I have always loved animals and especially horses. When I was very small, my parents could not pass up a horseback riding facility without me asking for a “wee-hee ride!” When I was old enough, I took weekly riding lessons and attended summer horse camps. I always felt that I had some kind of special connection with the horses. As I got older, I had less time to devote to horseback riding, but I had always planned to spend time with horses again, someday.
I have been working in the healthcare field for more than 35 years and working with Touching Smiles for about eight years. We have seen such remarkable results with our visitors that I have decided to become certified in Animal Assisted Therapy.
Since I organized Touching Smiles, I’ve been able to combine the healthcare field with my love of animals. I love being able to share the horses with our visitors; it is truly gratifying to see the smiles on our visitors’ faces and to hear about the positive effects the horses have had on them.
I have always loved animals, especially horses. That is one thing that my mom and I share. Blaze, one of our minis, was my first horse. My mom thought that he would be less intimidating, being a mini and all. I enjoy horseback riding, and I actually ride our quarter horse, Sienna.
I enjoy working with Touching Smiles. It is an amazing feeling that you get when you see that you have made a difference in someone's life. I also enjoy being able to use the horses for better things than showing and activities for our pleasure. I especially enjoy doing the visits with kids. They get so excited when it is time to see the little horses, and I connect with them a little better, being a teen myself. I love doing equine therapy and help my mom with anything I can. It has taught me great lessons that I will be able to use for the rest of my life.
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I became interested in Touching Smiles through my friend Kaelyn in the summer of 2010. I was a bit nervous at first because I had never worked with horses before, but after a few visits to the ranch I had gotten used to horses and how to work with them. I also realized that horses are really amazing animals with some of the most wonderful personalities. Touching Smiles is an organization I love because of the happiness it brings to the visitors we have, and making people happy makes me happy too.
I am married to Rick and have 2 adult children, Martin and Alena. I have a Master's degree in Social Work, and am also certified by the State of Wisconsin as a Psychotherapist. My areas of expertise include working with individuals of all ages who experience physical and mental health challenges. I'm currently employed fulltime as a Medical Social Worker/Case Manager at Aurora Sinai Hospital. I LOVE animals, especially horses, dogs and bunnies! Besides Touching Smiles Equine Therapy, I have volunteered with Special Olympics, Jewish Family Services, and The Jewish Day School.