In its second year, the employee-led Lozier Community Grant program supported 50 nonprofit organizations across the country. Recipients were selected by employee committees in all five Lozier locations. Over the next couple of months, the recipient organizations’ stories of impact will be shared on LozierLink.
Kindred Hope Rescue and Sanctuary marries the passions of Kaye Bough and her daughter Kara Stephan of saving horses and saving Veterans. After Bough’s husband, a Veteran, passed, she wanted to pay forward the kindness and care other veterans showed him. Recognizing that horses can have a therapeutic effect on people and can understand human emotions, Bough and Stephan knew they had something special.
“This was our way of giving back and meeting both of our philosophies of saving horses and saving Veterans,” Bough said. “Research has shown that a horse can feel the anxiety of a person. Horses just have an inner ability to them. They can feel your soul. And these horses are the greatest therapist there ever was made.”
Four veterans who benefit from the horse rescue and sanctuary shared their experiences with the life-saving work Kindred Hope offers.
“There is no other animal on the planet that can see your soul,” said Eric Dudash, Department of Alabama Senior Vice Commander, VFW and retired Airforce Special Ops Command. “You know, it’s really easy to say this place has changed our lives, each and every one of us. But I’ll be honest with you, it’s bigger than that. And I know for some of us, it’s saved our lives being able to be out here.”
Kara Stephan’s background has put the new barn construction in her hands, doing much of the work herself alongside contractors and volunteers.
“The grant from Lozier will enable us to pay pretty much for the materials and the electrical installation so we can get the electric put in,” Stephan said. “So it’s going to go a long way to help us get over the hump that we’re in right now. It’s been about a two year process that we’re into, and it’s slow because we just do it as we can afford to keep doing it.”
The sanctuary is building a new barn, adding space for horses and a lounge area for veterans when they visit, an amenity currently missing. An important aspect to the lounge will be a window into the stables, offering people to feel the benefits of proximity to the horses, but giving them space and a barrier if needed.
“I don’t ride the horses, but I definitely like to love on them, give them attention and brush them out and stuff like that; that helps me emotionally and mentally,” said Colt Drouillard, VFW Post 3128 Fort Payne Commander. “One of our Veterans from our post came up here with severe PTSD, and you could see the change all over him after he’d come back from being up here with the animals.”
Veterans Raymond Brandon Jr. and John Davison also shared their thoughts and appreciation for the sanctuary’s work and being able to access this type of therapy.
“It’s a pleasure to just drive through the gate and see the horses you see carrying care and that,” Army, Crew Chief Supervisor, Ret. Davison said. “I don’t think there’s any kind of people doing photos to learn what they’re doing for us or I appreciate them.”
“It meant the world to us when we got the call that we were chosen for for this grant,” Bough said. “It just means a world for our horses, for this barn to get it finished and more.”
In memory of John Davison, who passed away months after the filming/interview for this story.