Palm Coast, FL/Devon, England – From single individuals to organized group efforts, the community has shown a vested interest across Flagler County in helping the Whispering Meadows Ranch since the equine therapy center made headlines this spring as a subject of a neighborly complaint.
Under real or perceived threat of closure, the community has rallied to help organization not only keep their doors open, but support the potential move to a new location in Flagler County.
Helping to coordinate a series of fundraisers on behalf of the ranch, Laura O’Brien, a past president of the Grand Haven Woman’s Club and member of the CJ Chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization known as P.E.O., is putting her skills and extensive network to work for Whispering Meadows.
“They are in the process of looking to expand to provide greater services to their clients and expand their client base. Whispering Meadows Ranch is a ranch dealing only with horses and they provide equine therapy to kids with special needs, and veterans with PTSD or other needs. And to support them in the relocation effort, we’re having a series of fundraisers,” she said.
Starting with three works of art prominently displayed at the Grand Gallery at Grand Realty, it’s the first in a series of fundraisers that will culminate with a charity golf tournament on March 28, 2022 according to O’Brien.
Showcasing the subject of the fundraisers – horses, O’Brien enlisted English artist Kathy Nettles to donate her talents for a cause both share a passion for saving.
“We have several paintings here done by Kathy Nettles. She is an English artist with a passion for horses, and for charity. When I found her online, this was strictly serendipitous,” said O’Brien.
After learning more about the Whispering Meadows Ranch and mission, Nettles was more than happy to help from her studio in Devon, England.
“When my husband, John and I relocated, in 2000 to an old farm in Devon we brought with us a small donkey, Hector, who we had rehomed from a very unpleasant fate, and Minty a small white pony that had been given up to an equine charity and had remained there for most of his life,” shared Nettles.
“Once settled it seemed a waste not to fill the stables and meadows with more horses and donkeys that needed new homes, some TLC and a place where they could live out their lives in peace and comfort,” she said.
It was also a chance for Nettles to further develop another passion of hers, art.
“Living in Devon also, somehow, reignited my love of art, something I’d not thought about since school and, in 2018 I took the first of what would be many, courses in art and painting,” she said.
“Once I started, I realized that this was what I really wanted to spend the rest of my life doing. It took a while to pluck up the courage to paint my beloved horses, and they are now one of my most loved subjects.”
It was her social media posting of her art business that brought Laura O’Brien and the Whispering Meadows Ranch into Nettles’ life, and became a perfect match for the pair.
“As an artist I often struggle with ‘the point’ of my art – but then an opportunity to use it to bring awareness and much needed funding for such a great, much loved, and needed charity presents itself. I was, and still am, humbled that Laura chose my art and I’m sure with her drive and infectious enthusiasm the events she has planned for the charity will be huge successes,” said Nettles.
Serving the community for the past 14 years, Kristine Aguirre, says need for Whispering Meadows Ranch’s services which include educational and equine-assisted activities for adults and youth with disabilities and special needs, has continued to grow.
“Alongside an amazing group of volunteers and community support the Ranch serves hundreds of participants throughout the year. These community members and volunteers have found purpose, comfort and healing through the programs at Whispering Meadows Ranch,” said Aguirre.
“As we move forward in positioning the Ranch for future growth, we are excited to build on our strong foundation and explore opportunities to expand our reach in Flagler County and beyond. While this is a large project we are committed to creating more services and connections for the underserved population in our community,” she said.
Aguirre is grateful for the dedicated support of members of the community like O’Brien who are not only advocates for the ranch, but critical to the non-profit’s mission.
“The Ranch does not receive any local or federal government funding, and we will continue serving our community with the generosity of supporters like the P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization),” shared Aguirre.
“We are thrilled this amazing group has chosen Whispering Meadows Ranch for their fundraising campaign and look forward to raising awareness as well as sharing the benefits of the Ranch’s services through their efforts. We are excited for the next phase in the history of our organization and hope the Flagler County community will join us for the ride,” she said.
The inaugural three works of equestrian art by English artist Kathy Nettles are on display at the Grand Gallery in Palm Coast, located within the Grand Realty offices on Colbert Lane from August 1- November 14, 2021.
Grand Gallery: 2298 Colbert Lane, Palm Coast, FL. Gallery Hours: M-Sat: 9 AM to 5 PM.
For more information, contact Laura O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-921-8714.
Featured Image: Laura O’Brien is spearheading the fundraiser to help Whispering Meadows Ranch with a series of fundraisers, including a trio of art works by English artist Kathy Nettles, on display at the Grand Gallery. (Anderson/FNW)