Jerry and I got involved with Hope Retreat Ranch in the spring of 2016.
The fact that we would be offering a service to those with disabilities caught my attention since I am the guardian of a brother who has special needs.
I have wanted to move back down to Oklahoma from Kansas for a long time and I feel that God had a hand in this. Each time we would come down to visit Jason and Brandi, it was harder to leave after being around the horses. They continued to share with us what all was happening here and ask that we move down to help them. Since Jerry and I were both semi-retired and only worked Tuesday through Thursday in Wichita, we pulled our camper down and would leave Thursday after work and drive down to Choctaw and help out then Monday late afternoon, we sadly drove back up to Wichita to put in our 3 days and come back down. After 2 years of this, God once again opened the door for us to move down here full time and we haven’t regretted it one bit.
I am the Volunteer Coordinator, which includes meeting new people who have shown an interest in volunteering and visiting with them, getting to know what type of volunteering they are interested in doing. This is the fun part, in meeting new people. I have come out of my shell and this is just what I needed after moving down here. We have an orientation class for those that are interested in our therapeutic sessions with the horses before they start, which explains the responsibilities of the positions they will take part in.
Motivation comes easy when you witness the joy and smiles on the participant’s faces. We have wonderful volunteers that are just like family to us and they get so connected to the riders as well. It is the opportunity to serve the community that I get a blessing from.
To me, the most important thing about HR Ranch is a place where one can come and feel safe and walk around the grounds and enjoy the openness, the peace and quiet that the ranch offers, as well as being around nature. Who wouldn’t want that!
I love helping out wherever I can and I truly know that God opened this door for Jerry and me to give back to bless others as He has blessed us. We felt that even though we are retired, we still had something to give.
Currently, HR Ranch has had weddings, family reunions, birthday parties, organizations that use our facilities for meetings, schools use us as a place for students to gain volunteer hours and help those needing some special help before entering the workforce to come out and work with others. What I would like to see is churches using our facility for retreats, schools using it for retreats or team building, and the community to stand behind us and see what a great local facility they have here in Choctaw.
Long term for the facility is to have an indoor arena that no matter what the weather is like outside, the sessions can go on. It breaks one’s heart to see the participants ride for the last time for the season. We could also use it for other functions for the community.
I think of the verse in Hebrews 10:24 that tells us ‘Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds’. What a wonderful opportunity to do that with not only the volunteers but with the families that share their children with us to help them and love on.
I hear people say that as soon as they drive across the cattle guard when they come in, they can feel something at the ranch that is different. It makes the busyness of life take a back seat to the relaxing aura that they feel here. That makes it worth every minute I am here! I have made some very special friends so far while I am here.
I am involved in Eastern Oklahoma County Resource Center in serving the needy in this area. I am also involved in a home church that serves to help others that may be down on their luck.
For those that are looking to just volunteer in some way, whether it be with our equine program, helping with the maintenance around the ranch, in working to keep our grounds looking pretty with flowers and decor, you can find a resting place here that will serve your needs. It has been said, that ‘once a person places their feet on the grounds here, they will be back’ because they fall in love with the ranch. God is definitely working in, around and through us. What joy!!!