This December will mark one full year of operation as a 501(c)3 nonprofit for Bright Side Youth Ranch. God has done so much for and through the ranch, and there have been so many faithful people to partner with Bright Side along the way. These wonderful Champions are the ones who have given generously, served wholeheartedly, and prayed continually. This past Saturday, to honor all that God and our Champions have accomplished this year, we held a Celebration Event at Bright Side.
It was an outdoor, family event that included kid-friendly snacks and crafts, greeting Alex and Lexi, demonstration of connecting with a horse, a time of worship and sharing, and even a family experience prayer walk through the property.
Devin shared that these past couple of years have been all about obedience for us as we have set out to follow what God set before us. And, it's so true. Even when the steps forward looked risky, we discovered that each movement in obedience resulted in God providing exactly what we needed at exactly the right time.
Here are some ways we have seen God at work this year:
- over 1600 feet of fencing completed & providing safe enclosure for our herd
- over 90 volunteers serving in various capacities from work days full of fencing & clearing to weekly routines of feeding horses & cleaning pastures
- two horses are given a new purpose & a new home at the ranch
- a 12x24 run-in shed to provide shelter for the horses & relief from the elements
- a mission team of 33 from Ohio who served & worked diligently in the Carolina heat
- the first two major fundraising events called Bet on Bright Side & An Evening with Bright Side that enabled us to share about the cause & see God's hand at work through generous hearts
- interactions with the horses by over 60 children
What an incredible year it's been, and it's not over yet! We believe there is still so much God has in store for Bright Side and the next generation of the Metrolina this year and for years to come.
This past September, we started official sessions. Sessions are more than riding lessons. Yes, we want children ages 8-18 to learn confidence around horse and develop riding skills, but we desire so much more for them. We want children and youth to feel known, heard, loved, valued and empowered, and we believe that a session can help provide those aspects through a relationship with a mentor and a connection with a horse.
At the Celebration Event, we had a demonstration of connecting with a horse in the round pen. Since they are emotionally responsive animals, horses have so much to teach us, and we can see so much of our own strengths and weaknesses reflected in their actions, responses, and how they process the information and signals we give them. It is here that the conversation between a child and a mentor begins. The horse is the launching pad and the foundation for discussions on relationships, trust, fear, confidence, anxiety, understanding, leadership, and problem solving. It is through these interactions that children and youth can begin to identify with the animal and see how those aspects apply to their own lives.
Here are a few insights from some of the participants who have been out to Bright Side:
"This is so calming. This is the most stress free I have been all week."
"Just like horses mostly choose flight over fight, I tend to run away when I am afraid too."
"Lexi is very calm, yet sometimes she is pushy with the other horse. And I can be that way with my friends too. Pushy and in a hurry."
"I feel like the horse needing to trust in a safe place. I need to trust God more - that He's my safe place and that He can lead and guide me."
It's been such a blessing to see the impact that the mentoring sessions have had already.
To date, we have had 9 sessions and will continue to hold more as we finish out the season in the next few weeks. 9 sessions and 4 consistent families are such a blessing and have been exactly what we needed with two horses and a short first session season. Come this spring, though, when we start a new session season, we want those numbers to multiply.
As I said earlier, God has been faithful and provided exactly what we have needed for what He has called us to do this year. But, He has so much more in store for Bright Side and the next generation in the Metrolina area, and to step forward into what is next, we have to grow in our capacity.
In order to do so, we need many items, but we are focusing on three things right now:
1. More pasture - which is happening on the Work Day on November 14th - we are planting trees, pulling weeds, and putting in Paddock 3.
2. A third horse - The horses are an integral part to the mentoring sessions, and Alex and Lexi are both fantastic. But they will need help sharing the session load if we are to continue to grow. Simply put, we need a third horse.
3. Finances to cover the cost of taking on another horse - As you can imagine, horses need quite a bit of care, from feed to hay to the farrier to the vet. It costs per horse about $300 a month or $3000 a year here at Bright Side.
In light of this third need, we are introducing a new element: Horse Sponsorship! We deeply value what these horses give to us and the kids, and we want to make sure that they are adequately cared for so that they can continue in their work. We also desire to keep the sessions affordable for families. Horse Sponsorship enables both needs to be met. The Sponsorships start at $25 a month and increase from there. And, with joining this program, you will get a packet that includes a gift from the ranch, pictures of "your" horse, and a certificate. You will also get quarterly updates on "your" horse. Let us know if you are interested, and we will happily share more information!
We are so grateful to all of you who have been on this journey with us, regardless of how long ago or how recent you partnered with Bright Side Youth Ranch to inspire the next generation toward Hope. God is using you in a mighty way. The impact is just beginning but already being felt.
“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!” Psalm 126:3