March 2024 Update

Session 2 of Therapeutic Riding Lessons

Great things continue to take place each day as riders work on achieving their goals. Over 130 participants come to the barn each week and it is incredibly humbling and exciting to see how time at the barn impacts their lives. Thank you to the many, many volunteers who pour into the mission, whether in lessons or around the farm, each and every day.

Phase Two – Horse Barn Update

As a continuation of our construction projects, we have been hard at work seeking funding for a new horse barn. We are thrilled to report that with 80% of the funds raised for the project, construction will begin in spring of 2024! While we continue fundraising to reach the $1.5 million goal, look for opportunities to contribute to this groundbreaking project. Many thanks to those who have donated to the campaign so far, making it possible for us to deliver services in our state-of-the-art indoor arena. If you would like to learn more, please reach out to Melissa Conner, Executive Director, at

Staff Updates

Welcome back, Kennedy!
Kennedy was an intern at Renew last summer and blessed us in many ways with her kind smile, infectious energy and creativity, and work ethic. And now we are thrilled to announce that Kennedy will be returning to Renew as the interim Program Manager during Shaina’s upcoming maternity leave. She will settle into her role in April to make the transition go as smoothly as possible as Shaina begins her maternity leave in May.

Welcome Tess!
You may have already seen Tess around the farm helping out in many capacities. She will be an intern at Renew this spring and summer. Tess is from Williamsburg, Virginia, where she met our Executive Director, Melissa, at a therapeutic riding center there. She came to Renew two months ago and hopes to learn as much as she can about the industry as she works toward earning her Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor title.


Wolfie’s Sandwiches
Friday, April 12th from 3:00-8:00P
It’s Friday night…after a long week who wants to cook? Take the family out for dinner at Wolfie’s and they will donate 15% of the evening’s sales to Renew! The food is great, and the cause is even better. See you there! (9479 Riley St Ste 255 Zeeland, MI 49464)

Denim & Diamonds at the Derby
Thursday, April 25 from 5:30-9:00P
Denim & Diamonds at the Derby is the signature fundraising event of the year, raising the necessary funds to make equine assisted services available to our community. Ticket sales for the event will close April 5, so make sure to reserve your spot today. If you are unable to attend in person, you can still support the mission. The jockey race is now live and all donations in support of your favorite jockey go to Renew. There will also be some amazing Bid to Win packages available again this year. Bid to Win packages will go live the week before the event, and the more Bid to Win tickets you buy, the greater your chance of winning. There’s no need to be present at the event to win a package.

Lunch N Learn
April 29 from 11:30A – 12:30P
All of the Renew family is invited to this free informative, informal event! Join us in the upstairs of the white farmhouse for a chance to hear Emily share about the ways that equine assisted services at Renew benefit children and families involved in foster care. Feel free to bring a brown bag lunch, and we’ll have a few goodies as well.

Student reading to horse
Two participants after a lesson

Shoutout to Our Amazing Volunteers

One of the “only God could have orchestrated”, super wonderful byproducts of the mission at Renew, is the creation of deep, life-giving friendships. Today we have the privilege of sharing the story of how one such friendship formed between two of Renew’s dedicated volunteers, Doreen and Anne.

How/when did you first learn about Renew and get involved? What specifically spoke to you and drew you in?

A couple of years ago I realized I was missing a lifelong love in my life, horses, so I decided I needed to be close to them once again. Friends, who had benefited from the program, told me about Renew and the wonderful programs and work that Renew does. The first visit showed me the care and compassion Renew radiated for not just the horses and the riders, but the volunteers also. – Doreen

In early 2022, my good friend and fellow volunteer Elizabeth suggested that I attend a volunteer orientation at Renew. I’ve always loved horses and was searching for a way I could give back to my community. I quickly learned that joining the Renew community was the absolute perfect solution for me! – Anne

Could you share a little about your volunteer roles Renew?

There as so many wonderful and diverse opportunities to volunteer at Renew. Whether you love to feed the horses at dawn, groom them for a session, tack them up, lead or sidewalk, give or get a big horse hug or even sweep and clean stalls, being at Renew renews your soul. My favorite “new” position is longlining which gives your horse partner more space to do their work. Just as rewarding, is being with and seeing the smiles on the riders faces and the progress they make. – Doreen

I have the privilege of helping to care for the herd, as I feed the horses one morning a week – that time is filled with fresh air, exhilarating exercise, connections with the horses, and bonding with my awesome feeding buddy.

