Derek Cribbs – 1990-1996
Derek Cribbs came from a rough family situation in Palatka, Florida. He went to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch for the first time when he was in 3rd grade. “Mom was on her third marriage at the time and she was involved with drugs,” recalls Derek. “It was a good time for me to leave.” Derek stayed at the Ranch for two years until his mother pulled him out. With Derek and his younger sister in tow, their mother left town. After about a year, they landed back in Palatka. “We were living with my grandparents in a small, single-wide trailer,” says Derek. “It seemed like everybody was fighting everybody about everything, so I asked to go back to the Ranch.” This time, Derek stayed at the Ranch for three years. Again, his mother pulled him out and, again, the home situation was as unstable as ever. Luckily, the Bailey family of Palatka knew and loved Derek, and took him in until he graduated from high school. “The Baileys had been my babysitters when I was about two years old,” says Derek. “He was in law enforcement and she was a nurse. They are fine people.”
Within days of graduating from Palatka High School in 1998, Derek joined the Navy. During the past fifteen years, the Navy has been home for the former Ranch boy. Derek has excelled, being commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer and earning a mechanical engineering degree at Old Dominion University. A devoted husband and father, Lt. Derek Cribbs serves as Fire Control Officer, with a staff of about thirty aboard the U.S.S. Vicksburg, a Navy cruiser stationed at Mayport.
“The military was a good fit for me,” Derek says. “Like Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, it has structure, with defined duties and responsibilities. I can thank the Ranch for teaching me about a strong work ethic and goal-setting. It was the only stability I had in my life until the Bailey family took me in, and even through high school, I had difficulty separating myself from my biological mother’s way of doing things. My younger sister never had the opportunity to go to the Ranch and she’s in prison right now. She’s been in some bad places and I might have been in those same situations.”
Although he has been highly successful at overcoming the challenges of his childhood, Derek is humbly grateful to the people who helped him along the way. “Looking at my family situation, I could be in jail today, but instead, I’m a leader of men,” says Derek. “It’s actually possible down the road that I might be a commanding officer, but I don’t take it for granted. I know how crucial a good work ethic is – regardless of what your position is in the workforce. If it hadn’t been for the amazing qualities I learned at the Ranch, I would never have gotten where I am.”
As a family man, Derek now looks at his wife and young children and remembers the loving, home-like atmosphere provided by his Boeing Cottage parents, the Delottes, who also gave him his first taste of faith in God. “I’ve had a jaded history with religion over the years, but now my wife and I want a relationship with Jesus for our family. It was instilled in me at the Ranch.”
As a boy, Derek’s world was filled with turmoil; a confusing unstable life where it seemed like “everybody was fighting everybody about everything.” Rodeheaver Boys Ranch gave him an anchor in the midst of a turbulent sea of trouble. Today, nearly three decades since he first stepped foot on the Ranch, Derek Cribbs is convinced the Ranch was the best thing that ever happened to him. There are future leaders at the Ranch today who, like Derek, need the structure, stability and compassion to grow up healthy and strong. Won’t you help keep Rodeheaver Boys Ranch afloat by contributing to the food, clothing, education and spiritual growth of these future leaders? They will thank you now and pay it forward when they achieve their goals.