(l to r): William, Katherine, Joe, and Mary Swee with Tank (center) on a typical Saturday at EC.
We are honored to have such caring and devoted volunteers! They take time out of their lives to come help out at Equestrian Connection and we could not be where we are today without their help! Some of our volunteers have given so much of their time they are members of our 100 hours club! We would like to recognize those individuals who achieved 100 hours of volunteering during 2015 and already some who have 100 in 2016!
The Swee Family
Anyone who goes to the EC Barn on Saturdays knows the Swees! Brothers Joe and William, their sister Katherine, and their mother Mary volunteer every Saturday and bring their infectious joy and overwhelming enthusiasm to the Barn.
It all began back in 2012 when Joe and William, who was training for an Ironman triathlon, ran in the EC Road Race. Mary came to cheer them on, and she quickly became an important part of our team. Then she introduced Katherine to volunteering at the Barn and Joe and William soon followed their sister. “I walked into the entry of EC and saw the words ‘Breathe deep, seek peace, ride hard,’” remembers Mary, “and it felt like I had arrived home. I took a walk to the pond, and I knew that this was the place, this was it. It’s been a joy ever since.” Mary volunteers every Saturday afternoon and with the biweekly Chicago Kids Club as a sidewalker, groomer, and soon-to-be leader.
William, who also volunteers on Saturday afternoons and sidewalks with the Chicago Kids Club, is continually amazed as he watches his riders gradually improve their physical strength and communication skills: “I see kids experience incredible improvements, including one who was largely non-responsive in the beginning and with whom I can now play catch and communicate. This really means so much to me.” Katherine, a horse lover her whole life who volunteers along with William and her mother, enjoys interacting with the riders as she sidewalks. “It’s just so great to be here, at this place, with these kids and with all these wonderful people and wonderful horses!” she says with a smile.
Joe volunteers every Saturday morning and also joins the family for the biweekly Chicago Kids Club. He explains why he continues to come back: “Volunteering gives me the opportunity to help others. And EC is such a happy place to be; I love spending time with the riders, the other volunteers, and the staff. I learn a lot about, not only the riders and the horses, but also how to better focus on others. On top of all of that, I’ve seen some amazing improvements.”
The Swees all agree that volunteering at EC is a wonderful thing for the family to do together. “This place reminds us that every single life is so precious,” concludes Mary. “You can feel the love behind the work that is done. It is elevating and inspiring. I just wish everyone could spend some time here.”