News & Events

We Are Still Here and We Need You to Help Us Continue Our Story.

All of us here at the H.O.P.E. Ranch Foundation would like to thank you for being a part of our family.  You are receiving this message because of your close connection to someone that serves on the Board of Directors or has been impacted by H.O.P.E. Ranch.  We all share in our mission to promote and fund the partnering with animals (including but not limited to: equine, dogs, and cats) for clients of all ages who could benefit from animal-assisted psychological services regardless of their ability to pay.

We Need Your Help!

Mental health, also called behavioral health, is one of the lowest reimbursed medical services. Over the past couple of years, reimbursement rates have been decreased. Providers have been told to expect further reduction in reimbursement rates in the coming year or two. The services we provide are essential, even critical. Minnesota has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. Current COVID19 procedures have only exacerbated the problem.

The clients we serve generally have tried more traditional therapy 2 to 5 times, without success, before seeking EAGALA model and animal-assisted therapy. As you can imagine, providing animal-assisted therapy is more expensive than providing traditional in-office therapy. EAGALA model services require both a Mental Health Specialist and an Equine Specialist, in addition to one or more horses. It is getting more and more expensive to feed, care for, and provide veterinary care for the therapy animals. Four other programs in SE MN offering EAGALA model services have had to close their doors. We are determined to keep our doors open. We need your help to do this.

The H.O.P.E Ranch Foundation was formed in 2017 to support H.O.P.E. Ranch. We are reaching out to you with a unique need. We are looking for continued and future support. We have multiple ways for individuals or groups to support the H.O.P.E Ranch Foundation. Some support requests that we have range from your monetary donations to volunteering time to serving on our Board of Directors to helping plan and implement fundraising events.

Your financial donations are used in many important ways that impact H.O.P.E. Ranch as well as the clients who are served here. Scholarships to clientsunderwriting the cost of provided programming, care of the animals, and expansion/maintenance of the facilities are just a few of the ways your donations are put to work.

Please consider using one of 3 easy ways to donate:

1. Donate online

2. Call the Foundation office at 507-281-3033 to make a donation by phone

3. Mail a check made out to:  HOPE Ranch Foundation
9145 80th
 Ave SE, Suite B, Chatfield, MN  55923

If you are unable to contribute financially, please keep this information handy and keep us in mind for future charitable giving.  And, please share this with people you know who may be interested and ask for their support.

Please consider contributing your time volunteering  

1. To serve on our Foundation Board 
2. Planning and implementing fundraising events/activities.  

If you yourself are unable to volunteer, please think about people you know who have a heart for our mission, and skills to contribute, and refer them to us.

Please feel free to reach out to us directly at 507-281-3033 with any questions related to this request. Your support is needed now to help fulfill our urgent need to respond to declining community mental health.

Warm Regards,

Cheryl Kliewer
President of H.O.P.E. Ranch Foundation
&
Kit Muellner
CEO & Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch

H.O.P.E. Ranch is a Special Place – Lauren’s Story

As a middle schooler with a fresh ADHD diagnosis, I was angry and ready to keep it bottled up for the rest of my life when I found H.O.P.E. Ranch. Therapy has become like taking vitamins for me. It is a supplemental part of my routine that keeps me healthy. Over the years, I have worked through issues and symptoms surrounding ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, etc. I have filled a mental toolbox to help manage the inevitable challenges in life. I continue to hone skills I call upon when weighing whether to face & deal with something, put it away for later, or let it go. 

The animals at H.O.P.E. Ranch are wonderful and important. I have cried with cats in my lap. I have laughed walking with dogs. I have stood in silence with horses accepting that it is time for certain things to surface. Watching the way Kit interacts with the animals reassures me, that she will treat me, and everyone, with dignity and respect. 

I came to H.O.P.E. Ranch with ideas of shame and stigma around mental illness. I continue to come to H.O.P.E. Ranch full of love and acceptance for myself as a whole human – a professional, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, dog owner, etc. – on a journey of mental health. The struggle is real, and I keep going. Kit and everyone at H.O.P.E. Ranch play a role in that. 

There is real magic that happens in the presence of all the life at H.O.P.E. Ranch. – Lauren

Meet The New Faces of HOPE Ranch: Allyson Pierce

Name: Allyson Pierce

Role at HOPE RANCH:
Chore Helper and so much more!

When did you start:
August 2019

College:
Bellarmine University

Major:
Psychology

 

Pets:
Cali, an Australian shepherd/hound dog mix

Hobbies:
Reading, Hiking, Kayaking, Refinishing Furniture, and DIY projects around the house!

