AHEAD With Horses
Los Angeles Center for Developmental Therapeutic Vaulting
In 1982, Joyce was the philanthropy chair for the La Canada Flintridge Women’s Club, who were raising funds for AHEAD With Horses. She knew nothing of the organization, but after her first visit seeing the disabled children being helped by the wonderful staff using beautiful, gentle horses she was hooked and wanted to do all that she could to help.
Joyce has been contributing ever since by volunteering her time in the office, around the grounds and giving speeches to volunteer and donor organizations. She has served on the Board of Directors since 2000, and was President from 2004-2020. Joyce has seen many miracles such as children walking for the first time and hearing them speak their first words. She knows these children will continue to develop, improve, grow and become contributing members of society.
While Michelle had not been around with AWH since its inception in 1968 (she wasn’t born yet), she learned about the program when she was just 5 years old. Michelle would come and watch her sister Stacy, who had Trisomy 9M and was severely disabled, ride in the program, starting right before she turned 3.
Michelle can still remember and can appreciate what Stacy learned while at AWH. She started to make more noise and communicate with others, as well as learn how to safely get off a bed by sliding off the horse’s tail. Michelle loved coming to watch her sister and the horses. Michelle even got to take some hoof clippings for a report she did in elementary school on horses and ponies. She also remembers coming and participating in Costume Day, an event she was always enthusiastic about.
Michelle started volunteering for AWH the summer before her junior year in High School, and would always come back to work over the summers while attending college. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Redlands, she started working there full-time in 2005, both teaching lessons and working in the office. Michelle worked closely with Liz Helms, the Founder of AWH, who taught her how to run the wonderful non-profit.
While Michelle has gone through many different titles and job descriptions at AWH, her current, all-encompassing title is Executive Director and Head Instructor which she assumed in 2012 after Liz Helms passed away.
Each day Michelle looks forward to witnessing little miracles in each session. As one child is able to hold their head up a little longer on their own; another shy child is breaking out of their shell to tell Michelle how much they love the horses. It’s a little boy finally able to complete a “quad” on his hands and knees while the horse walks for a whole circle, and a little girl who was afraid to let go of the handles now stand up on her horse…there are just so many amazing moments to cherish.
Before joining AWH, Judy ran a boarding stable of 50 horses, had horses of her own, taught kids to ride, and was Board President in my 10 years in California Rangers. On top of all of this, she was also an RN. The fit couldn’t have been more perfect.
Judy had recently changed her hours as a registered nurse, and was looking for something meaningful to do with her extra time. While driving with her family in the area, Judy passed an AHEAD With Horses sign on La Tuna Canyon Rd. and had her grandson write down the telephone number. She left a message that she was interested in volunteering and began at AWH shortly thereafter.
In 2017, Judy retired as an RN. Having more time to donate, she offered to help with the paperwork for the new property. With it came the upkeep of the 2 1/2 acres: weeding, planting, watering, obtaining city permits, and guiding the many wonderful volunteer groups that came out to help us get ready for the big move. Judy refers to the acreage as her Field of Dreams and can’t wait for everyone to experience the magic of our new Forever Home! Judy stepped into the role of Board President in 2020.
In 2008, Floyd retired as a Bank field Auditor for over 30 years. He had a daughter Stacy, born with Trisomy 9 Mosaic: a chromosome disorder. She was very small, unable to walk and talk. Stacy began riding at AHEAD with Horses at the age of 3. She became vocal and although could not speak she could let you know what she wanted and what she was thinking. Through Stacy learning how to get on and off the horse, she was ultimately able to get both in and out of bed by herself. Later in life she learned how to feed herself and how to walk with assistance.
Stacy had an older sister that volunteered at AWH and after college worked with Founder Liz Helms, later becoming the Executive director for AWH. It only seemed right for Floyd to volunteer and support AHEAD With Horses helping the disabled youths be all that they can be.
Laurelyn is better known as Timi and has been volunteering at AHEAD With Horses for a few years now. She initially found them, when trying to see what all the noise was coming from down the street one day. It was AHEAD With Horses Annual Fun Day event, where children perform their vaulting positions for their friends and family. After watching for a bit, and seeing they had a volunteer orientation EVERY Saturday, she came back the following Saturday and has been with us ever since. She took up the mantle of Board Vice President in 2020.
