The following is a guest post written by my wife Lindsay. Earlier this year she co-founded Crossroads Corral, a Central Florida based nonprofit, with the mission of improving lives through horses. The progress that Crossroads Corral has made in such a short time is truly remarkable and due to the passion, commitment and drive of Lindsay, her fellow co-founder Julie, and the wonderful herd of supporters, volunteers and donors they have developed. This is her journey to making her dream a reality.
My Journey to Living my Dream
One of my favorite quotes states, “If you cant figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”- Bishop T.D. Jakes. For me, I have always been passionate about helping people and I’ve had a love for horses since I was a little girl. I always dreamed that one day I would be able to use horses to help people and that dream is coming true.
Let me take you back to the beginning.
I got my first pony, “Freedom” when I was eight years old. My parents were smart and made me “work” for that pony. I cleaned stalls and learned how to care for horses so that I could see the amount of responsibility it takes to have your own horse. When you are a horse lover I truly believe it is in your blood and you are born to own horses. YES, they are a lot of work, YES they are expensive to care for and YES they ARE worth it. I quickly developed a love for competing and showing and got heavily involved in 4-H. I learned so many important life skills and made so many wonderful friends through the 4-H program. I am forever grateful for my parents who nurtured and supported my love for horses.
Throughout my life I have owned some incredible horses, each one different and each one has challenged me and brought out the best in me. In high school I saved up money and was been able to rescue and train a 6 month old wild filly, “Roxy” who we raised until she was 5 years old and then we sold her to a forever home. I won a state Championship with my horse “Toby” who I still proudly own today. I have had some heartache with horses too. My beloved horse “Mac” who I got as a 13th surprise birthday gift passed away of colic when I was 16 and I was devastated. My sweet “gentle giant” Jiggy has a Neurological disease that we constantly battle every day. Horses are not a “hobby”, it is a life long love affair. Today, my husband and I own 4 horses (3 quarter horses and a miniature horse).
When I went to college I wasn’t completely sure as to what career path I was going to travel down. I knew I wanted to work with people and work in the medical field helping others in some way. I was in a car accident in high school and I received Physical Therapy. I realized that this was the perfect path for me. I would be able to use my 2 hands and my big heart for helping others to help people heal and improve their lives. After I graduated from College, I moved to Florida with my boyfriend (now husband) and I got a job with Brookdale Senior Living doing Home Health and Outpatient Physical Therapy as a Physical Therapist Assistant.
Fast forward a few years, ok….. 8 years.
Last November, my good friend and fellow horse enthusiast, Julie and I were sitting in our barn after a trail ride talking about life. We discussed what would be our perfect “job”. Both of us agreed that if we could use our horses to help people in our community that would be our calling. We did some research, gained the proper certification (www.okcorralseries.com), applied and received our 501 ©(3) and co-founded Crossroads Corral.
This all happened very fast, because I believe it was truly meant to be. At Crossroads Corral we conduct Equine Assisted Learning and Therapy activities. We use our horses and work with at-risk youth as well as Veterans and their families transitioning home from deployment. Many people ask us about the term “at risk youth”. We define this group of youth as kids who are at risk of falling behind in society. Maybe they have a learning disability, maybe they are in the foster care system being bounced between homes, maybe they may have medical needs that cause developmental delays, etc. We are not a therapeutic riding facility. Our 7 horses get to “work” and give back to people in need, which they enjoy because horses also need a purpose and job. It was very interesting to me to learn a little bit more about myself during this whole process. I have always been interested in physical health but I have quickly developed a passion for mental health. At Crossroads Corral we have partnered with a Licensed Mental Health Counselor to begin Equine Assisted Psychotherapy work and I could not be more excited.
I am very lucky to have a supportive husband (David). He is an entrepreneur and owns his own
Marketing Agency. His Agency, Brand Advance and his wonderful team also donated and designed our logo, website, marketing material, etc. which was huge for us. David understands first hand about the fire that develops within a person when they start something. He is also extremely supportive because I have left my full time, good paying job to be a full time “volunteer” Executive Director of Crossroads Corral. As Executive Director, my daily duties are caring for our 7 program horses, business development, volunteer management, event planning, fundraising, building community partners/relationships, client session facilitation, etc. Luckily my “other half” as I call her, Julie also manages our herd of horses, does daily barn care, works with clients and more. Another favorite quote of mine is, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”. This was a scary leap of faith for us when I decided to leave my full time job but we know that this is part of the road I have to walk down. Many people have a hard time understanding non-profits. What I have learned from many educated people in the Non-Profit space, including professors at Rollins University is that if you do not run it like a business you will fail. Did you know that most non-profits and businesses fail because they charge too little? No, we do not have any paid staff members or have any sort of profit but yes we do charge for our services. We have to or else we would not have the finances to manage our herd of horses and then we would not be helping one single soul. Our goal is to have enough funding to cover our horses expense/year (which is about $56,000.00) so that we can provide all services free of charge.
We also have a goal to one-day rescue horses from kill pens and then our clients and horses can work together to heal each other.
At Crossroads Corral we have been so blessed to have incredible volunteers who are passionate about what we do and help us in so many ways. We have a supportive board of directors, a beautiful farm to call our “other home” and patient, happy and loving horses. I can truly say that I am living my dream.
I challenge you to find your calling if you have not already. Your life will be forever changed. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined.”- unknown