Equestrian group plays a major role in connecting resources with those in need
ELDERWOOD – As the global pandemic continues with wildfires spreading around the Central Valley, people are finding new ways to support their communities. A local group of equestrians formed the Pony Express to help connect non-profits with resources from around Tulare County.
The Pony Express is comprised of several young equestrians from Sequoia Hills Stables. They use their personal horse trailers and trucks to help local non-profits transport large amounts of resources to those who need them. The main non-profit they work closely with is CityServe TulareKings. Pony Express helped connect CityServe with Family Services of Tulare County. The three organizations have teamed up to do two food distributions on Aug. 7 and Sept. 11, with another planned for Oct. 16.
On Sept. 11, Family Services gave away 375 boxes of food to families in need. The food boxes were provided by United States Department of Agriculture and CityServe, but Family Services did not have the resources to transport it all. That is where Pony Express comes in. They thoroughly cleaned their trucks and trailers and picked up the food boxes. They then delivered them to Family Services whose staff then delivered the boxes to the families.
“We typically have smaller agency vehicles. We would not have been able to transport all of that food by ourselves, we don’t have the capacity to do that,” Family Services CEO Caity Meader said. “Its been great for our staff to have another touch point with the families we serve, to stay connected to those who really need support.”
Family Services of Tulare County helps survivors of various forms of assault and abuse by providing supportive services and resources. They normally don’t do food distributions, but recognized the growing need for their families.
“It’s not a typical activity for Family Services but we feel like with everything going on with stay-at-home orders, isolation can be very dangerous with the populations we serve. So this is an opportunity for us to help our families meet their basic needs and also to make sure we’re staying in connection with our clients,” Meader said.
The August food distribution was the first ever event for the Pony Express. On Sept. 14, they also helped CityServe deliver around 600 dog beds to Valley Oak SPCA. The Pony Express includes five students from the Central Valley ranging in age from 11 to 18 years old: Kendall Zeman (Fresno State), Emily Girard (EUHS), Emily Yanez (Visalia Technical Early College), Sidney Yanez (La Joya Middle School), and Grace Wiseman (St Paul’s School). The horse trailers and trucks are provided by the owner of Sequoia Hills Stables Jenny House along with their trainer Patrice Corbridge and Merritt Wiseman.
Wiseman is on the board of CityServe and helped in the creation of the Pony Express, but it was her daughter Grace who came up with the idea. She says that the group is here to stay and serves as an important way of supporting the community during the ongoing pandemic.
“It’s important to give back to the community and utilize the resources you have. It’s a really good lesson for the young riders to start young and learn the importance of giving back to community,” Wiseman said.