Local Innovators: Homestead Stables Receives Services Award

Homestead Stables received a recognition award for their services from LeadingAge New York on Tuesday at the facility grounds on Damon Hill Road. The award was presented to Heritage by LeadingAge president Jim Clyne to Heritage Ministries president David Smetzler with Homestead staff, Heritage residents and community members also present.

Based in Latham, NY, outside of Albany, Leading Age (formerly the New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging) is a statewide agency representing more than 600 not-for-profits, mission driven organizations, and public continuing care facilities. These include organizations that provide senior housing, nursing care, assisted living, home care and community service providers.

The award given to Heritage by Leading Age is the Innovation of the Year Award that is given to organizations that have contributed to innovative approaches to care and services for the elderly. The award especially recognizes programs that improve service quality to communities while also using creative problem-solving. Recipients are decided by a board of chief executive officers with experience in the senior care fields.

“It can be anything (in approaching senior living and care),” Smetzler said. “Any of those organizations would qualify.”

In the case of Homestead Stables, Seltzer cited the fact that there are not many senior care facilities that provide therapy using horses. “Not many retirement communities let alone our area have an equine fixture to it,” Smetzler said. “We did this to benefit our residents and also be a good community partner.”

According to Lisa Haglund, Heritage vice president of marketing, the idea behind the stables was to give back to the community. “One of the innovative things we did to give back in Chautauqua County is build the equestrian center and it gives us the ability to offer residents, their families and the community, therapeutic programming,” Haglund said. “It gives them a chance to work with horses, to ride horses if they used to, do therapy and to bring their grandchildren and to have them around to take lessons.”

Homestead offers boarding, training and riding lessons for youth and adults. The stables also provide Equine Assisted Therapy for individuals suffering from PTSD and other emotional and physical trauma. Currently, there are 41 stalls and horses on the property.

Heritage resident Hank Storm had previously owned a horse farm during the 1940s and hadn’t ridden in 50 years. As such, he dreamed to ride again. Haglund said the organization arranged for him to ride for his 90th birthday and is now a regular at the stables. “It’s really great,” Storm said. “I used to ride 40 years ago and how they control the horse has changed so I learn a new way.”

Clyne presented the award to Heritage and explained that the members of Leading Age decided on Heritage as the recipient. “They all thought this was a very special program,” Clyne said. “It engages the residents, provides them with a new activity and appeases to the community.”

“This is an extension of Heritage Ministries and is at the heart of what we do,” Haglund said.