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Tampa Bay Lightning

Feature Articles

Lightning Award Another Community Hero Grant

Friday, 12.14.2012 / 10:33 AM / Features
By Dave Mishkin  - Tampa Bay Lightning Radio Announcer
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Lightning Award Another Community Hero Grant
Lightning Award Another Community Hero Grant

Heroes: Jose and Ampy Suarez. Charity: HOPE Youth Ranch.

The Suarez’s story is one of both selflessness and inspiration. Twelve years ago, they began serving the homeless in New Port Richey and Hudson, feeding and ministering to over 200 individuals every Sunday. After spending so much time with the homeless, they saw a correlation – many of these homeless adults had been abused as a child by a family member and had been through foster care.

In 2002, the couple decided to foster three young boys. Within a couple of months, they had opened their home to eight additional children. Recognizing that they wanted to do more, they opened HOPE Youth Ranch.

I read about HOPE Youth Ranch on its website: www.hopeyouthranch.org and was reminded of Edie Dopking of Quantum Leap Farms, a previous Lightning Community Hero. That’s because both the Suarez and Dopking non-profit facilities utilize equine therapy. I never realized that presence of horses could have such a positive effect on people.

Given the Suarez’s commitment to helping children, it’s no surprise that HOPE Youth Ranch is a refuge for kids in need. There is a residential Group Home for girls, a private school and plenty of horses. Many of the students at the private school, HOPE Ranch Learning Academy, have been diagnosed in the Autism Spectrum or have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The kids at the Ranch develop a bond with these horses and, as the website explains, “helps to heal the broken bonds they’ve experienced.”

As is often the case for me when I hear about these heroes, I am very interested to learn more about their charities. I encourage you to check out the above website and read more about Jose and Ampy Suarez’s inspirational work.