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Make A Difference – Great Local Volunteer Opportunity

Make A Difference – Great Local Volunteer Opportunity

Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center Needs You!

Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Kingsport TN

Before T was to begin his eighth-grade year, we had a decision to make about his service opportunities. We had narrowed the field down to three opportunities. Ultimately, he decided he wanted to give Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center a try first. The idea was that he would commit to a few months and if he felt that it wasn’t a good fit, we would move on to one of the other service opportunities we had discovered. Well, it is now four months later and there is to be no turning back. He loves volunteering at the stables and continued even after our homeschool year began opting for late school days so he could help out at the stables.

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It feels good to work hard for a good cause.

Let me confess I have a purpose with this post other than sharing this part of our Homeschool journey.  I wanted to let you all know that Small Miracles is in need of volunteers now. If you have a teen with as little as 45 minutes a day free they could be making a big difference at Small Miracles. I have interviewed T below so that you can get a feel for what it is to be a volunteer at Small Miracles from the perspective of someone who is doing it every week.  I have also interviewed Sherri Russel, Executive/Program Director to give you a feel for what they offer at Small Miracles and how they are improving the quality of life for so many people every day.

This organization is impossible not to fall in love with. The programs they offer to those in need are unique and productive.

A Quick Review of the Program’s Your Volunteering Will Assist and Empower

  • Small Miracle’s Therapeutic Horsemanship Program offers equine-assisted activities for the purpose of contributing positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of individuals with special needs.
  • HOPE Connection Program (Horses Opening Pathways to Engagement), under Therapeutic  Horsemanship, provides opportunities for social engagement, relationship building, sensory integration, and academic skills for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Delay, or Sensory Processing Disorders.
  • The Friends Program is specifically geared to help adolescents and young adults move forward in life – providing skills to help them transition from one life situation or developmental stage to the next.
  • Their Positive Youth Development Program strengthens and enhances the personal development of children and youth by providing pro-social, leadership, and work/college-readiness skills gained through experiences and interactions with horses. Small Miracles horses instill hope and resilience in children who have experienced difficult and traumatic situations.
  • Their Heroes Empower Heroes Program promotes the self-sufficiency and emotional well-being of military veterans. It’s an empowering program that focuses on awareness of living in the moment while moving forward in life.

What To Expect As A Volunteer at Small Miracles

  • Expect to make a big difference in the lives of those in need.
  • Expect to fall in love with the horses. You won’t be able to help it.
  • No experience is necessary so be prepared to be trained.
  • As little as 45 minutes a day is all you need to give to make a difference but longer shifts are available. T offers three hours a week.
  • Expect to feel good about making a difference.
  • Expect to work hard and to learn a lot.
I have often said there's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse. - Ronald Reagan

If you are unable to Volunteer time you can still help out Small Miracles.

  • Small Miracles Fundraiser NUTS FOR SMALL MIRACLES is going on now. Click here to learn more.
  • Order your Christmas tree or a wreath from Small Miracles! Learn more here!
  • Small Miracles sponsors many events including a Pie In the Sky, Let Miracles Fly Event, an Unmounted Rodeo, A Silent Auction and more. Click here to stay informed on upcoming events.
  • Make a Donation to sponsor a student or class, a horse, goods, and services or more. To learn more about making a donation click here.

Open Volunteer Opportunities

  • Monday: Program Support 9:30 am – 11:00 am
                    Sidewalker 4:45 – 5:15 
  • Tuesday: Sidewalker 4:00 – 4:30
  • Thursday: Program Support 10:30 – 12:00
                      Leader 4:15 – 5:00
  • Any Day: Barn Worker
The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and freedom. - Sharon Ralls Lemon

My Interview With T About His Experience Volunteering at Small Miracles

Can you tell me why you choose to Volunteer at Small Miracles?

Because it is a good cause. I enjoy being able to help.

What is the best part of being a volunteer at Small Miracles?

It is fun and it feels good to work hard for something that you believe in.

What would you say to other teens considering volunteering at the stables?

Do it! We need help. You will get a great sense of accomplishment. We really, really need help! I am happy to work as hard as I can but we still need a lot of help! We need volunteers. The most important time is in the morning. The horses are hungry.

