Every month, Give Local Tucson spotlights an organization that makes our hometown a better place. The first organization of 2018 is TRAK - Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids.
The exposure in the form of features, television, and radio adds up to more than $1,500,000 through the year.
"This will allow us to do a lot more community service work," said Scott Tilley, TRAK Executive Director. He opened the ranch with his wife in 2007. "We bring in kids, they learn about the animals, and we take them to assisted living homes, memory care facilities, Ronald McDonald house, Arizona Deaf and Blind School."
Tilley hopes the exposure will lead to more donations and visitors. He says the biggest expense is feeding the animals; it costs more than $100 a day to feed the horses alone.
They also have potbelly pigs that live along the Rillito River Wash, miniature horses, miniature donkeys, sheep, goats, rabbits, ducks, chicken, and ranch dogs including both a St. Bernard and a Dachshund.
When people work with the animals, by way of caring for them, Tilley says something in them changes.
"Common sense. A work ethic. An ability to look someone in the eye and speak with them. To greet people," he explains. "We call it our cradle to community with the kids. It's what we call, our TRAK magic."
Melinda Sharma's son Deven is one of those kids changed by TRAK magic.
"He was afraid of the rooster's crow," she said. "He has autism and sounds, textures, basically everything here was aversive for him. With gentle care, Scott really changed everything for him and for our family."
TRAK offers community volunteer opportunities, vocational opportunities for those who are called to ranch life, opportunities for Vet Technicians to get real-life training, and school field trips.
A $50 annual membership at TRAK offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with the TRAK animal family. During "members only" hours, people can go to the ranch and interact with each of the animals by petting, grooming or just visiting. Scott says they love the company and attention.
"With the hustle and bustle everybody's life creates, we've gotten away from having a quality place to experience lasting memories with our kids, and giving back to the community where they understand from a young age what being a community is all about," said Tilley.
TRAK is at 3250 E. Allen Rd. That's near where River and Alvernon meet, adjacent to Brandi Fenton Park. For hours and membership information, click here . (You may have to click "continue to site" based on your security settings.)