I have been a volunteer with Horses Healing Hearts for over 5 years. I have had the opportunity to participate in horsemanship sessions with the children, fundraising events, and community education programs. It is almost impossible to describe the healing a horse can provide to a child who is hurting inside. I can only say it is magical. For many of the young Horses Healing Hearts participants, the barn is their only safe place, and the horse is their only confidante. Horses really do heal hearts! Abbi Bentz
I am so blessed to be a volunteer at this wonderful organization. They are making a difference in these childrens' lives. I am testament to them opening up and gaining confidence, forging bonds, learning to trust, and learning coping skills to halt the cylce of addiction . The interaction among the children, with the staff and volunteers and most importantly with the horses is incredible.
Horses healing hearts helps children to recover from trauma at home and gives them the much needed life skills they need to break the cycle of addiction and have a bright future. Thank you for your commitment to our children who are our future.
I could't feel more honored to be a volunteer at Horses Healing Hearts and to be a part of this unbelievable program. As an adult child of an alcoholic, I cannot tell you how much I would of given to have a place like this for me to go to when I was growing up and dealing with an alcoholic parent at home and all of the fear and uncertainty that goes along with that for a child. HHH gives these children a place to actually be heard in a truly safe and nurturing environment. As children of alcoholics or addicts, we learn early on to not talk about certain things within the family and so we are always carrying around many dark and scary secrets. HHH is a safe place for these kids to talk about those things that they were always told to keep secret, and they do it with the love and support of the other children and volunteers. Children dealing with an addicted parent grow up with complete chaos and uncertainty constantly in their world. So having this amazing program that they all come to once or twice a week, gives them something to look forward to and something that they can "count" on, which is so extremely important for these kids. Having something continuous, safe and stable is beyond priceless and this program gives that to these beautiful souls. This program gives hope and support to these children, and that is something I am blessed to be a part of. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else then with these amazing kids!!!
When we drove away after my daughter’s first session, I asked her how it was. She replied, “I want to go back right now.” It’s emotional for me to see her so eager to go every week, knowing how much she’s getting out of talking to these other kids who make her feel safe and normal, out of the leaders who guide them, and out of being on and around the sweet horses—especially after all she’s been through (all of them). I feel so lucky we found Horses Healing Hearts, and know we will be there until she’s an adult. She will be so eager to give back after she’s 18, like I see so many coming back and being a rock for the others who’ve come into the program after them. It’s truly a lifelong community, one week at a time.
When I volunteered at HHH last year, the compassion and love I witnessed by each and every one of the volunteers was unlike anything I had ever seen at any of the other charities I have volunteered at in the past. They truly care. And the kids noticed it. I could tell by the big smiles on all their faces. Kudos to you HHH. Keep up the great work.
My daughter Jayden has been attending the Horses and Homework sessions on Wednesdays at HHH for the past few months and she absolutely loves it! She has tried traditional counseling and therapy in the past but she has never really opened up before. I feel that since she has been going to HHH she is able to share her feelings in a safe setting and it has enabled her to learn to express and communicate her feelings more effectively at home. The interaction with the staff and the horses is icing on the cake! This organization does amazing things for these children and I whole-heartedly support them and their mission!
Since my son has started Horses Healing Hearts our family's quality of life has dramatically improved. Jayden has shown improvement with his social skills and is gaining more and more self confidence. He is identifying his feeling and learning to express himself whereas he used to get very angry and shut down. This program gives Jayden a safe place, positive outlook on life and has gained an extended family.
I cannot say enough good things about this program. As a volunteer I think that the program is mutually beneficial for the children served and the adults who offer their support. Unlike other therapeutic riding programs I have been involved with in the past HHH truly works to help heal hearts. Everyone who is a part of this program is amazing. The kids are fun and are sure to brighten your day. All of the volunteers are genuine, down to earth, and all around good people.
