What a crazy few months we’ve all endured. They say (whoever “they” is!) that something good tends to come from difficult times.
“After rain there’s a rainbow”.
Thank you so much for your continued support! Although Main Stay’s annual gala was cancelled, we are so grateful for the generous outpouring of support from sponsors and donors who still chose to send in a gift. It helped provide uninterrupted care for the animals and the farm during a challenging time. We are also filled with gratitude for the generosity of so many during the GivingTuesdayNow drive. Those funds came at just the right time to assist us with reopening costs (cleaning supplies, masks, gloves, extra tack and equipment so that we didn’t have to wash everything after every use).
It’s been truly remarkable to see the creativity and adaptability of the Main Stay staff during the past couple of months. Even with the farm being closed due to the shelter-in-place mandate, the staff found ways to continue to reach out to clients so they could still feel a connection to the farm. They created virtual experiences that we sent out multiple times a week that included exercises and meditations with the animals, book readings, and behind the scenes with the vet, etc. We are also providing animal-assisted e-learning sessions for McHenry High School’s Special Education summer school program. This week’s theme was “Create your Own Adventure” and had students sharing their creative writing skills. After watching the little herd of animals frolic around the arena via Zoom, Raniah, one of the students wrote, “Raniah and a baby goat sat together as she fed him a warm bottle of milk on the most caring loving, supportive farm”. Proof that whether they are here in person or virtually, our students still feel the impact of the animals and farm.
Last week the therapeutic riding program resumed. Both riders and volunteers are so excited to be back at the farm! Riders are returning in phases starting with those who require minimal physical support. Phase I riders must wear a mask and be able to understand social distancing. We have developed a comprehensive risk management plan which includes taking daily temperatures of staff, volunteers and clients along with extensive daily cleaning and sanitizing of the equipment and facility in order to minimize the spread of the virus. Depending on how the virus statistics trend as the summer progresses, we hope to be able to bring back the next phase of riders in early August.
Main Stay’s animal-assisted learning and adaptive gardening programs will continue throughout the summer with virtual sessions for Rosecrance, Lake County Mental Health Department, McHenry and Harvard summer schools, along with sessions at the farm for Refuge for Women. The pandemic may have changed HOW we provide services but it certainly hasn’t stopped us.
We recognize that Main Stay is the highlight of the week for many of the people we serve. So, while making sure that we are adhering to our State’s guidelines, we will continue to provide programming either in-person or virtually!
Our annual Riders’ Challenge fundraising event begins in a couple of weeks—a way for riders, volunteers and supporters to raise funds virtually for Main Stay. Funds raised will help to feed and care for our noble horses. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more information.