The Volunteer Experience

Volunteering is an amazing way to be a part of changing our students’ lives.


 What Katie learns

Being a volunteer at PoVa, the rewards are instantaneous – seeing a smile, hearing a student laugh. Watching the students grow has confirmed my belief that PoVa makes a difference. Seeing students accomplish goals, whether that is counting the number of rings we pick up on the trail, verbally saying “go,” or trotting off lead all the way around the arena, is magic. There are no words for how rewarding it is to watch the students take pride in their accomplishments, and I know how hard they worked to get there. I am beyond blessed to have found such an exceptional place where I have the opportunity to spend time with students and instructors who have taught me more than I ever expected to learn.

Join Gloria

“I have to say that it is well worth your consideration if you are interested in working with horses, children with special needs and an amazingly dedicated crew.  Bring your skills and develop some new ones.  Whether you are a teen or a senior (or anywhere inbetween) you will be welcomed and appreciated.  If you like what you see when you visit the web site, come on out to the ranch site and “get your boots dirty” as Ingrid (the Executive Director) says.  Take a look around and chances are you’ll stick around! See you there!” 

Why Amanda loves PoVa

“This place is great fun to be at if you are interested in becoming more familiar with horses, or know them well, and if you want to help people out in general. It is always great fun when I’m there, and I can’t seem to be in a bad mood. I love working with everyone who volunteers there, because everyone seems to love it as well. It is always a fun time at PoVa!”

Stephanie’s Story

“My story isn’t based on anyone in my family.  My story is actually based on a little girl that I never have had the pleasure of meeting. When I was at Army Command and General Staff College from 2011-2012 I was one of a handful of Marines in an Army school.  The Marines within my group knew each other because we were connected together in the past whether in the capacity of teacher to student, student to student, peer to peer, or by name association kind of like, “You know so and so, I was stationed with him or her once.” It wasn’t until after a few weeks of getting to know each other we really began to relate to one another and share our stories.  I was fortunate enough to be acquaintances with Major Jacob Reeves and was able to hear his story of his daughter, Charley.


After getting to know Major Reeves he began to open up about Charley. She was born with a rare genetic disorder known as Debarsy Syndrome.  He told me how the doctors did not expect her to survive in utero and if she did survive they did not know exactly for how long or what long term effects she may face.  There isn’t enough “data” on this particular type of disorder but despite all odds, Charley fought and fought and is now a healthy 10 year old.


Major Reeves would show me pictures of his daughter and he would just glow from ear to ear.  When he would tell stories of how she first learned to roll over at two or how she was beginning to “walk” with assistance or how excited she would get when daddy would sing, “It’s a small world” or her playing Fruit Ninjas which was a huge accomplishment because she did not like for people to hold her hands but would for this game the emotion on his face was overwhelming. I have to say Charley has a beautiful smile which just emphasizes her beauty.  I mean here is this Marine Officer (a very proud father) just glowing and displaying facial expressions of how proud he is of his daughter despite how hard things are for her to do.  I cannot put it into words how this touches my heart.  Just from my short time volunteering here at PoVa I have witnessed this every time by either the parents, the volunteers, the students, and the instructors.  I even think at times [the horses] Blue Bell or Bindi or Mooney or Sasha show a little “emotion” and how proud they are by their contributions to the happiness and accomplishments however small of these phenomenal children.


After a year of knowing Major Reeves and hearing his stories and seeing her pictures touched my heart in a way that I cannot put into words.  This little girl whom I never met touched me and I will always be forever grateful to her.  Because of her I am a strong advocate of abolishing the “R” word.  Those around me to include family, friends, and coworkers know NEVER to say that horrible word.  Charley and those beautiful children like her are my heroes.  This may sound sappy but working with children and young adults with special needs somehow makes me appreciate exactly how magnificent life is and that NO ONE should be judged based on appearance or ability.  These children have a smile on their face just from seeing “their” horse and knowing that “their” horse is theirs for however long they need it.


I can just hope that I somehow make a difference no matter how little because I know that every week they make a huge difference in my life.  No matter how bad my day is, I know that I can see Kai or Andreanna or Erin or Danni or Eddy and they immediately put a smile on my face and all my worries disappear for an hour or two.  I maybe helping them but I don’t know if they realize this they are helping me too.  Just like two years ago Charley helped me.  She will never know and may never understand but I know and those around me know and this is why I volunteer.”