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Minis and Friends

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Health, Human Services, Patient & Family Support, Senior Centers, Seniors

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

Community Stories

93 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with Minis and Friends since I moved to the Austin area last year, and it has been positively wonderful. The people in leadership positions are present, active, and genuinely care about everyone involved (horses included!) Everyone who interacts with these minis gets to feel the benefits of equine therapy, from the youngest child at Dell Children's Hospital to the oldest of our volunteers. When I was looking for an organization that combined my love of animals with my desire to help my community, I couldn't have imagined that I would find such a perfect fit.

2 Lisa238

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can't even begin to describe what this group means to me and what we give back to the community. We take the mini therapy horses to Dell Children's Medical Center, nursing homes, Alzheimer's facilities, shelters for abused kids, etc. It is hands down the most satisfying volunteer job I have ever had. There is no better feeling than seeing the smiles on people's faces when we bring these tiny horses to them. We lift their spirits, make them happy, and let them forget about their troubles for a while. The horses have an amazing effect on Alzheimer's patients - they often become lucid and present when we bring the minis in. The patients' families and care givers are always stunned, and they are so grateful for what our group does. I can't think of a better way of giving back to my community.

Previous Stories
5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with Minis and Friends for about 2 1/2 years. Joining the group was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I was looking online for more volunteer opportunities when I came across their page. When I saw I could help people AND work with tiny horses, I was ecstatic! I signed up right away, and went through the volunteer orientation. Minis & Friends does amazing work in the community. We visit Dell Children's Medical Center, shelters for abused children, nursing homes, Alzheimer's facilities, and even a women's correctional facility. The effect these little horses have on people is nothing short of amazing! People light up when they see the minis, and are just tickled when they get to pet them, groom them, and walk them. The minis get LOTS of hugs and lots of smiles. We bring happiness to the people who need it most!

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2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What a great nonprofit! We love all the volunteers and mini horses. Sally and friends have been coming to our Family Day at the Center for Child Protection for many years bringing their mini horses and it's what everyone is always waiting for... so grateful for their kindness and generosity - the work they do is remarkable. Thank you so much to Sally, all the volunteers and Minis and Friends for everything! -Anne West, Volunteer Services Manager at CCP

2 Julia35

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been with Minis and Friends about four years. I believe that in the presence of these little therapy minis, one forgets all else for a while and is firmly in the moment. That's when there is joy.

I have five therapy minis and I believe they are for sharing!!! We all get as much out of the visits as those whom we visit. Our 'smile muscles' hurt, there are tears sometimes and it is our mission to show we care. The mini therapy ambassadors are so amazing. They know when they are working and are gentle and patient. They pull you right into their heart circle. There's no escaping it!!!

There are enough stories to fill a book. After a five minute visit with a woman in a wheelchair at a nursing home, I thanked the woman for the visit and said that we needed to move on down the hall. She had been hugging and petting the mini. As we walked away, she turned to the woman beside her and said, "Such a nice dog!!!".

Another time a patient hugged the mini and sobbed for 15 minutes as the mini stood patiently with his head resting on her lap.

All the volunteers have their 'ah-ha' stores. The minis provide a starting point for the interaction. We talk to residents in nursing homes and ask if they ever had horses. We have some really great conversations. Many people have not had the opportunity to be around an animal bigger than a dog since they moved into the nursing home. There are many who rode a horse to school or did ranch work with their horses. Many memories shared with us.

Once, as we walked up to a man in a wheelchair, the staff stood behind him and mouthed the words that this gentleman HATES animals. They were shocked as he hugged the mini and talked to him.

I'll stop now, but I could go on...

It is a very unique experience and one that you won't soon forget! Join us, if you think your smile muscles can take it.

