Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dear Friends of Touchstone Farm, Pony Farm, Horse Power and Stepping Stone Lodge,
            It is with joy in my heart that I think of all the people that we have connected with during this year…our 40th Anniversary!!! As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful indeed. What a pleasure and a privilege it has been to see former campers and lesson students come back to the farm now as adults and parents.  What a treat to hear that the farm is “still the same”…the barn still smells deliciously of horses, hay and happy times…the Homestead still carries memories of the stagecoach rumbling in with its weary travelers…the Lodge still offers its sense of comfort on a cold winter’s night or relaxation after a busy summer day…the horses still come to the stall door to greet guests with their ears forward…the goats still get out of the fence, and the hens still lay warm, wonderful eggs. In a hustle and bustle world, this deep sense of place is a beacon for us all. I cannot imagine being anywhere else in the world!!!
            We have had a lovely fall. The foliage has been bright and beautiful.  The days have been warm and the farm has been alive with activity.  The gardens are being put to bed and the ponies are growing their long coats, all in preparation for the coming of winter.  The firewood at the lodge is being stacked high so that the fireplace can burn brightly for all the exciting and fun events planned during the coming months. The staff has been a truly amazing team, working hard every day to care for all the lesson students and the animals that serve so faithfully.  We have several new additions to our fabulous group of staff members.  It is such a pleasure to work side by side with people, new and old, who share my passion and vision for the farm.
Our board of directors, who have so diligently and carefully put together all the parts to make Touchstone Farm a reality, have also been invaluable. This dedicated group has often met weekly to see to each development and make sure that Horse Power, Stepping Stone Lodge and Pony Farm all came together under the new not for profit umbrella of Touchstone Farm.  They kept vigil to make sure that the best of all three businesses were preserved under the new organization, while the necessary changes also happened to move boldly forward. Again, it is my profound delight to have such a committed and talented group working to uphold our mission.
Most amazing of all to me has been our loyal and devoted donors.  All of our dreams and hopes for the future are for naught if we don’t have the necessary financial strength to back them up! Individuals and families from all over this country have stepped up to help out.  The transition to Touchstone Farm has not only taken a huge amount of time, but has been costly to insure that the transition was done correctly.  Our farm family has certainly come forth to lay the foundation of this new organization, one brick at a time. Now that this foundation is strong and solid, we are eager to move forward into making all of our programs and camps even better, while creating new programs to meet the pressing needs of the world around us.  As our mission states, we are indeed “building foundations that last a lifetime”.
Our donations come in all sizes and from many sources.  Our donors are of all ages.  Some like to help feed and care for our horses.  Some like to offer scholarships. Some like to help us buy the necessary computers or phones to be efficient.  Some like to build things like new ring fences.  Some like to give us their time.  Some like to give us horses.  Others help us with their advice and experience.  All of these generous people help us fulfill our mission.
In the next four weeks, I would like to feature four donors who have truly touched us with their spirit of giving and generosity. They inspired us to move resolutely forward.  They gave us the heart and soul to make the needed changes. They gave us the courage to try new things and offer new programs to help those around us.  They were ‘there’ for us.
The first of these four donors is a pair of sisters. Their names are Abby and Didi.  They are 10 and 11 years old.  They come to Pony Farm, our summer camp, and they love ponies!  They are part of a family run boarding stable and work hard every day to keep the barn immaculate for fat and happy horses.  They came up with a “Pennies for Ponies” campaign to raise money for Touchstone.  They kept a jar in the tack room of the barn and would bring it out whenever one of the boarders drove in the driveway.  They would ask for any loose change that was in the car, telling people that they were raising money for kids who needed to be able to ride.
After months of collecting this pocket money, their time to come to camp finally arrived. They packed up all their riding and camp stuff, including their “Pennies for Ponies”.  On the Opening Day of their session, they proudly walked up to me, lugging over $125 of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  With beaming grins on their face, they proudly told me of their mission to help other kids.  I was moved to tears as these two sweet, wonderful girls spoke.
Daily we are bombarded with stories of kids who bully others…or who are apathetic…or who are destructive…or who are lazy…or who are selfish and self-centered.  With no flash and flourish, these girls simply gave.  They gave with their heart and their time.  Abby and Didi’s gift  of coins and love truly moved me.  They inspired all of us to work harder to make the farm even better.  Their gift made us consider every dime we spend to make it count.  Their commitment strengthened our resolve to keep serving our world community.
So, as we approach Thanksgiving, I give deep thanks to Abby and Didi, and all the other generous people of our “farm family” who have given gifts, large and small, to fuel our mission and vision.  Together, with our horses, gardens and farm animals, we are making the world a happier, brighter and healthier place for the many people who come through our farm gates.  With children in the world like Abby and Didi, the future will be bright. So, thank you, Abby and Didi for inspiring us. Thank you for being YOU!
May your week be great and your heart thankful as we come into the season of gathering in our blessings.  Please do be in touch with us.  The welcome mat of Touchstone Farm is always out and the gates are always open.
                                                                                    Most warmly,