Vocational news: Equestrian Zander P. volunteers at Cranberry Sunset Farm

Latham adult resident Zander (Alexandra) P., who has an impressive background in riding and caring for horses, has been volunteering in recent months at Cranberry Sunset Farm in Marstons Mills. Latham’s Vocational Director Maura Smith said connecting Zander to this wonderful non-profit farm has been extremely rewarding. The farm began as a horse rescue, Leslie Balotti from Cranberry Sunset Farm noted. In the beginning, the farm worked directly with Premarin rescues. The horses they rescued had been used to make a hormone therapy for women, but the therapy failed and the foals born were by-products of making the drug and sent to auction/slaughter. Though most of their rescues were Premarin foals, Leslie said, others came from the recession in 2007; people just abandoned weekend farms and many horses and other animals were neglected. A handful of their rescues came from family situations that changed, causing individuals to give up their animals.

Maura and Zander were delighted to discover this special place. Zander joins other Cranberry Sunset Farm volunteers including a social worker, registered nurse, EMTs, special education teachers, certified yoga instructors, a certified health coach, and others. The farm staff also includes an early educator, an ABA therapist, and a horse trainer and instructor. Zander grew up riding horses, and her equestrian skills enabled her to travel to Greece to participate in the Special Olympics World Games. Working in the equine field and earning a competitive wage has been a lifelong dream for Zander, Maura said. “One of our Vocational Department’s goals is to provide year-round opportunities. Many of our individuals have paid seasonal employment, and in the off-season, they volunteer.” Zander is very happy volunteering to do something that’s her favorite thing to do.

While Zander’s apprenticeship at the farm will hopefully lead to a paid position, she does maintain a seasonal paid position caring for a beautiful horse named Buddy through Latham’s Pet Program. Her beloved Buddy is a ‘snow bird horse’ who lives in Middleboro in the warmer months.

The connection that has developed between Cranberry Sunset Farm and Latham Centers is meaningful, Maura said, with both mission-driven organizations striving to do good work in the community. Leslie commented, “It has been a passion of mine to help improve a child’s life through simple concepts using nature, animals, and education about healthy eating. We work with 50 children per week over the winter and grow to 130 per week over the summer. It has turned into something really big, and we continue to seek funding to develop more programs and supports so we can offer a child the very best experience while they are at the farm.”

Cranberry Sunset Farm offers individuals experiences to improve their life skills, overcome daily obstacles, and become more self-sufficient in life, including:

* Hippotherapy & Therapeutic horseback riding

* Farm Life Program/Job Coaching- learn to take care of animals, daily tasks of a farm, general maintenance, farming, and gardening

* Animal Science Program

* Watershed Program

* Honey Bees & Natural Pollinators

* Yoga

Congratulations, Zander, on your commitment and dedication. And thank you to the Latham Centers staff members who support Zander in her career aspirations – especially One-to-One Counselor Shannon Roberts.

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