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

Minis and Friends is a wonderful organization and it has been such a pleasure working with all of the miniature horses, their owners, other volunteers, and of course all of the people that we visit. It is such a joy to see how much happiness these little therapy horses bring to children and adults alike. I am so thankful that I found this organization and am able to be a part of bringing a smile to so many people. Athena Boukantar

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?

A lot

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

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Minis and Friends has been volunteering with The Settlement Home for Children for several years. They have brought their miniature horses to our campus on several occasions, and our girls have been given the opportunity to interact with them in a variety of ways. Our residents (and staff!) love when Minis and Friends come to visit because they enjoy getting to walk, pet and groom the animals. This year, our residents were invited to the first annual Mini March put on by Minis and Friends. Minis and Friends does a great job of meeting the needs of our residents and providing fun and educational programming.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

It was amazing to watch our kids and adults become so involved with the horses and the sense of calm that it seemed to bring to them. I was especially impressed with how easily some of our more withdrawn kids became so engaged with the minis. The kids seemed so much more open and talkative both during and after the visit, must more at ease. They particularly loved being able to brush them and walk them, having the opportunity to really feel like they were caring for them. We can’t wait for our next visit and the continued presence of Minis and Friends within our program.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

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 has visited Marbridge numerous times. As the volunteer coordinator for this assisted living center, I am happy to say that they are not only friendly and professional when they visit, but they truly brighten the days of the residents who live here. We love them so much, we awarded them the Marbridge Volunteer Group of the Year award for 2011/2012.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have seen many wonderful connections made between the minis and the people we visit. The little horses and donkeys inspire people to get out and try things when they feel they are not capable of being successful; they uplift people by offering their unconditional acceptance and hugs; they encourage people by giving them a chance to just enjoy the minis and to take a break from the emotional or physical pain they are experiencing. I remember one visit last year to a local children's shelter. One of the younger children was afraid to approach the minis, but with human encouragement and the silent reassurance of our gentle mini, the child ended up brushing and even hugging my miniature donkey.

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? 
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I am the Austin co-founder who runs the general operations and also a horse owner of 3 minis - MasterCard, Remington and SeanMonet. I am a volunteer as all of us are in Minis and Friends. I am proud to say in 2012, we have accomplished so many goals and reached so many new children and adults to bring hope, healing and laughter with the work of the little horses. We have handed out so many of our Mini Readers made possible by the Baxter Grant in 2011 - what a delight it is to have the children come out for a visit with the minis bringing their books! We have added 10 new facilities since January and 5 new support events. We have also have had 2 Mini Boot Camps - one in March and the other in May - and have trained upcoming non-profits in Alaska (Knee High Mini Tours), Canada (Boo's Hooves), Kentucky (HeavenSent Half-Pints) and Massachusetts (Minis and Friends Massachusetts) to bring Equine Guided Interactions (EGI) to their soon-to-be non-profits. Minis and Friends is rich in volunteers and our family of friends in the facilities and support events we work with. I look forward to many more new and old visits for the remainder of 2012.

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

every way imaginable - to include my own health related issues in 2011 which put me on the side that those we visit are on! What a difference and a sense of calm it gave me!

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

Find grant funding to provide a small salary to the Program Director so that the organization could function full time and not just on weekends and some holidays.

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

How did you learn about this organization?

I was one of 3 co-founders who created it in 2007.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Find it a donation of land in south Austin with a small covered arena and an office so that the non-profit could work more than just weekends by facilities coming to them and so there would be no cancellations - currently rain or extreme heat can cancel a visit.

What is its top priority in the long run?

To have 2 Minis and Friends facilities set up for folks to come to us - rain or shine. A facility in south/southwest Austin and one in Round Rock/Pflugerville/Northwest Austin area.

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1 previous review
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Minis and Friends was created in 2007 to extend the growing need of miniature horse "Equine Guided Interactions (EGI) " programs (therapy) in the greater Austin Metro area. We started the organization with 9 friends and miniature owners and worked primarily on weekends free of charge to most facilities and support events. We developed our program of EGI and teach it to others in other states and cities in our annual Mini Boot Camp, a hands-on 4-day extensive workshop in Austin, TX.

Our non-profit model is unique as the minis are not owned by the non-profit - but instead by mini owners or volunteers who become mini owners to bring indescribable smiles to all we meet. We train them and their little horses/donkeys to work with us in the communities.

We began the organization in early 2007 with 6 minis and 4 owners and today we have 17 minis and 8 owners. We reach deeper into other counties now to include Bastrop, Cedar Park, Dripping Springs, Round Rock and other towns along the way.

To this day, most visits are free and we use our form of creative fundraising to raise the much needed dollars for our Equine General Liability Insurance for every visit and event for all minis working and to keep us on the road!

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

I have seen wonderous moments since becoming a very active owner with my husband Gil who is our lead mini teacher while out in the community. We have reached children in shelters who never smiled or laughed- give barrels of laughter, we have seen At-Risk Youth smile and participate in our visits when before they just sat and stared, we have seen memory disorders seniors reach far into their long term memory talk and remember their families names when they have talked or stood for over 2 years, and more

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

Find sponsors and donors so we could purchase or donation of land of 1-2 acres for an indoor arena with 1 office, 1 training class and stalls for minis and have a better capability for our clients to come to us -regardless of the weather in South Austin. We have two main locations - South Austin and NW Austin. This would enable us to set up our Agility Course and leave it set-up for confidence and self-esteem building in the many youth we visit on weekends.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

My name is Lynann Centers. I attended boot camp in March 2012. I have a nonprofit organization called HeavenSent Half-Pints, which does similar work as Minis and Friends does. Boot camp was very helpful for me.

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  

3 people found this review helpful

Minis and Friends is an awesome organization! We have two Type Diabetics and attend the JDRF walk every year! The minis and their handlers bring many smiles and much joy to these children. I love to see them myself! Thank you Sally and Gil for bringing lil mini sunshines into so many peoples lives!!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

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

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

As a volunteer for this organization, I found them well-organized and well-trained, with the best intentions and the ability to carry out those intentions. They respect their clients and volunteers. I have been with them, taking the miniature horses to several living facilities for children and adults with special needs. The horses are always a delight to the participants, young and old. I look forward to volunteering with them in the future.

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

The looks on the faces of the people who got to see and pet the horses, including myself! It's a great distraction for a sick child in a hospital or an adult in an Alzheimer's facility.

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

Give them more money and resources to further their good work.

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?

A lot

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.)

Yes, I learned to handle mini horses.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Wonderful.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 5 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

I have had the privledge to train under Minis and Friends and feel truly blessed to have learnt from such skilled horse owners. Minis and Friends is unique in it's ability to offer valuable and meaningful programs for a variety of people in various settings while advocating for the mini horses they work with.
I would highly recommend Minis and Friends as trainers for Equine Guided Activites and Therapy Programs.
We have become nationally recognized group because of them.
THANK YOU to all their volunteers!

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

Yes

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

None they are amazing!

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