Newy Scruggs, NBCDFW.com
In the heart of the tough neighborhood of South Fort Worth sits HOPE Farm. The "Helping Other People Excel" program is trying to keep father-less boys away from gangs, drugs, and crime. This is achieved by exposing the students to positive role models, education and spiritual growth.
"We wanted to focus on particularly boys who are being raised by a single mom," said Gary Randle, founder. "So we understood the fact that we had to get them early. Because at the age of ten most kids personality, their direction and their ideals have already been cemented."
After getting a Strong commitment from the single mothers or grandmothers, Randle put his educational program into play. The boys arrive at HOPE Farm after 3pm each weekday. Before they are allowed to participate in classes or activities with their fellow students they must meet with Randle who can be a little intimidating considering he is 6' 8" tall.
Each student presents Randle with their progress book, discusses their day at home and at school, during what you could call an accountability meeting. Randle doesn't pull any punches, he gives the good with the band and never forgets to let the boys know they are loved often ending each meeting with a simple hug and fist pump. "We have a high academic standard. We have a high personal responsibility standard and a high exposure rate," said Randle.
The boys aren't just confined to the classroom doing coursework. They also take field trips. There is a new piano lab for the boys made possible because of a gift from TCU football coach Gary Patterson's Foundation. "It's irreplaceable to have a Gary Randle in somebody's life. To know that they care, but to have tough love." said Patterson.
Becky Ringer lead the charge to get the pianos, "We've had piano classes each week. This summer we were able to offer piano lessons to all the boys. This fall we are working out class schedules so that we are able to reach 24 boys during the fall and 24 boys during the spring," said Ringer, Teacher. "We are planning a Christmas recital. We are planning a Christmas concert with the choir."
HOPE Farm doesn't accept any government funding. It's total operations costs come from gifts and donations. Former NBA All Star Mark Aguirre wrote a check for $10 thousand dollars to build an on-site basketball court.
PGA golfers have become friends of HOPE Farm. Justin Leonard, Anthony Kim, and KJ Choi are a few who have given. Ben Crane and his wife have given over a million dollar. And 1996 PGA Champion Mark Brooks had a special gift, "On Christmas Day we got a phone call and it said, 'Is this Gary Randle of HOPE Farm?' I said 'yes' he said 'well this is Mark Brooks and I'm buying you a van.' I said 'excuse me?' he said 'I'm buying you a van because you need one' and Mark Brooks drove in a new Ford 15-passenger van and he handed me the keys," said Randle.
Golf has long been a associated with the rich and elite, and it may seem an unlikely partnership but the money keeps coming. "These golfers got exposed to what we do and they understand the significance of what we do and so they contribute to support the changes we're making in the life of these boys," said Randle.
"What's incredible about this place is I meet very young boys at HOPE Farm but I also know the older boys who've graduated from high school, who are in college and a lot of them have come back to work for HOPE Farm and work with the younger boys," said Ringer. "And I see what kind of men they have become."
Randle was a college basketball player who said he came to TCU in 1975 with the expectations of playing in the NBA after graduation like his older brother Bob Rule. But instead he took a different path and is leaving a lasting impression at HOPE Farm.
More: Hope Farm, Inc.
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