oak Ranch, Planting Oaks equips like-minded ministries as they establish Christian homes for abused, neglected and abandoned children. In addition to hearing from our staff on the essentials of starting and carrying out a ministry focused on caring for vulnerable children, they heard from former residents, houseparents, and toured our ranches and facilities. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be used to help equip the Kingdom in this way. Our prayer is that God would strengthen and sustain each of these ministries “for such a time as this."

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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.


Note from the Business Office


 A popular way to transfer IRA assets to a charity is via a tax provision which allows IRA owners who are 70½ or older to direct up to $100,000 per year of their IRA distributions to the charity. The money given to the charity counts toward the donor’s Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), but doesn’t increase the donor’s adjusted gross income (AGI) or generate a tax bill.

 Keeping the donation out of the donor’s AGI is important because doing so (1) helps the donor qualify for other tax breaks (for example, having a lower AGI can reduce the threshold for deducting medical expenses, which are only deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5% of AGI  for 2016 and 10% of AGI thereafter; (2) reduces taxes on the donor’s Social Security benefits, and (3) helps the donor avoid a high-income surcharge for Medicare Part B and Part D premiums.

 Congress made the technique permanent in 2015, and the Ranch is a qualifying charity to receive IRA Charitable Rollover Distributions. Please talk to your Tax Advisor and your IRA Administrator about how to make a simple Charitable Rollover. It’s an easy, tax-wise way to help support our children.


To receive a receipt dated in 2023, your gift must be in the mail and post-marked (US Post Office Postmark) by December 31, 2023.

If you wish to make an honorarium or memorial gift for Christmas and would like for the acknowledgement letter to arrive prior to Christmas Day, the donation and list of individuals you are paying tribute to must be received by our Business Office by December 8, 2023. 

If you are sending an endowment contribution for 2023, please make your gift by December 8, 2023.

If you are planning a gift of marketable securities, please email our Business Office at accounting@bigoak.org for transfer instructions, and provide your name, address, quantity and description of securities you are contributing. Please make your gifts of securities by December 18, 2023. 

If you are planning a non-cash gift, please email our business office at accounting@bigoak.org for IRS Rules. All non-cash gifts must be in our possession by December 18, 2023.

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“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.

Hebrews 10:23