Rais­ing funds and aware­ness for SonFlower Sta­bles

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - CHRIS AB­BOTT

SonFlower Sta­bles in Ot­ter­ville de­scribes it­self as a com­mu­nity of heal­ing, work­ing along­side horses heal­ing hu­mans.

The sun­flower - or sonflower - was an ideal choice for the sta­bles, owned by Mary Howe, a grief res­o­lu­tion spe­cial­ist, be­cause the hub of the sun­flower rep­re­sents com­mu­nity.

“The seeds within rep­re­sent each and every one of us,” said Howe. “One never knows where that seed may fall. And there’s hope, be­cause when that flower does grow and bloom, it’s like a warrior. And it al­ways turns to­ward the sun for strength. And that’s why the ‘SonFlower.’”

Sun­flow­ers were promi­nently dis­played Fri­day, Aug. 11 at the home of Bob and Irene Hur­ley on Rhineland Road, Delhi, when Till­son­burg ’s Dream Team Global, of Max In­ter­na­tional, hosted a Bar­be­cue Din­ner and Auc­tion fundraiser to sup­port SonFlower Sta­bles, a lo­cal char­ity of­fer­ing a unique blend of al­ter­na­tive meth­ods of heal­ing and grief res­o­lu­tion with equine fa­cil­i­tated learn­ing.

Fea­tur­ing a live and silent auc­tion, catered din­ner ( Vi­vian’s Coun­try Cook­ing in Court­land), ed­u­ca­tional speak­ers, and health and well­ness ven­dors, the event raised $ 6,000 for SonFlower Sta­bles.

Shar­ing her pas­sion with so many sup­port­ers, said Howe, was sur­real.

“It’s like some­one who has a vi­sion and a dream, and they won’t back down - even through every storm of peo­ple be­ing neg­a­tive and knock­ing you down and tak­ing your sails away. This event has given me back my sails. ‘ Where there’s life, there’s hope.’ A wise gen­tle­man here said that, and he en­cour­aged me. So yes, this has given me back my sail.

“I’m just in to­tal awe, that peo­ple are see­ing the need in our com­mu­nity. We have to come to­gether and help one an­other... I don’t want peo­ple to stay stuck in that ill­ness. I want them to know there’s sup­port, and within that sup­port in the com­mu­nity they can find that life within that hope.”

Grate­ful to Dream Team Global Till­son­burg, and con­ven­ers Irene Hur­ley and Vir­ginia Arm­strong, Howe also thanked her pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated team of vol­un­teers.

“They’re the glue,” said Howe. “With­out the vol­un­teers...”

“She’s our glue though too,” said SonFlower vol­un­teer Janet Roe­lens from Nor­wich. “I think she doesn’t give her­self enough credit. I’ve been telling them ‘I’m com­ing back, I’m com­ing back, I’m com­ing back’ and it didn’t re­ally hap­pen the way I thought it was go­ing to hap­pen. Ac­tu­ally, I’m a lot hap­pier about how it hap­pened.”

“This is more of a calling to me than any­thing be­cause I re­ally want to help peo­ple in the same sit­u­a­tion,” said Shonda Mer­lot, newly moved to Straf­fordville.

“The vi­sion,” said Roe­lens, “is un­like any other with equine as­sisted learn­ing and Mary be­ing a grief res­o­lu­tion spe­cial­ist. Every­one has grief, we all have grief. She’s just like a mas­ter at what she does, it’s in­cred­i­ble.” “She makes you dig deep,” Mer­lot nod­ded.

“And while you’re do­ing the work... you’re get­ting the ther­apy,” said Roe­lens.

“She’s non- judg­men­tal, for cer­tain,” said Mer­lot. We un­der­stand that, we get that from Day 1. This is cer­tainly a place of non­judg­ment.”

“A safe place. Very much a safe haven to grow,” said Roe­lens.

“As soon as you get there, it’s like your head shuts off,” said Mer­lot. “It’s free­ing.”

“It’s a com­mu­nity within a com­mu­nity,” said Roe­lens, who as of August 13 has been sober 365 days.

“Sonflower Sta­bles was in­stru­men­tal in that early so­bri­ety. By the grace of God, I found it, and I met Mary, and there was some­thing about Mary and it just changed my life. It gave me a place that I can go any time. It’s just life chang­ing, it re­ally is.”

“I’m a ve­teri­nar­ian tech­ni­cian and I love an­i­mals,” said Mer­lot, who has ex­pe­ri­enced PTSD due to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence through­out her life. “I’ve al­ways been around an­i­mals, grew up in Wy­oming, and was just go­ing through a re­ally hard time, and strug­gles. I’m an Amer­i­can so I can’t get a job over here yet... and I couldn’t sit at home.

“So I came and vol­un­teered, and bonded with the horses very much. It was amaz­ing go­ing out there on Thurs­day. I did make it - and they re­mem­bered me. It was an amaz­ing feel­ing.”

CHRIS AB­BOTT/ POSTMEDIA NET­WORK

Mary Howe of SonFlower Sta­bles in Ot­ter­ville is joined by some of her in­valu­able vol­un­teers, and re­cent Bar­be­cue and Auc­tion fundraiser con­ven­ers Irene Hur­ley and Vir­ginia Arm­strong.

CHRIS AB­BOTT/ POSTMEDIA NET­WORK

Guests en­joyed the din­ner that was catered by Vi­vian’s Coun­try Cook­ing in Court­land.

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