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Pal-O-Mine Equestrian Islandia

AMVETS 3rd Vice Commander, Post 48, Fred Pearl presents a check to Pal-O-Mine CEO Lisa Gatti. Photo courtesy of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian

Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc. of Islandia, a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, was awarded a $500 grant by AMVETS, the most inclusive Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization open to representing the interests of 20 million veterans and their families.

The funds will be applied to support Pal-O-Mine’s Military Programs and in particular, assist veterans and their family who are experiencing difficulties associated with post-traumatic stress). Pal-O-Mine is an EAGALA Military Services Provider, whose programs benefit veterans from the Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as service men and women who fought in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Operation  New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom, and active duty service members. Also supported with these programs are 9-11 and first responders, and military and first responder family members.

Clinical evidence and decades of human experience demonstrate the ability horses have in helping people work through emotional barriers. Through its EAGALA Designated Military Program, Pal-O-Mine’s EAGALA licensed and certified professionals provide their specialized training and experience to assist military service members and their families with equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning.

“We appreciate the great work AMVETS does on behalf of our nation’s veterans and share their mission of helping veterans who have given of themselves to protect our nation, the freedoms we have, and democracy around the world. AMVETS’ support of our military programs will be put to good use in meeting this goal,” said Pal-O-Mine founder and CEO Lisa Gatti.

About Pal-O-Mine

Founded in 1995 by Lisa Gatti, Pal-O-Mine is a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, as well as those who have been abused or neglected, veterans and the economically compromised.  Pal-O-Mine offers a broad range of programs many of which involve the organization’s herd of therapy horses and livestock. Pal-O-Mine relies on grants and contributions from private citizens, foundations and businesses to help raise funds. For more information on Pal-O-Mine, visit:www.pal-o-mine.org or call: 631-348-1389.

About AMVETS

AMVETS, which is also known as American Veterans, is the most inclusive Congressionally-chartered veterans service organization open to representing the interests of 20 million veterans and their families. The organization of veterans serving veterans was founded in 1944 and chartered by an act of Congress. AMVETS has over 250,000 members nationwide. Its mission is to enhance and safeguard the entitlements for all American Veterans who have served honorably and to improve the quality of life for them, their families, and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy, and services. Membership in AMVETS is open to anyone who honorably served or is currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves. AMVETS has made a long-term economic impact by providing assistance, jobs, and services to veterans and their communities for more than 70 years. For more information, visit: https://amvets.org/

Spring planting in the Vanderbilt Museum's Sensory Garden Photo courtesy of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian

Four years ago, Kimm Schmidt and Lauren Ferris of Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in Islandia, working with young adults with disabilities, created the Sensory Garden near the entrance to the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Reichert Planetarium in Centerport. They return each spring to replant, and this year their work was made possible by a generous gift from a private donor.

On a bright, recent spring morning, Schmidt and Ferris worked to revive the garden with a half-dozen adults with special needs in their twenties and thirties.

“We plant things that awaken the senses,” Schmidt said. The garden has more than two dozen herbs, including sage, mint, rosemary, basil, anise hyssop, chamomile, yarrow, citronella, rainbow Swiss chard, chives, lemon balm, strawberries, and five-leaf akebia, a vine with chocolate-scented flowers. 

In 2018, Operations Supervisor Jim Munson invited a small group of local gardeners and landscape designers to refresh various gardens around the Vanderbilt Mansion. Schmidt and Ferris responded.

J-STEP team members from Pal-O-Mine in front of the replanted sensory garden at the entrance to the Vanderbilt Planetarium.

“The idea of the Sensory Garden came to mind immediately,” Ferris said. “It is a place that not only looks beautiful, but also has benefits the public can use and learn from.” Ferris, who had recently earned a Certificate in Horticultural Therapy from the New York Botanical Garden, said she thought a sensory garden would be an excellent feature for visitors of all abilities.

“Plants that awaken the senses are a wonderful tool to use in so many ways,” Schmidt said. “They spark conversations, jog people’s memories, and can be very calming.”

“I loved the concept and wanted it to have a prime spot with lots of traffic,” Munson said. “I just knew the front of the Planetarium was the perfect location, accessible to all.”

Lisa Gatti, who founded Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in 1995 as a therapeutic horseback riding program for individuals with disabilities and other vulnerable populations, liked the idea immediately. Pal-O-Mine decided to make the design and installation of the garden part of its J-STEP (Job Security Through Equine Partnership) program. Each week, Pal-O-Mine serves 350 people, in their various programs ranging in age from 3 and up. Schmidt and Ferris are J-STEP job coaches.

“We use horticulture skills at J-STEP to teach vocational skills necessary to secure and maintain a job,” Ferris said. “Some students go on to work at nurseries, and others have jobs at local retail stores.

Caring for the garden teaches proper work habits, personal and domestic maintenance, as well as interpersonal communication and social skills. 

The J-STEP Team also maintains the gardens at Pal-O-Mine’s 13 acres in Islandia, Long Island. “Each student has a personal garden and decides which vegetables they want to plant,” “They keep records and research planting times and the needs of each plant.” The students maintain other gardens on the site, including pollinator and cutting gardens, and a medieval knot garden, a formal design planted with herbs and aromatic plants. J-STEP offers other programs including photography, cooking, and crafting.

