Student hits happy stride helping at horse-assisted therapy facility

She urges students to get involved, and offers some opportunities for next month

By Sarah Weaver

Special to The Knightly News

Last semester, I took COM420 Projects in Corporate Communications, and students were asked to pick a location to volunteer our time.

The first thing that came to my mind was Graceful Acres, of Halifax, a horseback-riding facility that teaches horsemanship to people with extraordinary needs (people who require specialized support).

These people, young and old, learn about the horses and, in the lessons provided in an hour, groom the horse, learn how to prepare the horse for riding and work on exercising on the horse.

Graceful Acres has a special place in my heart – not only because of the owner and how the family are good friends of my family, but because of why and how Graceful Acres got its name and started its journey.

Jon Mattis, a Halifax native, began Graceful Acres in 2013. He started it because there was no facility to help people with extraordinary needs in the upper Dauphin County area.

After getting permission from his grandparents, who owned the farm, Mattis started Graceful Acres. He named it Graceful Acres after his beloved grandmother Grace, because of her love for sharing her kindness and love with anyone she encountered along her journey in life. I knew his grandparents; no words could describe how amazing they were.

Graceful Acres has a yearly fall benefit to help raise money for many different efforts, such as scholarships for the riders, the new indoor riding arena, veterinary costs and food for the horses.

I have enjoyed every minute I’ve spent working on the Graceful Acres Fall Benefit and cannot wait to celebrate it. Graceful Acres has so much magic, whether it is your connection with the horses, the atmosphere, the peacefulness, or even the work by the owner and other volunteers during a rider’s sessions. I have had the opportunity to see how the riders start and progress over short and extended periods. I love watching what they do, and I feel like miracle work is happening.

This year’s fall benefit is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., at Enders Grove, in Halifax (30 Enders Grove Road).

This will be a fun-filled day for families, with live music, a magician, food, games, crafts for children, silent auctions and a raffle that will feature many items.

Tickets are $20 for people ages 16 and older, and children 15 and younger will be admitted for free.

If you are interested, you can purchase tickets on the Graceful Acres Facebook page under upcoming events (scroll down the page, and on the left side, see Graceful Acres Fall Benefit; click that notice to find the ticket link), or you can contact Sarah, at (717) 805-3527; Alison, at (717) 609-2790; or Jon at (717) 215-1768.

Graceful Acres is also looking for volunteers for the event to help with face-painting, games, crafts and more.

It’s a great opportunity for Central Penn students, or others, to get involved with a great nonprofit organization, and for Central Penn students who need them to earn some of their community-service hours.

Anyone interested in helping with the fall benefit this year should contact me, Sarah Weaver, at (717) 805 3527, or by email, at

Weaver is a senior corporate communications student at Central Penn.

Comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media-club supervisor and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.