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2016 Chairman’s Report for SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program, Inc. At Spirit, our mission is supposed to be about our clients. However, as each of you know, anyone who has been touched by SPIRIT’s activities in the last decade, from volunteers and staff to donors and parents, has experienced some healing of the mind, body and spirit. It’s a blessing and we’d be amiss if we didn’t start by acknowledging our donors, without whose contributions SPIRIT’s mission is not achievable. So thank you for the time, talent, and treasure you so generously provide! Thank you Patty and Huey Sullivan for your generous contributions and unflagging efforts which paved the way for SPIRIT to move forward with operations at Frying Pan Farm Park and to pursue the purchase of a home of our own. Thanks to you, we are going to be located on park property and will continue providing services at excellent equestrian facilities. Other initiatives the SPIRIT team will continue include developing a military veterans program, providing continuing education opportunities for volunteers and staff, and improving fundraising strategies to cover livestock needs and program costs. Whether you are a long-time supporter or a new friend to the program, I invite you to reflect on the year we’ve just completed. 2016 got off on the wrong foot, Dada’s to be specific. Dada was physically out of commission with her broken leg, yet she demonstrated impressive leadership by organizing winter and spring therapeutic riding sessions and EAL activities from home. Extraordinary dedication from office and program staff and volunteers also allowed our clients to get the service they so look forward to each week. Publicity served a particularly important role throughout the year. Public Relations lead Laura Welsh established contact with many local media outlets. Several television stations ran the SPIRIT story. We were able to get our message out there through feature stories on our horse and rider partnerships and their families. With the help of friends throughout the community, we’ve been able to communicate our mission as well as the crisis we faced due to the sudden and unexpected termination of our lease. Our newsletter updates thousands of readers about our activities and events throughout the year. Public presentations to a variety of audiences have been instrumental to our efforts to recruit volunteers, generate interest among potential clients, form partnerships, and cultivate a donor base. Of course, horses are a crucial component of any equine-assisted activity! SPIRIT provides a safe, humane, and sustainable way to keep horses in the urban atmosphere of Fairfax County. In early January, the second of two rescue horses, Sadie, arrived at the farm, bringing our equine staff roster to 14! Each member of our herd is an integral part of the success of the programs SPIRIT offers. In addition to regular riding sessions and EAL activities, spring and summer weather allows us to get an amazing amount of work done around the farm! Several volunteer groups came in to help with field work, construction, painting, and general maintenance. Volunteer groups always seem to enjoy working on the farm! They become advocates of our


mission and appreciate the chance to do some hands-on work while admiring the herd and giving them lots of attention. Summer day camps are a big hit for little children, and provide EALs and Assistants extra opportunities at the farm. Toward the end of summer, we all said goodbye to the first generation of assistant instructors and welcomed the new. With Dada back at the farm, autumn’s activities were full-steam ahead! The season brought with it one of our favorite events, the Ride for SPIRIT. At this show, everybody was able to celebrate the accomplishments of our riders and the progress they’d made throughout the year. In October, SPIRIT hosted an OK Corral event for the staff to gain working knowledge about integrating our EAA programs with military veteran clients. SPIRIT participated in a community fundraiser hosted by Giving Circle of Hope. We hope to continue this relationship which may lead to partnerships with other Fairfax County nonprofits in the future. Just as we entered our busiest time of year, the winter holidays, SPIRIT was blindsided with an unexpected lease termination notice – 45 days to vacate the animals and all equipment from the West Ox Rd property. Former clients, families of students, volunteers old and new showed up on 10 consecutive weekends to help move equipment, fencing, mats, office supplies and carriages. Somehow, as we gather at this annual meeting today, we’ve made the impossible happen. Your support allows over 300 clients to enjoy many events throughout the year. In 2017, let us build on the strength and momentum we found in 2016. All of us know what we can do when we have to. This year let’s see what we can do because we want to. Let’s aim higher, together. Looking ahead… Our 2017 Goals ● Balance the herd with new acquisitions that match program needs ● Hold 2 major fundraisers ● Develop and grow new programs dedicated to groups in need within our community


Chairman's report 2016