Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Monday

May 20, 2013

A chance to learn about Peace Ranch

TRAVERSE CITY — The Senior Center Network and Peace Ranch are partnering for a Spring Hoedown, with square dancing and live entertainment.

The event will take place Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at Twin Lakes Park. Cost is $5 for advance tickets available at the Senior Center, or $7 at the door.

Along with the dancing and refreshments, the event will offer the opportunity to learn more about Peace Ranch, the unique programs it offers, and volunteer opportunities that some have described as life-changing.

Peace Ranch, a faith-based organization located on 26 acres in the Hoosier Valley south of Traverse City, works with children and adults with various needs and disabilities by providing space for what executive director Jackie Kaschel described as the parallel process of rescuing, rehabilitating and restoring both horses and humans.

The herd at Peace Ranch is comprised of 13 rescued and unwanted horses gathered from throughout the Midwest. Volunteers guide the animals through the training process to become therapy horses. Kaschel said working with, grooming and caring for the horses can be extremely satisfying, even transformational, for clients and volunteers alike.

“We began the program in 2007 and work with the local courts, the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, Pine Rest, Community Mental Health, the Department of Human Services and many other agencies,” Kaschel said. “We also offer educational programs for local schools.”

The partnership between the Senior Center and Peace Ranch happened accidentally last fall when Ericca Hovie, program coordinator for the Senior Center, sought some ranch style props for the first hoedown.

“I called Peace Ranch to see if I could borrow some saddles, and I got a horse and rider to greet people out front as well in exchange for the chance to talk about their mission during the event,” Hovie said.

Traverse City resident Erwin Sporte had never been around horses, but liked what he heard and didn’t waste time signing on as a volunteer.

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