Hello everyone! It is officially summer in the PNW and we are enjoying the sunshine!
I hope this newsletter finds you well. Can you believe we have finally reached July? Our herd and staff sure miss seeing everyone on a regular basis, but we are getting closer to our new "normal!" I know myself, along with many of you, are feeling a sense of nostalgia for the way things used to be with the programs and lessons running regularly and a sense of a schedule. We are wondering when it will look like that again or what the new normal may look like as we move forward.
After Thurston County moved into Phase 2 of the reopening strategy a few weeks ago, we have seen our schedule inch toward normalcy as programs are ramping back up (though they look a bit different than before COVID-19). We were able to resume our Equine Assisted Youth Peer Support program in smaller groups (with PPE and being respectful of social distancing guidelines) at the beginning of June and are working on getting the next cohort of youth signed up and scheduled for this month.
We have also been able to welcome back youth and staff from Pearl Street on a weekly basis and have gotten that program back into a regular schedule with smaller groups of youth.
More programs will continue to be scheduled in stages depending on Washington State's Safe Start phases and the criteria we have developed to keep our groups small while meeting social distancing requirements. Since Thurston County entered Phase 3 already, we are hopeful that we will see our programs with local veterans begin again soon!
While working with an altered schedule, our staff has been testing different procedures we've put into place: physical distancing (both for one-on-one and group settings), wearing masks, promoting high levels of personal hygiene, asking everyone to stay away from the property if they are feeling ill, and thorough cleaning and disinfecting. It is likely as we move forward that the "new normal" for programs will include less staff/volunteers and smaller group numbers in order to minimize opportunities for exposure. We will hopefully have a better idea of what the future looks like as we get comfortable with Phase 3 guidelines and work towards Phase 4.
In the meantime, we have greatly appreciated everyone's support and patience as we work through this unprecedented time with both obstacles we have already overcome and the many obstacles I am sure we will still face. Please know that the staff, volunteers and I are doing our very best to provide services to as many as possible while keeping everyone safe and healthy.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!
Founding Director, Kristy Dees
Program Manager, Hanna Baus