Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC), a non-profit organization providing therapeutic horseback riding and other equine-facilitated group services to children and adults with physical, social and mental health needs, received a $15,000 COVID-19 relief grant from the Collier Comes Together Fund, a charitable fund of the Community Foundation of Collier County (CFCC). The grant will be used to fund operations for NTRC’s programs for people with special needs which have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 temporary program closure and cancelation of major fundraising events.
NTRC delivers safe and highly effective equine-assisted therapeutic programs, achieving measurable results for nearly 800 individuals with special needs annually. Therapies are individually designed and monitored to help each participant consistently achieve measurable improvement in their physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. These therapies had to be temporarily suspended on March 13, 2020 for the safety and protection of staff and those NTRC serves, but caring for the 14-horse therapy herd remained a critically necessary daily service.
The horses and staff who care for them are the heart and soul of NTRC programming and how children, youth and adults with special needs significantly increase their joint mobility and strengthen and improve posture, balance and coordination, as well as build self-confidence.
“NTRC is doing everything possible to retain our staff and essential resources to remain ready to fully resume our vital programming as soon as we are able to do so safely,” said NTRC Missy Lamont Executive Director. “Historically, the total annual $272,000 required for herd expenses are funded through our special events. The recent May cancellation of our Kentucky Derby Party and uncertain future of our Bootstrap Boogie Barn Dance, our signature annual fundraiser held in November, has created an urgent need to find new funding sources. We are grateful for the CFCC for their continued support of our mission and those we serve during these trying times.”
The growing demand for NTRC services from special needs rider families without insurance coverage or who have exhausted available medical benefits, but still require effective therapies is expected to increase as a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Special needs place severe financial, physical and emotional demands on the families NTRC serves. Over 42% of participants last year had household incomes less than the Federal Poverty Level thresholds and many therapeutic riders required annual scholarships for weekly lessons. During these uncertain economic times, CFCC’s investment will ensure NTRC’s ability to maintain these scholarships upon fully resuming services.
CFCC activated emergency relief funds from the Collier Comes Together Fund to collect donations to aid in Coronavirus relief. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CFCC revised its grants process to make current grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to the crisis. CFCC is directing all possible unrestricted dollars into the grant pool, in order to have more funds available to grant. The funds will help rapidly deploy basic needs resources to healthcare nonprofit organizations and will help support their operations as well as their staff at the front lines of Collier County’s coronavirus outbreak.