Alum Oversees Growth at Boys Ranch Town

Oklahoma Baptist University alum Michael Williams left Bison Hill with a passion to make a difference. Through a unique career opportunity, he was able to become a significant member for the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children organization.

Williams graduated from OBU in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in special education. After attending OBU Graduate School, he graduated in 2008 with an MBA. Coming from Guymon, Okla., he has committed himself to the campus of Boys Ranch Town in Edmond, Okla. Williams joins the facility's mission to "help children become capable, caring, Christian adults by sharing Christ's love and providing hope and homes for children."

Located on SE 33rd Street since 1953, Boys Ranch Town is home to 44. The boys live in cottages with house parents and attend Edmond Public Schools. They also help care for the ranch's livestock, including horses, camels, goats and sheep. With Williams' help, the facility is expanding its program for older residents to better prepare them for adult life.

"OBU played a vital role in directing me to Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (OBHC)," Williams said. "I felt like I had the best professors in the world. They took an interest in my life and were always available to help."

Williams said he originally chose a career in education because he thought it would be fun to go to a third-world country to build schools and start new education programs. He said he had not given much thought to doing the same thing in Oklahoma, mostly because he didn't know about the Boys Ranch Town program. After meeting Scott Conrad, the assistant administrator for Boys Ranch Town, he became excited about the opportunity and accepted the position as caseworker for the Residential Care Program and director of Transitional Living Services.

"My responsibilities are to oversee the admission and dismissal of residents at Boys Ranch Town and to oversee the building of a new facility," he said. "I work with the builders and other OBHC employees to ensure the building will meet all state expectations and requirements."

Michael Williams (second from left), a caseworker for Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children's Boys Ranch Town, discusses the construction of a new transitional living facility with some of the program's older residents. Williams, who is coordinating the effort, is a graduate of OBU's undergraduate and graduate programs. (Photo by Melissa Brown, Brown House Photography. Used with permission.)

Silverstone Homes is building a new transitional living center for Boys Ranch Town at no cost to the organization. The program, coordinated by Williams, will provide the opportunity for four residents, along with the help of a mentor, to learn the responsibilities of living on their own as they transition from high school to college or technical school. Currently under construction, the completed center will consist of two 1,400 square-foot homes. The three-bedroom homes will include a washer and dryer, a full kitchen and large family room.

Williams said the facility was made possible by the vision and planning of Tony Kennedy, OBHC president; Tandy James, executive vice president; Rod Phillips, vice president of programs and campus administrator; and Brent Thackerson, administrator of Boys Ranch Town.

Without the leaders and Silverstone Homes, "this project would not have happened," Williams said. "They have provided valuable and knowledgeable insight regarding this project. Each one of them had toapprove of the project and believe that it will work before we could even break ground on it."

Williams said he enjoys his work at Boys Ranch Town and hopes to enhance the program for more children, giving them a voice in the growth at the facility. He will have been with this program for six years in June. He credits the OBU Graduate School's MBA business project with providing legs to his planning for the new facility.

"I am doing exactly what I love to do," Williams said. "I love creating, developing and implementing new ideas and programs. I want more than anything for this program to allow youth the opportunity to learn how to become a capable adult as they transition from childhood to adulthood."