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An Update from Down on the Farm — Widener Alumnus Dr. John Dorsey Reports from Alabama

October 13, 2010

While I’m awaiting the new fall issue of the magazine any minute — I’m told they are shipping from our printer and dropping in the mail as I write this — I wanted to give you an update on our cover story from fall 2009.    Dr. John Dorsey ’00, a graduate of Widener’s MD/MBA program and founder of Project Horseshoe Farm in Greensboro, Ala., provided the excerpt below from the dynamic community organization’s recent newsletter.  Thanks for the update, Dr. Dorsey! — Sam Starnes, Editor

It has been a busy summer here in Greensboro.

All of us have hit the ground running, juggling our responsibilities of volunteering at our housing program for women with mental disorders, fundraising for the organization, preparing for the start of our math tutoring programs, and engaging with the local community.

The Housing Program, which began last December, had a very successful first summer. We have already welcomed seven residents in the program, and three have “graduated” to more independent living. It is a bittersweet process to see residents leave for completely independent housing; we are happy to see that the companionship we have provided has helped them become healthy and strong, but it still feels like losing a friend.
We are excited to launch the fourth year of Horseshoe Farm Tutoring in late September, and have been tackling the challenges of expanding our program from only Greensboro Elementary to include Greensboro Middle School as well. Our no cost, 2-hour programs will meet once a week and provide guided practice on math worksheets, a healthy snack, and half an hour of physical activity. We have identified 25 students from each school that, with a little one-on-one guidance and positive encouragement, can make strides in their academic performance and confidence. Our tutors are volunteers from the community including many students from the Auburn University Rural Studio Program and employees from the HERO non-profit housing agency. We are grateful to our wonderful tutors as well as to the principals and teachers at the schools for their support, and the community members and parents who have helped.

In addition to managing the housing and tutoring programs, we have been getting to know the wonderful people of Greensboro and are continuing to engage with the community. We have begun to work with and shadow doctors, nurses, farmers, and church leaders. We’re glad for this incredible opportunity to see how these various industries operate in a rural setting. The benefits of community engagement have extended beyond ourselves, as we have helped one resident of the Housing Program become a cook in a local restaurant and another resident to begin volunteering regularly at the local nursing home. We are so thankful for the warm welcome that we, and the ladies in our housing program, have received from community members and church homes. It is wonderful to see the ladies feel increasingly a part of the community, and it has been very rewarding to hear community members proudly describe the positive changes that they have seen in the women.

All in all, we have had a wonderful start to the new fellowship year and are excited about what the coming months have in store. We want to thank everyone who has contributed to the organization in some way. Your support is invaluable to Horseshoe Farm’s success and is greatly appreciated. As always, we love to have visitors here at the Fellow house and the Farmhouse, so please let us know if you’d like to come out and visit!

For more information, visit their website at http://www.projecthsf.org.

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