LaPlace riding center gets help from an Eagle

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 7, 2013


LAPLACE — Anita Hefler said that she’s receiving plenty of compliments on her Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center’s new fence.
The center’s new addition went up early last month and, as the center’s executive director Hefler noted, it was desperately needed. The GNOTRC is non-profit organization that provides horse-assisted therapy and activities to children and adults with disabilities. The previous fence had been badly damaged by Hurricane Issac, and it could not safely contain the center’s horses.  
“We had several trees fall on it,” said Hefler. “We propped it up to make a visual detriment, but we couldn’t safely put the horses out in the field unless someone was out there.
Enter 16-year-old Patrick Angelette of LaPlace. A student at Holy Cross, Angelette had volunteered at the center before to fulfill a service hours project for the school.
Angelette arrived this time seeking a project not to accumulate more service hours, but to earn his Boy Scouts of America Eagle badge.
When he asked about a potential project to undertake, one stood out.
“I got to know Miss Anita and definitely wanted to help,” said Angelette. “I realized she wasn’t getting any use out of the fence they had and that this was something that could really help.”
The project earned an assist from the Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association, which supplied GNOTRC with a grant to pay for the materials.
From there, Angelette made four trips out to the center, from preliminary visits to gather all necessary facts, figures and information for the project, to putting up the final product.
“He came about a week before and put in the wooden posts, one every 100 feet,” said Hefler. “He’d mark them off. He had to do all of the measuring and figuring.”
He recruited the help of the LaPlace Lions’ Club, as well as a group of his fellow Boy Scouts, to finish the job.
“It took about a day. I’d say 10 or 11 hours,” said Angelette. “We knocked it out pretty fast. The Lion’s Club helped a lot. They were the demolishers for the old fence. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Angelette also learned how to use the center’s Bobcat and tractor.
“Mr. Steve (Hefler) was a big help. He’d showed me how to use them beforehand,” said Angelette.
The finished product was to Hefler’s liking.
“We’re so pleased with it,” she said. “It’s very aesthetically pleasing. We can safely use our pasture now.”
And when the work was done, the scouts stuck around to see one of Hefler’s classes, and the young riders they’d be helping in action.
“When you first start working and you smash your finger with the hammer, it’s not so much fun,” said Angelette. “But once you see the finished product and how it’s helping them, it’s well-worth it.”