As the new executive director of Rainbow Riders Therapeutic Horseback Riding Center in Monmouth, Krista says the Community Foundation has personally supported her with mentorship and training as she takes the reigns, but also makes it possible for hundreds of kids each year to receive therapy that changes their lives.
Rainbow Riders provides safe and affordable therapeutic horseback riding to support children and adults with special needs. The Community Foundation manages the organization’s permanent endowment fund, provides grants to help build their operational capacity, and according to Krista, continues to serve as a vocal cheerleader for their success. “It’s invaluable to have that support,” she says, who trained under the center’s co-founder Karen Angotti and became executive director in 2016. She came to Warren County from Virginia after her show horse passed.
“I just felt lost and I had always been interested in therapeutic horseback riding and I thought maybe this was my time,” she recalls. With college degrees in psychology and criminal justice, the center was a perfect fit. Krista worked under Karen through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International and was honored two years later when Karen asked her to take over. “I have a passion for horses and helping kids and this is the best of both worlds.”
The Community Foundation has been there to help her nonprofit accomplish its mission. “They are a gateway and resource for all of us to help make a difference in the ways we want to,” she says.
Rainbow Riders would be in a difficult place without support from the Community Foundation, she adds. The year-round upkeep of seven horses and one donkey is expensive. “We have big overhead costs,” she says. “It costs us $65 each time a rider is on a horse for 30 minutes, but we are able to significantly reduce the rate for families. They have so many other expenses. We don’t want to turn anyone away.”
Riders are charged $20 instead, and some families pay on a sliding scale. “For some it’s still incredibly difficult,” she says. “Ninety-five percent of our families wouldn’t be able to receive the care we offer without the reduced rate.”
The center also offers a youth leadership program, education classes and one-on-one unmounted lessons. But the therapeutic horseback riding is the most popular program, with more than 400 lessons each summer alone. “We have people come from all over and it’s pretty incredible.”
Krista admits she’s still learning all the aspects of her job, including how the generosity of others helps them continue to offer great services to families. She has attended the Indiana University Purdue University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy Planned Giving workshop the Community Foundation offers to nonprofits serving our region. “It was incredible for me,” she says. “I never would have thought of all the ways that people can give to my nonprofit.”
That’s why she keeps the Community Foundation’s phone number close at hand. “They always have ideas for community connections, grant possibilities, or answers to questions about the endowment. They care about me—I just love that,” she says. “I think it says a lot about our community. If I pick up the phone, they’re there.”