My other happy place is serving in the Volunteer Supervisor and Lesson Assistant roles – I love helping to ensure our students, our horses, our instructors and my fellow volunteers have the best experience possible. A typical session can include fetching, grooming and tacking up horses, assisting with mounting and dismounting, cleaning a stall or two, and lots of smiles and laughter. – Anne

How did the two of you meet and begin a friendship?

My horse bestie, Anne, and I met in the barn when we realized we were each blessed recipients of our “forever horses” both from Renew. I was in absolute love with Rusty and Anne with Chip.  – Doreen

Could you share a little about your horse ownership journey?

I’m not sure which one of us talks more excitedly about our horse journey together with “our boys”. We have become kindred spirits and have learned so much from each other. I feel we are growing together in so many ways. We were so blessed to be able to have boarded our boys just a block away from each other. We trail and arena ride (both boys love English and Western), attend workshops, take lessons from Renew’s famous trainer Kayla, and even attended our first Renew horse show together. Our next big plans are for an all day workshop with our boys and hopefully the fall Lakeshore ride with our friends from Renew. – Doreen

Although I love ALL of the Renew horses, Mr. Chip held a particular spot in my heart from the 1st day I met him. He is definitely the character, as many of us at Renew can attest to! He is a kind, loving horse who communicated to us that the role of therapy horse was not quite the right thing for him. Through my time at Renew with Chip and, now as my own, he continues to teach me the importance of kindness, patience, calm consistent leadership and having fun. – Anne

What are some other ways that your friendship at Renew has spilled over into your personal lives?

I feel that, while Anne and I are horse crazy gals, we do have other interests that we share. A boat ride, dinner out, a text to ask how your day went, support when things are not going so well and so many other moments make this a special friendship for me. – Doreen

I’ve gained a close friend and confidant! – Anne

Are there any other stories or experiences that you would like to share?

Well, I’ve learned not to clear my throat loudly while riding the trials and we have learned that Rusty does not particularly like “love nips” from Chip on his hind end (Hahaha). As for Renew, my favorite times have been cleaning stalls, sweeping and tidying up at the end of the night while sharing stories and laughs with Anne and anyone else crazy enough to love that kind of work. I also cherish the arena work where we see the progress of the riders and the patience of the horses as they work together in the mission to grow and heal. – Doreen

An especially fun and rewarding experience was horse leading during the summer drill team camps. Our team of students, horses and volunteers all worked hard together to execute quite the elaborate routine – What an amazing achievement! – Anne

Staff Spotlight: Robyn Allison

Renew currently has 12 staff members. Some you may have known for years, and others you might only know by name. To help you get to know the staff a bit better, each month we will be featuring a staff member in our Staff Spotlight. This month’s spotlight is our Finance Coordinator, Robyn Allison.

I became acquainted with Renew when I had my special events business “The Rental Company”. My staff and I were so thrilled to be able to help move hay and we offered our clients a matching discount when they donated to one of our chosen charities. I remember the first lesson I watched at Renew and the way that moment made me smile. I will never forget the absolute joy on the rider’s face! I sold my business in 2019 and have been working with several businesses as a bookkeeper since then. I was so excited to be asked to interview at Renew.

I have three adult children that I adore. My oldest, Luke, lives with his wife Allie in Kalamazoo. Kyle, my middle son, lives in Allegan with his father, and my youngest, Haley, lives with me at my farm in Glenn. I named my farm Spirit Valley – it is a gorgeous little valley surrounded by woods, with a natural wetland area and a man-made pond. I have two ducks and two chickens that are true survivors. I also have a few barn kitties, five dogs, five mini horses, and two full size horses. Riesling and Phoenix are both wonderful riding horses – I enjoy riding them both. I think my property is happy to have horses on it. I am so thrilled that Flossy, one of my minis, has found a home at Renew.  

I am an avid crafter – I enjoy knitting, gardening, stained glass, pottery, and a few other crafts. I love being with my friends and family and love my time at Renew.  

Denim & Diamonds at the Derby

Baker Lofts | April 25

  • Event tickets
  • Bid to Win tickets
  • Donate to the jockey race
  • Everything can be found on the event page

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