Trails of Purpose has had a groundbreaking year in 2019! TOP incorporated with the state of Virginia in March of 2019. By the end of April 2019, the organization had received its official tax exemption status as a 501(c)(3) with the IRS. Our facilities were prepared and our three therapy horses trained throughout the summer to be ready for our launch season in August.
Our first outreach event took place at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital Fisher House, where we donated 23 home-cooked meals valued at $500. On August 24th, the organization hosted its first Gold Star Family event with the nationally established organization TAPS. The bonfire gathering had a total of 24 people in attendance. We have also established a working relationship with the Hampton Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center. On August 29th and October 3rd, the organization hosted visitations from some of the center’s in-patient rehabilitation residents.
September 4th was the big kick-off date for the program’s community weekly classes. Weekly classes last 3 hours in duration, providing coffee, donuts, and a full lunch meal. During the classes, the Veterans were trained in basic horsemanship, completed challenge courses, practiced mindfulness, and learned equine health.
For the Fall season, the organization proudly provided 10 community classes completely free of charge. On September 11th, to meet overwhelming demand, Trails of Purpose launched a $1.5 million Capital Campaign in hopes of working towards owning a larger retreat center. This grabbed the attention of a local news station, WTKR, and we were featured in the 7 pm news. On October 19th, the organization raised $4,200.00 at our Fall Fest for Our Vets. Soon thereafter, TOP was awarded a $2,500.00 grant from SEVACF.
In October Trails of Purpose formed a working relationship with the Navy Seal Foundation, Veteran’s PATH, and LZ Grace. On Veteran’s Day, we gained the attention of another local news station, WAVY 10. We were featured on the 10 pm broadcast. In December we served the Hampton Dept. of VA Medical Center for the holidays. For this event, we provided holiday decorations and baked goods while decorating the in-patient resident’s rooms. In the final weeks of December, we were graciously awarded a $10,000.00 grant from Operation Hat Trick. This generous gift allows for us to properly meet the demand and expand our services to another location in Virginia Beach starting in March of 2020.
In our introductory year, the total amount of assets raised by Trails of Purpose was $45,098.31. The program has provided over 6,200 Veteran Service Hours to our community. We have gained incredible momentum, and attention. I am humbled by the overwhelming support this program has received from our community. With every new relationship formed, I become increasingly humbled. I have witnessed first hand the amazing progress and relationships formed between veterans in our sessions. I look forward with great expectation to our 2020 season.
Trails of Purpose is a family that our Veteran community desperately needs. I believe in our organization with every bone in my body and I am proud to call myself a part of it. Thank you to all of our supporters. We can not do this without you.
With utmost respect & gratitude, Kayla M. Arestivo
President- Kayla M. Arestivo
Treasurer- Kyle Arestivo
Secretary- Chelsea Connors
Director- Justin Cummings
Director- Jon Macaskill