Previous Stories
4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Minis and Friends is a 501c3 organization that serves children, youth, adults and seniors in the greater Austin area who have mental, physical and emotional challenges and disabilities. There is a magical connection between people and the tiny horse ambassadors. I feel that they plant you firmly in the 'here and now', a space that leaves no room for anxiety and worry for the past, present and future. Whether you are in a nursing home, a special education class or in your wheelchair in the Healing Garden at the Dell Children's Hospital, when a tiny horse puts their head in your lap, they create a place of total focus on the relationship. It's you and a horse. They nuzzle and get close to you. They'll put their head right on the bed in a nursing home or step right along the side of a wheelchair for hugs. It is virtually impossible not to be drawn into the moment. We hear people say, "Oh, they have made my day", "Could you leave them here with us?", "I used to have a horse", "I could hug them all day!" and "I have never seen a horse indoors". (They wear dog booties to walk on indoor surfaces)

We have witnessed someone talking to a horse having not spoken for over a year. There are Alzheimer patients who remember the horses' names, cerebral palsy patients who move to touch the horses and special needs children so filled with excitement that you can barely stand it. And those are the people we visit. The truth is that the 'trickle down' effect touches not only our target audience, but the nurses, the parents and families, teachers, nursing home staff and, in a huge way, the volunteers.

The volunteers go to visits week after week and they keep coming back for more. The experience of presenting the minis where smiles are needed, provides us with something deeply satisfying. When you visit from room to room you show, for this little visit, I am here, I brought you a four legged friend and we care. And then the mini magic happens!

The minis are tiny and travel in my Volvo station wagon. I am a board member, volunteer and mini owner of Wiggins, Fiona and Jooney Belle. Three little magic makers.

Minis and Friends is a family of volunteers. It is simply, the best!

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2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is insanely beautiful in terms of how big of a difference their efforts make. Thank you for making it possible for me to be a part of such a lovely thing.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our organization has worked with Minis & Friends for several years and each experience we have is beyond delightful.

I think everyone can agree that interacting with the Minis is good for the soul. We always enjoy having the Minis out; the interaction with the Minis and the rest of the team is always exceptional.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The work Sally, Sherry and their team do is unbelievable! It's amazing the care they have for their mini horses, and the way they deliver the mini horse experience to children and adults.

They have the best attitude, and they have created an amazingly effective system. Hard to believe!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Minis and friends for about 6 months now! I can not say enough great things about all those who are involved with this group! The volunteer training was well thought out and I felt very prepared to go out with the mini's to the community! The events that I helped with are the highlight of my weeks! To see the pure JOY on the children's and the parents faces is something I will never forget! There is AWE in the kids faces when they see and interact with the mini's! They get to "decorate" the mini's with flowers, hats, beads ,etc! They sometimes even get to take selfies with them! My only regret is that I don't have more time in my schedule to attend every event!

4 Sherry66

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with this organization since 2009. I have been truly blessed to witness unique and amazing experiences as we visit facilities throughout Austin. These incredible Minis, possess an intuitive therapeutic ability, which our volunteers, who are extensively trained to handle a minature horse, interact with patients and clients, who may be suffering physically, mentally, or emotionally. This magic happens, each and every visit, as the Minis and volunteers bring smiles and lift spirits. The animal to human connection can not be overlooked or underestimated.

Previous Stories
7

Board Member

Rating: 5

As an owner of4 therapeutic miniature horses, I have seen the magical effect they have at lifting spirits of the most vulnerable population in our community. The human to animal connection is truly amazing and underestimated, but I've seen it over and over as we visit hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, and children's shelters.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We recently volunteered to serve with this amazing group. We have seen the joy and smiles of the elderly and the children brought by these little horses and the loving volunteers that share their love and time. This is an incredible organization that can reach out to those that are hurting and just need a little nuzzle or to softly touch a cute mini that can unconditionally give love in the most gentle way. To see the eyes light up and hear the excitement in their voices are the most rewarding blessings a volunteer can experience. LOVE THOSE MINIS AND THIS INCREDIBLE TEAM.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is amazing to get to see the smiles and happiness that these little horses bring to people. Minis and Friends has been great to volunteer with because there are clear expectations of what is required of me and everyone involved is always so welcoming.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Minis and Friends provides that ray of sunshine to people in need. They group is full of warm-hearted people.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Minis and Friends is celebrating its' 10th Year Anniversary! It continues to provide an excellent and well-respected reputation in the greater Austin metro area (Texas). We have added a set of new mini owners that will help us to reach back into North Austin and Williamson County soon. We have added new facilities and have had wonderful success recently with ATX Television Festival invitation, Austin Woman's magazine (online mid-July), Texas Reporter, KXAN, KVUE, Spectrum News and other businesses who recognize the importance of the work of the little horse therapists and our amazing volunteers. Minis and Friends is an ALL volunteer organization and 100% donation based.

