My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Dream Catcher Stables Inc, Spring, TX, USA
In my last review, I spoke about how nice it was to find this organization, and how it has been such a breath of fresh air to find a place that allows people with special needs to learn and have fun in an exceptional / nonthreatening environment. Quite some time has passed since that review. So, I am writing to provide an update on how things have gone since then.
I have been going with my both of my children to Dream Catcher Stables for the better part of 6 + years now. I will attempt to express things in this review that are not easily put into words. Our family has chosen to go beyond just having an athlete / rider in the program. We have decided to become volunteers as well (myself, son and daughter). While it was always evident before, with this new perspective it is even more clear, the dedication, patience, perseverance, and positivity that this organization operates with. This organization is 100% volunteer driven. People giving up every weekend 5-6 hrs on both Sat & Sun, so that they can make a positive difference in their community. And for many of the long-time volunteers, it is a daily activity to maintain the facilities and to feed and groom the horses. They don't do it because they are forced to, because they are getting paid, or to make some quota. They genuinely enjoy spending their time working with these riders, so they do everything necessary to make sure they can saddle up on the weekends. They help to show these riders the value of demanding work, a sense of community, friendship, acceptance, and a belief that they can do anything they put their mind to and work hard to accomplish.
From the founder (Sanna Roling), down to the newest volunteer, everyone buys into the mission of the organization and the feeling of being with your extended family for a few hours on the weekend. It helps make sure these athletes are getting out of the house (off the devices), seeing the beauty of the outdoors, working with the animals, getting some physical activity, and in many cases; it also gives a bit of a break to the parents of these riders. These parents who are on duty 24/7/365, get a chance to also get out of the house for a few hours. It doesn’t sound like much, but as a parent of a special needs child, I can tell you that you get tired of the exasperated looks, the not so discreet pointing and whispers, and the general disgust and intolerance that some people spew, when you decide to do something as simple as go out to eat. While we have never allowed this to stop us from doing the things that any other family would do, it gets tiresome to have to deal with, no matter who you are. This is a place where none of that matters. Parents and riders alike, never have to feel self-conscious about a tick, their appearance, or any other side effect of whatever ailment that rider may have. They can come and learn that it is okay to just be themselves. And in most cases, helps people to be their best self.
In addition to volunteering and helping to show my son the tools of being an effective leader, Dream Catcher has been an integral part in my son participating in NJHS (National Jr Honor Society) and the Top Hands Horse Show. Both of which are programs that we knew our son was capable of participating in. But Dream Catcher gave him the confidence to not just participate, but to thrive. He has also maintained academic excellence, despite being in a school and school district that has no love for special needs students. In this, he has taken some of the lessons learned at Dream Catcher and used them to excel, despite the tough times. It is in these times, that I am most proud of my child, and so thankful for the experiences that he has gained through this program. We have always taught our child that we expect him to graduate HS, get a degree, and to hold down a job. In that time, we have also taught him that the world will not care that you have Autism. They will expect you to compete with and to surpass other neurotypical candidates. So, while it is difficult to go through at the time, it is nice to know that he is learning to deal with these life lessons at an early age.
To close, I cannot recommend this organization highly enough. I hope that if you have or have a child with special needs, that you will reach out to inquire about this program. They are a top shelf organization, that are second to none. They have always been there for us, and we will do our best to be there for them.
Review for Dream Catcher Stables Inc, Spring, TX, USA
It has been so refreshing to find Dream Catcher Stables, where my son is able to experience everything that he had longed to get from traditional sports (teamwork, friendship, etc.), in a setting that is both positive and encouraging. There are riders from every type of background and with varying types of disabilities. Everyone receives the same treatment regardless of who they are or what their ailment is. No one is degraded for what they can’t do. They are constantly praised for what they can do, and instructed on how to improve the things that they can’t (yet) achieve. They have succeeded in creating a feeling of community and friendship that is often elusive to people with disabilities. It is also very rewarding to see my children develop valuable connections / relationships with both the volunteers and the horses. They are truly disappointed when we get rained out, because they can’t see “Smokey” or “Lil Bit” this week. Every volunteer at Dream Catcher is wonderful to work with, and they take a genuine interest in all the riders and their families. They provide expert instruction, and they help each participant to achieve their highest level of attainment through a combination of encouragement and gently pushing them to do more than they believe is possible. When they are able to attain the next levels of achievement, the rewards are priceless. My son had trouble being in large crowds and being the center of attention, and so the fact that he was able to participate in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in front of an arena full of people was a huge accomplishment. The fact that he won his trail division to boot, gave him confidence that with hard work, anything is possible. These life lessons are truly a priceless tool that you have to experience in order to fully grasp the concept. Dream Catcher Stables has allowed my son to experience these things, and I am extremely grateful. This program not only helps people with disabilities, but also the parents of children with disabilities. For a long time I felt like I had to hover over my son for fear of him getting hurt, or that he would suffer mistreatment at the hands of others because of his disability. I have never had that concern with Dream Catcher. I would recommend Dream Catcher Stables to any person who is or family that has someone with a disability.