Archive for the ‘Disability’ category

Horses and Health

March 13th, 2008

Due to my personal fund raising commitments this year, the staff here at my organization probably feels like hiding under their desks when they see me coming. You see, this is the year that we did a feasibility study to decide if we will have enough community support to raise needed funds to construct expanded emergency and obstetrics facilities and to provide WMC with a reserve for the future. That effort will be made public in a very few weeks.

The reason for their angst, has been that, for whatever reason, this is the year that their boss, me, has been solicited to solicit contributions for numerous other organizations in the area. As a board member for the Keystone Chapter of the American Red Cross, we worked with a tremendous group of local leaders, including our Congressman Jack Murtha, who helped us conduct a successful $300+K campaign that literally gave that organization new life.

Then we were approached by the Boy Scouts of America for their annual dinner to help generate enough cash to support their efforts as well. Over $110,000 was raised for that effort, the results of which will ensure the continued growth of the Penns Woods Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Next, came the Girl Scouts of Talus Rock; that project is currently underway and hopefully, will produce the needed funds for expansion and growth. Oh, yeah, and the Winter Jazz Concert is coming up, too. Finally, this is the tenth anniversary of the Arcadia Performing Arts Theater, and that place surely needs to be endowed with a reserve fund that will ensure its continued success.

Several years ago one of our employees explained philanthropy to me in this way. Each one of us have several pockets, and each pocket can represent our varied fund raising interests. In the spirit of giving, it is clear to us that, if you like the organization, believe in the mission or, for whatever reason, care about the vision provided by the board or the leadership involved, you make your decision to give or not to give.

When my own mother passed away, we discovered that, although her pensions amounted to less than half of the average salary in our area —which is about $10,000 less than the average U.S. salary, she was donating at least 50% of that money to organizations in which she believed. So, here’s one more worthy cause.

A few years ago, a wonderful, caring, local physician approached us regarding children at risk. During the numerous meetings that we held, we discovered the incredible healing qualities that equestrian therapies can provide. Yesterday, this topic was reintroduced by a dedicated, committed physician, Dr. Deb Baceski. She met with me to discuss the Somerset Therapeutic Association for Riders, S.T.A.R. located on the web at STA4R.org. According to their website, “Established in 1995, STAR has been providing safe, closely supervised riding lessons to physically and/or mentally challenged children.” It goes on to explain that; “In a typical training session, a handicapped child is helped to mount a carefully trained horse, and is then escorted on a ride for twenty minutes by three volunteers . . . ”

Star4org_1_3

One of the challenges that STAR is facing right now is that of the sometimes brutal winter weather that residents of this area have grown to know and “?” love. Dr. Baceski approached us for assistance in a program that she calls, The HORSE POWER Project. This project involves constructing an indoor riding arena so that the free therapy provided through this program is not interrupted by frost bite.

Although my organization is also quietly involved in soliciting assistance in our own expansion needs, this horse power project is not financially overpowering. The volunteer Physical Therapists, Physician Assistants, Teachers and Physicians who enable this empowering, socializing, learning program to go on for those individuals isolated by their disabilities, can’t do it alone.

So, take a look at sta4r.org, and, if you personally believe in this volunteer effort, or if you know of someone who could help them network their way to an enclosed arena, we invite you to show your support. Their address is 305 Highpoint Drive Somerset, PA 814-445-4909. Give if you want, but at least talk to someone who might.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”
—Helen Keller

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