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Healing, hope and horses heading to Lake Ariel

Keely Ehrhardt, right, teaches Lauren Mcelhaney how to care for Opie, a pony in the Hope Hill program.


September 1, 2011

BEACH LAKE, PA — The past year has proven to be a positive one for a special non-profit organization that brings together humans, horses and hope, in a program that provides healing for all involved.

Currently located on a farm in Beach Lake that Hope Hill Ministry (HHM) has been leasing, the young organization and its founder, Keely Ehrhardt, have achieved a milestone and will be relocating to a permanent home on a 12-acre farm in Lake Ariel.

“We’ve been growing in participants and volunteers and need to step into that growth,” said Ehrhardt. “God’s timing is perfect in how it’s all turned out.”

The move is slated for spring 2012. Meanwhile, the program will continue at the Beach Lake location, where a typical session begins with chores that teach qualities like discipline and compassion to help build confidence and self-respect. As participants learn to care for and ride the horses, the animals benefit by that care, establishing a reciprocal relationship that is good for both.

Jonathan and Megan Mcelhaney bring their three children all the way from Pond Eddy, NY to participate in the program. Lauren, Hannah and Brandon are learning how to care for the Hope Hill horses, but that’s not all. During the Mcelhaney family session, Ehrhardt led a discussion about God’s love while she helped the children craft bracelets. She thoughtfully selected a Bible verse for each child and read it to each in turn. They pondered the verses as they were guided in reflecting on how the verses might apply in their lives.

“Healing for the heart, help for the horse, hope for the future—that’s our mission at Hope Hill Ministry,” said Ehrhardt. Children between 7 to 18 years of age experience “true hope, fun, love and work” in the program, where they build a relationship of trust and love with the horse and leader of the session.

“The kids come from all walks of life, those who have suffered abuse and neglect, been bullied, experienced health problems and learning disabilities,” said Ehrhardt. “Many of the horses at Hope Hill have come from past abuse and neglect, and it is incredible to witness the bond that forms when a hurting child and a hurting horse are blended together into a dynamic healing relationship.”

The program is free of charge to all who would like to be a part of Hope Hill Ministry, according to Ehrhardt. “We are 100% volunteer run and 100% supported by donations.” A fundraiser 5K Walk/Run is slated for October 22. For more information or to volunteer or support HHM, visit www.hopehillministry.org or call 570/903-1133.