Minis and Friends

Rating: 5 stars   67 reviews

Issues: Animals, Children & Youth, Health, Human Services, Seniors

Location: 4509 Walsall Loop Austin TX 78749 USA

Mission: Our trained and mobile miniature horse/donkey ambassadors visit with people of all ages with special needs or whom life's circumstances have created a special need.
Results: We've added new facilities to include regular visits to Marbridge, monthly visits to Dell's Children Medical Center of Central Texas,several nursing homes, Mary Lee Foundation, increased volunteerism at UT Austin, St. Ed's and Texas State University. Amplify Austin helped us to not only raise funds but to Amplify our presence in the greater Austin Metro area. We will soon have a new website, a documentary done by students at UT Journalism, amazing new volunteers with marketing, media and PR skills, and much, much more is in the works.
Target demographics: Abused and neglected children, At-Risk Youth, Handicapped, Mental Health, Cancer and Childhood diseases - Travis, Hays and Williamson County, TX between 2-20 years old.Seniors with memory disorders and assisted living facilities in Travis, Hays and Williamson County 55+ and up
Direct beneficiaries per year: 3000-5000
Geographic areas served: The greater Austin metro area
Programs: Minis Out, In the Community; Minis Out, Moving On; Minis Out, Project Blanket; Minis Out, Silver Saints; Mighty Mini Reader
2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

When I began volunteering with Minis and Friends I had no idea of the impact visits from the Minis would have on individuals. Each and everytime we visit a nursing home, hospital, or assisted living facility I see radiant smiles on the faces of all those who get to interact with these little animals. Often people will open up and begin a conversation about pets they've previously owned and you can see a light in their eyes that is so beautiful. I thank all the Mini owners who give so much of themselves to bring joy and happiness to others. It is a privilege to be a Minis and Friends volunteer - join us!!

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I continue to enjoy working with Minis & Friends. As a co-founder, I have been with them since that first meeting around the kitchen table where we dreamed of a miniature horse organization just like the one we see now at Minis & Friends. I work mostly as a virtual volunteer from my home 2 hours away but look forward to those special times when I get to be with the minis and the people in person. Favorite times throughout the year include when we expand our extended family by hosting Boot Camps, teaching others from all around the US and Canada how to form their own non profit following our Equine Guided Interaction model. I also enjoy seeing our wonderful volunteers in action as they work with the minis where they can make a big difference in the lives of those they visit. Minis and Friends would not exist without their hard work.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

Minis and Friends offers a wonderful equine experience. We started the group to bring the gentle caring touch of the minis into the lives of those in need. We visit varied groups within the Austin area, including children in hospitals, chidren's emergency shelters and those in special needs schools. I love watching fearful children with autism open up as the minis stand quietly by and the volunteers gently guide them to interact. Within the span of a few minutes, the fear has often faded and they tranform from leaning back on their teacher in fear, to wandering on their own from mini to mini, gently stroking their manes. A new addition of Mini vests on each mini with the M&F name and the name of the horse has been a great addition as well as a teaching tool for the teachers helping the children interact personally with the horse. By the end of the visit, the kids are calling each mini by name and interacting closely with them, using social skills they are practicing with their new mini equine friends. My personal favorites are visits at Memory Care centers. The minis make break-throughs to reach seniors at whatever level they can comprehend. Often, the senior will start talking about a favorite horse from their childhood as if it was the present day. I love listening to their stories and watching their faces open up as they talk. Minis and Friends is spreading our unique method of Equine Guided Interaction by training others who travel to Austin from as far away as Alaska and Canada to learn our methods and return home to start their own organization. This semi -annual Mini Bootcamp training offers hand-on training and instruction in very small groups to ensure personal attention. I look forward to watching Minis and Friends grow in the future!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

As a board member and Co-Founder of Minis and Friends, my passion for the work of the little horses and Lewis (the mini donkey) continues to advance upward. We have 4 main core mini-horse families (Gil & Sally Iwanski; Kim Sullivan; Paul & Sherry Montoya; and Cathy, Cliff & Colton Howard) that have been with us over the years and share the same passion. As a weekend only working non-profit because most of us work full time or attend college/school - we have very dedicated volunteers (about 25 currently) and we usually have volunteer training monthly. We have very blessed this year with social media help from the Texas Tower PR student team, UT Journalism students doing a documentary on us and a new website design coming soon (donated from DazzleMedia).

