New reality for horse rescue spot

Community COVID-19 Featured Shine On

An altered society due to COVID-19 is changing the ability for an animal rescue centre to raise funds.

Earth ARC Rescue, located at 644 Heron Road, in Four Mile Brook, is struggling to generate funds that are needed to do the work it does.

In a pre-pandemic world, Earth ARC would be hosting its Farm Day this coming Sunday, traditionally held annually on the third Sunday of June. The farm would be bustling with families of all ages enjoying the farm, animals and activities. The event is a major fundraiser for the horse rescue operation but will not be held this year.

Due to COVID-19, on that Sunday this year there will probably be only Earth Arc’s manager Raven Jackson, the animals, and maybe one volunteer. Similarly, the weekly Sunday open houses will not take place and another major fundraiser, Earth Arc Bingo, will also not be possible.

Marlene Chisholm is one of the dedicated volunteers at Earth ARC. She says the pandemic and the public health restrictions that have been enacted to guard against spreading the coronavirus, have literally put a halt to Earth Arc’s regular fund generators.

“We rely on the contributions of kind people to make it through the year. Unfortunately, in today’s world, we can’t have those traditional fundraisers any longer.”

This is the reality for volunteer groups. For Earth ARC, which has been operating as a rescue centre since 2000, it means the 18 horses that call Earth ARC home will suffer.

On the open farm days, Jackson says, many times visitors would make donations. “During the big open farm day we generally hold in June we’ve had as many as 200-250 people come here, and the children who come quite often will come out on the Sunday and donate the money they received for their birthdays. That little bit every week is very important.”

Jackson said it was a difficult winter for the animal respite centre because it wasn’t a good year for hay last year. “And we were really looking forward to our Bingo in April which usually brings in a great deal of money for us but of course, that got shut down. Our June farm day got shut down and it doesn’t look like the farm day we would hold in September will be any better.”

The twice yearly Bingos and open farm days in June and September are Earth Arc’s major fundraisers.

“They pay for my hay which is the largest expense we have.”

It costs $300 for a week’s worth of hay, which amounts to about almost $16,000 in hay costs alone annually. Other expenses include grain, costing approximately $180 per week; sawdust at $100 a truckload which will last approximately a month; water and electricity.

Jackson said her fundraising committee is looking at other fundraisers, including an online prize lottery, to continue doing the work it does, because, at the end of the day, the horses’ needs don’t stop. Visit Eartharc Rescue on Facebook and by “Liking” the page, you can receive the latest Earth ARC news and pictures, and see what online fundraisers are happening.

There is still room on the farm to visit and volunteer. New protocols are in place to keep everyone safe. Earth Arc can open to public now but the reality is, what that will look like has changed. Instead of opening on Sunday, Jackson will have the farm open for most of the week, but visitors need to call and make an appointment so Jackson can control the crowd numbers.

Jackson is anxious to restore some normalcy on the farm. “Not only are our visitors missing the horses, but the horses are missing you. They need to be touched.”

Raven Jackson, Earth ARC Farm manager.