“Horses are good for the soul,” says Faith Bjalobok, PH.D., who serves on the board of directors at the nonprofit Save A Horse Stables equine sanctuary in Rogersville. Save A Horse, a safe haven for more than 50 mostly rescued horses, was awarded the second Cindy’s Wind grant of $500 to help launch their “Flicka” pilot program which will provide equine bonding experiences for domestic violence victims.
Cindy’s Wind grants are awarded twice a year for projects that benefit women and girls. The “field of interest” fund is operated by the Community Foundation of Greene County, where the board of directors select the award recipients based on grant applications from nonprofits.
The Flicka Project is believed to be the first of its kind in Greene County and comes from Mary O’Hara’s 1941 classic novel, “My Friend Flicka,” about a young, awkward boy who bonds with a horse, which in turn helps him bond with his strict father, according to Bjalobok, who wrote the grant proposal.
Stable owner Darlene Moore and her board members, are always seeking out more ways to connect with people, including a successful Open House on the farm held in October, and similar events.
For awhile now, Bjalobok said, they’ve been researching equine therapy programs for people “who are marginalized.” That is, people with disabilities, veterans with such conditions as PTSD, and abuse victims. However, the liability insurance and other costs of such a sweeping effort has been prohibitive.
When Moore learned about the Cindy’s Wind grants, it occurred to her that starting out smaller might be the way to find out if such a program is feasible. So they chose to serve Domestic Violence victims in a pilot program. “There’s a ton of literature that the supports equine bonding for victims of abuse,” said Bjalobok, who teaches classes at Duquesne and Waynesburg University, and who has been active with animal causes most of her life. Moore gave a presentation about Flicka to the Community Foundation Board.
Bettie Stammerjohn, Executive Director of the Community Foundation, said, “The board was really impressed with this project, working with women who have experienced abuse, to expose them to horse therapy. Equine therapy is a growing field.” Several organizations submitted worthy projects, Stammerjohn said, but Flicka “seemed to be the best fit.”
The grant will be used to offset the liability insurance costs. Cindy’s Wind Fund donor Cindy Bailey, said, “I am delighted that Save a Horse can use this grant to provide such a positive experience for women who have been through catastrophic experiences. This is exactly the type of project I had in mind when Bettie helped me set up this fund.”
Moore said Save A Horse will work with organizations that serve domestic violence victims to select women to participate. “They will have an opportunity to just bond with the horses,” Moore said, “feeding and caring for them. Horses respond to people. If you’re upset, they will put their head around you and nudge you.” Only the most docile horses will be selected for this program.
“The stable will provide domestic violence victims a safe haven where they can come to experience the benefits of equine therapy, such as building self-esteem and eliminating insecurity and anxiety,” Bjalobok wrote in her grant proposal. Eventually, they hope to include other people who could benefit from the program.
The Cindy’s Wind Grant Fund was established in honor of Bailey’s two grown daughters and comes from her column of the same name about family life. Published continuously since the early 90s, Cindy’s Wind has appeared in various venues, including Christian magazines, church newsletters, the Tribune-Review, and this newspaper, both in print and online (See Cindy’s Wind on Facebook) The first award was selected last spring and was given to the Bird Sisters House, a halfway-style home for women in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.
“With this being only the second grant to be awarded, the Cindy’s Wind Fund has already exceeded my expectations,” Bailey said.
CFGC is accepting new grant requests for the next Cindy’s Wind Fund. Proposals for projects under this fund will be accepted June 1st and October 1st as part of CFGC’s Community Grants cycle application process. Projects may be proposed by 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, including schools/educational institutions, government agencies, and faith-based/church organizations (church related projects must be non-sectarian.) The application form and proposal guidelines are available on the CFGC website, www.cfgcpa.org.
The Community Foundation of Greene County (CFGC) is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2000 whose purpose is to serve the needs and philanthropic aims of donors who wish to better their community, both now and in the future. CFGC currently manages $4 million in assets through more than 65 different funds.
For more information about the Flicka Project contact:Save a Horse Stable Inc., 165 Lightner Run Road, Sycamore PA 15364; phone:724-499-5709, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Cindy’s Wind Fund contact CFGC, 108 East High Street, Waynesburg, PA 15370; Phone: 724-627-2010; or email: email@example.com