December 9, 2015
Dear friend of Ranch Hand Rescue,
Thank you for your support. I continue to be amazed at how this organization has grown and the number of animals and people we have helped. We could not have done it without your support. You have made a difference in the lives of many animals and individuals, especially kids. That said, I would like to give you an update on Ranch Hand Rescue (RHR) and let you know how your donations have impacted us and the animals and people we serve.
In 2015, we transitioned our name from Ranch Hand Rescue to Ranch Hand Rescue – A Counseling Center & Animal Sanctuary. It was important to educate new people and foundations about who we are, what we do and be clear about our mission. Many people confuse us with riding therapy. Our mental health counseling sessions partners animals with children and adults who have been severely traumatized. As our organization started to grow, it became evident to me that we needed to be clear about our mission and our programs. We want people to know we are an animal sanctuary for special needs animals as well as a counseling program that focuses on trauma informed therapy. Quite simply “It’s animals helping people and people helping animals”.
We also refined our mission statement and our programs that support the mission. RHR’s mission is to save abused and neglected farm animals with special focus on animals requiring critical care, to adopt out rehabilitated animals, to provide a caring sanctuary for the animals that have ongoing needs and to help people with personal, mental and psychological challenges to change and better their lives through Equine/Animal Assisted Counseling. We also redefined the programs that support our mission. They are:
- Rescue the worst-of-the-worst animal abuse and neglect cases by partnering with law enforcement officials, other rescues and individuals.
- Adopt out rehabilitated animals to caring and loving homes.
- Provide a loving, caring and safe sanctuary to animals that cannot be adopted due to special care needs.
- Provide mental health counseling using Equine and Animal Assisted Counseling (EAAC) and other modalities to help people overcome trauma and other mental health challenges.
- Provide a safe, caring and educational place for juveniles to complete their court ordered community service.
In 2015, we focused on building infrastructure to position ourselves for growth. In October, after 14 months, the City of Denton approved our rezoning for our second facility. We received all the needed approvals without any restrictions. We are now in the process to secure our building permits and start construction on our new Business/Welcome center in January 2016. The additional location will provide a sanctuary for an additional 15-20 special needs animals. In addition, it will house two additional therapists that will allow us to see 40 to 50 more clients. The second facility will also house our office and will have a meeting room for group counseling sessions. The facility will be handicapped accessible so that we can serve veterans and their families along with any other special needs clients who need our help. We hope to open in May of 2016.
This year, we hired a Clinical Director, Cathy Champ, to manage our counseling program. In addition, we hired 3 additional therapists bringing our clinical staff to 6 therapists. And just this past week, we hired a seventh therapist who will start in January 2016. We will have 5 full time and 2 part time therapists. One of our newly hired therapists, Rebecca Mata, is bi-lingual so we can better serve our Spanish-speaking segment of our community. With the additional counselors, we now also offer other therapeutic modalities in addition to EAAC such as:
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Addictions Model
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Play Therapy, Art Therapy, Nature Therapy
- Faith Based Counseling
Because of the successes we are having with EAAC, the demand to provide counseling services has continued to increase. This year we have seen 50% more clients than in 2014 and we have provided 70% more counseling sessions over 2014. Additionally, we have renewed and expanded our current contracts with existing partners and are developing new partnerships with organizations that provide services to abuse victims. In 2015, we launched our Veterans Services Program and did a pilot to help children of wounded warriors and veterans to understand why mommy or daddy is different when they return home from active service. The program was a complete success and will be formalized and expanded in 2016. In January 2016, we expect to announce two additional partnerships in Denton and Tarrant counties.
I am often asked what exactly is Equine & Animal Assisted Counseling? Here is what we know:
Life is hard. Research shows that the effects of traumatic childhood or adult experiences (abuse, neglect, domestic violence, divorce, mental illness, substance abuse, death or imprisonment of a caregiver, living in warzone, etc.) can be long lasting and change social, emotional, and cognitive functioning. These changes can lead to unhealthy, high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, eating disorders, criminal offenses, sexual promiscuity, and poor relationship choices. During Ranch Hand Rescue’s innovative counseling sessions, we seek to intervene to change these outcomes. Whether it is at the front line in partnering with organizations such as the Children’s Advocacy Center or Court Appointed Special Advocates at the discovery of abuse or later down the road with those who have already developed unhealthy high risk behavior as in our clients from Juvenile Justice, Santé Center for Healing our counseling helps break the negative effects of traumatic experiences. Our counselors use trauma informed, tried and true methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy along with cutting edge Equine and Animal Assisted Therapy to change the course of lives for people of all ages. The animals at the ranch experienced hardship and have their own story of adversity. This makes them particularly effective in helping our clients as they can relate to the animal’s experiences. Our counselors are specially trained to use their skills along with these special animals to help our clients down a different path.
