We are making many friends and 'regular' customers at the Pendleton Arts Center veggie stand where several Safe Haven participants spend their Tuesday afternoons greeting customers and working on projects in the studio. The farmers have been welcomed there, and some warm relationships have developed.
Case in point: Enclosed with a recent donation from Pendleton artist Amy Baird, she wrote the following: "Our father has been changed and there is no doubt that he is a better person because of his relationship with [Safe Haven's] Pete Collins. I have a studio in the Pendleton Art Center in Middletown and have been privileged to spend time with both the residents and the staff. I have watched my father squirm as he has grown to know and love Pete and as he has learned more and more about autism.
"Thank you for not only what you do for the residents and participants at "The Farm" but for how one crusty old man at a time, you are changing the community for the better. Peace to you!"
Recently Amy and her father, David Dohn, surprised farmer Pete by attending his birthday party at the farm.
The weekly "feed run" is another example of an expanding community relationship. Day Hab participants gather supply needs from all of the programs and go to Diver's Garden & Pet Supplies to fill the week's orders. On a recent trip, one of Diver's employees commented that those Monday shopping trips "made his week" as he looked forward to his interactions with the farmers and getting to know many of them personally.
Eagle Scout candidate Nathan Wendt from Troop 725 based in Trenton at Mt. Olivet Presbyterian Church recently reconstructed our fire pit for his Eagle Scout project. Nathan's mom, Lori Wendt, volunteers in the Safe Haven equestrian program. Nathan's project included planning and raising funds for materials, supplies, and tools. Volunteers from Troop 725 and their family members helped mightily with the construction. Nathan had leftover funds and kindly donated it to the equestrian program. Double nice!
The third annual Walk On for Autism fundraising event was held over Labor Day weekend around the lake at Voice of America Park in West Chester. Despite the blustery weather, the event brought out 110 walkers on a Saturday morning. Walkers, sponsors and volunteers enjoyed miniature horses, craft painting, and balloon animals, with food and bottled water donated by Kroger. The event planning committee extends deep gratitude to our Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors! We look forward to seeing all our supporters in 2018 on September 22.
The third annual "Walk On for Autism" to benefit Safe Haven Farms will be held on Saturday, September 2, 2017 at the Voice of America Park in Butler County. This annual event supports our therapeutic equestrian program.
Activities include music, miniature horses to pet, balloon animals, and crafts for kids, in addition to the walk.
Registration is $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 5-11. Children 4 and under and dogs are free! one event T-shirt is included for each participant registered by July 28.
Registration is now open online at http://www.safehavenfarmswalkon.myevent.com/
Community horseback riding has resumed on Wednesday evenings. Open to persons with autism, age 4 and up, the one-hour lesson includes 20-30 minutes riding time, as well as time forming relationships with the horses before and after riding.
If you are interested, contact us online or call 513-324-5226 for program information.
Safe Haven Farms is delighted to welcome M. Kay Brown to our Board of Directors. Kay has over 45 years of experience working with children and families within the child welfare, juvenile justice, developmental disabilities and mental health community.
Kay brings both personal commitment and professional expertise to the Safe Haven Board. Her son Jason, who had high levels of needs with multiple disabilities, died a year ago at age 42. Kay and her family have over four decades of firsthand knowledge of issues specific to supporting individuals and families with disabilities.
On a professional level, Kay is a social worker who has many years working in the area of program services— the last being Regional Coordinator for the Regional Autism Advisory Council (RAAC.) She has good knowledge of systems and resources. As her son grew into an adult, she had particular interest in adult services, including how to build a system of adult care to support a full range of needs.
Kay remains active on several local, state and national work groups and boards related to services for persons with developmental disabilities. Her wisdom and knowledge will be a valuable addition to the deliberations of the Board.
We are excited to announce Choices in Community Living, Inc. as the new provider of residential and day services at Safe Haven Farms starting July 1. Choices is a nonprofit agency that has provided person centered, value based services in southwest Ohio since 1985. Their mission "to assist people with developmental disabilities to have access to opportunities to build safe, healthy and meaningful lives in the community" aligns very well with that of Safe Haven Farms.
Late last fall Bittersweet Farms, our current provider, made the diﬃcult decision to focus their services on their sites in northern Ohio. Their 3 years of hard work improving the care and programming at Safe Haven have been invaluable. Bittersweet Farms was instrumental in guiding us during the founding of Safe Haven, and our long-standing relationship with them will continue as we collaborate at the state and national levels to assure that the needs of those with developmental disabilities and autism are voiced and addressed. Bittersweet very graciously provided us with more than adequate time to find the best replacement available and they are working with us and Choices to ensure a smooth transition.
The Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities supported our search for a new provider by inviting potential providers to apply if they had interest. Fortunately, we had several excellent responses. We were especially impressed with the staﬀ we interviewed from Choices in Community Living and how they interacted with our Farmers. Their director, Tom Weaver, has been with the organization for many years and has built a compassionate staﬀ with a strong emphasis on support for the direct care professionals who interact with Safe Haven residents and program participants on a day-to-day basis.
Choices runs programs in conjunction with county boards of developmental disabilities and YMCAs. They hope to expand day activities at the farm and are exploring other community integration options in Butler County for those served by the farm. Visit their web-site at http://partnersohio.com/home/choices-in-community-living/
Safe Haven and Bittersweet jointly participated in the 11th annual Autism & All Special Needs Expo at the Sharonville Convention Center on April 1st. This all-day even attracts hundreds of families and professionals each year, offering informational booths from dozens of special needs organizations, service providers and product suppliers. Our booth attracted a lot of interest, expanding awareness of Safe Haven Farms and generating interest in the day programs and employment opportunities at the farm. Brandy Hinkle brought Jack, our mini horse, and our alpaca Dexter to the event. Surrounded by kids all day long, they were the hit of the show and generated interest in our equestrian program.
The third annual "Share the Love dinner at the Grand Finale restaurant on February 15 saw a record high number of guests who came out mid-week to support Safe Haven Farms. Guests dined on their choice of delicious entrees and, of course, a decadent desert.
We are grateful to the staff of the Grand Finale and to our sponsors for contributing to the success of the event.