SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program, Inc.

aka No   |   Great Falls, VA   |  www.spiritequestrian.org

Mission

The SPIRIT mission is to foster physical, mental, and emotional healing and teach life skills through interactions between humans and horses. SPIRIT serves the community by providing Therapeutic Riding, Therapeutic Horsemanship, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, and Equine Assisted Learning programs for individuals, families, and groups. SPIRIT 's services are provided to children, young adults, adults, and seniors and can take place in the form of individual and group sessions.

Notes from the nonprofit

SPIRIT Purchases Sully Farm Sully Farm is one of the few available parcels of farmland remaining in rapidly growing and developing Fairfax County. This purchase is the first step on a long road to realizing our dream of a permanent home for the SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program in the Fairfax County community. It will be our legacy and the legacy of each of you who support us to provide an affordable and effective state-of-the-art therapeutic riding and learning program on the last farmland in our area. We welcome your support.

Ruling year info

2007

Executive Director

Ms. Michelle Gnozzio

Presdent, Board of Directors

Mr. Robert Mennell

Main address

PO Box 1342 Attn: Michelle Gnozzio

Great Falls, VA 22066 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-8492941

NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

SPIRIT operates from rented land in Fairfax County, Virginia. We have had to relocate several times as landlords have raised our rent or sold out to developers. As the region grows, farmland in Fairfax County is quickly disappearing. Metrorail is being extended to Dulles Airport, and Fairfax County is adding scores of office, retail, and residential facilities in advance of anticipated growth. We need to build a permanent home for SPIRIT before all available land is taken up by new development. A permanent facility means that SPIRIT will never again be forced to find a new home due to development (as happened in 2017). It means that we can build a state-of-the art facility tailored for our clients, stable and pasture our horses onsite, offer new/expanded programs, add educational spaces, and train new horses and instructors. Owning our own land ensures that SPIRIT will remain in Fairfax County for the clients who depend upon our services to improve their quality of life.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Therapeutic Riding

Therapeutic Riding is an equine assisted activity that contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Therapeutic Riding can improve balance, muscle tone, gross and fine motor skills, focusing skills, communication skills, social skills, and self-confidence.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Veterans

The EAA program offers a wide variety of activities that can be formatted as individual or group workshops or training and can be taught through clinics. EAA programs include a wide range of experiential learning, coaching, and life skills training.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Young adults

Equine Assisted Learning is available for individuals or groups. Students are taught the very basics of horseback riding and equine care. A certified Therapeutic Riding instructor, in collaboration with parents, guardians, and/or teachers, creates individually tailored Equine Assisted Activities (mounted and unmounted) to develop and improve academic or basic life skills, such as self-control, empathy, responsibility, leadership, ability to focus, teamwork, general communication, and social interactions. After completing the training, EAL participants serve as assistants, mentors, or volunteers during Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT) sessions. We also use EAL in our farm setting to motivate and develop ethic and work skills for specific clients.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Veterans

Equine Assisted Therapies include a licensed therapist and a therapeutic riding instructor or an equine specialist offering therapeutic processes created through interactions of participants with horses. These activities may be mounted or unmounted and include hippotherapy and Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP).

Population(s) Served
People with psychosocial disabilities
Veterans

Therapeutic Horsemanship is a new program, started in late 2019, specifically for individuals who cannot participate in our therapeutic riding program. This is an unmounted program for individuals or small groups and is facilitated by a certified Therapeutic Riding instructor. Participants practice ground work and horse care. Therapeutic Horsemanship is used to improve basic life skills: focusing, orientation, emotional intelligence, boundary setting, self-control, communication, social skills, and confidence.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

The SPIRIT Academy was created to educate and train service providers to use equine assisted therapies and to teach them about our participant community in general. In 2019, the SPIRIT Academy certified four Equine Assisted Psychotherapy service providers, who now work to support SPIRIT's mission.




Population(s) Served
Young adults
Adolescents

Where we work

Accreditations

National Board for Certified Counselors - approved for Continuing Education Credit Instruction 2014

Awards

Recognized as Top-Rated Nonprofit 2019

Great Nonprofits

Recognized as Top-Rated Nonprofit 2020

Great Nonprofits

Recognized as Top-Rated Nonprofit 2020

Great Nonprofits

Affiliations & memberships

Fairfax County Government, Fairfax County Parks Authority, Frying Pan Farm Park 2007

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Hours of programing delivered

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Health

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The number of service hours is considered the best metric of work for programs and organizations such as SPIRIT.

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Health

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Due to COVID-19, SPIRIT was closed for three months and only a limited number of volunteers were allowed to be onsite.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Goal: SPIRIT's goal is to build self-sustainable programs and services in our Fairfax County, Virginia, community for individuals of all ages and levels of ability. Our vision is to provide an opportunity for individuals, public and private schools, local government, and rehabilitation and assisted living organizations to experience the healing and therapeutic range of Therapeutic Riding, Therapeutic Horsemanship, Equine Assisted Activities, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, and Equine Assisted Learning.
Progress: In 2018, SPIRIT initiated a "Home for SPIRIT" capital campaign to purchase an affordable property that could not be subdivided for development. Capital campaign contributions augmented by a generous donation from one of the SPIRIT Directors enabled SPIRIT to complete the down payment on "Sully Farm." Plans for building the farm and obtaining the additional funding for Fairfax County’s required surveys/permits and property development have begun. By 2021, the property had been cleared of brush and completely fenced. A bridge was built over the stream and a short driveway and parking lot were completed.

