Horsing around: the fun side of giving back

Hope Serves creates an opportunity for friends, acquaintances and strangers alike to come together to connect with the greater Holland community. Hope Serves, through the administration of Volunteer Services, offers students the choice to sign up individually at a site that interests them or with a group they are involved with on campus. Student Activities Committee (SAC) spent the morning at Renew Therapeutic Riding Center, just one of fourteen total sites that were offered.

As one of the SAC directors, I’ll admit I was nervous what our members would think about us dragging them out to a barn on a Saturday morning in the snow. I should have known better than to underestimate their positivity. We were greeted with enthusiasm by Melissa Conner, the Executive Director, and Kelly Leikert, the Volunteer Coordinator, and our group shot that enthusiasm right back. Even while stacking hay, our group laughed at silly puns and challenged one another to create the fastest assembly line. In between jobs, we were able to sneak outside to talk to and pet the horses, and, if we were lucky, snap a selfie with one of them. Our timing worked out well, as we volunteered just two days before their winter season would begin, and we left feeling like we had not only gotten them where they hoped to be, but also bonded as a team.

The Renew Therapeutic Riding Center focuses on the plethora of positive impacts that horse riding has the ability to provide individuals with, both physical and mental. Riders are encouraged to look past their fears, disabilities or other hindrances. Dreaming and reaching for the stars are among important philosophies they adhere to. The non-profit organization willingly accepts volunteers to fulfill tasks such as assisting riders during lessons, carrying out necessary barn duties and lovingly caring for the horses. The beautiful creatures have many wonderful things to offer. Posture can be improved during riding and comfort can arise due to the motion of the activity.

For more information about programs and volunteering, visit their website at renewtrc.org.

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