Mission continues at Hope's Way
Summer began Saturday with a picnic, games and stagecoach and pony rides at Hope's Way, a retreat for special needs children and their families in Bainbridge.
"We just love doing this," said Elizabeth Shafer, who runs the retreat with her husband, Rick and a large team of volunteers.
The Shafers launched Hope's Way in 2002 as a tribute to their granddaughter Hope, who was born prematurely and died shortly after birth.
The retreat is a not-for-profit recreation center developed to provide "a place of recreation and respite for special needs children and their families from under-served communities," the organization's mission statement says.
Children served at Hope's Way include those who are at-risk, ill, physically or developmentally disabled or those from low-income families or whose parents are incarcerated.
Since that time, the sprawling retreat has expanded to include a miniature western village,playground, a picnic shelter and a petting zoo where horses, goats, sheep, chickens and a pot-bellied pig reside. Dozens of dogs and cats roam the property and visit with guests.
The seed money for Hope's Way was provided by the Shafers. Eventually a board of directors was put in place.
Funding for Hope's Way comes from the Shafers, grants and donations. The facilities and equipment have all been donated or built by volunteers of all ages (parts of the western town were built by young men working toward Eagle Scout designations, some by members of church youth groups).
Donations of several items would be helpful to the Hope's Way operation. Those items include:
* Hay and straw
* Yard tools and implements
* Metal or plastic trash barrels with lids
* Water buckets
* Water heating elements
* Fencing and poles
* Corral panels
* Senior horse feed
* Cracked corn
* Animal feeders
* Paper goods
Donations and volunteers are also always needed and appreciated, Shafer said.