Lewis Strahl probably had no idea when he made his gift of land in 2009, that the 20 acre pasture would someday become the vibrant home of life changing programs. Beginning with their 2013 season, Edelweiss Equine Assisted-Therapy, Inc. hopes to open for business at a new location: 531 W. 100 S., Greenfield, land owned by the Hancock County Community Foundation, thanks to Lewis’ gift. “The HCCF Board of Directors defined an arrangement that allows HCCF to fulfill the charitable wishes of Lewis, as well as, provide a home for an organization that improves the lives of children and adults with disabilities. We couldn’t be more pleased,” says Mary Gibble. “This endeavor is perfectly matched with the mission of HCCF to enrich and enhance life both by administering donors’ charitable intent and strengthening nonprofit organizations that serve the community.”
In his will, Lewis asked that the land be retained by HCCF for ten years and the income generated be divided equally between two endowments: one for New Palestine United Methodist Church and one to create scholarships for students graduating from New Palestine High School.
Appropriate zoning requirements will need to be met to finalize the arrangement. Once confirmed, Edelweiss will sign a three-year lease agreement for the Strahl pasture based on fair market value plus 5%. Fair market value is determined by the Purdue Agricultural Economics Report for pastureland in Central Indiana. The lease will allow Edelweiss to renew for two additional three-year terms.
The mission of Edelweiss is to provide equine-assisted therapy for children and adults with special needs to support their physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral disabilities in a safe and stimulating environment. Edelweiss is certified by the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH) and currently offers three programs: Therapeutic Horseback Riding, Therapeutic Carriage Driving and a Veterans Horseback Riding Program, offered free of charge to any veteran in need. Programs are offered mid-April through mid-October and the center is closed in the winter due to lack of indoor facilities.
East-Central Indiana has proven it has a significant need for therapeutic horseback riding, and as a result Edelweiss has grown considerably in a very short time. The organization was founded in 2004 by Elisa Bowen Bell to provide therapeutic horseback riding for 10 children with cognitive and physical disabilities. In the beginning there were 2 horses and 25 volunteers in the program. Edelweiss has since grown to serving 75 riders annually with the assistance of 10 horses and 130 volunteers. Since its inception the organization has resided on the 5 acre farm of the Bowen family located 5 miles south of Greenfield on State Road 9.
Edelweiss’ Board of Director’s primary strategic goal for the past two years has been to find a larger tract of land to supply enough pasture for their horse herd and ensure adequate space for an indoor arena, office space and other buildings, such as a stable. “We are thrilled with the partnership with the Hancock County Community Foundation. The location is perfect for our organization in both size and place. The 20 acres are centrally located in the community with easy access just 1 mile off of US 40,“ says Shirley Mascoe, Executive Director. “This partnership will provide Edelweiss immediately with adequate land for our herd and the lease agreement will provide adequate time for the organization to raise money for the infrastructure so that Edelweiss can provide year-round services.”
2012 marks the Community Foundation’s celebration of working with caring individuals, families, and organizations for 20 years. Our mission is to create or grow existing permanent funds called endowments. These funds generate income that is distributed in the form of grants and scholarships to enrich and enhance life in Hancock County, as well as support the donor’s favorite charitable causes, both at home and afar forever. HCCF has granted over $8 million since its inception in 1992.
“It is exciting that, after only 10 years, Edelweiss has outgrown our facility,” said Dr. Richard Bowen, “Thanks to the help of hundreds of volunteers and the continuous support of many individual, club, and corporate donors, Edelweiss has become an important part of the lives and personal development of our many riders.”