By: Monique Dennis Photo by: Rachel Benavides
Upon hearing the name Agape Ranch, your first thoughts might be images of vast, open land, beautiful horses, and an assortment of other ranch animals – that’s what I thought, but I could not have been more wrong. Agape Ranch holds a vision, mission, and purpose that far surpass the idea of being a home for animals. The Ranch, Agape Ranch’s new land, is transforming into a sanctuary for foster children and adoptive families. Many children are removed from their homes and the families they know due to abuse, abandonment, or neglect. This is when the need for a foster family arises.
The population of foster youth in the Coastal Bend is continually growing. Unfortunately, due to the lack of foster homes, more than 60 percent of foster children in the Coastal Bend are being placed outside our area, and the children are often separated from their siblings. Plus, children “age out” of the foster care system upon turning 18, which has led to more than 90 percent of these young adults becoming homeless, incarcerated, lured into sex work, trafficked, or dead within three years of being aged out of foster care. These heartbreaking statistics led Susan and Tim Klaus to found the Agape Ranch with the vision that “Every child will experience unconditional love and understand his or her value.”
After sitting down with Community Relations Coordinator Shannon Murphy, we learned all about the background of The Ranch, and what plans are in store for the land and the foster families who will live on it. The land was donated in 2016 by the Meaney family, after they heard Susan’s idea of wanting to build a neighborhood that would keep foster siblings together and help guide the older children aging out of the system while they pursue college or a trade school career.
Groundbreaking for the first foster home began in January 2021, and Murphy happily announced the first family will be moving in this summer. The first foster home was funded with grants from the Moody Foundation, the Blanche Davis Moore Foundation, The Dewbre Family, Chick-Fil-A of the Coastal Bend, and the incredible contributions from Agape Ranch supporters. Thanks to continuous support and generosity of their contributors, Agape Ranch has brought The Ranch project to fruition. They have hopes to break ground on house number two this fall.
The Ranch is planned to include up to 24 homes, playgrounds, walking paths, and a community center. Currently, the 501(c)3 charitable organization is fundraising for a home for youth aging out of foster care and a home that will house respite care providers – who are an important aspect of the ranch, as they provide temporary relief for the foster families.
Murphy said Agape Ranch seeks to break the cycle of broken children by providing compassionate care and connections within the community, and giving them a place to call home with families who offer unconditional love through The Ranch. The Ranch is a neighborhood that will provide a safe environment where foster children can mature in all aspects of their lives. This is the first neighborhood of its kind in the Coastal Bend, and they hope to make the community more aware and more involved with the needs of foster care youth.
5151 Flynn Pkwy Suite 106
agaperanch.org | 361.742.6330