The PEACH Pit has received the Strategic Star Award as an agency providing exemplary service and support to Veterans. The award was presented March 19 during the Georgia DBHDD’s annual conference in Columbus, Ga.
The goal of this year’s Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disability Unspoken Wounds Conference was to increase the “knowledge, confidence, and skills in addressing the behavioral health, criminal justice, and reintegration needs” the state’s Veterans, active duty servicemembers and their families.
While The PEACH Pit Inc. serves the community at large, we’re particularly proud of our service that allows more Veterans to be helped:
- We use of equine-assisted psychotherapy to destigmatize mental health care;
- We believe mental health care is a basic necessity, in the category of food, shelter and medical care;
- We offer low-cost, affordable mental health care to clients;
- We partner with programs that fund Veteran mental health care;
- We partnerships to help clinicians assist Veteran and servicemembers overcome PTSD;
- We host annual free retreats for women Veterans; and
- We offer volunteer opportunities for the military and others in the community.
The PEACH Pit Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation founded by a woman Veteran. It works to help clients help themselves. Its mission is to tap into the naturally reflective nature of horses to help clients overcome obstacles to a happy and healthy life. Its vision is to ensure clients feel emotionally and physically safe enough to allow a horse to serve as part of their counseling and therapy team so they can walk away from the experience feeling more empowered to make changes.
The therapy sessions include very little talking and involve activities where clients interact with horses. These interactions allow clients to focus on the present while healing from the past and looking toward the future. The sessions are unmounted, with clients on a journey of self-discovery with horses.
When participating in hands-on equine-assisted therapy, clients can better understand how their current behavior and pattern may be unhealthy and practice changing those that aren’t working for them. The sessions empower the clients by helping them find their own answers based on their strengths.
The agency’s primary goal is key to its service to the community, particularly lower-income Veterans: to provide low-cost, affordable mental health care to clients. To do this, The PEACH Pit receives donations through various corporate and private supporters.
The agency also partners with other companies that receive funding to work with Veterans; those agencies allow Veterans to receive equine-assisted psychotherapy or other services at no cost. The PEACH Pit also is a recognized charity that receives donations through the annual Combined Federal Campaign. Finally, The PEACH Pit has an “equity payment program” that allows clients to pay what they can – without financial strain. Several Veterans have completed sessions under the program.
In April 2019, The PEACH Pit is partnering with a psychologist to offer training for clinicians who work with (or want to work with) clients with PTSD. Clinicians attending the four-day training, Fundamentals of Psychodynamic Equine Assisted Trauma Therapy, can receive 20 continuing education credits, and will experience innovative applications of equine-assisted psychotherapy to work with people who have experienced trauma, with a specific focus and case examples applicable to Veterans and servicemembers.
Along with having women Veterans as clients, The PEACH Pit hosts annual Horsepower and Heroes Retreatsfor women Veterans to help them realize their best selves. The Veteran’s only expense for the retreat is transportation to and from the farm in Fort Valley, Ga. The Veterans lodge in one of two modernized cabins; each cabin has one bathroom, a microwave, kitchen sink, refrigerator and bedding. The cabins do not have televisions or Wi-Fi or televisions, as the aim is for Veterans to use the weekend to focus on themselves and their needs, and not on technology.
The weekends include vision-boarding, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, horseback riding, individual Accelerated Resolution Therapy, a group equine-assisted learning (EAL) activity in the arena, individual Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, aromatherapy and a fireside talking circle. 2019 marks the third annual Horsepower and Heroes Retreat.
Finally, The PEACH Pit, as a nonprofit, offers opportunities for Veterans and others to give back to the community. The agency hosts at least two volunteer days and demonstrations a year, and Veterans, servicemembers, students and others in the community have participated. The volunteer activities have included:
- Clearing downed trees
- Cutting up downed trees
- Mending/installing fencing
- Marking riding and hiking trails
- Mucking arena/dragging pastures
- Cleaning, refilling water troughs
- Collecting trash
- Grooming horses
- Cleaning saddles
- Setting up for demo
- Feeding horses
- Planting seeds
We don’t do this alone; we count on your support to help others. Thank you for your support.
Before summer officially began, activity at The PEACH Pit began heating up.
First, we partnered with Spirit’s Quest to co-host an eight-week Peach-Quest Social Skills Summer Camp for 20 school-age clients in Peach and Crawford counties. Camp activities focused on eight *power tools: respect, responsibility, relationship skills, boundaries, empathy, choices and consequences, and personal ability.
The PEACH Pit also hosted almost 200 students of the Fort Valley State University freshman class for a day of service, and we partnered with volunteers of WellCare Health Plans to help manage the activities.
The contracted summer camp kicked off in June, with four weeks in Fort Valley, and moved to Roberta’s Spirit’s Quest in July for the final four weeks. Campers experienced:
- Equine-assisted psychotherapy,
- Yoga therapy,
- Horticulture therapy,
- Horse care and horsemanship,
- Horseback riding lessons,
- Fishing and
- A heritage animal experience.
Many campers had never encountered any of the camp offerings, and some had never attended summer camp.
While the camp offered fun activities, the primary activity was equine-assisted psychotherapy, horses incorporated into daily group therapy sessions focusing on one power tool a week.
Based on weekly surveys from parents and guardians, the camp met its primary objective: to provide children with foundational social skills that would help them be productive members of society.
From the surveys, 21 percent of parents or guardians reported being “very unsatisfied” with their child’s behavior in the areas taught during camp. “Very unsatisfied” was the lowest possible ranking on the survey. Thirty percent reported being “somewhat unsatisfied” with their child’s behavior before camp.
After the power tools were taught, at least 50 percent of parents and guardians reported being satisfied with their child’s behavior, with about 15 percent reporting being very satisfied, the highest possible ranking.
The biggest shift in parent satisfaction with their child’s behavior was with respect. The results showed 63 percent reporting being unsatisfied or somewhat unsatisfied before camp. After the week of respect discussion, all parents and guardians reported being at least satisfied with the behavior in this area.
Another notable shift was with boundaries before and after camp. Before camp, half of parents and guardians reported being somewhat or very unsatisfied with their child’s behavior with boundaries. After camp, that number changed to 75 percent who were at least satisfied.
The FVSU Day of Service, coordinated with the iHelp Center, was Aug. 17, the final day of New Student Orientation Week.
Students arrived on two charter buses and wore T-shirts on their school colors of blue and yellow, with “iHelp FVSU” emblazoned on the front. WellCare volunteers were in orange-and-white T-shirts, making for a very colorful day, despite rain showers.
The rain dampened efforts to complete the planned activities – including erecting two tents, clearing overgrown brush, caring for the horses, stacking hay bales and erecting fencing. However, 10 dedicated FVSU volunteers and WellCare volunteers joined board members of The PEACH Pit in completing one tent.
Other volunteers were able to participate in two demonstrations of how horses can help clients in counseling.
Before summer ends, The PEACH Pit will host first responders for demonstrations on how they can put themselves first in getting mental health care, and we’ll be preparing for our third Horsepower and Heroes Retreat for women Veterans.
Stay tuned for more busyness at The PEACH Pit.
*We adapted concepts from “Power Tools for Living” by Robert and Nancy Magnelli; and “Head ’Em Up, Move ’Em Out” by Susan Jung. All are activities are based on the Eagala model of psychotherapy.
Video Posted on Updated on
Not only did Andrea M. Gibson help bring seven teens from Macon to volunteer at The PEACH Pit on Jan. 14, but she also shot pictures and video. Pictured below are Katherine Hosmer, left, and Jessica Wornum. Check out her work and learn more about what we do.