By Jessica King
A Ramona riding center that helps disabled children and wounded warriors is sporting new and improved facilities today thanks to another nonprofit that provides free materials and labor to good causes.
More than 60 volunteers from the San Diego-based nonprofit Outreach for Humanity converged on the Cornerstone Therapeutic Riding Center in the backcountry of Ramona on Saturday. Along with about 20 friends of the center, the 80-plus-strong crew completed several
projects in a matter of hours.
They trimmed 300 feet of oak trees, installed new fence posts in a riding arena, and added irrigation lines, a new wash rack, round pens, and stalls.
“It’s so heartwarming to see people coming together with their time and talents to help others,” said Cornerstone Executive Director Judy Beckett. “We have a mantra here at Cornerstone and it’s ‘many hands make light work,’ and that pretty much sums it up … (the volunteers) are amazing. We couldn’t do what we do without them.”
Outreach for Humanity was founded as a nonprofit in 2008 by John Wallace, owner of JW Floor Covering & Re:Source Floors in San Diego. A year earlier, Wallace traveled to Africa on a mission trip and brought back a sense of wanting to give back locally as well, said Outreach Executive Director Tauna Rodarte.
Since then, Outreach has delivered almost a half-million dollars in material donations and facilitated more than 12,000 volunteer hours to various causes. The volunteers are JW employees and vendors, and their families and friends.
The group averages about a dozen projects a year, said Rodarte.
Saturday’s project was not the first trek Outreach for Humanity has made to Ramona’s backcountry. The nonprofit completed similar maintenance and improvement projects at Cornerstone last year and in 2008.
Outreach for Humanity officials choose projects based on requests for help they receive via an application process.
Beckett met Wallace and learned about Outreach when she was employed by the Better Business Bureau in San Diego.
Rodarte said her group was particularly drawn to help Cornerstone because of its work with wounded warriors.
Cornerstone helps wounded warriors under a program called “Operation Saddle Up.”
Beckett said that, while some of the warriors have physical injuries to cope with, most suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and have trouble connecting emotionally with other people upon their return from combat.
“You know, we came to know Cornerstone for the great work they do with kids, but one of our great focuses is the military and helping military families,” said Rodarte. “So when we heard about Cornerstone’s added work with wounded warriors, it was a no-brainer. We had to help.”
At least one volunteer from Outreach for Humanity didn’t have to travel far for the project.
Ramona resident Steven Emerson, 21, works for JW and was happy to give his Saturday to help locally.
“I wanted to give back,” he said. “I think it’s good to do stuff that helps someone else every once in awhile, and I was glad to have something local to participate in. Feels good.”
To learn more about Cornerstone, visit cornerstonerc.org. To learn more about Outreach for Humanity, visit outreach4humanity.org.