1. Create a capital campaign to raise funds to purchase land to ensure a permanent home for SPIRIT in Northern Virginia. SPIRIT will no longer have to rent land that could be sold at any time.
Progress: In 2018, SPIRIT initiated a "Home for SPIRIT" capital campaign to purchase an affordable property that could not be subdivided for development. Capital campaign contributions augmented by a generous donation from one of the SPIRIT Directors enabled SPIRIT to complete the down payment on Sully Farm. Plans for building the farm and obtaining the additional funding for Fairfax County-required surveys and property development have begun.

2. Use reserves to hire highly qualified and talented instructors and therapists to generate the potential for expansion of our program services.

3. Maintain competitive salaries for top-notch program staff.

4. Stabilize the budget and repay reserves as revenues increase.

5. Expand services further with additional revenue.

6. Maintain a high quality of service and staff throughout the expansion and creation of our permanent home.

SPIRIT's founder and CEO, Dada Suvak, used her strong vision, international reputation, and three decades of equestrian and management experience to firmly establish SPIRIT in the Fairfax Community. She forged partnerships with the County Government, the County Park System, and local vendors. The systems she put in place have allowed SPIRIT to grow and flourish since 2007. The relationships she established make SPIRIT capable of fast and innovative growth. To ensure that SPIRIT would thrive after her retirement, Ms. Suvak trained Michelle Gnozzio, an experienced horsewoman, in all aspects of SPIRIT operations. Based on her performance and client feedback, the Board of Directors unanimously selected Ms. Gnozzio as the current Executive Director. Ms. Gnozzio is directing and improving SPIRIT programs and continuing the relationships established with the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Fairfax County Government. In addition, she is successfully shepherding SPIRIT through the current COVID pandemic. In 2021, Fairfax County renewed SPIRIT's contract as the sole provider of equestrian services at Frying Pan Farm Park for 10 more years

SPIRIT is located in Frying Pan Farm Park near the equestrian facilities, 30 minutes from Washington, DC. In this location, SPIRIT can offer its services to a growing urban area with a population (children, youth, and adults with all level of abilities/special needs) that can benefit from SPIRIT's services.

SPIRIT is known for its transparency, excellent management, and well-earned reputation for service. The public credits SPIRIT for caring and for producing positive results for its clients. The SPIRIT social network is spreading an awareness of the value of Equine Assisted Activities and this awareness is helping to build strong community support for the SPIRIT mission. SPIRIT has a large and supportive local volunteer and donor base committed to continuing SPIRIT's activities in the community.

Accomplishments to Date:
1. SPIRIT has grown from a dream to a one-horse backyard program (2007) to becoming the most visible urban Equine Assisted Activity (Therapy and Learning) program in Fairfax County.

2. SPIRIT has developed a well-maintained partnership with the Fairfax County government, which resulted in a contract for SPIRIT to provide the County with equine services until 2020. We have just signed a new contract to continue as the sole provider for equine services to Fairfax County's Frying Pan Farm Park until 2031. In addition, a contract to provide Comprehensive Services Act (CSA) programs to the County adds new clients yearly.

3. SPIRIT met one of its primary goals at the end of 2018: to purchase a home (Sully Farm) for SPIRIT. With the purchase of Sully Farm, we now have a permanent home and are no longer under threat of losing it to development.

4. By 2021, the Sully Farm Property had been cleared of brush and entirely fenced. The property now has a bridge over the stream and a short driveway and gravel parking lot.

5. The Future: Plans for Sully Farm include completing several land surveys to satisfy Fairfax County requirements, digging a well, installing a specially designed septic system (required by the County), and building a facility to house a farm manager, offices, and classrooms. In addition, the farm will have an area for lessons, a more private area for therapy, stables, pastures, a horse training area, and a place for horses to rest and recuperate when needed.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    SPIRIT's goal is to build a self-sustainable program and offer our services to individuals of all ages and levels of ability in our Northern Virginia community. People with/without physical, mental, and psychosocial disabilities Individuals, families, and groups Children, young adults, adults, seniors

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    SPIRIT provides our services at a Fairfax County park. Some of our clients were uncomfortable with the thought that park visitors might occasionally be able to view client sessions. We changed our strategic plan to include the goal of moving therapy, veterans, and family programs to a more private location as soon as possible. Our current park location is not conducive to the client privacy that these particular programs require.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Asking for feedback from our clients means that they can actively participate in monitoring how well our programs serve them. Their feedback teaches us, helps us measure our performance, and informs us of the changes we need to consider to better meet their needs.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 10/29/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Robert Mennell

Director Business Development, SCL Group, Inc./Anaxi Solutions/Integrated Systems

Term: 2019 -


Board co-chair

Mrs. Cynda Zurfluh

Global Marketing Manager Software, AG

Term: 2019 -

Louise Peterson

BH Settlement Group and RE/MAX Gateway, Double Eagle Title

Diane Pires

Northrop Grumman/TASC (retired)

Leslie Vernon

Pitney-Bowes (retired)

Lauren Wong

BIT Systems

Jennifer Cibula

Parent of Two Therapeutic Riding Students

Chuck Gumas

L3 Harris Technologies, Inc.

Doug Gaibler

CH2M Hill (retired), Parent of SPIRIT Student

Claire Hosker

Federal Government Architect (retired), Parent of EAL Student

Samuel Schwall

Corporate Supply Chair Operations, L3 Harris Technologies

Vesma Montvillo

MAI Capital Management

Patty Sullivan

Fairfax County Department of Social Services (retired)

Werner Dresen

PPD Development, Inc.

Davorka Suvak

Founder, First CEO and Executive Director, SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program (retired)

Robert Mennell

Director Business Development, SCL Group, Inc./Anaxi Solutions/Integrated Systems

Michelle Gnozzio

Executive Director, SPIRIT Open Equestrian Program

Cynda Zurfluh

Global Marketing Manager for Software AG

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Not applicable
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 9/26/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

No data

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

No data

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/06/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.