Ride on: OCAA Day of Service at SARI

OCAA Day of Service
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SARI Therapeutic Riding

Riding Into SARI: An OCAA Day of Service

On Friday, September 28th, a truck pulled into the ranch at 12659 Medway Rd in Arva. Diane Blackall saw the vehicle and wondered if it would be enough to make a difference for SARI Therapeutic Riding. The Executive Director needn’t have worried, as before she knew it trucks, equipment, and crews from six local OCAA-member tree services companies arrived to participate in the 2018 OCAA Day of Service.

These companies understand what it means to give back to their local communities. That’s why they didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to take part in this year’s 7th Annual OCAA Day of Service in Southwestern Ontario. And Diane couldn’t have been more thrilled.

SARI Therapeutic Riding

SARI Therapeutic Riding opened the doors to the stable back in 1978. It was no ordinary horse farm though. SARI was named after Sari Greenberg, a young woman born with Down Syndrome. Her parents, Syd and Jeanne, were progressive for the time; instead of putting Sari into care, they chose to keep her at home and fight for proactive therapies to improve their daughter’s life. As Sari loved horses, it only seemed natural to include them in the process. The result was the start of one of the most well-respected therapeutic riding programs in Ontario.

A few of the 19 horses used for therapeutic riding at SARI

Today, SARI is a registered charity with 19 horses stabled at the farm. Over 129 participants take part in the many programs designed for people with special needs, with 60 more on a wait list for services. With the recent acquisition of an additional 8.2 acres of land, that wait list could be a thing of the past. The problem was how to access it though; it sat directly behind a line of spruce and cedar trees that effectively blocked it from use. That was until Calvin McCallum of CLC Tree Services contacted Diane with a plan.

Teamwork During the OCAA Day of Service

OCAA member companies are always on the lookout for non-profit and charitable organizations, which may be suitable to host the annual OCAA Day of Service. The SARI board had previously sought quotes to tackle the job of removing some of the trees at the back of their original 5 acres, but the price was beyond their scope. When Calvin suggested his OCAA associates could help if they were willing to host the Day, the board quickly responded with a resounding YES!

Next steps were to round up companies to participate. It didn’t take long for Chatham, Olympic, Lanktree, Tri-County, and Davey Tree Services to agree to add their crews and equipment to the cause. All total, 21 people took part in the work to remove the trees, clear grape vines from the remaining spruce, and clean up the tree tunnel that so many riders enjoy on a regular basis.


It is amazing to see from Medway Road!

Arnie Lindquist, President of the SARI Board of Directors, on seeing the work done

As morning slipped towards afternoon on the 28th, Diane called the crews in for a lunch break.

“Thank you doesn’t cover it,” she said to the men and women gathered. “This means so much to everyone here and the many people who use our facilities. The people who use our programs often can’t access traditional supports because of their disabilities. Your work means that they, plus the many children and adults on our wait list, will be able to will be able to enjoy more of our summer programs and therapeutic riding.” 

With only a few more tasks to complete, the day slipped towards its end. Mulch was spread in the tree tunnel. A white pine, generously donated by NVK Connon Nurseries, was planted to commemorate the work done during the OCAA Day of Service. Crews collected equipment and tools in preparation of heading home, but not before a few more pictures captured the camaraderie of OCAA-member tree services companies enjoying a beautiful day in the country for a good cause.

Thank you to SARI Therapeutic for hosting the 2018 Annual OCAA Day of Service and all the men and women who helped make the day a success for all. 

Crews, equipment, and fleet on hand for the 2018 OCAA Day of Service at SARI Therapeutic

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