West Michigan is a place of beauty, community, support, and collaboration. I am constantly reminded of the uniqueness of our region through the many talented community leaders who invest themselves and their energy into making West Michigan strong. Renew is one of the shining examples of what is possible when passionate people come together in support of a mission to make a difference in people’s lives.
Recently, I was honored to be one of this year’s nominees for the Ability Award through Disability Network Lakeshore. This award is given to a community leader who advocates for those living with a disability in our area and is committed to educating others by creating opportunities and awareness. While I was not the winner, I was blessed to know and celebrate Jane Eppard as this year’s recipient. Jane helped to found the organization and is Family Hope Foundation’s Executive Director. Since 2014, Renew has been a community partner of Family Hope Foundation, and because of them, many families have been able to experience the life-changing benefits of equine-assisted services. Jane’s vision has opened doors for families in need of financial assistance, and she is well-deserving of this honor. Celebrating with her at the Holland Civic Center, I was struck by the depth and breadth of our awesome community that gives, loves, breaks down barriers, celebrates diversity, and stretches the imaginations of all to be truly inclusive. God has blessed West Michigan with visionary leaders, and it is humbling to walk alongside others to serve in this way.
This experience prompted reflection on the numerous other community partnerships that we experience at Renew, such as our cherished partners at the Family Hope Foundation, Benjamin’s Hope, Harbor House Ministries, Holland Christian School, and the Ottawa Area Center. Truly, I believe that we have the opportunity for deeper collaborations with many other organizations in our area by the very nature of what we do. Bringing accredited equine-assisted services to those who can benefit most means that every public and private school with special education classes, assisted living centers, adult foster care homes, foster care families, support networks, and local nonprofits benefitting underserved populations are all potential students. The collaborative possibilities are endless. Our imaginations run wild at the thought of what we have been called by God to do in our area, and our souls are ignited at the idea of expanding possibilities and developing future partnerships. In other words, we are just getting started!