Favorite movie, book or song:
My favorite movie is Good Will Hunting and my favorite book is Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

What do you love about HOPE Ranch:

I love that HOPE Ranch offers a holistic approach to mental health and overall well-being, set on a beautiful farm with the sweetest animals around!

 

Tack Sale Going on Now!

The HOPE Ranch Foundation is running a sale of used tack, generously donated to the HOPE Ranch Foundation by the RCTC Equine program. We have western and English saddles, bits, girths, saddle pads, and so much more! Take this opportunity to support a local business and get ready for the upcoming show season and trail riding! The tack will be sold in as-is condition and the proceeds will benefit the foundation.

**COVID-19 NOTE: These items are available for pickup. Our Covid-19 Business Preparedness Plan requires that all staff, clients, and visitors be masked and sanitize hands before or upon entering any building. You can reserve items by emailing allysonp96@gmail.com and we will hold them until you can pick up. If you need more detailed pictures or measurements to make a decision, please feel free to reach out!

Pictures of all of the items with descriptions and prices are available here. If you’re interested in purchasing or have questions about any of the listed items, please contact Christiana at hoperanchmn@gmail.com.

!

Twilight “The Cat” Moves to California

Many of you followed the story of Twilight, the stray cat, who wandered into our lives when she showed up at HOPE Ranch one summer day. We finally found a forever home, for which she is very grateful. Twilight wanted to share the story of how she found her forever home by traveling all the way to California!

Hi! My name is Twilight (Twi to my friends and family). I met Kit on her porch in late June 2019 while Kit was talking with Sharon on the phone that afternoon. I walked right up, introduced myself, and made myself at home. Kit shared my photo with Sharon during that call and we three became instant friends that day. 

Kit gave me some food and I decided to stay. I became a house cat along with her other (indoor) felines and her dog Sadie (Sadie is indoor/outdoor) ☺ . Sadie and I got along well but the kitties didn’t like me much , so I had to live alone in the living room / the upstairs side of the house while all the others had the run of the rest of the space. It was pretty lonely though I had some great views of the birds in the trees from my 2nd story windows and I could see the horses in the barn and the corral as well as everybody coming and going up and down the driveway. 

In August Sharon came to visit and help Kit ‘continue moving in’ and I shared my rooms with her. We got to know each other quite well during those 10 days. Sharon had had a cat (sometimes as many as three) since she was three years old but her last kitty (Tobie) had died in April and Sharon was now cat-less. I tried to make her feel welcome. We had lots of fun together each evening. I especially liked to walk on her when she slept on her side, then I could nuzzle my nose in her ear.  I thought it was a fun game! 

As it came time for Sharon to go home, it was clear that the other kitties were not going to allow me to share the house so I asked Sharon if I could go home with her and be her kitty. 

Kit approved, and with the help of Delta airlines, I got to fly home with Sharon to California. I enjoyed the 2-hour layover in Minneapolis in the frequent flyer lounge and our little private room where Sharon brought me treats from the buffet while I enjoyed the leather chairs. (The chicken wild rice soup was particularly delicious.) All the airline staff was very kind to me. We even got to see photos of their kitties too. Bill met us at San Francisco airport at 2:00 AM (instead of San Jose much earlier, due to weather-related scheduling issues) and drove us to my new home. It was very different but I felt welcome, especially thanks to the sign that greeted me “Welcome to your new home” with a cat face drawn on it and a chocolate KitKat bar laying on the pen ledge. It took us a while to settle in. I stayed inside for a few weeks ‘til I got comfortable with my new surroundings then Sharon got me a beautiful pink collar with my name engraved on a shiny silver tag. That day I ventured out in the backyard  – it was very exciting. I didn’t go far to start but then I got brave and ‘up and over’ the fence I went to the neighbor’s yard. Turns out there were lots of cars going by out at the end of that street and it was kind of scary so I hid under their deck ‘til Sharon came and got me. I really like the Kitty door they put in for me so I can go in and out whenever I want. There’s a lot of water in the backyard so I’m avoiding that (a pool).

That’s how I came to live with Sharon in California. Maybe at a later date, I will share more of my adventures. But for now thanks for listening to my story. 

Love,

Twilight

Consider Supporting Hope Ranch Foundation – GiveMN Fundraiser

Hope Ranch Foundation is holding a fundraiser through GiveMN.

The mission of the Foundation is to promote and fund the partnering with animals (including but not limited to: equine, dogs, and cats) for clients of all ages who could benefit from animal-assisted psychological services regardless of their ability to pay.
 
In today’s world, mental health services are more critical than ever before. 
 

Our goal is to raise $5,000 in 7 days.

