GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Exceptional Equestrians gives therapy to children and adults with physical social and emotional needs through horses.
“It brings together people and horses and health," said Molly Kafka, Patient and Volunteer Coordinator for Exceptional Equestrians. "And I think when you put all three of those things together, there's a really great opportunity for growth.”
The nonprofit has different programs: Hippotherapy is one-on-one with an occupational, physical or social therapist, adaptive riding focuses more on equestrian and social skills. and equine-experiential therapy develops communication skills, problem solving, team building, and leadership skills.
"We work with those individuals and we use the horse as part of our treatment team," said Kafka.
Exceptional Equestrians is just one of 180 local nonprofits affiliated with the Volunteer Center of Brown County.
“The Volunteers Center has been great," said Kafka. "They're always reaching out, they're super supportive. We have met a lot of fabulous volunteers through the volunteer center and especially at the big Expo. That's always a fun time, and they just go above and beyond with meeting your needs and asking how they can help.”
This year’s Volunteer Expo is back in-person again; 50 organizations will set up booths inside the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. Some will even have projects that people can participate in, to really get a feel for the type of work they'd be doing as a volunteer.
“Sometimes the number one volunteer that you have can come out of something like this," said Eric Sponholtz, Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Brown County. "So if you're willing to get out and talk to people and make those connections as an organization, you should definitely be able to do that, and from a community member standpoint, there might be something out there that you just weren't aware of.”
The Expo is an opportunity for nonprofits to tell community members what kind of volunteers they’re looking for. Exceptional Equestrians has two categories of volunteers: Horse Leaders are in charge of leading the horse, and then side walkers, the most common type of volunteer they have, walk alongside house.
“We walk alongside the horse and the clinician and they will interact with the rider," said Kafka. "Whether it be playing games or having a conversation, and just really working out some of the goals that the clinician and the family have set aside.“
The Expo is also just a way to spread the love of volunteering.
“I love it here," said Kafka. "I love kids. I love seeing their faces. I love being able to see them feel so empowered, it's something that maybe their classmates aren't able to do, so it's the one thing that they get to go back to their class and say, hey, I get to do this, it doesn't matter about their limitations or their disabilities, they're still able to participate in something that's truly meaningful and brings a lot of value to their lives.”
The Volunteer Expo is this Thursday at the KI Center. It goes from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. and then 3:30 to 6 p.m. It’s free to attend, and the KI Center will be requiring all attendees wear a mask. Everyone will be entered into a raffle at the door for a $50 Visa gift card. There will also be a book drive for Reading Coaches for Kids, and the Volunteer Center is asking for donations of new or gently used books for elementary school students.