It was a successful ‘Day on the Farm’ for those who turned out to enjoy meeting the animals, taking part in projects, climbing aboard a tractor-drawn hay ride and more, as the Society for disABILITIES put on the event. It was hosted at the Sanchez Ranch outside Oakdale and was open to all clients of the organization, which covers both Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties as well as reaching into a small portion of Merced County.
“We have had this for several years; I’ve only been here a couple of years but I think we have had it over 10 years,” noted Cathy Mendoza, the society’s Executive Director. “We usually have between 300 and 400 clients and their families here so it’s a total family event; you do not have to be disabled to attend. What we’re trying to do is just give them opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have … to have these very tame horses they can ride and the dogs they can play with and the animals they can feed; it just makes for a great day for everyone.”
There was a long line for the horse rides, with handlers taking the clients for a short tour around the fenced in area, while animals in the barn were very happy to get an extra carrot or two while others interacted with the clients, including goats and dogs.
“This is our first time, we love it,” said mom Teresa Minyard, who was spending some time petting the donkey, Tingalayo, through the fence with daughter Liliana, 2, and son Caleb, 12, while waiting for son Noah, 4, to join the group.
“He is a participant,” she explained of Noah. “He’s on a horse right now.”
Volunteer Shelli Borba of Oakdale was all smiles as she helped the society clients take their rides aboard the horses, Borba walking alongside to provide that extra measure of support and guidance.
The Society for disABILITIES offers adaptive sports programs and social programs, job training and rehabilitation, noted Mendoza.
“The adaptive sports programming includes Day on the Farm, water skiing, snow skiing, we’re just opening up soccer and golf, we also do bowling,” Mendoza explained.
The local society also partners with UCP, United Cerebral Palsy, to provide social programs so that clients from both agencies can get together and enjoy activities such as trivia night and dance nights.
Though based in Modesto, the Society for disABILITIES has a wide reach, especially when it comes to the loaning of medical equipment.
“We loan medical equipment far and wide, we have clients that come from Sacramento, they come from Fresno, we’re the largest medical loan closet between Fresno and Sacramento,” said Mendoza. “We have 5,000 pieces of medical equipment; we can loan those to people who are temporarily disabled because they’ve had an accident or surgery; we can also loan them to people who are permanently disabled.”
This list of available equipment ranges from hospital beds to wheelchairs, bedside commodes to Hoyer lifts.
“Anything to make their life easier while they recover or while their caregivers are helping them live a better life,” Mendoza added.
Also, a thrift store operated by the Society at 1129 Eighth St., Modesto, provides job training, in cooperation with several different agencies. The store is at the corner of Eighth and L streets, in downtown Modesto.
Mendoza said she was extremely pleased with the turnout for the annual Day on the Farm, which was put on June 18, under sunny skies and with a cooling breeze providing near-perfect conditions.
Members of the Oakdale Lions Club were on hand to serve up a lunch for all attendees, the Canine Companions guide dog organization offered plenty of information, there was face painting, coloring, games, the hay rides around the farm and the interaction with the animals. Smiles were very much in evidence, as attendees embraced the day and all the activities.
Past President Frank Rivera of the Oakdale Lions Club was busy at the grill, cooking up the hot dogs.
“They said 450 people are supposed to be here,” he said, keeping a watchful eye on the grill while, elsewhere, fellow Lions were getting the chili ready, organizing the chips and drinks.
Jim Sanchez, who has hosted the event at his Woodward Lake Drive property for several years, said he loves being involved. He added that his late wife, Patti, also enjoyed welcoming the attendees to the property each year.
“We just wanted to do something for the kids,” Sanchez said.
Patti passed away in 2019 and the special T-shirts worn by many at the event noted that this year’s Day on the Farm was being put on in her memory and honor.
“We have 42 acres here, we have horses, cattle, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, peacocks, parakeets, cockatiels; it’s a friendly little place and we love all these kids out here,” Sanchez said. “They have a good time and I just thank God that we can do it.”