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Hand in Hand Farm Helps Kids Get On the Right Track

Hand In Hand Farm, outside Lebanon, has been helping at-risk kids and families rebuild their lives through farm work, agricultural adventures and classes since 2006. Founders Dave Berger and Athena Perry use their farm to teach life skills and teamwork to families, as well as help others develop skills they desire, such as horsemanship.

One of the farm’s main programs is the Safe and Healthy Kids Program, which allows kids and families to spend Saturdays, no-school days and school breaks learning every aspect of farm work. This includes feeding the animals, working around the barn and restoring wagons to be used in community events.

“The kids are in on every piece of the job,” Berger said. “If we’re putting in a new floor in a trailer, the kids take out the old floor, sand and paint the new floorboards, and install them.”

Samaritan Health Services has joined Hand In Hand Farm for the past two years by awarding Social Accountability grants to the farm for the Safe and Healthy Kids program. The farm will use the funds in 2020 to support full-day farm sessions for kids and self-efficacy workshops for adults.

“We will be able to help a lot of families thanks to Samaritan,” Perry said. “Our volunteer time is spread very thin, and any time spent on fundraising and grant applications takes away from the time and energy available to help families. Samaritan’s Social Accountability grant process requires a much more reasonable amount of resources to complete than many other grants we have pursued.”

Background image: CHIR Hand in Hand horseback 308 BGC

In 2019, Hand in Hand Farm:

  • Offered three 14-week parenting class series, each of which were attended by 8 families.
  • Led 37 seven-hour sessions of summer day camp, each of which were attended by an average of 30 children.
  • Led 53 sessions during the school year on Saturdays, holidays and in-service school days, each of which were attended by an average of 15 children.
  • Offered 19 vocational training sessions for youth in transition from Benton County. Some two to five children attended each session.

In photo: Athena Perry of Hand in Hand Farm with a young rider

Background image: CHIR Hand in Hand Farm Roberts 308 BGC

Other Partners in Supporting Programs & Services for Healthy Kids

  • ABC House
  • CASA of Linn County 
  • CASA of Benton County
  • Family Tree Relief Nursery
  • Head Start of Lincoln County
  • Hearts with a Mission