Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Through an Intern's Eye

When I first started my internship at Fidelis I was worried there might not be enough things to do to fulfill my 290 hour commitment. I am now 5 weeks into it and I know nothing could be farther from the truth.
From an outsiders point of view, it may look like our program is run for three hours a week. However, to make sure that our program goes off without a hitch it takes a weeks worth of effort. On Thursday morning we reach out to each individual group to make sure they are still able to come and to get head count on how many riders to expect. After that, we email all of the volunteers and to make sure we will have enough to run our program safely.
For me, I have spent most of my time so far working on getting the Fidelis name and mission out to the public. I have created an account on which is a site that anyone can go on and look up local volunteer opportunities. Even though our account has only been live for less than a week we already have one volunteer that we have talked to who is excited to work with Fidelis! Being a Coastal student, I have reached out to different groups on campus who might also be interested in being volunteers. The one that I think is most fitting is the Coastal Equestrian Team. They seem very interested in helping and have a background in horses which is always an added plus!
The last thing that is very important is all the work being done by everyone for the 2nd Annual Serving Aces for Smiling Faces Tennis Tournament! Our goal this year is $5,000 which is twice the amount of what was raised last year! Each member on the Board of Directors is trying to get as many sponsors as possible at $100 each. We are always looking for different sponsors but also for players!

Last week I also got on my first horse in over 10 years! It took a bit to remember all you had to do with tacking up and getting the horse ready but it’s coming back bit my bit. It was awesome being back on a horse, the first day I rode Yokum who was an awesome teacher. It took a bit to get him to move but he put up with me pretty well. The second time I rode Mya who had  a little more get up and go in her. Being back in the saddle and a little more familiar with the individual horses that Fidelis uses will help a lot when it comes to helping the riders.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Through an Intern's Eye: September 7th

This Sunday was my first Fidelis experience.  We had two different groups of riders, Peggy’s Kids and Celebrate Kids.  These two groups of children are our youngest participants and have overcome some difficult circumstances in their lives.  I was amazed by the number of people we hosted at the barn, in total we had 11 riders and 19 volunteers! 
19 volunteers, 11 riders and 5 horses!  It was a full barn!

With so many riders we broke into three small groups and rotated everyone between two different activities and riding in the ring. Everyone came together at the beginning and brushed and tacked up our five Fidelis horses. Each horse had 2 – 3 riders grooming them along with two volunteers each. While Maya, Yokum, Tee, and Buddy were being ridden in the ring, Lexington was very happy to be groomed and walked around by participants who weren't riding.  

The participants who were riding worked with trained volunteers to develop balance, confidence, and communication with their horses.  The volunteers were amazing at sharing the skills they knew as well as making each participant feel comfortable.  For several riders it was their first time on a horse and in no time they were steering, halting and even trotting!

When one group was in the arena riding, the other two groups were split up between two activities.  One activity was playing horseshoes on the front lawn; this gave me a good opportunity to meet some of the riders individually.  In my past internship experiences I had worked planning and running events to benefit the American Cancer Society.  For my 290 hour internship I wanted to make sure I had a hands on experience working with those who were benefiting from the organization
The other group was inside the kitchen working on a self-esteem building activity.  The participants traced their hands and were then asked to share five nice things about themselves on each of their fingers.  In the palm of their hand they drew something that represented themselves.  I enjoyed working with one rider who had a difficult time thinking of nice things about himself.  It made it worth it to me when I could talk with him and find out things he liked about himself and helped him write them on his "hand."  Throughout the two hours at the barn each rider was able to groom, ride, play horseshoes and discover some things they like about themselves

My first experience with Fidelis brought many eye-opening moments.  However, there is one particularly that sticks out to me.  One of the counselors from Celebrate Kids shared with us that she was concerned about one of the riders.  This particular participant had a lot of tactile and sensory issues and while she thought this experience would be great for him, she wasn't quite sure how he would adjust.  I asked her to take a walk into the barn with me and introduce me to him so I could spend extra time with him.  When we walked up to Tee we were shocked to see that he was busy picking up brushes and practicing his grooming skills on his horse!  It is amazing what horses can do!  This same rider hadn't even been on the horse for 2 minutes when he was asking when he could come back again!

I want to give a big thank you to the 19 volunteers, old and new that showed up to help us this past Sunday with a large group of enthusiastic young riders!  I am glad to be a part of this great group of people!
So long, until next week. - Jamie

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Meet Jamie

This post is written by our latest edition to the Fidelis team.  Jamie has joined us for the Fall semester and brings a lot of knowledge about fundraising.  We are looking forward to teaching him about equine assisted learning and learning some tricks of the trade about fundraising from him!  Jamie will be blogging weekly about his experiences, so here is a quick post so you all get to know him!

Jamie Relays for his Mom.
He is excited to work with Fidelis for the kids!
My name is Jamie O’Connell and I am a senior at Coastal Carolina University. I was born in upstate New York and grew up in Wilmington North Carolina. I am currently a senior at Coastal and will be graduating in December of 2014. I spent a lot of time around horses during my summer vacations in New York and was a counselor at a summer horse camp at my home barn. 
In my four years at coastal I have been heavily involved in Coastal’s Relay For Life event which has raised a little over $460,000. My first three years I was a sub chair working with both logistics and fundraising, my last year I was the co-chair for the entire Relay For Life. Relay has always been my biggest focus during my time at Coastal and helped lead me into my major of Health Promotion. 
In my first semester at Coastal Carolina I changed my degree to Health Promotion because after being a sub chair for Relay For Life I knew that I wanted to go into the nonprofit field with a specialization of cancer related opportunities.  In my field I have been able to intern at different places such as the American Cancer Society and Fidelis. 

This semester I decided to change it up and pick a field that is not normally associated with cancer related institutes. I am excited to be able to work with children of different ages and get back to spending more times around horses. With my graduation coming up very soon I am looking forward to working with Fidelis for my senior level internship and getting to know everyone that is involved!