With the successful completion of the first full year of operation of the nonprofit Springy Pond Farm Hippotherapy and Alternative Education Center in Otis, owner Jennifer Cammack said she has learned a great deal, not only about what this opportunity means to those with special needs, but also how she has to go about fundraising to ensure the program continues.
For example, she told me last year she and her mother did all the planning, organizing, cooking, setting up, serving, running and cleaning up for the annual Springy Pond Farm auction, and that was just too much work.
“We held it at Peakes Hill Lodge in Dedham, and I just didn’t realize how much work that would be,” she said of having to bring everything in and then take it all out.
So this year Jennifer looked about for a new site, and she is thrilled with what she found.
The Springy Pond Farm Chinese Auction Fundraiser is slated for 5-8 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Hollywood Slots in Bangor.
Admission is free; cocktails and a dinner buffet are available if you wish; and, after the auction, attendees can enjoy the music of Motor Booty Affair, which will be appearing at Hollywood Slots.
The beauty of holding this benefit at this site, Jennifer said, is that it is equally available to those who make plans to attend the fundraiser as well as those who happen to be at Hollywood Slots in the first place.
So, if you are there Saturday night, be sure to ask for the Springy Pond Farm suite and check out this auction where you will have the opportunity to win, among other things, a kayak, a Matagamon Wilderness getaway weekend in the Katahdin region, massages, and home and garden items.
Springy Pond Farm served 15 children with special needs last year, and Jennifer’s hope is to serve at least 20 children this year.
As she looked at fundraising issues, Jennifer said she decided that rather than concentrate on fundraising for the facility and program, she would focus on raising money for tuition so special needs families can take advantage of this opportunity.
In a recent email to supporters, Jennifer expressed her gratitude to everyone who “believed in us and supported our mission to help make Springy Pond a reality.”
She noted that “the joys of watching” campers “on the farm, connecting with horses and nature as a means to improve their abilities to play, learn, develop and grow, was an amazing and rewarding experience.”
And that is why she wants to help parents who can’t afford lessons, to supplement partial payments and-or help those whose insurance doesn’t cover such services.
In her email, Jennifer also thanked Springy Pond Farm volunteers, those who donated goods and services for the auction, those who attended any of its fundraisers or who made private donations to the organization.
Watching my daughter grow up with horses made me realize what a special bond can be formed between such a large and powerful animal and a child or, in the case of Springy Pond Farm, between a horse and child with special needs.
Such children may have “happily uttered a new word, found a way to pay attention” to his or her reading lesson, or “experienced friendship while being carried and nurtured” by his or her equine friend, Jennifer wrote.
“These gifts produce lifelong skills and comfort that last long after” their visits.
Jennifer has plans for other fundraisers that are both practical and fun.
She asks Otis area residents to watch for the Springy Pond Farm trailer that soon will be located near the Otis town office to receive returnables, and hopes some folks will want to check out Horse Patty Bingo on June 18 where they can buy a square of spray-painted pasture for $20, select a time in a square and hope a horse drops a “patty” on the chosen square at the appropriate time, or sign up for Paddle for Pennies on July 2 on Beech Hill Pond.
“We had a great year for our first year, although we’re growing very slowly with this economy,” Jennifer said.
“As a nonprofit, we’ve gotten no money from grants, so that is why we’re putting all our fundraising toward scholarships. I think that is really the way to go.”
Serving an area from Ellsworth to Hampden and beyond, Jennifer tries to get the word out through her Facebook page and other media outlets.
Springy Pond Farm’s mission is “to provide therapy and learning that is fun, meaningful, motivating and rewarding by engaging with animals, nature and purposeful activities.”
The program’s mission includes supporting “the journey of every learner with an individualized, holistic and measurable approach.”
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.