Over 32,000 volunteer service hours were logged in by nearly 350 volunteers participating in the EQUUS Foundation's Champions program during 2015. The program is made possible by Ariat International. In honor of their service, 20 volunteers were selected in 2015 to receive $250 gift certificates for Ariat boots. Why does volunteering really matter? Read the stories below of the five 4th quarter 2015 Ariat gift card recipients.
When BriAnn Wassman, the volunteer supervisor at Ride On St. Louis (ROSL), learned that Ken Schatz was selected as a recipient, she commented, "We are so excited for Ken, he has been a core volunteer with ROSL for a number of years and definitely deserves this award and recognition." But, there was more to the story. She went on to share that the ROSL facility had been evacuated on Sunday, December 27, 2015, due to extreme flooding of the Mississippi River.
All the ROSL volunteers and staff went into high gear packing and removing everything from the furniture to hay to indoor arena footing. ROSL's nine horses were safely relocated to Eastland Farm in Millstadt, Illinois.
BriAnn said, "We are doing our best to operate as usual. It is heart-wrenching to see our facility in this condition. We are hoping to have things in working order by the start of our spring session in March." The EQUUS Foundation donated $500 to Ride On St. Louis to help support the organization through this difficult time. Learn more about the ROSL emergency relief effort here.
Ride On St. Louis (ROSL)
Ken Schatz is a St. Louis native whose professional career spanned 40+ years in the banking and securities industry. "When I retired five years ago, my intention was to play golf and dabble in thoroughbreds," said Ken Schatz, "but my daughter thought I would be bored so she referred me to ROSL. And as they say, the rest is history!
"At ROSL I try to be of as much help as possible doing small odd jobs, sidewalking, leading and whatever else I can help with. Volunteering has allowed me to meet and make friendships with some great people, have the experience of working with some incredible kids and see the strength of the parents of these children. Seeing the smiles on the children's faces will melt any man's heart. I feel it is my privilege to have this opportunity."
Emily Baker is a 13-year-old Honor Roll student who, in her free time, enjoys riding Saddle Seat. Her love for horses began when she started reading books about them.
Emily has been volunteering at Horsepower for the past three years, logging nearly 450 hours. While not old enough to be an assistant or leader for the classes, Emily stays busy preparing the horses by getting them groomed and tacked. She also helps feed the horses their grain along with mucking their stalls.
Parkwood Farms Therapy Center
Ginger has been volunteering at Parkwood Farms Therapy Center for the past seven years. "Therapy horses are special," said Ginger, "special to the volunteers who work with them and special to the students who ride them and interact with them. To be a part of the relationship between rider and therapy horse is an amazing experience and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with the wonderful students and the amazing horses at Parkwood Farms Therapy Center."
Special Equestrians (SE)
"Horses were a part of my teenage life in England, and I knew that I wanted to be around them in my retirement," said Judith Kirby. "I learned of SE from a neighbor whose daughter has been in their therapeutic riding program for many years.
Judith's volunteer activities involve grooming and tacking up the horses for lessons, mentoring new volunteers and helping with some lessons (plus of course good old mucking out duties). "Who would think one could be so happy getting dirty, hot and sweaty!"
Shortly after joining SE and having seen the special horses at work, she realized that after a 40+ year hiatus she wanted to ride again. Judith currently participates in the Silver Saddles program riding Bear, a 19-year-old Haflinger. "Knowing these horses are safe with their younger students gives confidence to a senior who definitely needs to stay aboard!"
"When the staff thank me for volunteering, I wonder who's getting the best end of the deal. I derive so much enjoyment from being around horses it doesn't seem like work at all."
Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center (CTRC)
Staci has been volunteering at CTRC for over six years as a horse leader and sidewalker. "I just wanted to be around horses," she said, "but I quickly fell in love with the people as well." Staci's experiences there led her to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy and works in home health as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. She recently completed courses in Hippotherapy, and hopes to incorporate horses into her practice.
The EQUUS Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity established in 2002, also known as Horse Charities of America, is dedicated to improving the quality of life of horses, enabling the therapeutic use of horses for those in need, fostering the horse-human bond, and educating the public about the horse's unique ability to empower, teach and heal. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Contact the EQUUS Foundation, Inc., at 168 Long Lots Road, Westport, CT 06880, Tele: 203-259-1550, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: www.equusfoundation.org.
Ariat International, Inc. is the leading manufacturer of innovative performance equestrian footwear, apparel and belts. Featuring a patented technology designed to deliver stability, durability and comfort, Ariat pioneered the application of advanced athletic shoe technology into English riding boots and authentic Western boots. Ariat products are sold in a network of retail outlets throughout the world. For more information about Ariat products or for the Ariat retailer nearest you, contact Ariat at 800.899.8141 or visit www.ariat.com.