Spring 2015

Kathy Barton - A Volunteer Since Day One

If you received this newsletter in the mail, it’s because of TEC volunteer Kathy Barton. Kathy is a Blossomland Learning Center teacher and coordinates assembly of these newsletters by Blossomland students. This project teaches students valuable skills such as staying on task, working as a team, and learning an assembly process. Kathy has been involved with TEC since we were just an idea and has helped us build and grow ever since. As you read Kathy's answers to the questions below picture yourself as a TEC volunteer!  To become involved, contact TEC at 269-429-0671 or info@tecfarm.org.  Thanks Kathy for all you give to our riders and the Saddle STARS students! 

Kathy Barton (pictured second from left) has been a vital part of TEC for nine years and was part of forming the Therapeutic Equestrian Center in 2005.

What is your favorite part of being a TEC volunteer? 

“My favorite part of being a volunteer is working with the riders and watching them grow in their skills.  I enjoy shopping for new activities, putting together books for "Saddle STARS", and dreaming up activities such as the "Rodeo" and "Cattle Drive" that involves the students in learning about relationships between riders and horses. I love being involved in the background and putting activities together for the riders and others to enjoy.” 

In all the time you have worked with TEC what moment really made you realize why TEC is so important?

“The smiles on the riders’ faces, the tears in the parents eyes when they see their riders building relationships with the horses and volunteers. The volunteers that smile and shed tears every time a rider improves on a skill or learns something for the first time. And especially the unconditional love that is shared by everyone involved. This is why TEC is so important to everyone involved in this very special program.”

What would you tell anyone who was thinking of volunteering with us?

“Volunteers, please come and share your talents with us, bring your hearts to build relationships with the riders, horses, parents, and other volunteers, and learn how wonderful each and every day can be learning new skills and sharing smiles with others at TEC.”

October 2014

Saturday’s Dynamic Volunteer Duo Rebekah and Krysten! 

For almost three years now the dynamic duo of Rebekah Pruitt and Krysten Watson have made Saturday morning lessons at TEC run smooth and sunny no matter what the weather. The two met at the barn when Rebekah started showing up early to help Krysten with chores and to get the barn ready for the TEC Riders. 

Rebekah, a Kansas girl who came to Coloma when her father accepted a job at a local church, says a love of horses initially brought her to TEC in 2010, but it's the riders who made her stay and always make her day bright. Krysten came to TEC in 2012 while considering going back to school for a PhD. She was Interested in a program that works with music for children with autism and thought volunteering at TEC would be a good learning experience. 

“It ended up becoming so much more!” Krysten explains. “It helped me get a job that I love! Less than a year after I began volunteering at TEC, I applied for a job at the Logan Center's Sonya Ansari Center for Autism in St. Joe. During my interview, I mentioned that I was volunteering at TEC. I discussed some of my experiences and how I responded to them. My interviewer, now my boss, was impressed and now I'm an ABA Therapist!” 

Rebekah says that the most touching part of being at TEC is seeing the amazing difference in riders from the beginning of the session to the end and when they accomplish something that seemed impossible before they started riding at TEC. She also loves that special moment when a rider has bonded with their horse. 

With TEC, not only are the riders building muscle strength, and learning things to help with everyday life, they're building friendships. Where sometimes a parent, teacher, or therapist can't get through, a horse can break down walls and open the door to a child's heart,” she explains. 

Both ladies say that getting up early on Saturdays and getting to the barn gets their weekend off to a worthwhile start. 

For almost three years now the dynamic duo of Rebekah Pruitt and Krysten Watson have made Saturday morning lessons at TEC run smooth and sunny no matter what the weather. The two met at the barn when Rebekah started showing up early to help Krysten with chores and to get the barn ready for the TEC Riders.

Volunteering at TEC is not just a Saturday morning gig for me - it has become an integral part of my life. It is a place that challenges me physically, mentally, and sometimes even emotionally. It is also a place that inspires me through the riders, the volunteers, the staff, the horses, and the experiences held there. I can’t recommend it enough,” says Krysten.

People tell me that volunteering is such a good thing and it's wonderful that I'm willing to spend my time helping others,” adds Rebekah. “But, my secret ... after a long week, TEC is just as much therapy for me as it is for the riders! If you're looking to make the most of your time while doing something worthwhile, come to TEC. There's always a place to help.”

TEC would love to see you at the barn. If you love horses, or want to learn more about them and the work TEC does, e-mail Kelly Hecker Jimmerson at kelly4tec@gmail.com to volunteer.

April 2014

A Love Story … Volunteer Couple & Their Horses

Garth and the other horses at TEC love to see Dottie and Frank Petriko at the barn, because that means they get to eat!  The husband and wife team started volunteering at TEC 5 years ago and rarely miss their Thursday evening chores.  They are the real deal when it comes to reimagining their lives after retirement.  Frank worked for a bank in Chicago and Dottie owned a travel agency.  They moved to Dowagiac and began giving back to the community. 

They learned about TEC from their friend Larry Biesboer, a TEC volunteer.  Dottie and Frank both like horses and they say this is a way for them to do something together.  They also volunteer for Reins of Life another therapeutic riding center in South Bend.  They help with lessons at Reins and at TEC with the behind the scenes chores.  Dottie talks about how they have seen horses motivate children to speak and others who have benefited from the horse’s movement relaxing tight muscles.  Dottie said, “They have seen miracles happen.” 

Dottie fell in her yard last year that resulted in a broken hip.  After taking a break to heal she was right back at doing chores for TEC.  When asked if they have a favorite horse Frank chose Tori because “she’s a sweetie”.  Dottie's favorite is Missy because “she’s a big draft horse”.  Garth being the “chow hound” got in the picture to make sure they don’t forget about him. 

Dottie and Frank in true TEC spirit are quick to compliment the work of all the TEC volunteers.  They appreciate Dan Cholewa who is there every Thursday morning cleaning stalls and feeding the horses with students from Blossomland Learning Center.   “It’s a system that works very well,” shared Dottie and Frank.