What has volunteering at the stables taught you?

How to work with horses. I have learned how to clean up after the horses, feed the horses, walk the horses, I rake the arena, (it’s kind of like a giant Zen Garden – relaxing). I bring the horses hay and I love riding around in the Gator. After that, I sometimes clean the feeding bins. I sweep the floor. Sometimes, I get to groom the horses. I have learned from the Farrier too. He showed me all of his equipment, the tools he uses, and I watched him clean and trim their hoofs.

Did you have any experience working with horses before you began volunteering at Small Miracles?

I had been around horses but didn’t really know how to care for them. I just rode them around.

What type of skills do you think a good volunteer should have?

Being able to work hard. Being able to follow directions. They teach you everything else.

How has Small Miracles affected your life personally?

It gives me a sense of pride in what I do. I’m happy that I can help.

Why did you choose to stay on as a volunteer throughout the school year, even knowing that your school day would end much later?

As long as I get my school work done, it doesn’t matter to me if I have a late day. As long as I am doing well in school, I don’t mind ending late. It’s worth it to me. Also, it is really fun working at the stables.

Do you have a favorite horse?

Key! He is a gentle giant.

Tell me about Sherri and JR?

Sherri is very nice and she also works alongside you. She always will help you out. You don’t have to be scared to ask for help. Sherri also encourages me a lot.

JR is fun to be around. I like the way JR sees things. He really cares about his job. He is a great person.

In a few words tell me why Small Miracles is such an important part of the Tri-Cities Community?

It’s good to help the kids with disabilities, at-risk youth, and the vets. It’s good to get them out there and give them something positive to do.

Small Miracles Team

Interview with Sherri Russell – Executive/Program Director at Small Miracles

Could you tell us about why you began volunteering at Small Miracles and a little about your time with this organization?

I started my journey @ SM as a Volunteer in 2007 to see if I wanted to pursue becoming a Certified PATH Instructor after retiring from a 25 yr nursing career. In November 2007 I began the Certification process and became an Instructor in February 2008 and came on Staff @ SM immediately as an Instructor then one month later God had a sense of humor and afforded me the opportunity add Program Director to my current title; in 2013 God challenged me again to grow “walking by faith  and not by sight” as Executive/Program Director of SM. 

What guidance or encouragement would you offer to teens considering volunteering at Small Miracles?

Be willing to try something new by learning how equine-assisted activities and therapies serve the Special Needs and Disability Community, be open to accepting someone different than you are and help them by participating in lessons. If you love animals or want to pursue a career in the animal industry or one day would like to own a horse volunteer on our Barn Team and learn how to speak horse and care for our Miracles Herd. 

In what ways have you seen teen volunteers benefit by their experiences at the stables?

Many Volunteers have chosen their college/career path by participating in the SM Volunteer program. Some have learned valuable Life Lessons through interaction and mentoring by the Human & Horse SM Staff; as well as social-emotional development, work/college readiness skills. And for some Volunteers, they have experienced unconditional love, acceptance and a sense of belonging in today’s troubled confusing world.

What encouragement or advice would you offer the parent of potential teen volunteers? 

To encourage their child to reach out into their Community by Volunteering in Lessons or on the Barn Team learning the importance of Servant Leadership, and advocating for those with Special Needs and disabilities. To stick with it persevere & endure as a Volunteer as you get dirty, sweaty or cold and stretched out of your comfort zone; however, you will be rewarded in the end! 

Can you tell us in one or two sentences what Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center represents to you personally?

SM is my passion and God-given ministry that has allowed me to live out my dreams and desires to empower the Special Needs, disability, and Military Veteran Community to live out their God-assigned purpose; Psalm 139. I have a younger sister, Mia with Down Syndrome and my Father served in the Army & Merchant Marines during WWII and the Korean War – so the SM mission will always be personal.

Visit Small Miracles Website to learn more about this life-changing organization! Click here to learn more about getting started as a Volunteer with Small Miracles! This is your chance to make a big difference!

Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

1026 Rock Springs Drive
Kingsport, Tennessee 37664


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