Columbia Memorial Health (1) Careers

Four-footed ‘orphans’ help special kids

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LIVINGSTON—“I don’t like throwing things away,” says Michael Bucci, proprietor of Tomorrow, Tomorrow Animal Sanctuary.

He was talking about the abundance of vehicles on his property. There are tractors, sedans, even an old school bus. But he may as well have been talking about his animals.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow is named for the song from the musical “Annie.” “These are all orphans,” says Mr. Bucci. He has taken in horses, dogs, cats, goats and fish.

“Michael drove 40 minutes to pick up a goldfish,” says Mia Genovese. Ms. Genovese runs Godspeed Horse Rescue. After more than 20 years in Dutchess County, she moved to Columbia County in September 2014. She now operates her rescue from Mr. Bucci’s property.

After working on other people’s farms for many years, Ms. Genovese began her own farm rescue operation in 2004 by purchasing what are known as P.M.U. horses—foals that are born in the process of manufacturing the menopause drug Prevarin, which is produced by harvesting the urine of pregnant mares.

The two organizations accommodate 29 horses between them. “With this many horses, we don’t buy feed by the bag,” says Ms. Genovese. “We buy it by the pallet.” The property includes a barn that was built in the 1760s and a large, open-walled pavilion, 100 by 200 feet.

Besides partnering with each other, these two organizations have also partnered with the Hudson City School District. During the 2013-14 school year, special education teacher Lisa Foronda-Schmidt—known to her students as Ms. Foronda—began a work skills program called the Kindness Club that brought her class to Tomorrow, Tomorrow and now Godspeed to work with the horses. The program is designed to introduce the students to work environments, preparing them for employment after graduation. “My vision is for them to have as many employable work skills as they possibly can,” says Ms. Foronda.

The students perform many chores on the farm, including brushing and feeding the horses, gardening, laying out straw beds and collating feed tags. “Every student in the program is functioning at a different level,” says Ms. Foronda. “They have their strengths and weaknesses. The nice thing about the farm is… there’s something for everyone.”

She says that the students have responded very positively to their work on the farm and their interactions with the horses. Working with the animals can even have therapeutic benefits for the students. One student from last year’s class was almost non-verbal until he began to interact with the horses. “Research is clear that there is a lot that can come out of an experience when a human meets an animal, especially a horse,” says Ms. Foronda.

Many students say that going to the farm is their favorite activity, and several even say that they hope to work with animals after they graduate. “I want to go to the farm every day,” said Alina, one of the students in Ms. Foronda’s class. “You know what I like at the farm?” said Brian, another student. “Everything.”

As much as Tomorrow, Tomorrow and Godspeed already do—90-hour weeks are standard—Ms. Genovese and Mr. Bucci would like to do much more. Some of the projects they hope to bring to the property in the future are: horse rehabilitation for injuries, retirement horse boarding, a horse hotel for people travelling with horses, horse leasing and a horsemanship summer camp. They would also like to take on wild mustangs from a group of 450 of them that need to be dispersed from a range in Nevada.

Mr. Bucci hopes to host a fundraiser at Tomorrow, Tomorrow in September—a production of “Annie.”

For more, go to www.godspeedhorses.org.

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