Shining Hope Farms Receives Support From the Unifour Foundation Endowment, a Fund of The North Carolina Community Foundation

Jun 9, 2023 | News, Press Releases

News Release:
For Immediate Release




CONOVER, NC (June 9, 2023) – Shining Hope Farms is pleased to announce that it has received a $5,000 grant from the Unifour Foundation Endowment, a fund with the North Carolina Community Foundation. The endowment promotes general welfare among citizens in the four North Carolina counties that comprise the Unifour area: Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba.


The Unifour Foundation Inc. was created in 1996 with the proceeds from the sale of the Hickory Merchants Association’s credit reporting company to Equifax, and the Unifour Foundation Endowment Fund was then established with the North Carolina Community Foundation in 1998. Since 1999, the Unifour Foundation Endowment has awarded more than $5 million in grants.


This grant of $5,000 will be used to expand Shining Hope Farms’ mental health counseling program at their Conover location. The counseling is unique in that it utilizes equine assisted psychotherapy (EAP) to address a client’s psychotherapy goals. This approach is successful in reaching patients who have not been compatible with traditional therapy but still have unmet needs. It’s also an important service for complex, often resistant patients and their families who are at a loss for where to turn.


Shining Hope Farms serves individuals of all ages including families and Veterans, many who contact Shining Hope Farms are looking for an alternative therapy option than what they have tried previously. Others have complex situations and many are verbally resistant, meaning they are not eager to talk during a therapy session. All of these situations lend themselves perfectly to the unique approach of EAP where the equine is utilized in the session as a biofeedback machine as an equine’s prey nature makes them intensely sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment, namely the demeanor of the patient. This is a successful approach for these patients because EAP is less direct, non-threatening (like only communicating with a therapist may be), and requires communication. It also provides immediate feedback to the patient leading to swift introspection and often immediate adjustment.


Shining Hope Farms’ Executive Director Milinda Kirkpatrick points out, “Unfortunately, insurance reimbursements only cover a small portion of what it costs to run the program, which is why the funding is so vital. We designed our program this way because we strive to make our program financially accessible and equitable to everyone in need of services.” She continued, “That’s why I am immensely grateful to the Unifour Foundation for their generous grant. Thanks to this invaluable support, we can extend our reach to countless families in need, ensuring that vital services are accessible and affordable, even for low-income individuals. Together, we are fostering a brighter future for mental health, empowering those who seek healing and hope.”


“We are so pleased to provide this grant to Shining Hope Farms and provide mental health support to our community,” said Tamara Coley, president of the board of advisors of the Unifour Foundation Endowment.



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 Charlotte, Mt. Holly, and Conover, NC. Between the three locations there are 30+ horses and 50+ staff members consisting of occupational and physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, 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 or call 704-827-3788.

Media Contact:

Patrice Gibson, Development Director, (813) 597-9178,

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