At the core of all issues is relationship (with ourselves and others) – whether depression, anxiety, substance abuse, traumatic experiences, etc. That is what makes EAAC so powerful. In EAAC, clients experience a relationship with the animals much like their relationships with people. Horses and other farm animals respond honestly to our behaviors and internal states. When they are involved in the counseling process, people become aware of emotional, behavioral, and relational patterns that otherwise may remain hidden. Therapists can then help the clients identify these unhealthy patterns and then practice healthy ones as they get in the moment feedback from the animals. We use many of the same concepts as in traditional therapy, cognitive distortions, passive, assertive, aggressive behavior, empathy, boundaries, self-regulation, awareness of thoughts and feeling, etc. but these concepts are able to be played out experientially. RHR has the added benefit of using animals that all come from trauma situations so they are very relatable and the serene ranch environment is soothing and peaceful.
Highlights from 2015 include:
- We constructed two more counseling cottages at our existing location to provide additional office space so that we could serve more children in need.
- We rescued 21 animals, many from a miserable existence and untimely death, and found them caring and loving homes.
- We were able to adopt out 19 of the rescued animals.
- Two of the rescued animals will stay at RHR. That brings us to 27 animals that will live out their lives at the RHR sanctuary and be a part of our Equine/Animal Assisted Counseling program.
- We added a new pasture at our existing location.
- We added 6 new cameras for security.
- We received the biggest grant in our history from The Meadows Foundation to help us provide free services in the areas of mental health.
- We were selected from hundreds of rescues in the country to receive a matching grant from the APSCA.
- We added Dr. Jay Haynes to our Board of Directors. Dr. Haynes is our medical advisor.
- We redesigned our website.
- We developed a new video. “A look at what we do” to help people understand our mission and purpose.
- We raised $131,000, a new record, at our Fall Fundraiser on November 14, 2015 to support our general operations and provide free counseling to victims of abuse.
- We constructed a 2 stall run in the shelter and paddock area at our second facility.
- Over 250 Denton County Juveniles who had received probation for crimes came thru our community service program.
- We provided over 225 hours of counseling sessions for youth who are incarcerated. In addition this program will expand in 2016
- National Geographic came to RHR to film a documentary about Midnite and how he was saved and learned to cope with his prosthetic leg. He now works with children to overcome the disabling mental health effects of trauma. The program will show sometime next year.
In closing, I would like to share with you the following testimonial given to me by a parent as an example of how powerful this therapy can be and how the RHR animals help children to understand and deal with severe trauma.
Dear Mr. Williams,
A year ago, my 8-year-old daughter was sexually abused by a relative. As it turns out, the abuse went on for months. My daughter became despondent, depressed and eventually quit talking. We had her in counseling for about 6 months and made virtually no progress. We were referred to Ranch Hand Rescue as another option and didn’t quite no what to expect. From the beginning, I could see the excitement on my daughter’s face when she pulled into the parking lot of the ranch. The first few weeks she worked with her counselor and was making progress but she still would not talk. Then one day, she met you and you gave her a Midnite sweatshirt. Midnite is the horse she works with in her program. She looked at you and said “thank you”! That was first time that she had spoken in many months. I can’t even begin to tell you the joy that was in my heart. In the last couple of months, my daughter has made amazing progress. She is talking, laughing and is almost back to how she was before her abuse started. You have given me back my daughter. Your program and your animals have given us a chance at a normal life and we are learning to cope and heal. How do I ever thank you? How can I ever repay you? I am so grateful to Ranch Hand Rescue, and you will never really know just how thankful I am.
This friends is why we do this work. All life is precious. When I started Ranch Hand Rescue I wanted to be part of the solution. I wanted this organization to provide and fill a much needed niche to help children and adults who needed a different approach to counseling. The best way to think of us is we use animals to partner and reach the 3-5% of children or adults who just don’t respond to traditional therapy. They need and require a more progressive counseling program. We have seen a tremendous bond that is formed between abused and neglected animals and people who have suffered severe trauma. It’s progressive and it works in most of these difficult cases.
Please help us to carry on this work by making a monthly or one time year-end donation to Ranch Hand Rescue. You can do this by visiting our website at www.ranchhandrescue.org or by mailing a check using the enclosed addressed envelope. You can sponsor a child or veteran for counseling, or you can sponsor an animal. We need monthly donations to help us budget our sanctuary costs for feed, medical care, vaccinations and the staff required to take care of these special needs animals. We need your help to continue helping people and saving more animals. I always wanted Ranch Hand Rescue to be a place of healing for people and animals and because of you, my dream is being fulfilled. Please feel free to contact me at any time for a private tour or to discuss our work.
On behalf of the RHR staff, our volunteers, all of the animals and the people they serve, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
God bless you, and your friends and family! You are a blessing to us.
Robert F. Williams
Office 940.464.0985 Cell 817.907.5626
Ranch Hand Rescue IRS 501(c)(3) EIN No. 26-4610450