Bringing Smiles to Brookdale
Every week, residents at Brookdale Northampton are treated to a visit from the miniature horses at Jacob’s Mane of Hope. This completely donations-based organization brings joy — and mini-horses — into the lives of many people in Pennsylvania, from children’s hospitals and hospices to senior living communities. Their first visit to Brookdale was a serendipitous one.
“We couldn’t help but notice a woman walking small horses on the sidewalk from the windows in our dining room,” says Stephen. “We had a Western-themed event going on at the time, and I just had to have this lady with these tiny horses.”
That lady was Rosalind Sachaczenski, founder of Jacob’s Mane of Hope.
Rosalind’s journey to mini-horse therapy was a deeply personal one. Rosalind worked in pediatrics for many years, and spent much of her time around sick children and their families.
“One of my own children was very sick growing up. I always wanted to do something magical, because I knew what it was like to be the parent of a sick child.”
Despite health struggles in her family, Rosalind wanted to make sure that her children were involved with horses from a very young age. This included Rosalind’s adopted son, Jacob. Jacob is legally blind and has a learning disability, but that doesn’t stop him from playing a major role at Jacob’s Mane of Hope, where he helps bring mini-horses to communities around Pennsylvania.
“We wanted to start a foundation for Jacob that would also bring smiles and love to many people. This will be his legacy.”
“Variety is the spice of life.”
As Brookdale Northampton’s resident programs coordinator, Stephen is always trying to bring as much of the world into the community as possible.
“They say variety is the spice of life,” says Stephen. “For someone who’s in their seventies, eighties or nineties, doing something for the first time ever is really special. And meeting miniature horses is definitely a first for most people. They are just thrilled.”
And for those who are transitioning into senior living, new and joyful experiences can help with the change.
“Sometimes moving is a tough adjustment. For some people, they may not be able to drive anymore, or walk like they used to. Having something special to look forward to is very important.”
And — as if meeting mini-horses weren’t magical enough — Jacob’s Mane goes the extra mile for every visit. During the holidays, the mini-horses appear in festive outfits, from leprechaun costumes to Santa hats. For residents in memory care, Rosalind and her team even incorporate music therapy into their mini-horse sessions.
“Our memory care visits are really special. Last time we brought the horses, we played some Sinatra and other music, and we even had a gentleman up and dancing in the middle of the room,” says Rosalind.
“It’s more than just meeting the horses. We make memory care visits fun, and we incorporate a lot of memory stimulation, like Q&A sessions, or lollipops that help residents stay focused and present during the visit.”
Jacob’s Mane of Hope
In the past, Brookdale Northampton has hosted a variety of therapy animals, from turtles to dogs. But the horses remain a crowd-pleaser.
Stephen says it’s more than just the horses that the residents love. They are just as excited to see Rosalind and Jacob.
“We treat everyone like family and try to bring them love,” says Rosalind.
“When you see what Rosalind and Jacob and the animals bring to the community, it’s so uplifting,” says Stephen. “There’s just something magical about a mini-horse.”
The residents at Brookdale Northampton agree.
Jacob’s Mane of Hope is a non-profit organization that runs completely on donations. To make a donation, you can visit their website at www.jacobsmaneofhope.org.
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