As a professional in the field of therapy, I am please to tell the story of a little girl in the Horses Healing Hearts program. This young girl has survived a substance addicted father, whom is currently in jail for theft and drug use. She talks about witnessing him kicking her dog and banging on doors and walls, which has caused her to develop a protective hypervigilance around her father. In addition, she has taken on the burden of adult responsibility. Her mother has worked hard to provide her with as much stability as possible and her love and concern for her daughter is palpable. She has put her daughter in traditional therapy but something seemed to still be missing for her child. The mother saw a brochure for HHH and enrolled her daughter. It was at Horses Healing Hearts that the little girl was not only around other going through similar incidents, but the Founder of the organization had actually lived through such events during her own childhood. Both mother and daughter now have a strong support system that includes a better family life and a sense of accomplishment in having established a secure environment for both of them. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see the benefits of Horses Healing Hearts and the positive impact it has on their participants.
I wanted to personally thank Horses Healing Hearts, as my two children have been participants in the program since 2011. Their father has been suffering from drug addiction since the kids were very young. The addiction has led to the break-up of our family and the children were finding it hard to cope. They did not understand the disease of addiction and how it can impact family and loved ones. It was about this time I heard about HHH through a friend. I cannot express how much this program has helped my children. They have learned how to share their emotions. They have learned not to blame themselves for their father's addiction. They have learned how to feel safe again. It is through HHH that my children now have confidence in themselves, along with a the great coping skills to help them navigate any obstacles they may face in life. Thank you to everyone at Horses Healing Hearts for everything you have contributed to my children. I am forever grateful and touched by your program. HHH has helped my children and all the children of HHH continue this wave of greatness, kindness, and love.
I have been volunteering on a weekly basis with Horses Healing Hearts for the past seven years starting only months after the inception of the program. I started at Luckiest By Far Stables in Wellington, FL my first year and since then, I have been at Johnson's Folly Horse Farm in Delray Beach, FL. My starting date was August 15, 2010. I worked beside, Liz Olszewski, the founder of the program, from the beginning. I have seen her devotion and hard work in the program make it what it is today. The format has changed somewhat since then, but basically it's still the same. I worked with many other volunteers, trainers and therapists who have since moved on. We have certainly come a long way since then. It's only within the past couple years that we have had an air conditioned barn for our "circle time" and a place to play and store our games. (We also have an air conditioned trailer with a toilet now.) We operate 12 months of the year. This is Florida. It gets really hot on sunny afternoons. In the early years sometimes we all just squeezed under a gazebo to catch some shade. (The kids love it so much it didn't even phase them.) These children are my heroes. They are so very courageous for what they have lived through in their short lives. Some of them are small in stature buy yet not afraid to get on some of the bigger horses. Of course, we have horses of all sizes and temperaments to accommodate each child.
I have personally witnessed over time such dramatic changes in the personality and behavior of the children. It breaks my heart when some of them stop coming because of family problems which forces them to move in with relatives or go into foster care out of the area.
Sometimes a child doesn't want to ride on a particular day and we let it slide but they still love coming to the barn. They identify with the other children during "circle time" sharing and they love Miss Rhonda. (The therapist, Rhonda Fritzshall, has been with HHH for the past five years.) Recently the children were asked what they like best about HHH and one of the boys, after a long and serious thought process couldn't verbalize, but shyly pointed to Miss Rhonda. The atmosphere at the barn is relaxed (free of family members) so that the children can feel comfortable to say what's on their heart. Over the years I have heard some pretty sad and shocking stories.
Some of the children that have been with the program since its inception have changed drastically. Some are withdrawn, angry, depressed, fearful and antisocial when they first come to the sessions. Each week I can see a positive change in their attitude and a slight improvement in sociability. Sometimes the children don't want to leave after the session is over. They want to stay at the barn. There's a freedom they feel that shows in their relaxed and peaceful attitude. I've seen some children that started at six or seven years old that are now teens and still coming to the program are totally different people today. Some are going to high school now and some are starting college. They talk a lot more, smile a lot more and hug a lot more. Some children get attached to each other and play big brother or big sister to one another. I've seen children come to the session anxious and fidgety and having trouble sitting still. After they ride, it's like someone turned a switch off in them and they're focused, relaxed and able to interact and play games with the other children.
The children love the horses. They all have favorites they prefer to ride. I see them hug, pet and kiss the horses. After they are finished riding they often want to help the trainer by leading the horse while the next rider is getting ready to ride. The people at Johnson's Folly Farm are phenomenal. The experienced trainers are great and the owner, Nongae Johnson, and her daughter, Norma, are extremely supportive of Horses Healing Hearts and have done everything they can to help the children and make the program a success. They are very much in tune to each child's individual needs. Nongae has installed a tent over one of the large rings last year which has made it 15 degrees cooler for the kids when they're riding and, of course, keeps them dry when it rains.
