501(c)(3) Feature: Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center
Through our ‘Free for 501(c)3’ program, our team at BarnManager has had the opportunity to learn more about incredible equestrian non-profit organizations from across the country. Each month, we’ll be featuring one such organization here on our blog!
Aiken, South Carolina is one of the foremost equestrian communities in the Southeast. However, in Aiken County and the surrounding areas, the number of individuals living with significant life challenges and disabilities is also higher than the national average.
Given these two factors, it seems only fitting that Aiken would be home to one of the leading therapeutic riding centers in the region, the Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center, designed to promote certified therapeutic riding for children and adults with physical, emotional, and psychological challenges.
Formerly known as STAR Riding, Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center began expanding two years ago when the board courageously purchased a 20-acre farm and began a $1.5 million campaign to construct a state-of-the-art, fully handicapped-accessible facility to provide therapeutic riding.
“It brings an incredible amount of joy to the board and instructors to have this available in such an equestrian community like Aiken,” said the program and volunteer coordinator, Nicole Pioli.
According to Pioli, the number of individuals in the area with life challenges is significant due to lower per-capita income, less available healthcare, and the presence of two military installations in the region. It’s the mission of Great Oak to provide equine- assisted activities that promote improved physical, emotional, and psychological health for anyone affected by these challenges.
Pioli came across a BarnManager advertisement on Facebook and immediately recognized how beneficial the software could be in helping the organization fulfill its mission.
“As an organization, we are supported by many volunteers, and it is critical for us to be in communication at all times about our horses’ needs and routines,” said Pioli. “We’re a non-profit, so it is critical that we are making sure we are managing our funds. I use the whiteboard in the BarnManager app to document every feed and hay delivery in order to show that we are being efficient in our feed practices. The calendar feature is great because it allows our instructors to communicate about which horses have been exercised and to document what areas our horses need improvement in. They have a very important job, and we are working with very fragile individuals, so we need to ensure that everyone is kept in the loop about changes in their routine.
“Working in a non-profit means that we wear a lot of hats and knowing that all of our horse documents are in one place helps,” concluded Pioli.
Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center strives to make services available to all participants for whom registration is accepted but cannot afford full tuition. Great Oak fulfills this mission through the generosity of supporters, and it’s through that generosity that Great Oak can provide access to transformation healing by developing a community of acceptance and empowerment through therapeutic riding. To learn more about Great Oak Aiken Therapeutic Riding Center, visit www.greatoakatrc.org/programs.