OHA Emergency Fund Helps Feed over 300 Horses
The pandemic hit hard. Thousands of people in Marion County, without warning, had the economic rug pulled out from under them. The Ocala Horse Alliance became aware that the pandemic could be potentially devastating to horses. Many owners were frantic about being able to feed their horses. The Alliance stepped forward and created the Emergency Feed Fund for Horses.
Designed to assist horse owners keep their horses fed while they received relief through unemployment or were able to tap other financial resources, The Fund provided micro grants for hay and grain to the neediest horse owners.
“The predicaments and the desperation described on the grant applications were simply gut wrenching,” explained Ellie Trueman from the Ocala Horse Alliance. One woman’s application noted, “I can’t sleep. I am trying to figure out how I can feed my horses. My income just stopped. I am panicked.”
The Ocala Horse Alliance is an organization whose mission is to unify, promote, educate and grow the horse industry in Marion County. “We are united by the horse, explained Trueman and we realized we needed to assist. Our members worked quickly to establish the Emergency Feed Fund. Berrettini Feed Specialists partnered with The Alliance in this unprecedented effort.”
The program could never have been possible without the tremendous and timely support of over 80 donors. “We were so impressed with the generosity of the greater Ocala community. One couple even sent their stimulus funds to us to assist local horses,” Trueman explained. Tizwhiz Feeds of Reddick, FL also kindly stepped up and provided vouchers for hay and grain. This was a community effort to assist community horses.
The Alliance awarded nearly ninety vouchers to horse owners across Marion County. A decision committee reviewed all the applications almost immediately as they came in from online, did some basic due diligence to ensure the legitimacy of the application and made quick decisions. In most cases, the applicant had a voucher in hand within 48 hours.
Thank you notes from recipients clearly described the benefit and the relief provided by the Emergency Feed Fund.
One grant recipient wrote: “You will never understand what this means to me. I was thinking I was going to have to sell or rehome my 2 horses. It would crush me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Another recipient, “Single mom with 2 kids and just like that, no income. Struggling to pay the mortgage, keep my kids fed and trying to figure out how to keep the horses. This certificate means so much to us. God Bless you.”
Now that the economy is on the rebound, people are getting back to work or have received unemployment, and the donated funds have been fully utilized to help horses, the program is closed. The Ocala Horse Alliance’s Emergency Feed Fund for Horses was able to assist in feeding just over 300 horses in Marion County during very challenging times.