United Way Presents Stable-Spirit inspires through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

Published 6:06 am Saturday, November 13, 2021

(Editor’s Note: This is part 10 of a 21-part series on the partners of United Way of Orange County.)

While Stable-Spirit is a well-established organization which has helped thousands through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Hippotherapy and Equine Experimental Development (EED) programs, it is new as a United Way of Orange County partner.

“We are the newest partner,” Executive Director Katie Durio said. “We joined January of 2021.”

Durio had considered applying for years and now that the organization had reached a point where it needed to hire an assistant, she began the application process.

The first step in becoming a Partner Agency with United Way of Orange County is to be sure that the nonprofit meets our criteria:

  • Agency must have non-profit status as defined under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Agency must offer a program that addresses a clearly demonstrated community need in reference to at least one of three areas of United Way focus of health, education, or financial stability.
  • Agency must provide needs or services to residents of at least one of the following zip codes: 77611, 77614, 77626, 77630, 77631, 77632, 77639, 77662, 77670.
  • Agency services must be available to citizens of the community without regard to race, religion, national origin, or political creed.
  • Agency must maintain an active local governing board of adequate size, background, and diversity to represent the community, serving without compensation, holding regular, documented meetings (at least quarterly) and demonstrating effective administrative control.  Minutes are to be available to United Way of Orange County upon request.
  • Agency must be in existence for a minimum of three years.  Agency must have annual audit or compiled financial statements for those three years completed by a Certified Public Accountant acceptable to the United Way. This requirement must be repeated for each subsequent funding request. Agencies must also submit their most current IRS Form 990.

“Assuming the nonprofit meets all of these requirements, they then complete a Letter of Intent.  The Letter of Intent is a short form which asks for basic contact information, the annual budget of the organization, the requested grant amount, and a description of the program for which they are applying,” United Way President and CEO Maureen McAllister said. “We have a committee of our Board which then reviews all of that information.  If the committee agrees that the organization has a mission which benefits those in Orange County and meets our criteria, they then make a site visit where they go out to the agency.  They tour the facility and hear from the director to learn more about that organization and the programs offered.”

From there, the committee votes whether or not to allow the agency to apply for funding.  If the committee approves, they make a recommendation to the full United Way Board.  Once the Board approves, the agency is then eligible to apply for funding.

“It may sound like a very long and involved process, and it is, but United Ways work to ensure that donor funds are not used lightly,” McAllister said. “The application process only happens once a year and ALL agencies, no matter how long they have been an agency, MUST completed those applications every year.  The applications require many pieces of documentation including, but not limited to 501C3s, financials, audits, etc.  Once approved for funding, agencies must also submit quarterly reports.”

For Stable-Spirit, this means the organization now has an opportunity to hire an assistant learn the agency.

“We have a person come in one day a week,” Katie Durio said. “We were looking for a grant to help pay for partial or most of the person’s salary and we got it. It was for 8 hours a week.”

She has since been able to increase the person’s hours to 13 hours a week due to a grant from another United Way since Stable-Spirit provides therapy for residents in several counties.

“United Way has been amazing and a blessing all around,” Durio said. “Without an assistant, I would have to do everything and have limited time to wrote grants. But United Way provides so much more than just grant funding.”

Durio explained how if a corporate partner had excess supplies, the partners agencies could receive those donations.

“They have been such a blessing to us, more than just grants,” Durio said. “They help others know about us and are so much more than such funding.”

Stable-Spirit emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community through interaction with horses.

Stable-Spiritutilizes horses in a variety of ways to provide beneficial experiences and treatment for many youth in Orange County and across the region through Hippotherapy.

Hippotherapy, according to the American Hippotherapy Association, is a physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement as part of an integrated intervention program to achieve functional outcomes.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists to provide treatment in an environment that is child friendly and caters to the individuals’ needs use this therapeutic tool.

Stable-Spirit is a nonprofit organization providing Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) to youth and adults with a special interest in providing mental health services to people experiencing the affects of crime, crisis, trauma, and other issues that may put them at risk. Stable-Spirit also works with families and groups to best support the needs of the clients.

Children can experience 30 minutes per week on a horse, reaching their treatment goals faster. Depending upon what a child needs is how it is determined what horse the child gets, such as in the horse’s gait.  Horses are interactive with kids, as in a child brushing a horse fits in a sequencing order.

According to its official website, Stable-Spirit is a nonprofit organization providing EAP to youth and adults with a special interest in providing mental health services to people experiencing the affects of crime, crisis, trauma, and other issues that may put them at risk. Stable-Spirit also works with families and groups to best support the needs of the clients.

In EAP, an equine professional and licensed therapist, involve horses in experiential activities on the ground in a non-threatening way – no riding. This technique is highly effective because horses have a keen awareness of body language and will mirror the feelings and intentions of others in their environment.

In the Equine Experimental Development (EED) programs, an equine professional and success coach involve horses in experiential activities on the ground with a focus toward relating interactions with the horses to interactions in the organization, or in life. It is amazing how the horses’ response to clients reveals their strengths and weaknesses, offering a powerful experiential opportunity to determine what is needed to effect positive change.

For more information on the Stable-Spirit program, call 409-365-5277 or e-mail info@stable-spirit.org or visit the website at www.stable-spirit.org.

To make a donation to United Way of Orange County, visit https://www.uwoctx.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1