After years of providing horse therapy for disabled adults and children at its Clovis ranch, Heart of the Horse is turning its attention to helping veterans as well.
The nonprofit is looking to raise funds to renovate a two-story, six-bedroom home on Fowler and Clinton, said Guy Adams, who runs Heart of the Horse along with his wife. The home will be used to house veterans.
“We’re going to house 10 veterans,” said Jack Hannah, a member of the Western music band Sons of the San Joaquin who also serves on the nonprofit’s board of directors. “We’re going to start with 10 because that’s what we can accommodate without stress and strain on them.”
The project came about after conversations between Heart of the Horse and Modesto-based E. & J. Gallo Winery, who has leased the property to Heart of the Horse.
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“They’ve blessed us, for a dollar a year, with a piece of property with a mansion on it,” Adams said.
The inside of the home, however, has suffered from vandalism. To make the home habitable, the nonprofit is looking to raise $500,000 — $250,000 for the community and $250,000 matched by E. & J. Gallo Winery.
While Heart of the Horse has not yet scheduled a formal fundraiser, it is putting out a plea to the community for help in rebuilding the home.
Clovis Veterans Memorial District donated $10,000, which will allow Heart of the Horse to start cleaning up the property, Adams said.
To give veterans training in a trade that will allow them to stay in the Central Valley, Heart of the Horse hopes to arrange an agriculture-based internship for its residents.
“So a veteran coming back from war, if he wants to learn an industry in the [agriculture] business here in the Central Valley, we’ll find it for him to learn it,” Adams said.
Additionally, the ranch is looking for grants to help cover the cost of the training.
“If a dairyman takes a veteran on, and teaches him or her the dairy industry, we are hoping to pass grants, or do fundraising, so that we can pay for them,” Adams said.
The veterans living on the property will also have the opportunity to give back to other veterans by working in Heart of the Horse’s Veterans Equine Therapy Services program, which provides horse therapy to veterans with PTSD and other issues.
“So they’ll be working with other veterans,” Adams said. “Our goal is to help veterans who don’t want to go to the VA, or any other place. We want to help them realize they do have an issue and they do need a [veterans] center or the VA hospital.”
The project is geared toward younger veterans who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the nonprofit hopes to have other veterans involved in a supportive role.
“What we’ve found is that by using other veterans — Vietnam veterans, Korean War veterans or World War II veterans that are still alive — being able to talk to these younger guys, they’re able to find that there’s life after war,” Adams said.
Financial donations to help renovate the home can be made by calling (559) 297-7100. Checks can be made payable to Heart of the Horse and mailed to 14335 Academy Oaks Lane, Clovis CA 93619.