A football team, a bathroom and a shed – the makings of a busy mission experience!
Our job this weekend is to clear out brush that has grown along the fence between the corral and the trail, plant shrubs and flowers, replace two of the stations, paint and make repairs, and weed and mulch.
It’s a tall order, but we’re about to get some major reinforcement. Nearby Harrison High School has just delivered a busload of students who are pouring onto the parking lot, eager to start work. They are divided into work teams and quickly dispatched to locations around the barn, farmhouse, and the riding arenas.
Soon more than a dozen young men from the football team join us and begin removing small trees and brush from along the fence line and some larger trees that have fallen along the trail to the creek. The speed and efficiency with which they do this is astounding.
Now the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail is thrumming with activity. As the young men of Harrison High haul brush and trees away, two members of our team remove old whiteboard and chalkboard, making way for the new, weather-resistant Plexiglas boards. Two more are busily wielding cans of spray paint, applying a fresh coat of primary colors to the shape sorter and hanging tubes and even a bit to themselves. And still a surprising number of us are hunched over, attacking weeds with unusual vigor. Even Jacob’s baby sister and brother get into the act, helping position the posthole digger and planting flowers.
The sun climbs higher and it’s hot! We’ve been working for more than three hours. It’s time for the high school students to depart, and they quickly assemble and board the bus, then disappear around the bend in the road.
The trail is quieter now, with only the occasional metallic thud of the posthole digger, the regular buzz of carpenter bees and the thwacking and sucking sound of Jacob’s younger siblings’ shoes in the mud hole they’ve discovered.
An old saying pops into our heads: many hands make light work. With the help of the high school students, we’ve accomplished much of our work on the trail.
After lunch, we’re ready for more chores. Sonya, The Red Thread Promise’s Vice-President, tackles painting one of the bathrooms. She’ll have to do this alone, since there’s no space for another person inside the bathroom once she gets the ladder up.
The rest of us head to the tool shed. This is more than a clearing out and reorganizing mission. You may recall that Jessie Moore, Director of McKenna Farms, lost Will, her husband and father of her two young sons, to a massive heart attack in December 2012.
Will and McKenna Farms were inextricably entwined. So much of the daily life of the farm depended on Will, and Will’s toolshed has remained pretty much untouched since his death.
We gently consult Jessie as to what should be done with each item. Sarah, Jacob’s mom, is known for her organizing skills, so once the piles are sorted, she directs us in reorganizing the shed.
We head back to the farmhouse for a cool drink of water, and to admire Sonya’s handiwork. The bland off-white has been replaced with a first coat in an inviting shade of green.
Sweat trickles down our backs and faces. We are dirty and red-faced and we smile, thinking of the children who will be back to ride the trail Monday morning, breathing in the scent of sage and rosemary, tossing frogs into squares and circles and stars, playing the chimes, and talking about the pink and purple and yellow blossoms.
They’ll notice the freshly painted bathroom – kids love color. And although they won’t peer into the toolshed, the new farm manager will, and his job will be a little easier.
In our mind’s eye we see the faces of those children, and our thoughts return to the conversations we’ve had with them and their families.
Exciting things are happening, and we’ll share those with you soon.
Do thoughts of the children you’re helping support bring a smile to your face? We hope so. You’re an important part of what we do, and thoughts of you, too, makes us smile.
Would you like to join us on our next trip to McKenna Farms in Dallas, GA, or visit our other partnering therapy center, Hilltop Equestrian Center in West Alexandria, Ohio? If so, please let us know. Email Glenna@redthreadpromise.org or call 513-423-0108.
Jacob's Little Brother Helped Plant Flowers
Bathroom Before and After Sonya's Paint