Fundraising efforts are needed to provide programming by EAGALA certified practitioners, client scholarships, and to care for animals.

Animal-assisted psychotherapy is provided, in a variety of settings, and may be group-based or individual in nature. The process is documented and evaluated, and the animal is an integral part of the treatment process.

Horse Powered Growth and Learning programs include programs related to students becoming more intrinsically motivated learners. Animal-assisted activities are delivered in a variety of environments by specially trained and certified professionals, working with animals that meet specific criteria.

Programming includes: social skills groups for youth; young women’s group; young men’s groups; family groups; groups for youths and adults with PTSD; parenting groups; and horse-powered learning (tutoring).

Funds raised will also support programs to raise, feed, and care for the animals utilized in the work, including veterinary, farrier, stable, pasture care, and other services necessary to provide for the wellbeing of the animals.

Won’t you consider making a donation today? We thank you in advance for your support!

HOPE Ranch is Open During COVID-19

HOPE Ranch remains open during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In light of rising concern about individual’s emotional and psychological well-being, Olmsted County Public Health has advised us to remain open and to continue meeting with clients. The recommended social distancing ensuring that we stay safe and protected creates isolation and increasing anxiety and fear for many. 

We remain open and available to meet with people in person at our office, or remotely by Video Call through WhatsApp, or by calling our office line at 507-281-3033. If you get a voicemail, just leave a message and we will get back to you.

A MESSAGE FROM HOPE RANCH ON CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19

Regarding Appointments, Exposures, and Recommendations:

We at HOPE Ranch are continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation in coordination with public health authorities, local governments, and in consultation with other medical and mental health care providers. Our goal is to ensure our patients are treated and cared for and have safe access to care.

Because transparency is vital, we did want to let you know that a key HOPE Ranch employee’s family member may have been exposed to a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This possibly exposed family member does not live in the same household as the key HOPE Ranch employee.

Precautionary measures are in place at HOPE Ranch to ensure that all our clients and our staff are as safe and protected as possible. 

Some of these measures are listed below:

  1. The employee whose family member has possibly been exposed is socially distancing themselves from clients and other employees and will not be in the office for the next 2 weeks.
  2. If you have any reservations about in-person appointments, video calls or phone calls are encouraged. If you choose to have an in-person appointment, we will politely ask that you sign a consent form acknowledging that you are aware of the risks due to the possible exposure of a family member of one of our employees and that you will in no way hold HOPE Ranch liable if you or your child should become ill with coronavirus.
  3. If you or anyone you have been in close contact with has recently traveled to impacted areas (which currently include mainland China, Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, and some parts of the United States), we ask that you contact us to make alternative arrangements for in-person meetings during the 14-day window following such travel. Also, we politely ask you to avoid attending any HOPE Ranch event during the 14-day window. Please note, these same precautionary measures have been required of all HOPE Ranch employees.

SOCIAL DISTANCING AND ISOLATION

The social distancing that is recommended, along with growing concern about how the situation will play out,  may create increasing tension and anxiety, depression, and fear for many. We encourage you to utilize telephone calls, texts, emails, and video calls to stay in contact and decrease feelings of isolation.  

SOCIAL MEDIA AND MISINFORMATION

Be aware that relying on social media for information and socializing can increase anxiety as there is a great deal of misinformation being shared. People can quickly become overwhelmed by the volume of information and the speed at which it is shared.

HOW TO KEEP APPOINTMENTS DURING ISOLATION

Be sure to keep your medical and mental health appointments either in-person or via video or phone call. Continue to practice your self-care, including taking any prescribed medications. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, afraid, or hopeless, reach out to friends, family, and medical or mental health professionals.

In light of rising concern about individual’s emotional and psychological well-being, Olmsted County Public Health has advised us to remain open and to continue meeting with clients. The recommended social distancing ensuring that we stay safe and protected creates isolation and increasing anxiety and fear for many. We remain open and available to meet with people in person at our office, or remotely by Video Call through WhatsApp, or by calling our office line at 507-281-3033. If you get a voicemail, just leave a message and we will get back to you.

RELIABLE SOURCES FOR INFORMATION

Below are some helpful links to resources that are providing up-to-date information on the coronavirus:

The Minnesota Department of Health’s website has up-to-date information on COVID-19 locally: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

Specifically, here is further information regarding behavioral  health and emergency preparedness: https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/ep/behavioral/index.html

Governor Walz issued an executive order announcing mitigation strategies across the state of Minnesota to limit the spread of the virus.  All of the strategies can be found here: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/action.pdfPage 4 talks about worksites.   

