BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling Strongwater Farm Therapeutic Equestrian Center in Tewksbury, MA that helps individuals with disabilities and mental health issues.
The rolling 12-acre farm sits on the grounds of Tewksbury State Hospital, but founder M.J. Marcucci says it is not funded by the state, “We live on state land, however we are not incorporated with them as far as funding, as far as personnel or any kinds of benefits.”
A majority of the center's $450,000 budget comes from contributions according to board members Martha Gaffney and Diana Lane.
“We do have one person who’s made, from a foundation, a fairly significant commitment,” stated Gaffney. Lane said, “Some just donate $20 a month.”
They also hold 5 fundraisers a year. Their biggest is the Pre-Kentucky Derby Gala, being held May 4th at the Tewksbury Country Club.
“We’ll have Derby-themed music, fancy hat contest, and we will show videos of races and we’ll also show videos of the program,” Lane outlined.
One of their more popular fundraisers is the Donut Dash, a 5K race that includes some sweet treats.
“People register and they run through some of the horse trails and they grab donuts on the way. That’s coming up in March,” Gaffney said.
Fees collected for private horseback riding lessons pay for a third of the annual budget. That budget funds the salaries of the center's 12-member staff, along with the care of the horses. Board Vice Chair Chris Perley says eventually they'd like to build an indoor riding area so they can offer their full services to clients in the winter.
“Goes to a minimal level in the winter months. We really need an indoor arena to have a year-round operation. The other aspect is just throughout the year. You can have a thunderstorm, you can have, you know, a very hot, humid day and we need to cancel the lesson on a short notice,” Perley stated.
The indoor arena is now in the feasibility and planning stage.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports