Steve Finn didn’t always know that he would end up in West Virginia. He began his youth service passion during his 11-year term as a police officer in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time, he watched countless young people make decisions that would either end or significantly alter their young lives. This experience drove Steve and his wife, Dawn, to say “What if?” and begin their journey to building the ranch.
On the Positively West Virginia Podcast, hosted by Jim Matuga, recent guest Steve Finn describes his journey to building Chestnut Mountain Ranch – a Christ-centered boy’s rehabilitation, healing and learning facility just outside of Morgantown, West Virginia.
In 2005, Steve and Dawn packed their Suburban full of kids and headed to West Virginia to find the gorgeous 225 acres of land that would become Chestnut Mountain Ranch. However, the Finn’s didn’t just pull their knowledge from thin air; they did their research. Steve and Dawn spent years attending similar organizations and learning from those who had established youth facilities. Their time in Atlanta had also given them a steady network of entrepreneurs who have helped them along the way with logistics and brainstorming. They took the lessons from those who had come before them to start developing their own system of healing.
The beginning of their journey was not easy, but they pushed forward. Steve claims that the days with only $25 to their name made them stronger. The family attributes their success in developing the ranch to God and the blessings he provides.
“If God is in it, he’s in it. If he provides, we’ll hit the gas, and if he doesn’t, we’ll wait.”
Steve’s passion for helping young people proved to be enough to get the ranch off the ground and has continued to fuel a successful endeavor.
Today, boys from all walks of life and difficulties can come to Chestnut Mountain Ranch to seek guidance, education and healing. The Ranch gives these young men a chance to reestablish their love for learning and teaches them a whole new range of skills. The boys can work on the ranch at The Ranch Quiklube or at The Ranch Thrift Store. They also learn outdoor skills like hunting, fly fishing and hiking to take with them for the rest of their lives.
While the ranch is Christ-centered, the Finns don’t force-feed religion to the boys who come and stay. The family is very open and celebratory of the gifts they have received from God and will teach the boys as much as they can about the word of God as long as they are willing.
“We can only bandage these wounds, but we firmly believe that it is only Christ who can heal these wounds.”
The average stay for each boy is roughly two years, and every other weekend they get to go home to visit with their family. Steve refers to family weekends as “Game Days” in which the boys get to practice the skills and behaviors they’ve learned during their stay at the ranch. Steve believes that family relationships are vital in a person’s life, so he makes a point to instill this in the boys.
If you are interested in supporting the Chestnut Mountain Ranch, you can stop by the thrift store for a shopping trip or the Quiklube for a fast and professional oil change.
Steve said, “The most important thing you could do for us is to pray.”
If you are interested in learning more about Chestnut Mountain Ranch, you can check out their website at www.CMRWV.org and stay tuned for the release of Steve’s newest book, Ranch Boys, coming soon.
Listen to Steve’s full podcast episode here.
PWV QUICK BITS | STEVE FINN
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: The Church
- RECOMMENDED BOOK: Visionary by Andy Stanley
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “I firmly believe the most dangerous thing in our house is not the gun on top of our fridge; it’s the easy chair in the living room. We’ve got to get up and move,” advised Steve.