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The Jean Schaffner Spirit Award is a long-time tradition at Xenophon and one of the highlights of our annual gala. It was established years ago, by our dedicated builder, volunteer, and donor, Kate Schaffner, in memory of her beloved mother, Jean Schaffner. The purpose of the award is to honor a volunteer who goes above and beyond in their service to the center. Choosing this recipient is an extremely difficult task, as we are fortunate to have so many individuals who give their time tirelessly to Xenophon. Most volunteers come to Xenophon to interact with the horses and children, but there are many volunteers behind the scenes, be it mucking stalls, grading our arena, or being the go to “fix it man”, that have done so much for the organization for a longtime. Often times those volunteers are not seen or recognized.
This year, the award went to a husband and wife team, Jim and Kelly Pire. Jim Pire created our amazing website. He continues to keep us up to date with the technological side of things, answering questions, fixing problems, and providing translations in the foreign language of computer jargon. He has served a bigger, priceless role at the center, by capturing the essence of Xenophon in still shots. The smiles that move us to tears, the view to the very souls of our horses through eyes captured on film are all the work of his creative hands. He has created a beautiful historical chronicle of the center while somehow even making mucking a stall look glamorous! Kelly started out as a sidewalker. She helps out on extra days when needed, mucks stalls, and exercises the horses. In the years she has been at the center she has matured as a horsewoman and has become one of our top horse handlers. But just like her husband, she has contributed hours of work behind the scenes. As a team, each and every year they create the amazing programs for this gala, a job deserving recognition in and of itself, requiring long hours and down to the wire deadlines. Congratulations Jim and Kelly and thank you for all you do for
Girl Scout Troop #32761 from Walnut Creek is a special group of young ladies. After a busy season selling cookies, they decided to donate a portion of their profits to a charitable organization. Xenophon was fortunate to be chosen. On Monday, May 13, 2013 the troop came to visit the center, watch lessons and present Xenophon with a check for $220.00. Thank you, Girls, for your thoughtfulness and hard work. We are truly grateful.
On April 23, 2013, Xenophon was pleased to host our neighbors, The Lost Valley Homeowners Association, for an evening BBQ. Neighbors came to meet one another, share some good food, and learn about our center. Our therapeutic riding student Matthew Trueblood, gave a wonderful demonstration, in which he showed off his independent riding skills, rising trot and impressive dismount. Lucas Giusti helped to increase the understanding amongst our guests of the ins and outs of hippotherapy. Orinda mayor, Amy Worth, joined us for the evening.
One of the integral parts of lessons at Xenophon is the ability to ride out of the arena on our trail. New learning opportunities are provided and riders can view and interact with nature. Riding up and down hills creates new balance sensations and uses different muscles. This year, thanks to a grant from the Margaret Blodgett Foundation, Xenophon will be building a state of the art integrative sensory trail. The trail will have numerous components: a real railroad crossing, an auditory garden where children can experience different sounds, a sensory box allowing the opportunity to touch and feel different objects, road signs, an interactive water feature and an experiential pathway with different footings for the horses. Sam Griebstein has already installed our experiential pathway for his Eagle Scout project and it is fantastic. Paul Ogle will be building our railroad crossing for his Eagle Scout project, and volunteer groups from local companies will be installing the remaining portions in May and June. We hope to make this a model trail system for other therapeutic riding centers across the nation.
As many know, the land on which our center sits belongs to PG&E. We have had a wonderful relationship with this company over the past 17 years, which has included the ability to hold a long-term lease so that we could build our covered arena on our present site. In addition, the company has been a Platinum Pony sponsor for our gala. This year, they have granted us use of the pasture across the street, on the corner of Valley View and Don Gabriel for the purpose of grazing and turning out our horses. While the horses will mainly be housed on our present site, the pasture will offer them the space to kick up their heals and just “be horses”. New fencing will be installed in the coming weeks. Thank you, PG&E.
On March 27, 2013 Xenophon was fortunate to have a group of 15 high school students from Sprintstone School in Lafayette, come out to visit the center. As part of their pre-vocational training blocks, the students came out to learn about what a therapeutic riding center is all about and what it takes to keep one running efficiently. That experience included getting down and dirty with jobs like weeding planter beds, shoveling and spreading bark, emptying compost bins, and cleaning tack. But it was not all work and no play. The students learned about our special horses and were able to interact with them through grooming and tacking. They were a delightful bunch and we are thankful for their hard work. We hope they will visit us again in the near future.
The reviews are in! Xenophon’s “A Night On Broadway” was a huge success! The evening began with cocktails and a wonderful silent auction. Paintings by David Sellers, incredible wines, and tours of San Francisco kept guests in friendly bidding wars right up to the last minute. A special surprise was a “flash mob” by the adorable and talented members of the Music Box Theater Company. Guests sat down to a wonderful dinner by the Round Hill Country Club culinary kitchen and were entertained again by the musical talents of children from MBTC. A Xenophon parent, Dana Hansen, moved us to tears and to lift our paddles in the live auction with the beautiful story of her daughter, Caroline. The evening ended with dancing to the music of The Shills. It was a beautiful and successful evening. A huge thank you goes to our sponsors, all who attended and purchased at the auctions, our board members, and our hard-working gala committee.
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