The Kim Foundation awards annual program grants to organizations that carry out innovative, sustainable mental health and suicide prevention programming. We are proud to support these organizations and applaud them for their vision and commitment to improving the lives of individuals impacted by mental illness and suicide.
Organization Name: Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy (HETRA)
Mission: HETRA’s mission is to improve the quality of life both physically and emotionally of adults and children of all ability levels through equine assisted activities.
Funded Program Description: HETRA is seizing the opportunity to expand programming to additional groups in our community that will benefit from our very unique barn environment and horse interaction. Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Learning sessions focus on additional population needs in our community, such as at-risk youth, youth development and leadership, and individuals with mental health issues.
“Equine-facilitated psychotherapy (EEP) is an experiential form of psychotherapy that involves equines. EEP is defined as an interactive process in which a licensed mental health professional working with or as an appropriately credentialed equine professional partners with suitable equine(s) to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client. The equine is a critically important partner in the work of EEP. The equine’s prey nature and intense sensitivity to subtle changes in their environment make them perfect partners for professionals who teach a wide range of life and coping skills.” PATH International
This expansion of programming focuses on the groups listed above, as well as veterans and caregivers. With the expansion of programming and certification of staff as Equine Specialists in Mental Health and Learning, the Board of Directors has changed our mission statement from “with disabilities” to “of all ability levels”. This opens the door for HETRA to serve those with mental, social, emotional, or other needs in our community.
HETRA is pleased to announce that we have hired a full-time mental health therapist to join our team. Kelli Hatzenbuehler is a 22-year Combat Veteran of the Army National Guard. She currently serves in the role of Master Intelligence Analyst in the rank of Master Sergeant. For the past seven years, she has served as the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Resilience and Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention Manager and then the Military OneSource State Consultant. In August of 2018, Kelli received a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Over the past year, HETRA has had the opportunity to work with two part-time Mental Health Therapists to develop our EFP programming. With Kelli as a member of our full-time staff, we are excited about further growth of these programs as well as additional programming hours.
Successes of Program or Inspirational Stories: HETRA completed one Caregiver’s Respite Retreat in June of 2019, with the next one scheduled for September 7, 2019. We are looking forward to two additional Caregiver’s Respite Retreats to be offered in 2019. These retreats are designed to help caregivers learn new strategies for self-care, boundary setting, communication, and stress management. They are open to caregivers of all types including those caring for an elderly parent, a child with special needs, at-risk youth, veterans, or those that are a caregiver by profession.
A few quotes from our participants:
“I really enjoyed interacting with the staff and volunteers. Talking about the horses, what we were doing, and being able to talk to others about my specific situation helped reduce some of my stress.“
“Great experience. I needed the reminder to listen and be present. Working with the horses really is a calming experience.”
“It was good to connect with other caregivers, to know that I am not the only one in this situation. It was great to touch base during the activities with the horses and to think about how it relates to our lives/caregiving.”
HETRA will also offer four additional veteran events prior to the end of the year with Kelli in a leadership role. Her history and current service in the military will bring credibility to our veteran population and her Mental Health Training will allow for a more holistic approach to healing. The veteran events are open to active duty and retired military, veterans, as well as their caregivers and families. HETRA will also begin individual EFP sessions in the fall of 2019. This has been made possible through the funding provided by The Kim Foundation.