J-STEP students who installed this year’s Vanderbilt plantings talked about the experience. 

Meredith said, “Being part of the of the planning and planting for the garden calms me down. I see with my hands, and it feels bumpy and smells good.” Rebecca said, “It feels great to plant the Sensory Garden for people to enjoy.” Tim added, “I love working in the garden and I love the view.”

The group will return throughout the growing season to prune and clean the garden and do a clean-up in the fall.

For Schmidt, who recently joined the Vanderbilt as a museum educator, the attraction of designing and maintaining gardens is captured in a favorite quote from naturalist John Muir: “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. Visit vanderbiltmuseum.org for more information.

 

Photo courtesy of Pal-O-Mine

Save the date! Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc., a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, will hold its third annual Derby Stakes on Friday, May 6 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Unlike last year’s virtual event, this year’s Derby Stakes will be a live event at Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, 829  Old Nichols Road, Islandia.

“We are so excited to bring our popular live Derby Stakes back for the enjoyment of Long Islanders,” said Pal-O-Mine Equestrian founder and CEO Lisa Gatti. “It is a wonderful family event in the fresh outdoors where people of all ages can enjoy watching our horses and staff compete in several fun races. In the program, we emulate the real Derby experience, from the trumpeter signaling the start of the races to a real life jockey announcing the horses and the outriders as they enter the arena. The winners are showered with ribbons and a wreath of flowers.” 

The Derby Stakes will feature Pal-O-Mine’s staff riding its horses in six competitive races that showcase both the herd’s versatility and the riders’ talent as horsemen and women. Among them will be a “Seattle Slow” walking race and a “Smoky Jones” canter race. Pre-race activities include interactive farm games, hat contest, paddock walk, craft fair and a photo booth. This year ‘s event will also have a Parade of Breeds showcasing many unique breeds of horses that Pal-O-Mine uses in their program. 

Admission is $10 per person (under 5 are free) and all donations from the event will go to supporting the care of the Pal-O-Mine herd of therapy horses. In addition to making a donation, there are sponsorship opportunities for Long Island families, businesses, associations, and civic groups. Call Tessa at 631-348-1389 for more information. 

Photo from Pal-O-Mine
Corporate sponsor sought to provide matching funds

Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, Inc., a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, is asking Long Islanders to participate in the Great Pal-O-Mine Coin Challenge to help raise funds for its vital programs. The challenge will run through December 23rd with prizes awarded to the individuals bringing in the most coins.

Here’s how it works. School students, employees, volunteers, staff and the general public can pick up designated coin jars at Pal-O-Mine located at 829 Old Nichols Road, Islandia. Then, collect change in all denominations. Once their jar is filled, it can be returned to Pal-O-Mine where it will be weighed and entered into the heaviest jar competition. There will be two opportunities to win special Pal-O-Mine holiday baskets. A Harvest basket will be awarded on November 24th and a Winter basket will be awarded on December 23rd.

At this time Pal-O-Mine is looking for a corporate sponsor to provide a minimum donation of $5,000 to serve as a matching gift to the funds raised through the Great Pal-O-Mine Coin Challenge. If you are interested, call Pal-O-Mine at 631.348-1389. All the coins collected by Pal-O-Mine will be turned into the bank to help meet the coin shortage.

Long Islanders who wish to participate in the Great Pal-O-Mine Coin Challenge and would like additional information or to pick up their designated coin jar, contact Pal-O-Mine at: 631-348-1389.

About Pal-O-Mine

Founded in 1995 by Lisa Gatti, Pal-O-Mine is a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, as well as those who have been abused or neglected, veterans and the economically compromised.  Pal-O-Mine offers a broad range of programs many of which involve the organization’s herd of therapy horses and livestock. Pal-O-Mine relies on grants and contributions from private citizens, foundations and businesses to help raise funds. For more information on Pal-O-Mine, visit:www.pal-o-mine.org 

Boomer and Dawson, two resident horses at Pal-O-Mine

Pal-O-Mine Equestrian in Islandia, a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, is looking to generous and animal loving Long Islanders to help it raise funds to feed its herd over this winter. The organization is looking to raise $6,000 to help cover the cost of hay bales.

Pal-O-Mine’s herd, which includes 22 horses, eats 10 bales of hay each day. Each bale weighs 50 lbs. and costs $10, making Pal-O-Mine’s monthly hay bill $3,000.  By helping the organization raise $6,000, this expense will be covered through March 31st.

To show your support, please send a check in any amount made payable to: Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, 829 Old Nichol Road, Islandia, NY 11749 or visit the organization’s website and make a secure donation at: https://pal-o-mine.org/donate/25th-anniversary-fund/?blm_aid=0

About Pal-O-Mine

Founded in 1995 by Lisa Gatti, Pal-O-Mine is a private, not for profit organization providing a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing for children and adults with disabilities, as well as those who have been abused or neglected, veterans and the economically compromised.  Pal-O-Mine offers a broad range of programs many of which involve the organization’s herd of therapy horses and livestock. Pal-O-Mine relies on grants and contributions from private citizens, foundations and businesses to help raise funds. For more information on Pal-O-Mine, visit:www.pal-o-mine.org or call: 631-348-1389.