January 2021
Waving Good-Bye to 2020 and Looking Ahead
To our friends, our community, and our supporters -- thank you for sticking with us through the wild ride of a year that 2020 was and for remaining by our side as we enter yet another year of uncertainty!

2020 gave us many challenges and blessings, but also played a part in showing each of us what we are truly made of and what we can do when we come together. It has been a year of slowing down, of "pivoting," and realizing what is most important in our lives. We have had to live life at a slower pace and be grateful for the little things we were missing during the fast-paced world we had grown accustomed to. Our focus this year has been on healing, growing, and overcoming the obstacles placed in front of us. Instead of backing down, we stood up and have come together with the help of others to provide a much needed safe space for those struggling during this pandemic. We have seen rates of suicide, depression and anxiety skyrocket during this time and are doing our small part to help keep those in our community on the path of healing.

While we did temporarily close down for in-person sessions in March, we were able to continue essential mental health services for youth, veterans and families when they needed it the most. With the help of our community and our dynamic team we have been able to continue our programs with the necessary safety guidelines in place. As we move through 2021, we hope to continue to expand our services (safely, of course!) by continuing our Equine Assisted Youth Peer Support program, adding services for other court-involved youth, offering multiple sessions of The Next Mission 6-week program, scheduling our Operation THRIVE weekend clinics, increasing our availability for smaller groups and individual sessions with our peer counselors or life coach and we are also working to increase our capacity for programs with other court-involved individuals in Thurston County. Stay tuned for some upcoming workshops and events!

After everything this past year has brought (and what is to come in the future), we hope you are able to find hope and resilience and always remember: Together We Heal.
Equine Assisted Youth Peer Support Updates
Despite a pandemic, we were able to serve 32 youth in our Equine Assisted Youth Peer Support program in 2020! When we were first issued the stay home mandate in March, we were unsure what the year would look like and if we could sustain our programs and serve our community. We made adjustments and were able to provide services and are thrilled we were able to get four full cohorts of EAYPS in before winter hit. Take a look at our cumulative data from 2017-2020!

We have been serving youth in our EAYPS program since the fall of 2017. Here are our cumulative outcomes from 2017-2020:
  • 124 youth served (20 in 2017, 32 in 2018, 40 in 2019 and 32 in 2020)
  • 79% reduction in Mood Disturbance scores
  • 73% reduction in Anxiety scores
  • 88% reduction in Suicide Risk scores
  • 71% reduction in Substance Use scores
  • 82% reduction in Crime/Delinquency scores

We are looking forward to beginning the 2021 EAYPS cohorts in March.
A recap of 2020...
Here is a quick recap of HeartStrides' programs and events in 2020:

We began the year holding sessions for the youth at Pearl Street (children's long-term in-patient facility), sessions for soldiers in the Soldier Recovery Unit at Joint-Base Lewis McChord, and began our pilot program for Thurston County's Family Recovery Court (FRC) participants. We completed the FRC pilot program in February with excellent results and wonderful feedback from the participants. At the end of February, Healing Hearts Ranch held a Centered Riding Update clinic with Susan Harris that was fantastic and full of such valuable information for all of the riders to learn and grow their skills with.

March started off with our Family Day for the Equine Assisted Youth Peer Support program where we had participants come out with their family members to meet the staff and horses and get acquainted with the facilities before the program started the following week. We were able to complete the first session of the 6-week program before the pandemic hit. Our programs came to a halt with the stay home mandate while we attempted to navigate these unprecedented times. Much of the spring was spent doing trainings and attending webinar meetings, working on curriculum and putting together a plan to start programs back up when we got the approval to do so. At the beginning of June we were able to resume our EAYPS program with the first group we started with in March. During this time we were able to have youth from Pearl Street back out for their weekly sessions and resume one-on-one sessions with safety guidelines in place.

In July, we started our second cohort of EAYPS and continued to serve Pearl Street youth, veterans and other individuals in one-on-one sessions. We also announced our fall event -- the Candlelight Walk in the Woods Fundraiser! Mid-August we wrapped up our second cohort of EAYPS, hosted some socially distanced team-building activities. We also started hosting some work groups with youth and staff from Thurston County Juvenile Court. Just before Labor Day we started the third cohort of EAYPS (despite the smoky air all around us from the fires). We hosted more community groups for team building days and had a blast. We stayed busy with hippotherapy and gearing up for the fundraiser.

On October 7th we finished the third cohort of EAYPS and went straight into decorating and prepping mode for the fundraiser that took place on October 17th here at Healing Hearts Ranch. The fundraiser event was a huge success. The trails and facilities looked absolutely beautiful and it was great to see so many of our community members come celebrate and help us raise money for our programs. If you take a look at our website here you can see photos and details from the event. Following the fundraiser we began another group of Warrior Horsemanship: The Next Mission with nine soldiers from JBLM and it was such a powerful group. On October 21st we started our fourth (and last of 2020) cohort of EAYPS. As the days were getting shorter we finished the fourth cohort of EAYPS and our group of The Next Mission. We also hosted a few mini-clinics for other soldiers from JBLM. Winter brought us a little bit of downtime that we used to plan and prepare to enter 2021.

Overall in 2020 despite the many obstacles, we touched approximately 180 lives (pre-pandemic times we were seeing around 350+ people annually) and we are so thankful we were able to keep our programs going even if it meant "pivoting" and improvising to keep our programs safe for everyone. We know that suicide, depression and anxiety all increased significantly this year due to a number of factors, but thanks to our donors and our community, we were able to continue to serve those who needed the horses most in these trying times.
How You Can Help
Direct Donations

To donate online, please visit:

To donate by check, please mail to:
3500 85th Ln SW
Olympia, WA 98512

Direct monetary donations are specifically used to:
  • Provide hay and care for our beloved equine partners
  • Increase the number of participants we can serve by providing scholarships
  • Host after school hours for youth

Other Ways You Can
Support Us

We know some people prefer to purchase usable items that benefit our participants directly so we created an Amazon Charity Wishlist for supplies and food/drink items. We just started this Charity Wishlist last month and are getting items added as we need refills on things! Thank you for supporting our programs.

Take a look here
Donate Through Businesses

Amazon.com will donate 0.5% of your purchases to HeartStrides through Amazon Smile! You can do your normal shopping and support our mission at the same time! Shop our link and start supporting today: smile.amazon.com/ch/27-3559358

If you shop at Fred Meyer, you can also do your regular grocery shopping and support HeartStrides at the same time. Just link your Fred Meyer Rewards card to HeartStrides with our code (TT806) and get shopping. You still keep all of your rewards, but you help out HeartStrides. Each quarter we get a report on how many people have linked their rewards cards and how much funding is being sent to us thanks to you! The images below show you how to link your rewards card on the Fred Meyer app. If you have any questions or issues please email us at heartstrides@gmail.com.

If you are a state employee, we are also signed up with the Combined Fund Drive. Our WA State Charity Code is #1481074.
Spread the Word and Stay Connected
Please connect with us on social media, like and share our content, and help us build support to give our youth, families and veterans the chance to continue on their journey of healing through horses. We are looking forward to sharing more stories of hope and healing.