To celebrate our 10 year anniversary, we wanted to say a huge thankyou to everyone that has journeyed with us and supported us over this time ..... and what a great way to do this, was our 10-year anniversary celebration. Over 100 guests came to the barn to celebrate with us, and Benji our very first mini pony greeted them all at the barn door.
The sun came out for us, and an evening of memories, laughter and heart felt thankyous was on the menu, as well as a delicious spit roast lamb.
The scene was set in the barn, fully decorated with balloons, banners and around the
walls were posters of wonderful feedback as to the impact Hope Rising Farm makes to individuals, their family, school and community.
Rachel Ralph, founder kicked off the formal part of the evening giving an overview of
how the idea for HRF first started. The nugget was knowing how the outdoors and
animals can soften the most harden hearts, and she knew this was the way into helping people. "Ten years ago, I dreamed of a large arena as a space to serve more participants, and an indoor space so programmes could be run during the winter and it's amazing that we are almost there".
"From the bottom of my heart thankyou to everybody for your support and coming this evening, we even have people from Whangarei"
Rachel finished on an amazing story of a little withdrawn boy, sitting in a circle with some other children, head down and not engaged. Our miniature pony called Maxi wandered over to him, nuzzled him, inviting him to gently scratch his neck. Within a few seconds Maxi broke through to his heart, and they set off for a walk enthusiastically at Rachels invitation. Maxi gave him permission to be a little boy and learn some great life skills.
A break from formalities, gave everyone time to feast on the lamb-spit barbecue. The firepit outside proved a popular meeting place, and plenty of games to keep the kids occupied.
We then regrouped for questions to our panel of mentors, volunteers and sponsors, some key questions about the Charity and what really happens on the farm.
Eve Cunnane, Programme Manager, her passion for the programme comes out in her enthusiasm, and she had more stories to tell than time allowed. She shared a story of a participant she worked with that was struggling and then a year later seeing her absolutory flourishing, this was definitely a memory Eve will keep in her heart.
A comment from Eve, made it very real she said
"We are often the last resort - their last hope".
After our participants have tried more mainstream support systems, they find HRF can be more experiential and an open, safe place where individual needs can be prioritsed. . We have found this alternative experience has been more successful with so many young people that need our help.
Keisha Gilling a Hope Hands Volunteer explained the joy she has at Hope Rising farm with the variation in tasks, the lovely horses and the team she clearly adores. All her siblings have been supporters and as she said "it was now her turn".
Wayne Clarke a supporter from Mt View Charitable Trust explained the Trust looks for projects for helping youth, and also looks for partners that are resourceful in themselves, for example finding materials, rfinding a willing fencer or digger driver, not sitting back and just waiting for Trust money, before they do anything. Wayne was asked for his advice for the next 10 years he said..
"Make sure you have a succession plan in place, so new young people come into the team and learn from the old and bring in new ideas."
Rachel thanked each of our panelists for their contribution to the evening.
Alan Kuyper, Operation Manager,
outlined the next projects for the farm which
included sand for the arena, an office area, wash bay and yards for the horses. Alan said
"The team are fantastic they don't need me to motivate them the roles and work are self-motivating, and we see the difference we make every single day".
Steve Senn, Chairman, joined Alan and told everyone how he got involved in the project, by seeing how much the system fails some of our youth especially here in Huntly and Ngāruawāhia.
Rounding off the end of the evening with the cake cutting, and with all formalities wrapped up, more eating and drinking took place, it was the best evening with great company, great food, great stories and lots and lots of laughter.
Thank you to all these people for helping to make the event such a success.
Maria Cleland for organising the event.
Rosie Cleland for managing Benji introductions.
Astra Patmore MC for the evening.
Michael for the background guitar music
Graeme and Russell for cooking a delicious spit roast
Raj & Sharon for donating the buns
Sheryl and Vicki for making our yummy coleslaw
Colette and Emma for your amazing help overseeing the food and kitchen help
Jeremy and team for parking
Eve, Keisha and Wayne for our panel
The HRF Board for all their support and help