Haley Levesque, Program Coordinator and Trainer, manages Ridgebury Riders' highly successful volunteer hippotherapy program. Here is what sets them apart!
What do you consider the key (or keys) to success for the Ridgebury Riders volunteer program?
Good communication, flexibility, and a willingness to learn. We always try to keep an open line of communication with our volunteers and work to be flexible with their schedules and availability. We also try to continually educate them; by offering orientations for new volunteers and additional one-on-one trainings for ongoing volunteers, so they feel like they can handle anything that comes their way.
What, to you, is the most meaningful part of your job?
The most meaningful part of my job is getting to share my love of working with horses and working with people with special needs with volunteers who may have never been exposed to either. Magical moments happen daily at the farm, and we and our team of volunteers are so lucky to witness them.
My journey into becoming a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor all began as a volunteer in another program so I have first-hand experience with these incredible moments of connection and know how special getting to work in our hippotherapy and wellness horsemanship sessions and with the horses can be.
What do you think attracts volunteers to Ridgebury Riders?
I think volunteers are attracted to the Ridgebury Riders for many reasons- not only do they get to give back to the community by working with our special needs participants, but they also get to do it while around horses on the most beautiful property! Many people do not get to experience the magic of horses, and we open our doors to anyone who wants to volunteer, regardless of their horse experience. For those who aren't quite ready to work with the horses, we also have volunteer opportunities with our other farm animals, around the property, and in the office/ mercantile!
What is the role VolunteerMatch plays in your recruitment efforts?
VolunteerMatch plays a vital role in our recruitment efforts by introducing our mission to potential volunteers who may not know about the farm otherwise. Our program is constantly growing, and with more participants comes the need for more volunteers! We wouldn't be able to serve our participants without the generosity of our volunteers!!!