So I may have missed #GivingTuesday with this blog, but in the spirit of the season I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on some of the amazing non-profits which I have had the opportunity to be involved with this past year. Any or all of them would be worthy recipients of a seasonal donation, should you be so inclined. Alternatively, choose a group that YOU believe in and support, close to your own home. Donations don’t have to be monetary (though I am sure that is always appreciated)…donations of goods and services often also fill a need. And so many non-profits rely upon the dedication and commitment of good volunteers. Really, there is just no excuse to not get behind a cause that is important to you!
Earlier this year, I wrote a piece for UnTacked magazine about Detroit Horse Power, a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded by David Silver. DHP’s mission seeks to use horses to provide opportunities for Detroit’s underserved youth, and in the long term, to establish an equestrian center within city limits which will provide the residents with a center for community events and equestrian services. The story of the path which led David to the creation of DHP was really inspirational to me; I have so much admiration for people who identify a problem, see a solution, and then actively set themselves on the path to put the plan into action, despite some seemingly insurmountable hurdles. You can read more about Detroit Horse Power here or visit their website at www.detroithorsepower.org.
The United States Pony Club is still a group near and dear to my heart. USPC states as its mission that it “develops character, leadership, confidence and a sense of community in youth through a program that teaches the care of horses and ponies, riding and mounted sports.” USPC is represented by its graduates in many walks of life, from the upper levels of equestrian sport, to related fields such as veterinary medicine, to leadership roles in various equestrian organizations. Perhaps as significantly, USPC graduates cite their experience as Pony Clubbers as being influential in contributing to their success in other, non-equestrian, ventures. Visit www.ponyclub.org to learn more.
The Equine Land Conservation Resource (www.elcr.org) is one of the most organized and effective advocacy groups supporting the cause of equestrian land preservation. Since 2007, the organization has assisted in protecting more than 200,000 acres of land and more than 1,200 miles of trails. They maintain an online resource library, with free information on topics such as conservation tools for horse lands, best management practices, and more. The ELCR keeps tabs on local threats to equestrian access across the country, and helps to provide solid facts and figures to present to key stakeholders. Through their partnership with My Horse University, the ELCR provides free webinars on topics such as manure management, developing a private trail system, and more. As a community, we MUST be attentive to the long term management of public and private lands which allow equestrian use. We can all list places where we used to ride; once equestrians have lost access, it almost never returns.
Just recently, I had the chance to write a Charity Spotlight on the Standardbred Retirement Foundation for an upcoming issue of UnTacked. This group was founded in 1989 by two women closely affiliated with the Standardbred racing industry, and since its inception they have helped to place over one hundred horses per year. As with many racehorses, some animals are left with injuries and other limitations which make them unsuitable as riding horses; the SRF will retain ownership of these animals and provides them with care for the rest of their lives. The organization remains involved with all of the horses which it places, requiring twice yearly follow ups on the animal’s health and well-being, signed by the owner’s veterinarian. In addition to saving literally thousands of horses in its twenty six year existence, the SRF has assisted with programs for at-risk youth, exposing them to the sweet, gentle personalities of the Standardbred horse. Executive director Judith Bokman commented in her interview with me that their limiting factor, always, is funding. With more funding, they could take in more horses and expand their youth programming. To learn more, visit www.adoptahorse.org.
Finally, an introduction to All Better Pets, a Manchester, NH, based nonprofit with the mission of providing care to abandoned and homeless pets. This organization is affiliated with the Center for Advanced Veterinary Care, a small animal emergency and referral hospital. Many of the animals which come to the clinic are in need of medical attention for treatable conditions; without intervention, however, euthanasia would be the only option. Since 2010, the organization has helped over 200 animals get well and find new homes, and has provided assistance to hundreds of others through affiliations with other groups. I am a little partial to All Better Pets because my cat, Nieva (nee Willow) is an alum. She is pretty much perfect. Visit www.allbetterpets.org to learn more.
These are just five worthy organizations for your consideration this holiday season. Please comment with information about YOUR non-profit organization of choice. Even small donations add up, and in this season of giving please do not forget to consider the importance of supporting the efforts of these grassroots groups.