Community Champions

Melissa Comeau Area Director, Florida MENTOR
Grant Recipient, Heartland Horses Equine Activities and Learning

Melissa Comeau grew up with horses so when she began working at Florida MENTOR in Avon Park she was thrilled to find that just across the street from the office was Heartland Horses Equine Activities and Learning, an organization that offers equine assisted therapy to children and adults with disabilities.

Melissa volunteers her time at Heartland by doing horse care and grounds maintenance, completing office work and serving on event committees, and leading therapeutic lessons.  Lesson plans are customized for each participant based on their interests and abilities.  Individuals who are in wheel chairs focus on ground work and taking care of the horses and others may be able to do side walking.  The lessons are something that the individuals look forward to and they benefit from them both physically and emotionally.

“I see the good that Heartland actually does,” said Melissa. “From the six years I have been there I have gotten to know many of the individuals and have seen them come out of their shells.  It is amazing to watch the progression.”

All lessons for individuals with disabilities are provided free of charge.  This is made possible by the volunteers, donations and the funds raised through the horse camps that Heartland hosts where families pay to participate.  Melissa’s daughter was once a camper and now volunteers at Heartland alongside her mother.

“Melissa shows that her number one priority is always to improve the lives of those we serve,” said Rachel Durrance, Assistant Director of Nursing, Florida MENTOR.  “Her dedication as a volunteer to Heartland Horses and Handicapped just further goes to show her commitment.”

To learn more about Heartland Horses Equine Activities and Learning, please visit their website at