This past Saturday, we gathered together with volunteers, donors, partners, participants, families, friends, and guests to celebrate all the amazing things God has done this past year.
It’s so hard to believe that Bright Side’s second year of ministry is coming to a close, and yet, I feel so far away from the Nervous Nellie I was at the beginning of 2016. The first year was more than I had ever dreamed, and I was so anxious over year two. I didn’t know if we would see the same generosity and support, wondered how to make the most of the session program, guessed at growth, and lamented over my own shortcomings. There were so many moments over the last year where I told God, “I don’t know that you have the right person leading this organization. I know kids and horses, and that’s about it.” In response to my own misgivings, the Lord brought along exactly what was needed to help me grow personally and in turn help Bright Side develop a more solid foundation.
And while God has been shaping and molding me, He did an amazing work through all those who gave their time, talents, and treasures and through all the kids and teens that came to the ranch.
We began the year with a strategic plan (that our Board of Directors helped put together) and what we thought were lofty goals for 2016. For instance, in 2015, we had our very first (although quite short) session season with over 15 sessions. So, we set a goal of 75 sessions for 2016 and thought if we had about 10 kids on a regular basis that would be something to celebrate.
And, then God moves. We still have such a tiny sign out front at the ranch, and since we are still building teams and infrastructure, we have only advertised by word of mouth. All those things aside, we held 125 sessions in 2016 with 35 students, 15 of those part of regular, ongoing mentoring. WOW!
We also had plans for a riding arena this year. We thought that was dreaming big, and for us it was. But, through a special church and group of people in Ohio, God made it possible to have a riding arena AND a round pen this year.
God also placed before us a new opportunity of holding Round Ups. There are some groups and youth organizations that just aren’t able to send kids for one-on-one sessions but can come out to the ranch as a group. This past fall, a group of 13 students along with their leaders from the Children’s Attention Home in Rock Hill came out for a morning of fishing, working with the horses, painting ponies, learning about trust, and having a pie eating contest. For these kids, who have one or both parents in prison, this was an incredible day. Some of them had never fished before, and many of them had never been around a horse. How wonderful to share the ranch with this group, and we look forward to more Round Ups in the future.
We have been overwhelmed by His goodness and faithfulness and blessed by the generosity and support of so many. And, we have been moved by the kids and families that have participated in sessions at Bright Side.
We hope you enjoy this look back on all that has happened this year, and we thank you for partnering to inspire the next generation toward Hope.
"Not to us... but to Your name be the glory..." Psalm 115:1
Also, the drought has caused a greater need for hay that we originally budgeted. If you are interested in helping the horses and ponies at the ranch, please consider giving a gift today.