A different path: Altered route creates fund
The snow accumulations last February sent Joe Junod and wife Marilyn Greene to look at a map to plot a different route from their home in Arlington, Va., to Florida.
"The route put us going right past St. Andrews Presbyterian College," said Junod. "As a St. Andrews graduate, I wanted Marilyn, a horsewoman all her life, to see the horse barns and the programs."
What they witnessed during their stop changed their course in a different way. Their visit coincided with one of the therapeutic horsemanship sessions conducted at the Singletary Riding Center of the St. Andrews Equestrian Center.
"Therapeutic riding at St. Andrews began when a group of students wanted to provide the opportunities and benefits of riding to fellow students with disabilities," said Pebbles Turbeville, director of therapeutic horsemanship. "In the years since it began, the program expanded to create a Therapeutic Horsemanship major that includes classes for St. Andrews students and riding lessons for individuals with disabilities known to benefit from therapeutic riding."
For Junod and Greene, watching the session proved to be "inspiring and humbling."
"We are both committed to programs assisting people with disabilities," said Greene. "Our mothers were both great humanitarians, and lovers of animals as well. Since I have a special love for horses, we decided to focus on giving to this program and dedicate these efforts to the memories of our mothers."
The result is The Elizabeth Fund, begun with a $25,000 gift from the couple. According to the official mission statement, "The Elizabeth Fund exists to enrich and enlarge the lives of youth and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities through the therapeutic horsemanship program at St. Andrews Presbyterian College."
The College and the couple view this gift as the seed money to start The Elizabeth Fund, with continuing fundraising efforts to support the efforts and goals moving forward.
Dr. M. Elizabeth Peck was an osteopathic physician who grew up with horses. Born in 1911, horses were even a means of transportation for Peck. In addition to a commitment to support and give back to her community, she also supported her daughter Marilyn’s "horse habit."
"She provided riding opportunities, the means for feeding the horses and transportation for the horses to participate in various events," Greene said. "She started me at an early age with a cranky mule named Nellie. Next came King, a retired Texas ranch hand. It was through my mom’s horsemanship that I was able to grow my own love of horses, even without continued ownership. I have been able to take advantage of chances to ride while traveling in Canada, Costa Rica, Switzerland, Namibia and Indonesia."
For Elizabeth Donaldson Junod, the direct relationship with horses virtually ended at the age of 14.
"She was not a horse person after a horse kicked her in the head at age 14, prompting epilepsy seizures for many years," her son recalls.
While she did not interact with horses, her giving nature would support the spirit of the gift. "She never drew a paycheck, but her influence in church and the community was long-ranging over a significant period of time."
"Both women were lifelong givers – of their time, their talents and their treasures," said Greene.
Elizabeth Peck passed away in 2008 while Elizabeth Junod passed away in 2003.
In creating this fund to honor their mothers, Joe Junod and Marilyn Greene are living by the adage "Give what’s right, not what’s left."
"We hope that folks in the college community, the region and in horse circles across the country will see this as a means to have a direct and fast impact on the lives of those whose challenges in life dwarf ours by substantial measure," Junod said.
Four main objectives have been included in the planning of the fund. They are:
In establishing these objectives of the fund, the couple sees three groups who will be direct beneficiaries.
"We hope that it will benefit students and others with disabilities that they might find physical, spiritual and emotional strength through their interaction with horses and mastery of the skills of horsemanship," Greene said. "We also see students who are studying therapeutic horsemanship at St. Andrews benefitting through this fund. And we firmly believe that the horses who live and work at St. Andrews will benefit from the loving care, direction and reward for their interaction with the participants in the therapeutic horsemanship program."
The fund is already starting to impact the program.
Additional plans for the fund this year include scholarships for St. Andrews to attend the NARHA national conference in Denver, transportation scholarships for the program participants with disabilities and for special equipment for some horses.
"We are grateful that Joe and Marilynn have made this commitment to the Therapeutic Horsemanship program at St. Andrews," said Paul Baldasare, college president. "We truly believe that the benefits of this gift will be far-reaching."
For the founders of the fund, they believe the potential benefits will also promote others to give to the cause.
"We really want to see the TH program grow over the next five years," Junod said. "We want to see more programs with greater influence in the community, region and country. We want St. Andrews to be the go-to place for therapeutic horsemanship. We hope that as the St. Andrews students go through the equine therapy program they will develop a commitment to helping fellow humans with their equines partners and discover their maximum physical and intellectual abilities. It would be great if many of them decide to support The Elizabeth Fund themselves one day."
To learn more about The Elizabeth Fund, or to become one of the first to join Joe Junod and Marilyn Greene in supporting the endeavor, go to http://www.sapc.edu/The_Elizabeth_Fund.php.