Additionally, these are the general recommendations for anyone who believes they’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 but do not have any symptoms:

  • Recommendation to remain at home or in a comparable setting,
  • Practice social distancing (avoid mass gatherings)
  • Monitor for symptoms
  • Recommendation to postpone long-distance travel

IF YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BEEN EXPOSED OR HAVE SYMPTOMS

These are the general recommendations for anyone who believes they’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is experiencing symptoms:

  • Call your medical provider to explain symptoms over the phone before arriving at a medical facility for treatment.
  • Self-isolation 

The Centers for Disease Control website provides great information on a variety of topics having to do with the coronavirus/COVID-19. 

We are here to help. Reach out to us anytime.

Sincerely, 

Kit Muellner and the Entire HOPE Ranch Team

Volunteer Chore Helper Wanted

POSITION: FARM CHORE HELPER

H.O.P.E. Ranch, a psychotherapy practice where animal-assisted and other experiential cognitive-behavioral (CBT) and dialectical (DBT) psychotherapy services are provided in a rural setting, is currently accepting and processing applications for Volunteer Farm Chore Helper.  

Our beautiful new location 9145 80th Ave SE Chatfield, MN is just minutes south of the Rochester Fleet Farm, just south of the town of Marion.  The four-legged therapy team of 6 horses, 1 dog, and 3 cats are all settled in and need your loving care!

Your Chore Help duties may include cleaning stalls, cleaning and filling water tanks, grooming horses occasionally, and assisting with garden areas, mowing, and fencing and other repairs around the farm. The ability to lift 50 pounds repeatedly is a requirement.  Five to six shifts are available depending on the week.  Each shift is a minimum of 2 hours long. A minimum of 2 shifts per week is required in order to provide consistency and continuity for the horses.

Email to: secretary@hoperanchteam.com
Mail to: H.O.P.E Ranch, 9145 80th Ave SE, Chatfield, MN  55923
Questions? Call 507-281-3033

6 Tips to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

by: Kit Muellner, Owner and Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch

If you feel the blues during winter months, you are not alone. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an actual type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Symptoms and feelings may start in the fall and continue into the cold and light deprived winter months, causing sufferers to feel sluggish, moody and sad.

Don’t write these feelings off. This seasonal funk is treatable with light therapy, psychotherapy, and medications. Or sometimes, a few adjustments in your activities can do the trick.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of Fall and Winter SAD may include:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

If these symptoms sound familiar to you on a mild scale you can try some adjustments on your own!

6 Do-It-Yourself Remedies to Combat Mild Seasonal Affective Disorder

#1  Aromatherapy
Essential oils can connect with the area of the brain that controls mood, sleep, and appetite. Add a few drops of essential oils to your bath at night to help you relax before bedtime.

#2  Add Exercise
Exercise helps in a number of ways. A workout will get that sluggish feeling out of your limbs and stimulate those feel-good endorphins. Having a planned exercise routine also gets you out and moving and often lends to socialization. Not to mention, you are going to feel great about yourself!

#3  Get Out In the Sunshine
It may seem daunting, especially when it’s cold, but take the time to bundle up and get out during the light of day. It’s exercise, and you receive natural light therapy at the same time.

#4  Go On Vacation
This is always a good idea. Depending on where you go you may experience more warmth and sunshine. The mere fact of looking forward to vacation weeks in advance can greatly elevate your mood.

#5  Keep a Journal
There’s something magical about getting the thoughts out of your head and down on paper. It’s a way of releasing your thoughts and feelings. Don’t worry about being grammatically correct or having perfect penmanship. In fact, you don’t even have to read what you wrote. Journaling can be very therapeutic, in all seasons. In addition to writing or typing a journal, you may want to journal using art or drawings-and you don’t have to be an artist to use this method.

#6  Make Sure You Get Vitamin D
You may want to talk to your doctor about getting your levels of Vitamin D checked. Low levels of Vitamin D are sometimes associated with feelings of depression. Some studies have shown that Vitamin D supplements have done wonders for elevating mood and alleviating depression.

What if (SAD) Becomes Severe?

We all have days in the winter when we feel sluggish and lack energy. If your symptoms are mild, put the above tips to the test. However, if your symptoms are severe and disrupting your life; long bouts of depression, extreme sadness or using alcohol to manage your moods, then it’s time to contact a professional. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact health professionals immediately.

 

Bullying In The Workplace: A National Epidemic?

Author: Kit Muellner, LICSW, EAGALA Certified and CEO of H.O.P.E. Ranch

Bullying isn’t just about schoolkids or athletes. It’s rampant in many workplaces, no matter the industry.  It is said that workplace bullying has become a national epidemic.

