By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
Cameron Bates entered the dining area at Reba’s Ranch House to check on things. As an intern at the house, he was accustomed to making rounds, doing any clean up, and helping guests. But that day was different. A lone woman stood in the kitchen, crying.
Having worked at the ranch house since 2019, Cameron had seen people come in from all walks of life. One thing he learned from his parents: You never know what someone is going through, but you can always pray with them.
Cameron asked the woman if he could help and she told him she was having to let go of her son that day. They talked and prayed, then she gave Cameron a big hug.
“She said, ‘You don’t know how much that helped me,’” Cameron recalls, then added, “When people come here, they have a lot on their shoulders. But at the ranch house, we can stop whatever we’re doing and sit and pray with guests. Prayer is very powerful.”
Joining up with Reba’s Ranch House was a natural fit for Cameron’s life as a college student, despite the two-hour round trip drive he makes to the house from his family’s cattle ranch. Growing up on the ranch, Cameron became a lifelong fan of Reba McEntire. When he received the call that they had accepted him for the intern position at Reba’s Ranch House, he was over the moon.
His official internship ended after graduation, but he just couldn’t leave. Though he had started his own business, Cameron chose to remain with the ranch house part-time.
“When you walk through the door, it feels like home,” he says. “I knew it was a special place from that first time.”
Cameron has a hand in nearly every aspect of the house to keep it feeling like a home — and like hope.
“When the guests come back and forth from the hospital, we know it’s hard for them,” he says. “Anything I can do to make their stay more comfortable, I’ll do it.”
One question he often hears when checking people in at the front desk is, How long do I have?
“Reba McEntire wanted the ranch house set up to allow them to stay as long as their loved one is in the hospital,” he says. “That’s the most beautiful thing. People are travelling from out of state and may have to be here for weeks. I’ve heard of people staying in their cars or sleeping on a park bench. For someone to come here and not have to pay anything, that shocks many people. Reba has put her heart and soul into this place, and being able to work here is a dream come true.”
Reba’s Ranch House is owned and operated by the Texoma Health Foundation. If you would like to become a caregiver of caregivers like Cameron, you can contribute to the house today through donating or volunteering.