Our family includes my husband, our son, Nolan, our twin girls, Addison and Bella and myself. All three of our children are adopted. Nolan was born in Nepal, and came home in February of 2008 at 18 months. Our twins had made the long journey from Bulgaria to our home in Atlanta, just short of 4 years of age, in September of 2010.
I recall a Saturday in spring of 2011, when our family headed out of the house to a local bowling alley for some fun. After getting our shoes and selecting the perfect ball, we made our way to the lane to engage in a little healthy family competition.
Within minutes Addison had broken down, paralyzed by fear and sobbing uncontrollably. She wanted nothing to do with this new game or this new environment. She wanted to return to the comfort of the home she had known the last six months and she had no desire to deviate from the stable routine of her day.
This bowling adventure was just one of MANY stories we experienced those first few years. Our daughter struggled to connect with people she didn’t know, places she wasn’t familiar with…any new experience.
A counselor suggested equine therapy. I mentioned it to my husband and before long he had her enrolled in lessons at a local stable. I dreaded the day we would have to force her to get on a horse. I pondered how long it would take her to become comfortable with the horse and the stables.
To our surprise she met Buddy, and fell in love! This sweet child who struggled to become comfortable with her own two feet on the ground, displayed a confidence and joy on the back of Buddy. Something we had not seen prior to this encounter. Bareback, backwards…it didn’t matter, Addison was at peace and we were astonished.
The seed was planted in our hearts and before long, we knew where The Lord was guiding us. He brought our love for children, for animals and for the mountains together for His glory.
MEET THE MENTORS
Greg Verrier is a mentor and Co-Director of 51:10 Youth Ranch. Greg and his wife, Elsa, are the founders of 51:10. Greg is the father of three wonderful children, Nolan, Bella, and Addison. He has a big heart for kids. He has been small group youth leader and youth hockey and soccer coach. He has served in the children’s ministry at Valley Fellowship Church in Buena Vista. He is currently a youth soccer coach and member of the BVYSA board. Greg also has a Master’s in Biblical Counseling.
Elsa Verrier is a mentor and Co-Director at 51:10. Elsa has a deep love for both children and animals. She has been rescuing animals as long as she can remember. During her undergrad, Elsa interned at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, a residential treatment center for ‘at-risk’ children. During her tenure as an HR Director at Home Depot, Elsa initiated a career mentorship program for Wellspring Living, which pours into girls rescued from trafficking.
Anneliese DeKam is a mentor and Ranch Manager for 51:10. Anne recently moved to Buena Vista, CO after spending last winter serving refugees in Greece with YWAM. Originally from Muskegon, MI, Anne has always had a heart for God, children and horses. It has always been her dream to work at a ranch combining these passions. She has served children as a camp counselor, soccer/basketball coach and through youth ministries.
MaryKate Coleman is a mentor and Program Manager for 51:10. Most recently, MaryKate was a para-pro at Buena Vista High School. She has worked as an Applied Behavior Analysis Therapist and a horse wrangler with Young Life Camps. She is pursuing her certification for PATH. MaryKate is the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Cornerstone church, coaches BVHS cheerleading and serves as a Young Life leader.
King David (aka King) comes to us from Rome, Georgia. He is a Quarter Horse gelding. He was a champion show horse whose injuries ended his career. Deemed not good enough to show, he was redeemed by 51:10. He is our gentle giant.
Mary Magdalene, a.k.a. Maggie Mae, came to the ranch severely underweight. She had suffered abandonment heartbreak, due to the separation from her best friend and pasture mate. She nearly starved herself to death. She found the courage in her pain to survive and thrive. She is a loving horse that bonds so deeply.
Sugar is a Painted Horse, also from Kingston, Georgia, who spent many years working with children. 51:10 is her new retirement home. She is adjusting well to her new setting.
Poe is a 9-year-old gelded male. He was donated to 51:10 by a local organization that rescued him a few years ago from neglect and starvation. He is thriving now and we are happy to report that the assimilation to our herd went well.
Doc (Luke the Physician) is a 23-year-old Quarter Horse/ Morgan mix. Â He was donated by a friend of 51:10 and was a trail horse at Frontier Ranch. Â He has assimilated well into the herd and is enjoying his new assignment.
Buddy is a 25-year-old black Quarter Horse. Â He is a wise, old friendly soul. Â He has assimilated into the herd, he prefers to hang on the edges, letting the others do their thing, while he does his own thing.
Rahab (Ray) is a 15-year-old white and brown paint. She was the stablemate of Buddy and they came to 51:10 together. She had very little interaction with horses outside of Buddy, but has come to be the “social butterfly” of the herd.
Our two miniature donkeys, Paco and Taco, while mischievous, bring much joy to the ranch. They have yet to meet someone they do not like, fully living out, “Love your Neighbor.”
Greg and Elsa Verrier are the adoptive parents of three incredible children—Nolan Michael, Addison Grace and Bella Hope.
Greg has an undergrad in accounting and a Master’s in finace and has spent the bulk of his career in corporate accounting and finance before becoming director at 51:10 Youth Ranch. His passion has been mentoring boys through small groups, counseling and serving through the church. He has a Master’s degree in Biblical Counseling.
Elsa spent 20 years in corporate Human Resources. Her undergrad is in Psychology and she has spent years volunteering with a residential treatment center for children and working with sexually trafficked young girls. Both have a shared heart for God, for people and for animals.
Jim Fletcher currently serves with his wife as a house parent for Eagle Ranch. Prior to serving at Eagle Ranch Jim was President of Pasley-Fletcher Funeral Home, a Church Deacon, Bank Director and Past President of the Upson County Chamber of Commerce. He also served in the U.S. Navy retiring as a Commander in 2004. Jim and his wife Jana currently reside in Flowery Branch, GA and have four children.
Julie Robinson is a retiree from Frontier Airlines and the United States Postal Service. In addition to sitting on the board for 51:10 Youth Ranch, she is currently on the Recreation Advisory Board for the Town of Buena Vista and the Rodeo Board. Julie and her husband George live in Buena Vista, CO and are the parents of two children and three grandchildren.
Jacob Clode is the Regional Director of California for an electrical contractor. He and his wife Rachel grew up in Michigan, both attending the University of Michigan. Jacob has served in numerous capacities at the churches he’s attended including small group leader and coordinating global missions. Jacob and his wife Rachel reside in San Jose, California with their dog Frida.
Beau Bufton is originally from Atlanta, Ga., graduated from Baylor University, and now resides in Castle Rock, CO. with his wife, Liz, and 1 year old son, Braylon. He is CEO of Church.Org, a Christian media company, which focuses on technology to connect people to Jesus. He is also President of the Church.org Foundation, which focuses on helping non-profits raise money and awareness using technology. Beau loves to fly airplanes, play basketball, hike, and snow ski with his family in his free time.