We’ve been blessed to have Laurie Slater as a Volunteer since 2015. She has filled many roles for us over the last few years and in addition to being a Greeter and Sidewalker during lessons, she supports Renew by completing numerous administrative projects and being a vital part of our Denim & Diamonds fundraiser committee. We are grateful that she has offered to share part of her journey with us below.
“Volunteering not only benefits the organization you are blessed to be working with, but it also adds quality to the life of the person volunteering.
I was one of those people who kept saying “when I retire I am going to…” I had many things that I would list off, with volunteering being one of those things until a friend and co-worker passed away at the age of 35. At her funeral, it was obvious how many lives she had touched. Learning about her life and hearing how many people she impacted inspired me to take action. I had the desire to touch some lives of my own, to make a difference NOW, and not wait until after I retire. Getting out of my small world of work and family to go make a difference in someone else’s life became very important to me. Little did I know how much my life would be touched in return.
I started the journey by searching for a place to volunteer, a place that would be a good fit for me. There were all the usual places – nursing homes, hospitals – not my cup of tea. Upon coming up empty, I asked God to guide me to the place where I was meant to be. It didn’t take long and the subtle hints were arriving. After seeing many similar stories and messages along the same theme – a Hallmark presentation, a magazine article, and a newspaper ad – I decided to do some research online and searched for a therapeutic riding center in my area. To my surprise Renew TRC was in the greater Holland area.
“How could this be?” I thought. “I am afraid of horses.” Not to mention, as a person I have never been very social. I could count on one hand how many close friends I’ve had in all my 60 years. I began to doubt my direction but chose to lean into this journey with a new, adventurous outlook. Life starts right outside your comfort zone, right? Feeling that God had led me here, I knew He would get me through it.
I started out as a Greeter and Sidewalker. Greeting the students, their families, and seeing how excited they were to ride, I couldn’t help but get excited too. I even managed to overcome my fear of being around horses as I had plenty of practice as a Sidewalker during lessons. My next goal, I have decided, is to conquer riding one!
Renew depends on volunteers to keep the program running. All horse leaders and sidewalkers help on a volunteer basis. I can say from experience that volunteering has brought me joy, taught me patience, and given me perspective. I’ve met so many wonderful people here at Renew. This program has a heart and I am excited to be just one little beat of it.”
Laurie took the opportunity to achieve her next goal of riding a horse at Renew’s Fall Festival in 2017. Way to go, Laurie! Thank you for being an inspiration to many, for impacting the lives of all connected with our program, and for being a valuable member of our Renew family!