A Day of Little Blessings: Veterans’ Support Group Hosts Second Fundraiser

Marine Joel McConnell, the first veteran to complete the Little Blessings program. Photo courtesy: Little Blessings.

Live music, food vendors, children’s activities, auctions, raffles and special activities will highlight the second annual Warrior Fundraiser of Little Blessings Veteran Outreach. Shade Rock Farms in Ottawa Lake, Mich., will be the setting for the August 28 event, which runs from 1:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Proceeds from the event will support Little Blessings Veteran Outreach, which provides equine-assisted therapies, programs and fellowship for military veterans as they adjust to post-service life. Family wellness programs, spousal support retreats and a first-of-its kind Military Kids equine program are also offered to military families.

The August fundraiser “helps assure we meet the continuing needs of veterans and their families as they transition to post-service life,” said Jamie Paxton, a retired Air Force combat veteran who founded Little Blessings in 2018.

Warrior Fundraiser participants (from left), Air Force veteran Dan Meyer and his fiance Danielle; Army veteran JP Lane (last year’s Guest Warrior) and his wife Crystal. Photo courtesy: Little Blessings.

A day full of fun and information
The August 28 Warrior Fundraiser will feature a variety of family activities, including food vendors, a petting farm, carnival games, face painting and princess parties. Music for the day will be provided by area bands Gypsyluvin, Pair of Aces and 2 Left Missing. In addition, fundraisers (50/50 and silent auctions along with raffles) will take place throughout the day.

Army combat veteran Louis Belluomini and his service dog Star will be special guests for the evening. Belluomini is an ambassador for K9s for Warriors, an organization that rescues and trains shelter dogs to be paired as service dogs for veterans.

The evening will also include a Color Guard salute. Admission is $20 at the door for adults, or $15 if purchased in advance at lbveteranoutreach.org by August 14. Admission for children 14 and under is $10, and includes a hot dog, chips and a drink. Shade Rock Farm is located at 5577 Section Rd., Ottawa Lake, MI.

Little Blessings is “one of only two equine organizations in the United States using a multi-week equine program for veterans,” said Paxton. She created the program because of her own experience in her first year transitioning from military service to civilian life. “I know how much horses have always helped me, and I wanted to share that with others,” she said.

Staff at Little Blessings are trained in the EAGALA method of equine-assisted therapy, a recognized and accepted therapy used by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for veterans with suicidal PTSD, behavioral issues and addictions. Staff utilize certified mental health professionals, equine specialists and interactions between horse and client to help veterans find their paths forward. All equine-assisted therapies are at no cost to qualified veterans. Visit Little Blessings for more information about their programs.