Volunteers are an integral part of most charitable organisations – selflessly pitching in wherever needed and seeking nothing in return.
This is certainly the case for Hastings Riding for the Disabled (RDA), an organisation that provides therapeutic riding opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people in Hawke’s Bay.
Hastings RDA has 30 volunteers providing everything from governance to horse leaders, riders’ side walkers, paddock maintenance and gardeners. They also lend their skills as plumbers, builders, designers, and fundraisers.
“We simply couldn’t function without them,” former Hastings RDA Office Administrator-turned-volunteer, Ruth Holmes, says of the volunteers.
Based at the Joan Fernie Centre in Murdoch Road East, Hastings, Hastings RDA wanted to recognise the importance of their volunteers by providing them with team polo shirts. Eastern and Central Community Trust was delighted to contribute a grant of $2000 towards the cost.
While the volunteers and organisation benefit directly from the uniforms, Ruth explains the advantages reach far beyond.
“We have found that providing volunteers with a uniform makes them feel more valued and part of the team, which then leads to them being more involved in training. Because our volunteers are prepared to invest themselves in the therapeutic riding programme, the riders’ subsequently benefit and reach goals sooner and aim higher.
“Hastings RDA needs to retain as many of its current trained volunteers as possible and also constantly source new volunteers and train them up so they can maintain and improve the therapeutic riding programme.
“The more Hastings RDA is recognisable by its uniform the easier it is for us to attract new volunteers as they see us as a professional and organised team to join.
“Grants from organisations like ECCT make a huge difference. Our committee and volunteers are always working on ways to maintain and improve the riding programme but can often only raise small amounts through cake stalls and raffles. Receiving a grant enables them to see a difference taking place and adds to their sense of belonging to Hastings RDA,” Ruth says.
About Hastings Riding for the Disabled
Hastings RDA is one of 54 groups affiliated to the New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association (NZRDA), which was formally established in Hawke’s Bay in 1972.
RDA is all about providing goal-based riding activities that increase the ability, strength and confidence of people with physical, intellectual, emotional and social challenges. Therapeutic horse riding can make them stronger and more physically and mentally organised. It can also calm them and help manage their behaviour at home, school and in the community. It can improve concentration and their communication and make a difference at home, school and in the wider community.