I can't say enough about Horses Healing Hearts. It is a worthwhile and beneficial program and the children will reap the benefits of the experience for the rest of their lives.
It has been my honor to volunteer with Horses Healing Hearts for the last five years. When I first became aware of HHH, it was hard for me to picture how the horses could help children who needed a safe place to feel, talk, and just be a kid. The change I have noticed in the programs participants, can only truly be felt by seeing the process in action. I often tell people about Horses Healing Hearts, but it doesn't begin to give justice to the magic that happens at the barn with the group facilitators, horses, and kids. Seeing the children laugh, smile, and not have the weight of the world on their shoulders for the 2 hours they are at their HHH sessions, fills my heart with joy. In addition, seeing the kids bond together as a second family is astounding to watch. I am beyond blessed to volunteer for such an incredible organization that is helping shape the future leaders of our community.
When the opportunity arose for my child to be part of a program that could strengthen, support and guide her in a caring loving environment with the Gift of horseback riding and other children her age, I immediately recognized the value. The past three years have been nothing but a positive growth experience for our family. The Gratitude we have cannot be put into words. Volunteers and mentors that give their time, compassion, experience, patience, financial support and love are true assets to the future of the children that are fortunate enough to be in this program. It is apparent this organization is helping too mold healthy, good decision makers for the world. My 10 year old has obtained skills such as riding and caring for horses, as well as an undeniable passion for them and all animals for that matter. HHH is Love!
Hello! I'm a parent and I am so thankful to have found this program! My daughter was eight years old when I was struggling with an opiate addiction due to chronic pain issues. My marriage was strained and she was affected as I continually searched for a way to successfully recover, to find pain management without the use of drugs. I heard about Horses healing hearts,and took steps to enroll her immediately. I was so excited, filled with a new hope, that my child could actually get therapy as well, and in such an awesome way,interacting with horses! Well,she is 16 yrs old now, and with the help and encouragement of Liz,Rhonda,and all their volunteer staff over the years, I have watched amazing results for her as well as the other children in the program,healing and growing with a new self confidence, motivation, and respect for themselves and others as they journey towards adulthood. I truly believe watching my daughter has helped me as well, I am thrilled to report being medication-free for five years now! Words cannot express my gratitude, as I watch her go forward in life with a new self-esteem and outlook on life that all kids deserve to have! Thank you HHH! My wish now is that many more children can benefit from this wonderful program !
My daughter has been attending Horses Healing Hearts for a few year. They came into her life not a moment to soon. They have given her confidence and a safe-haven. As a low income, single parent I never imagined she would have the opportunity to be involved in such a great program. She looks forward to every session. I hope she can continue to be a part of this program for years to come.
This is 'one of a kind" program for the children of this fallen world to get some, "pre-covery", tools, and support to break the chains of destructive behaviors and family cycles of addiction and alcoholism.
The open discussion, coupled with the love and complexity of equine activities, JUST WORKS and THIS program is a success.
It is giving back the choice to live free to the kids!
Thank you HHH, for you passion and heart. May GOD continue to use this group for good!
My grandson, Dylan, who is now age 15 in high school has been going to the HHH barn in Delray Beach the past five years. Through the years, he has had a place to share his anxious moments, moves to new schools, greatly improve his relationship with his mother who he lives with, and is now experiencing meeting his dad and trying to form a relationship with him. Thank goodness for HHH, Dylan has always had a place to talk, share, and listen to other kid's experiences, and realize he is not alone.
Dylan truly loves HHH, Rhonda and Liz. This organization is a very important part of his life in so many ways. I am so thankful to Liz who gave Dylan the opportunity to shine when they went to Washington, DC together last year, and Dylan was able to speak in a committee meeting about how HHH helped to teach him how to understand what alcohol and drugs do to a family and why everyone must step up to the plate with legislation. One day he will look back and say, "I can't believe I really did that!"
So kudos to a great organization, fabulous leaders, wonderful volunteers, and those beautiful horses the kids all love soooooo much!