horses at Harmony Farms are inspiring, providing hope to troubled and infirm
WATCH: The riders at Harmony Farms range in age from a four-year-old autistic boy to an 87-year-old lady suffering the ravages of stroke. Referred by physicians or therapists, they are coping with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, multiple sclerosis and stroke. This video was produced in 2012.
Harmony Farms utilizes equine-assisted therapy to help both children and adults who suffer from a wide range of cognitive, physical, or emotional conditions, from cerebral palsy to autism.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The pandemic played havoc with all charitable organizations, but for nonprofits such as Harmony Farms, the results were near catastrophic.
Harmony Farms founder and director Pam Rogan spent plenty of sleepless nights during the days of COVID-19, given she had a dozen horses to feed and a mortgage to pay, with no fundraising events possible and no revenue being generated.
“From March of 2020 to August, we were down $48,000 in income,” she said. “It was huge blow.”
Fortunately, to the rescue came come government grants and stimulus help, plus support from the Doug Flutie and the Margaret R. Binz Foundations.
“With their help, we were able to raise $52,000 in December of 2020,” added Rogan.
It was a big help, but Harmony Farms was not out of the woods.
“Last year was harder for us than 2020 because we had no stimulus,” said Rogan.
Harmony Farms tried to resume its therapeutic riding program in September of 2020, but had to cancel lessons due to a dearth of volunteers, the keystone to the program.
“Some volunteers didn’t come back and we didn’t have enough people to do the lessons,” said Rogan.
Harmony Farms utilizes equine-assisted therapy to help both children and adults who suffer from a wide range of cognitive, physical or emotional conditions, from cerebral palsy to autism.
Horses can react to subtle changes in people’s emotions, can sense depression and anxiety and respond to these emotions.
Through horse-based activities, individuals gain self-confidence and reduce anxiety. Research has shown that this type of therapy lowers both stress hormone cortisol and blood pressure, while increasing the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone.
Thankfully, there is harmony again at Harmony Farms can again work miracles with horses as the volunteers return and the number of riders picks up.
“Donations are also picking up again, too,” said Rogan.
The Farms’ signature event, the Buckaroo Ball, is back for its 30th iteration this year. It will be held Saturday, Oct. 1, at Space Coast Convention Center.
Some Harmony Farms volunteers have clocked 15 to 20 years of service to the nonprofit. They returned to their duties as soon as possible, but pandemic still caused a drain in the volunteer pool and more helping hands are needed.
“Harmony Farms would not be possible without volunteers,” said Rogan.
Many riders require three volunteers: a horse leader and two side walkers. Volunteers also groom and saddle horses, exercise them and clean their stalls. Those who prefer indoor settings can help with administrative duties and fundraising events.
Unlike some organizations, Harmony Farms has no minimum time expectations from volunteers. Experience is not needed, either.
“We teach them what they need to know,” said Rogan.
While minimum age for volunteering is 13, there is no limit to maximum age, and some volunteers are enjoying their golden years out in the fresh air helping with the horses. Volunteers can start at any time.
The horses at Harmony Farms are inspiring, providing hope to the troubled and the infirm. They can change lives…and they do.
In addition to volunteers, monetary donations are always welcome and can be made at harmonyfarmsinc.com, where a wish list can also be found. To volunteer, call 321-543-2974 or 321-631-9433.
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