Matching grant program would get S.M.I.L.E.S. needed equipment
Long time SMILES volunteers Dick and Joanie Dutton load therapy horses into a trailer headed for the Walworth County Fairgrounds for the Student Horse Show. Photo submitted.
S.M.I.L.E.S., a therapeutic riding organization, has been awarded a matching challenge grant from the Directors of the Beloit Foundation. The grant, to be met dollar to dollar up to $10,000.00, is to be utilized toward the purchase of a truck and trailer for use in the S.M.I.L.E.S. program, according a news release from the agency.
S.M.I.L.E.S., based in Darien, has provided equine assisted activities and therapies to individuals with special needs for over 28 years. Until this time, staff has relied entirely upon volunteers and the kindness of individuals who were willing to loan their vehicles. These two pieces of horse related equipment (truck and trailer) are essential tools for a farm of 35 acres, and a herd of over 20 therapy horses. Reliable transportation for horses, and the ability to haul equipment, lumber, fencing, and feed are basic needs for the SMILES farm. A truck is necessary when donations of shavings, hay, and equipment are made to the organization. Transportation is necessary during the acquisition of therapy horses prior to their trial period, and transportation is also necessary as horses are retired. Horses are taken off premise to attend events, to promote the program, and to receive urgent, sometimes life saving, medical care. Experiencing time away from the work environment is also critical to the therapy horse's mental health and positive attitude.
The children and adults who are served by the S.M.I.L.E.S. program rely upon their equine partners to assist them in achieving functional goals. Life skills are improved upon through the partnering of horses and special needs riders. Therapy horses are the vehicle by which individuals are motivated, and engaged, while they are working toward individual functional goals. S.M.I.L.E.S. clients will also benefit from the opportunity to compete in events in the community, and to compete in horse shows that are open to the general public.
The Beloit Foundation has been a supporter of the clients and families of S.M.I.L.E.S. for many years. Their matching grant incentive provides 'doubling power' to all contributions designated toward a program owned truck and trailer.
Individuals and organizations who wish to join The Beloit Foundation in supporting S.M.I.L.E.S. can contact S.M.I.L.E.S. at (262) 882-3470. Information on this matching grant challenge can also be found on the organization's website, smilestherapeuticriding.org Please contact S.M.I.L.E.S. by December 31, 2012, to make a gift in support in support of this matching grant opportunity.