We also have filled our May Mini Boot Camp (teaching others to go home and open EGI (Equine Guided Interactions) non-profits too) and will have another one in October this year. Since 2007, 9 non-profits and several folks who just take minis out and about, that have attended our Mini Boot Camp are still operating and doing wonderful by bringing these big smiles to people with special needs by the little horses and donkeys. We have sister organizations from Calgary, AB, Canada and 8 states.

We always say "once you have your moment" you are hooked. And I have had many, many moments - that keeps me continually wanting to reach out more to other organizations and facilities to bring to them the magical little horse/donkey therapists that bring unconditional trust, love, hope, healing and BIG SMILES to the many people we meet along the way.

Give Minis and Friends a try or sponsor us - you'll love it! As we do!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have volunteered with Minis and Friends since January, 2013, and have loved EVERY moment. We have visited some great places and you can see how much everyone enjoys seeing the minis...even the minis love the visits. They all have unique personalities that blend seamlessly with each other and the people, young and old, that they meet.

This non-profit has great leadership, all the volunteers are fun, caring and compassionate and the minis are well taken care of and happy. If you love horses and enjoy bringing joy and happiness to others, check us out and join the fun!!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have been a volunteer Mini Owner for a few years now and have seem success over & over again with the children & adults that we visit. This is my success story:

I few years ago we were at a Children's Shelter where these children were taken away from their families due to some sort of abuse. While there I noticed a young little boy with his head down and no expression on his face. He was new to the Shelter and you could tell he was very sad. We asked him if he want to pet the little horses and with his head still down, he just shook his head- NO (We don't force any of our Mini's on anyone). The Councilors told us "Oh that is little ?????, we have tried everything with him. Nothing works.

A few minute later you could see this little boy standing next to one of the MIni's and we was petting him with the back of this hand.

Well a few minutes later again, this same little boy that the Councilors could not get through to, was jogging around the Courtyard with one of the Mini Horse. He was smiling and you could see happiness on his face once again
.

Right before my eyes I saw this little boy that was going through something no child should go through come out of his shell and be a child again. Smiling, laughing and playing.

That is why I do what I do.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have volunteered with Minis and Friends for about 5 years now. This organization is by the best one that I have been with. Not only are the other people involved amazing, but the minis are too. Minis and Friends gave me more satisfaction when I first started than any other group did, and it still does to this very day!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

I am a Minis and Friends Volunteer and Mini Handler. The people and minis that I work with are all amazing. I am glad to be able to work with these little horses and the other handlers. I feel accomplishment every time I finish an event with this wonderful group of people and horses.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The thanks we get from the people we help.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help the group raise money for the expenses of taking care of minis, etc.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

They taught me how to be a mini handler/volunteer.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Extremely happy.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Minis and Friends is a truly wonderful organization that brings joy to the community. Seeing the impact that the mini horses have on people is very heartwarming. I've been able to see first-hand the interaction between these sweet animals and the people who truly need some extra love (the elderly, foster children, etc.) - Every time I volunteer, it brings happy tears to my eyes! Also, it's a lot of fun! Keep it up, Minis and Friends.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have been volunteering with my minis for 2 years. The work that Minis and Friends does is awesome.
My family and I love what we get to do with our little guys! Thank you Minis and Friends!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

My name is Diane McBee and I attended the miniature horse equine assisted interaction training offered by Mini and Friends. As the director of a miniature horse therapy program, Knee High Mini Tours, I was impressed with the knowledge of the volunteers and the compassion displayed toward the clients. I was able to participate in many different types of training activities and gained first hand experience working with the miniature horses and clients. Safety was paramount, as was providing meaningful experiences. My experiences have shown Minis and Friends to be a caring organization committed to sharing the love of their miniature horses by reaching out to others and bringing joy into their lives.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Minis and Friends serves a wide variety of people in need. Their work with special needs children, ill children, senior citizens and child protective service is unsurpassed in the rewards that it makes you feel to be a part of. This non-profit is truly a heart warming experience.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Minis and Friends presents the true meaning of bringing joy to all. As a volunteer and a mini owner of this non-profit organization I have seen and experienced remarkable things happen to children and adults. These little horses and donkeys can make a sad child smile, a lonely weak senior adult come back to life and has personlly filled my heart with joy that is hard to describe.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing smiling children, happy hearts and making a difference to others that need it the most.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I wish for this non-profit to continually grow in volunteers to allow Minis and Friends to vist more facilities.

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