Timi works in the technology department at Bank Of America. Timi is passionate about volunteering, community support, and is a disability advocate at Bank of America. She volunteers with the Bank of America Corporation Community Volunteers (BACCV) as an event manager for the greater Los Angeles market. This allows her to connect bank associates with volunteer events in their home or work areas. In 2019 she was flown to the bank headquarters in NC and presented with the ‘2019 Global Diversity and Inclusion Award’, for her work in volunteering and support of disabled kids. She has also received both silver and gold presidential volunteer awards for the amount of hours she volunteers each year.
Timi has lived in California her entire life is very happily married for over 35 years, has 2 girls and a granddaughter.
It began as an internet search, wondering how she could reconnect with Horses and also help others in need. Within 48 hours of her reaching out, Annie found herself at AWH ready to roll up her sleeves. It was almost immediate when she felt this was the puzzle piece missing in her life.
Annie comes to AWH with 13-years of marketing experience as a former ad agency executive in New York City and Los Angeles areas. Honing her background, Annie oversees the development of customer-facing materials including website, brochures, social media to name a few. She also spearheaded the new AWH branding recently with the help of her talented Art Director boyfriend, Max.
Annie resides in Hollywood, CA, where she can be found on the golf course…when she’s not working, of course!
Arline first heard of AHEAD With Horses (AWH) in the Glendale News Volunteer Opportunity column. She had been retired for a couple of years and was looking for a place to volunteer that helped children. She felt AWH would be the perfect fit because not only do they serve children, but she could also spend time with horses.
After attending the orientation, Arline learned that the students in the program had various disabilities. Her great nephew had Cerebral Palsy and passed away at the age of 9 and she felt that working at AWH was the perfect way to honor him. Whether it’s grooming the horses, assisting in the lessons, talking to the parents, weeding, paperwork–Arline feels most at peace when she’s working at AWH. And, what a joy it is for her to see our students grow and progress each day!
Alex heard about AHEAD With Horses through her then new friend, Joyce who was President of AWH at the time. She looked deeper into the organization and was very impressed with the love and commitment from all who were part of AWH. Right away Alex started by volunteering at the annual Fun Day event. She was so touched by the glow on the children’s faces as they showed off their skills on the horses that she deepened her commitment and decided to join the Board of Directors.
This brought Alex right back to her teen years, she volunteered for the H.E.L.P Group in Valley Glen. At that time they had a program on the campus with horses helping the autistic children with different therapy approaches. She would lead the children during riding sessions and worked closely with them to feel more and more safe with the horses. These beautiful gentle giants had Alex’s heart as she witnessed the growth and happiness of the children and feels the same about AWH.
Alex looks forward to witnessing the continued growth of the AWH program and all of the possibilities for the children we are helping. Everyday is full of new beginnings!
Over 25 years ago, Beth was looking for activities for her then 5 year old son, Adam, who has moderate-to-severe cerebral palsy. She vowed to do whatever she and her husband could to improve Adam’s quality of life. Beth then discovered she could use the respite care service hours in equestrian therapy and then found AHEAD With Horses.
Being far from the Shadow Hills ranch, Beth was able to bring Adam to the Brentwood location, where he still rides to this day. Seeing the great improvement with her son and the wonderful things AWH offers the community, Beth decided to join the Board of Directors. She has a breadth of experience in the non-profit sector and offers great support to the organization.
Beth enjoys the fellowship and camaraderie of her fellow board members as well as their dedication and commitment to giving AWH students the best quality of life—it’s what keeps her with us.
In 2015, Pastor Arlo began serving at Shadow Hills Presbyterian Church. She has always had a heart for Churches partnering with non-profits, and after discovering that AHEAD With Horses was right across the street from her Church she couldn’t have been more excited! She started wandering across the street to get to know her neighbors better and soon fell in love with the work that AHEAD With Horses was doing!
Pastor Arlo loves working with AWH and serving on the board! She has been so transformed and touched by the people at AHEAD with Horses, that she did a sermon series on making Shadow Hills Presbyterian Church more inclusive to those with Special Needs. And now as a result, the Church has portable wheelchair ramps, different accessibility resources available for each service, and Church members that welcome a variety of ways of worshiping with those who are verbal, non-verbal, and who might engage differently during worship. She believes everyone is a beloved child of God and everyone has gifts to serve the Church, including in leadership and on staff. Rev. Arlo and the church are so thankful for all that AHEAD with Horses has taught them and how they can continue to be of service to their neighbors. When not working with AWH, at the Church or with Tierra del Sol, Pastor Arlo can be found spending time with her wonderful husband, children and dogs.
Ride. Smile. Grow.
AHEAD With Horses™ is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.Tax ID Number: 95-3165603