Croyle has joy for job at Big Oak Ranch
By By Lisa Tindell
What began in 1974 through the vision of John Croyle has grown into a place of opportunity for hundreds of hurting children.
Croyle, who was guest speaker at Tuesday’s Greater Brewton Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, said he has “the best job in the world” as founder and director of Big Oak Ranch.
Croyle, along with his wife Tee, began Big Oak Ranch that has allowed them to make a difference in the lives of more than 1,500 children.
Croyle has seen his vision of building a facility to house hurting children grow into three facilities that serve that purpose. Big Oak Boys’ Ranch is located in Gadsden, Big Oak Girls’ Ranch is located in Springville; and Westbrook Christian School is located in Rainbow City.
After the birth of the Boys Ranch, Croyle’s vision to begin a Girls’ Ranch came after a court case was brought to his attention in 1988. The case involving Shelley, a 12-year-old girl, centered around charges against her father and mother for physical and sexual abuse. John pleaded with the judge who handled the case to let Shelley live at the Boys’ Ranch, but the judge refused and gave Shelley back to her parents. They beat her to death three months later. Big Oak Girls’ Ranch was built after Croyle answered the call to start a home for girls in Shelley’s memory, he said.
Croyle said all of the children at Big Oak Ranch refer to him as dad and he parents them as if they were his own.
Croyle said the job of parenting the children is one that has given him great joy in his life.
The Big Oak Ranch is a non-profit organization that is funded through support from concerned individuals, corporations and organizations.
There is no federal or state funding involved in the operation of the facilities, Croyle said.
Croyle said he makes sure that children know they are loved when they come to Big Oak Ranch.
For additional information on Big Oak Ranch or to make a contribution, contact them on their Website at www,bigoak.org or by phone at (205) 467-6226.