In fact, the Workplace Bullying Institute, which has been around for 20 years, conducts studies on the topic and works to combat this debilitating problem. Whether you are an employee or the employer, these facts will serve as a wake-up call.

What is Workplace Bullying?

Bullying in the workplace may occur in many forms and can come from a co-worker, a boss or even a subordinate. Some forms of workplace bullying may be:

    1. Swearing and intimidation
    2. Teasing; especially when it takes a personal nature; comments about the target’s work, behaviors, and even family members.
    3. Snide and mean comments
    4. Taking credit for your work, even subliminally
    5. Attempts to make you look incompetent
    6. Constant criticism
    7. The creation of impossible expectations and changing expectations or directions in the final moment.

Statistics on Bullying In the Workplace

Does it really happen? Yes. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, it happens in all industries and
there are groups 
more often targeted than others.

Here are the findings:

  • 19% of Americans are bullied, another 19% witness it
  • 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct in the workplace
  • 60 million Americans are affected by it
  • 70% of perpetrators are men; 60% of targets are women
  • Hispanics are the most frequently bullied race
  • 61% of bullies are bosses, the majority (63%) operate alone
  • 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects
  • 29% of targets remain silent about their experiences
  • 71% of employer reactions are harmful to targets
  • 60% of coworker reactions are harmful to targets
  • To stop it, 65% of targets lose their original jobs
  • 77% of Americans support enacting a new law

Workers: What to Do if You Are Bullied at Work

Recognize that it’s not your fault. Take an assessment of your mental and physical health. Being bullied at work can weigh heavily on you and your health. Consider taking time off to clear your head. Very importantly, don’t allow yourself to replay the acts of bullying over and over in your mind. Put a name to what’s happening to you so you can legitimize it; bullying, abuse, harassment, etc.

Once you have done this it’s time to get down to business.

Document the abuse. Not with emotion but with just the facts; time, date, perpetrator, description of abuse.

Expose the bully. Bullying doesn’t get better on its own and if it continues, you are 77.7% likely to lose your job anyway, typically due to either health problems or simply choosing to leave on your own. You actually have little to lose by exposing the bully.

Here’s how: A) Present the case from a business standpoint. It is expensive and legally risky to have a bully in place, which is something a business should care about. They do not care about your emotions or how this makes you feel. (sorry, they just don’t.) Give the employer only one chance and if they stick up for the bully, it’s time to plan your exit strategy.

Employers: What to Do if An Employee Comes to You for Help

You saw the stats. Bullying in the workplace is a big problem and it can be costly. It can even become a HUGE legal issue. Bullying itself is hard to litigate but here’s where it becomes an issue; if the target is female, over a certain age, or any vulnerable group. If the bullying ever became violent, physically threatening or mentally threatening, or starts to fall into the sexual harassment arena.  As you can see, you as an employer can easily be the victim of a workplace bully and it’s going to hit you in the bottom line. It may ruin your business and you could even lose your business. Here are steps you can take:

  1. If an employee comes to you, listen, and even, shut up. Take in what the employee is saying, without offering an explanation or saying things like, “That’s just the way he is” and don’t ever say anything that puts the blame on the target. 
  2. The employee obviously wants to stay in their job so remember that. They simply want the problem solved. Remember the “shut up” advice in point #1. That’s because this is a hairy area and you are not likely equipped to deal with this, which is okay. Most people are not. Take action to correct this: Seek help, pull in counselors or consultants that are knowledgeable in this area. Send the perpetrators to training/counseling.
  3. Use this as a learning experience. Now is the time to write policies and develop a process for ongoing education and awareness of workplace bullying.

I’m passionate about improving the lives of people in the workplace locally. In fact, HOPE Ranch provides team building, corporate development, and staff retreats to organizations in the Greater Rochester Area, and Greater Minnesota, and Northern Iowa. Just as psychotherapy facilitates individual growth and healing, corporate retreats and development facilitate identification of issues in your team/organization, and development and implementation of real, effective solutions. We see real breakthroughs happen in a safe and helpful environment. If you’re having an issue with your team or suspect you have a bully in your midst (even if you might be the bully) reach out. We’ve helped many others and we can help you.

Learn More:

http://hoperanchteam.com/corporate-retreats/

 

Kit Muellner is the Owner & Founder of H.O.P.E. Ranch. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and
is an EAGALA Certified Psychotherapist and Horse Specialist. Kit is well known as a stand out in her field,
specializing in work with children, adults, and families. Before starting H.O.P.E. Ranch in 1999, Kit worked with
facilities such as Olmsted County, Omnia Family Services, Gerard Treatment Facilities, Mendota Mental Health Institute and Mayo Clinic.