Over 150 clients each week visit Refuge Services for different types of therapy. But one very big difference in the therapy provided is easy to spot right away. Refuge Services uses horses to help children and adults with physical therapy, emotional therapy and counseling.
"We serve a wide variety of clients, from two years of age and up, and clients come to us for a lot of different reasons," Patti Mandrell said. "They may have physical disabilities and they're working on physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, they would be involved in our hippo therapy program. We also have therapeutic riding, and in that category we serve a lot of clients on the autism spectrum, or may have ADHD or a learning disability, some behavioral issues that we'll address using therapeutic riding, and then we have equine assisted psycho therapy which is counseling and incorporating horses. And in that we serve any client that you could see in a traditional office setting, anywhere from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, drug and alcohol, post traumatic stress syndrome, marital issues, I mean the list goes on and on. It's just a hands on way to address a therapeutic issue."
But with the added cost of horse upkeep and Refuge wanting to raise funds for their therapy services, the non-profit organization is hosting a special evening with entertainment and dinner. Just by buying a ticket, you have the chance to help raise scholarship money for veterans and children in need of the services.
"Refuge Services is having our 4th annual Boots and Buckles benefit. It's coming up this Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Scottish Rite. And this benefit is our annual fund raiser to raise scholarships for kids with disabilities to be able to get therapy services using horses, and it also benefits our veterans. We serve our veterans and provide therapy services for them as well," Mandrell said.
Patti Mandrell is one of the co-founders of Refuge Services, and said that the horses provide a unique tool to clients, helping them gain physical strength through riding them, and helping them form a bond with a sweet animal that loves them unconditionally.
"Just being outside for one is very therapeutic, to have a space where they can be out and be in the fresh air and be with this huge animal that is so loving and tender to them and accepts them no matter what's going on with them and to hang out with that horse. They definitely build relationships with their horses and enjoy that time," Mandrell said.
Mandrell said that her work truly is rewarding, and anyone getting involved through donations or volunteer work helps keep the services affordable or even free of charge to clients in need.
"You see change quickly," Mandrell said. "I've seen many kids that weren't talking, four years of age, hadn't spoken a word yet, put them on the back of a horse and within two sessions, they're talking and laughing and just to be able to see them just shine, and be able to sit up by themselves when they hadn't been able to sit up by themselves."
The 4th annual Boots and Buckles Benefit will include a brisket and chicken dinner, live music from Lone Prairie, and both a live and silent auction.
"Tickets do need to be purchased in advance, anyone is welcome, whether you're a horse lover, or just want to help people and help our community, this is a way to give back and contribute to the future of our community," Mandrell said.
To purchase tickets in advance by Wednesday, April 3, call Refuge Services (806)748-7202 or visit their website at www.refugeservices.org .