3 Gil I.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with this organization since 2007. I have seen the wonderful results from the young children to the old. The smiles the little magical miniature horse bring to all is heart warming. The volunteers with this group are well trained, dedicated, and give freely of there time on weekends, holidays, and weekdays. They provide those with special needs a special kind of visit. The miniature horses are well trained and provide a service that only they can give.

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been with Minis & Friends since 2007. And it is magical what the little miniature horses do for people with special needs. And the volunteers with this group are dedicated and show a passion for helping others. The team work in this organization is outstanding. The mission is all about what the miniature horses bring to those they visit. This organization is what volunteering is all about. Helping others with the use of Equine interaction with humans.

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6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Minis and Friends is in its 9th year and it only gets better and better! Recently we visited at a local Children Shelter for Abused and Neglected Children and had a break though with a little boy who was even afraid of the dogs that visited, he was just afraid of everything they said. With the gentle connection by our volunteers and Remington, he not only walked him but gave him a hug at the end of his time with him. This month (we go bi-monthly), he asked specifically for Remington and his volunteer Hilary and we were so very proud of him wanting to work again with Remington and going the extra mile to ask for him specifically. One step at a time, to open doors and bring hope and healing, and breakthroughs!

6 Cassandra15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Love the minis. I see the smiles on the kids faces and the joy they exude during our visits. The minis attract attention wherever we go. They brought out a lot of on-lookers at the Child Abuse Awareness March. Who wanted to chat with us about what the minis were doing.

6 RecognizeGood

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I run an organization that seeks out volunteers making big impacts on lives in Central Texas, and helps tell their stories. Minis and Friends was one of the most delightful encounters I've ever had in 3+ years of doing this - after hearing countless stories from volunteers as well as those they serve I now truly believe that these little minis really are magical!

5 Paul94

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I have been a Mini owner & volunteer for several years now. I do it because I love to, not because I have to. Over the years I have witnessed so much gratitude from the people we visit. You will never know unless you witness it for yourself. Having someone or a relative of someone thank you so much for what we do will put a tear in your eye at times. We are not a cure for anything. All we ask for and hope that people can give us is a smile. That's reward enough. God bless the people we visit because they are the one's that put smiles on our faces too.

Previous Stories
5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been with Minis and Friends for over a year now and it's been a wonderful experience. Everyone is on a volunteer basis and you can just feel the passion for the minis and for each volunteer opportunity we get to go on. It's always great to see the smiling faces of children and the elderly a like when they get to pet the minis. Equine therapy really does help and I love being a part of this organization!

Previous Stories
5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've joined Minis and Friends back in August and they have been such a great organization to work with. You can just see and feel the passion that all the volunteers and staff have for the people they serve as well as the minis. It's been a true pleasure seeing the minis interact with each child and elderly and you can only beam back. I hope to see this non-profit continues to grow and serve Austin.

5

Client Served

Rating: 5

Minis and Friends was an absolute joy to work with! We have an annual Easter Egg Hunt for our friends, families and clients and their families, and we thought Minis and Friends would be a great addition and a wonderful way to promote the great work they do. And they were such a hit at the party! Sally, Julia and her team were so wonderful to work with, and of course the minis were so sweet and gentle. Minis and Friends do GREAT work and truly added a special memory to everyone they encountered. We look forward to working with them again and seeing all the greatness they contribute to the community!