UpReach's therapeutic ways a simple case of ‘horse sense’
“We didn’t know what was taking shape,” Whitney said. Once the riding center was established and the regular riding lessons at the indoor ring ended, the two signed on as volunteers.
“I got kind of caught up in it and I’ve been involved ever since,” Whitney said.
Whitney and her daughter, Meredith, continue to volunteer at UpReach, helping the center live out its mission, which is to improve the development of challenged children and adults through progressive therapies, especially those centered around the horse.
What started with one borrowed horse and a volunteer has grown into an organization that now sees 120 volunteers a week and 300 volunteers annually, take care of 14 horses, three ponies and 65 participants, said Barbara Miles, the center’s director of development.
UpReach is also an accredited as an approved diversion program for first-time, low-risk offenders.
Miles credits much of the success with what she calls “the power of the horse.”
“It really is the horse who gives courage, heals people and builds confidence in people,” said Miles. “The horse has the power to give people both confidence and humility.”
Client Nicole Tucker can attest to that power.
Now 22, Tucker, who is affected by several medical issues, has been with the center since she was 4.
“I am differently abled in many ways, physically, developmentally, emotionally,” Tucker said. “But at the barn, there is no judgment.”
When Tucker began riding, she needed a volunteer on each side of her, as well as one to lead the horse.
Last year, she was able to jump a horse on her own.
“I never thought in all my years that I would ever jump a horse,” she said. “That is a day I’ll never forget.”
When Tucker is plagued by medical setbacks — she’s had 10 surgeries in her lifetime — she said the UpReach staff continually works with her to get her back to where she was.
“They are so supportive and understanding,” she said.
Those that support the center will have an opportunity to reflect on its 20 years of success at the Diamonds and Denim Gala, to be held at the Manchester Country Club on October 26.
The “cocktail party with a purpose” will feature a silent auction, music by the Bedford Youth Performing Center Jazz Ensemble and Pony Express, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
Miles is hoping to raise $10,000 through the silent auction.
Whitney plans on attending the gala, and reflected on her 20 years of volunteering with UpReach.
“I couldn’t imagine not doing it,” she said. “It’s been a crazy journey, but well worth it.”
Tickets for the gala are $40, and are available until Oct. 14.
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Kathy Remillard may be reached at email@example.com.
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