Of the funds we administer at the CFFRV, 50 have been created by agencies in our service area to support their organizations into perpetuity. We spoke with Windy Kopecky, therapeutic riding instructor at Equine Dreams in Newark, about the impact of her organization’s agency endowment fund.
How and when did you become involved with Equine Dreams?
I became involved with Equine Dreams in 1998. I was in graduate school at NIU and one of my teachers informed the class about a new program that had started up and needed volunteers. I was immediately hooked; I just had a feeling I was meant to be there. The children and horses that I worked with that day left such an impression on my heart. I could see it made such a tremendous difference in the participants after their lessons; and despite only being there for a few hours, it left a huge impact on me. I immediately knew that this was something I was supposed to be involved with. Sharon Mason, the founder of Equine Dreams, has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and witnessing her impact on the children, horses, and volunteers is inspiring. This program has changed the lives of thousands, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.
How did your services/program offerings pivot this year due to COVID?
Equine Dreams offers Therapeutic Equine Assisted Activities, which includes therapeutic horseback riding, equestrian ground skills, sensory paths, veterans’ programs, miniature horse visits and horse simulator lessons to children and adults with special needs. Covid-19 has forced us to pivot to virtual horse visits, teleconferencing with participants and their families, and socially isolated miniature horse visiting sessions. We serve an extremely vulnerable population and are working hard to keep our participants, volunteers and staff safe and healthy. To do this, we have limited our workforce to essential staff members responsible for carrying out our mission. We plan to transition this fall to community visits with our miniature horses and visit through the windows of local nursing homes and day schools for those with special needs. We hope this will offer a welcome distraction to those in our community.
Why did Equine Dreams create an endowment fund with CFFRV? If you were part of the process, what was your experience?
Equine Dreams created an endowment fund with the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley to create viability and longevity for our program. Our goal is to have enough money in our fund to ensure the annual funding necessary to cover most of our expenses. The Community Foundation has always been hugely supportive of our mission and is an extremely valuable asset to our community. We are blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive relationship with them.
How has your agency endowment fund helped fulfill the mission of Equine Dreams?
Equine Dreams’ mission is to nurture abilities of those with special needs. The endowment fund has helped fulfill our mission because it created an opportunity for us to make a positive step in the direction of a long–term investment in our program. We are extremely focused on sustainability and continuing to serve our mission in perpetuity. Therefore, the growth of our endowment fund is one of our most valued priorities. We hope to see the fund grow and continue to positively impact our program and its mission for generations to come.
Is there anything else you’d like the community to know about Equine Dreams?
Equine Dreams would not exist without the generosity of our supporters, sponsors, and the giving community that has stood behind us for over 24 years. We believe whole-heartedly in our mission and witness first-hand the positive impact our services have on our participants, and their families. We welcome everyone to visit our website at www.equinedreams.org to learn more about our mission, and how we plan to continue serving our participants, and community well into the future.