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Wisconsin Walking Horse Association Supports Youth Program





by Lynne Levy
 
Time was running short and the Wisconsin Walking Horse Association show committee was still unable to locate a food vender for the May 1 horse show. Luckily, one of the committee members thought of the youth program she had worked with for a number of years. Why not offer them the chance to operate a food booth to raise money to continue their mission? And so was born a new relationship between the Wisconsin Walking Horse Association and God's Kidz in the 'Hood.
            
God's Kidz in the 'Hood is a 501c3 program promoting a responsible, productive lifestyle for at risk youth in inner city Milwaukee, Wis. They are 100 percent donation funded so they operate on a shoestring. Young people "contract" with the founders of the group, Jim and Debi Godsey, with whom they live, to 1) get and keep their grades up (the Godsey's tutor them when needed), 2) remain drug and alcohol free, 3) participate in nightly Bible study with Debi, and the most important clause of all 4) work. These "Kidz" are required to support themselves and each other. If they are not old enough to hold a "real" job or are unable to find one, they pick up aluminum cans and do any odd jobs and/or yard work needed by those in the neighborhood and beyond for whatever someone is able to donate.
            
The WWHA Spring Warm up show gave them an opportunity to "spread their wings." They had never tried anything like this before so were a trifle unsure at the beginning of the day. Lil' San, a 14-year-old young lady with aspirations to operate a bakery, had decided that they needed cake to sell. With no recipe at hand, she went ahead and baked a caramel cake to rival any pro. The younger boys, not to be outdone, went out into the arena and barn areas to sell Starbucks coffee. Who could resist a small boy with regular coffee, another with decaf, another with creamer, another with sugar, one more with cups, and an older boy to manage the cash sales? Seemed like a smart, industrious undertaking, especially since not one of these children had ever seen a horse in person before that day. Throughout the day the food booth was professionally run. Customers were treated with respect and good humor.
            
The WWHA members stepped up to the plate also. Not only did they support the booth with their purchases but many also offered donations for their programming. Bob Rodenkirch, the announcer for the day, made an excellent suggestion. How would the "Kidz" like their picture taken with a horse? They were ecstatic! Teresa Dietz was kind enough to bring her horse Stormy Afternoon Surprise into the ring during a break in the show to pose with the group. They all very quietly, gathered around for a picture which has been enlarged and now hangs in the living room of the Godsay's home as a reminder of their first encounter with a horse.
            
At this time, God's Kidz in the 'Hood is scheduled to operate the food booth for the next two shows. The WWHA can only hope that their good work can continue for a very long time and that the WWHA can continue to be a part of something this rewarding. You can check out their website at www.kidzinthehood.org.

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