Girl Scouts help horse therapy center

Published 8:43 pm Monday, December 5, 2011

From left, Katherine Henk, Emily McCown, Hannah Stone, Allie Hackett, Rachel Henk and Casey Williams donate handmade ornaments to the Horses Helping Heroes project, which gives out decorations to veterans in a Richmond medical center to decorate their hospital rooms for the holidays.

Through their hard work, a group of Girl Scouts has contributed to helping disabled veterans recover.

Six girls from Girl Scout Troop 5292, based out of Driver, volunteered several hours over the past four months assisting the Horses Helping Heroes, a non-profit organization in Smithfield that provides equine-assisted activities for military and first responder veterans who have disabilities.

The Girl Scouts volunteered at the facility to fill a requirement for the Silver Award, one of the highest honors given to Girl Scouts.


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Debi Demick, the executive director of Horses Helping Heroes, said she was thrilled to have the girls’ help at the farm.

“It was wonderful,” she said. “We are extremely grateful for all the help they gave us.”

Troop leader Linda Henk said she found out about the organization from one of her students at Florence Bowser Elementary School.

“One of my students last year had a father who participated in the Horses Helping Heroes project,” she said. “He told me all about it, and I contacted Debi.”

Henk said the girls have to complete 50 hours of volunteering to earn the Silver Award.

The girls — Casey Williams, Rachel Henk, Emily McCown, Hannah Stone and Allie Hackett — started the work in August by helping the facility get ready for the fall season by painting gates and fences, cleaning horse equipment, grooming the gardens and cleaning stalls.

“They came out in August and spent four days here working,” Demick said. “I was really surprised how into it they were. Even though it was August, and it was as hot as anything, these girls just worked.”

Henk said she thinks Demick was very helpful and did a great job showing the girls the tasks.

“Every minute we were there, she was there,” she said. “It was a great opportunity to learn. They learned about horses, horse health, flowers and gardening.”

Casey Williams, one of the Girl Scouts that participated, said volunteering at the facility was a lot of fun.

“We had a good time helping (Demick) doing work, knowing it was for a good cause,” she said.

In addition to their work in August, the group returned in early November to help shut down the facility for the winter.

The girls also aided Horses Helping Heroes with another one of its projects by making dozens of handmade ornaments to donate to the organization’s Decorate Your Room for the Holidays project.

For the project, the group gives decorations to patients in the CLC unit at McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond to decorate their rooms for the holidays.

“They were very creative (with the ornaments),” Demick said. “I’m sure the veterans will be very appreciative.”

The organization will deliver the ornaments to the medical center this week.

Henk said she hopes to the girls will be able to return to the facility in the spring to help open it again.

For more information on Horses Helping Heroes, visit