For Immediate Release
Shining Hope Farms, Development Director
Shining Hope Farms Receives Grant Award from Disabled Veterans National Foundation
Mt. Holly, NC – May 24, 2022 – Shining Hope Farms is honored to announce it has received a grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) for $10,000, which will fund its Saddles and Salutes program that serves Veterans in the Western Piedmont region of North Carolina through equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT).
Shining Hope Farms’ program has a unique ability to benefit Veterans’ mental health without the perceived mental health stigma that can sometimes be a barrier to seeking services for some Veterans. Additionally, they provide the distinct benefit of offering Veterans either therapeutic horseback riding (which is often perceived as a non-threatening recreational introduction into services) or individual or group mental health counseling to get at mental health impairments on a deeper level. Veterans can choose one or the other, both, or start with one and transition into the other. It allows Shining Hope Farms to meet Veterans where they are at and gently guide them along a path to improved wellness.
The equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) at the core of the Saddles & Salutes program find their success from a number of mechanisms involved in the horse-human interaction. The horse provides a non-threatening, trusting open relationship as the horse is non-judgmental and does not have expectations of the Veteran when connecting with them. Additionally, it is interesting to note that horses, not dissimilar to Veterans in a unit, are herd animals. They also have a hierarchal structure, much like the military. Because horses view humans as herd members, the bonds that are formed can be very beneficial to Veterans.
The horse also provides an increase of physical and cognitive abilities which leads to a strengthening of independence to progress in daily life skills. Horses have been found to reduce anxiety and stress and create a sense of peace and contentment. The program gives the Veteran something to look forward to, provides pleasant experiences, forms new, positive memories as they bond with the horse and an opportunity for camaraderie with other Veterans when in group services.
Milinda Kirkpatrick, Executive Director and founder of Shining Hope Farms said, “We are passionate about using the resources we have available to better the quality of life of the brave men and women who have served our country and their families. Further, we are so excited to build upon the work we have started with Veterans over the past year plus so that we can continue to improve the quality of life of Veterans and their families.”
Joseph VanFonda (USMC Sgt.Maj. Ret.), CEO of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation said, “DVNF is very excited about our partnership with Shining Hop Farms. Here at DVNF we believe in Equine Therapy, horses have been found to reduce anxiety and stress, and this program can be very beneficial for disabled and at-risk veterans.”
After primarily serving individuals with disabilities, including children, Shining Hope Farm began serving Veterans over the past two years after seeing a great need. Shining Hope Farms knew that this was a need that they were largely prepared to fill due to their existing structure serving individuals with disabilities through EAAT. Through extensive fundraising efforts, all services have been provided to Veterans at no cost. What this grant will help provide now is capacity building funding at a critical time when Shining Hope Farm is hoping to expand their program and the results that they have seen so far.
One of Shining Hope Farms’ Veteran participants has said “My family does not suffer when I’m in this program.” This brief sentiment demonstrates just how clearly this program is transforming lives and not just those of the Veterans, but those of their family, and even the community.
About the Disabled Veterans National Foundation:
Disabled Veterans National Foundation exists to provide critically needed support to disabled and at-risk veterans who leave the military wounded—physically or psychologically—after defending our safety and our freedom.
DVNF achieves this mission by:
- Offering direct financial support to veteran organizations that address the unique needs of veterans, and whose missions align with that of DVNF.
- Providing supplemental assistance to homeless and low-income veterans through the Health & Comfort program and various empowerment resources.
- Providing an online resource database that allows veterans to navigate the complex process of seeking benefits that they are entitled to as a result of their military service, as well as additional resources they need.
- Serving as a thought leader on critical policy issues within the veteran community and educating the public accordingly.
About Shining Hope Farms:
Shining Hope Farms is a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to enable children and adults to reach their full potential through the use of equine assisted activities and therapies.
Programs provided include physical, occupational, and speech therapy utilizing equine movement as a treatment strategy called Hippotherapy. Shining Hope Farms is the only facility offering this treatment strategy in the counties that they operate in. Equine assisted mental health counseling is also offered along with therapeutic riding for children and adults including Veterans.
They are a Premier Accredited Center of PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, International) as well as a member of the American Hippotherapy Association. Locations include sites in Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Catawba Counties. Between the three locations there are nearly 30 horses and 50 staff members consisting of occupational and physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, licensed counselors, PATH Intl. certified riding instructors, and administrative staff, plus many wonderful volunteers. Shining Hope Farms is also a GuideStar Exchange Gold participant, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability among nonprofits. For more information, please visit the website at shininghopefarms.org or call 704-827-3788.
Disabled Veterans National Foundation Contact: