May is not only foster care awareness month, it is mental health awareness month as well – two things that often go hand in hand. We love sharing stories that come from within the OMD family so this month’s story comes from one of our wonderful volunteer coordinators and longtime respite foster parent, Gary.
Gary and his wife were taking in a tween-age girl on a Friday afternoon, and soon became aware that it was going to be a long weekend.
“The young lady was having a challenging day and had refused to complete the simple task of folding her clothes when asked to by her foster parents. She ‘copped an attitude’ and threw a fairly impressive tantrum. Since completing chores was a prerequisite to caring for my horses, she finally, but with some muttered sarcasm (and much eye rolling), folded her own clothes.”
He continued, “She was still very sullen when we arrived at my farm, but couldn’t suppress the growing smile as we approached the horses.”
With a chuckle, he recalls that she gladly agreed to lead the horse around his pen for exercise — but soon found that horses could be quite stubborn as well. At over 1000 pounds, horses are pretty good at picking up on negative human attitudes!
“My wife went up to her and whispered: I guess he doesn’t want to fold his clothes,” said Gary. The girl giggled as the moment’s life-lesson revealed itself.
Gary reflected on his story and shared, “A little sugar goes a long way, with people as well as horses. All was good after that…one of my best memories.” They had a great weekend visit.
Children in Care often come to us with a host of mental health issues. They have little to no control over their life circumstances and they struggle for power in every setting. It is impossible to say what underlying issues contributed to her struggle for power when it came to folding her clothes, but the prospect of working with a horse was all the incentive she needed to get through the tough moment. Horse therapy is becoming a more common treatment for kids and adults who struggle with mental health.
We are proud to have Gary and his wife as volunteers for OMD. Their impact on kids and families on the Peninsula is immeasurable.
Do you have an uplifting story about being a caregiver? We would love to hear it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for your chance to be a featured voice for Foster Care Awareness Month.