History of Shining Hope Farms
Welcome to Shining Hope Farms!
Shining Hope Farms was founded in 2002 by Paul and Milinda Kirkpatrick in response to the needs in the community to provide therapeutic services in an enriching farm environment. The purpose of the farms’ services is to improve the quality of life of the participants as well as their families. Shining Hope Farms’ programs have been structured to serve individuals and groups with a variety of disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Down’s Syndrome, Developmental Disabilities, Brain Injuries, Hypotomia, and the like. Our clients find wellness, strength, and hope on the back of a horse.
How Shining Hope Farms Started
Founder and Executive Director Milinda Kirkpatrick’s life experience seemed to unknowingly prepare her for Starting Shining Hope Farms long before it was a reality. Growing up she owned a horse, which she used for delivering newspapers in Charlotte. She also had a Dad and later on a nephew with disabilities.
When her children were small they became interested in horses and they ended up volunteering at a Charlotte nonprofit that was considering offering therapeutic horseback riding. Despite the fact that she was previously unfamiliar with therapeutic riding, she felt her life experiences leading up to this point had prepared her to help this type of program get started.
After becoming a certified riding instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Riding, Intl., she was able to get a small pilot program off the ground and was astounded with the results she was seeing. Unfortunately, not too long after the pilot program took off, the founders of the nonprofit where the program resided, abruptly announced that they would be moving and the nonprofit would be shutting its doors. Not wanting to abandon the families in the program, Milinda and her family put their Charlotte home on the market and started looking for an equestrian site where they could found a new nonprofit to serve the families. They eventually bought a dilapidated foreclosure in Mt. Holly that had a barn and stables, albeit ones in desperate need of repair.
Shining Hope Farms, as it came to be known, was officially incorporated in 2002 and over the next few years the Kirkpatrick family worked tirelessly to renovate the property. They were encouraged by the fact that the Gaston County community welcomed them with opened arms, evident through physical and monetary help that they received including grants from the Community Foundation of Gaston County and the Glenn Foundation. To mention all the churches, businesses, individuals, schools, colleges, and civic organizations that have contributed to the success of the farm would be never-ending, but Shining Hope Farms is so grateful to them. A second farm (located in Charlotte), which was generously purchased by an anonymous benefactor followed in 2010. The same benefactor purchased Shining Hope Farms’ third location in Conover, which opened in 2017.