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Sunday’s Paper!

Today’s Longmont Times-Call shares a story about Guided Hope!

Join us on Saturday, April 28th, for our 5th Anniversary Celebration!

With Guided Hope, Berthoud family shares farm to help families heal

Free work/play program is celebrating its fifth anniversary

By Pam MellskogFor the Times-Call

POSTED:   04/07/2018 04:55:47 PM MDT | UPDATED:   ABOUT 14 HOURS AGO

From left: Kira Scoma, 14, swings while her sister Jessika Scoma, 11, plays on the haystack inside the stable at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday.

From left: Kira Scoma, 14, swings while her sister Jessika Scoma, 11, plays on the haystack inside the stable at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

More information

For more information about Guided Hope, visit guidedhope.org.

Fifth anniversary celebration

What: Guided Hope’s fifth anniversary celebration and “friendraiser” fundraiser featuring a silent auction and dessert auction, western BBQ buffet, animal ambassadors and children’s program

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 28

Where: Calvary Church, 2101 Gay St., Longmont

Suggested donation: $15, adults and teens; $7, children ages 4-7; and free for children 3 and younger

More information: Call 303-717-8372 or email info@guidedhope.org

She calls mucking out stalls and disassembling a pig pen good medicine for broken hearts.

But Andrea Sutton, 45, never appreciated that until 2015, when she and her family visited Guided Hope in Berthoud and took on that first assignment to participate in the farm’s work/play program.

They arrived still traumatized and grieving five years after they found Daniel — their toddler — tangled in his window shade cords and dead from accidental strangulation when the family lived in Firestone.

“It was just kind of nice to go out there together to think about other stuff, different stuff,” Sutton, who now serves as a board member for the nonprofit, said. “… This farm reminds me that there’s still good in this world, that there is still hope — especially now, in the springtime, with all the new life there.”

Later this month, Guided Hope founders Kaarin and Guy Scoma will celebrate the fifth anniversary of their nonprofit — a free farm program they run from April through October on their 7-acre property.

“Our goal is to share hope and encouragement with other families by working and playing together in this setting. And you can be a family of one or of 20. We’ve had both,” Kaarin Scoma, 49, said. “Some of our families are coping with big changes — grief over a death, medical hardships, military service, or even adoption. Others come without those issues, but just want to strengthen and enrich their family life.

From left: Brooke Danner, 22, and Jessika Scoma, 11, hold 2-day-old goats at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday.

From left: Brooke Danner, 22, and Jessika Scoma, 11, hold 2-day-old goats at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

“And we believe that as each individual is strengthened, the family is strengthened and hope is shared because of the time they’ve spent together here. Hope is contagious.”

A give and take philosophy

The couple’s vision for farm outreach stems from painful parts of their life.

Guy Scoma’s first wife died of cancer and left him a single dad of a young daughter. While working through that, both he and second wife, Kaarin Scoma, a former meeting and events travel director, began developing a heart for others in similar straits.

In 2012, they moved from Niwot to Berthoud to test their idea — that stepping into country living with its mix of chores and fun might lighten someone else’s load.

“Sometimes, these people need to know that they are needed — that they can give and take,” said Kaarin Scoma, who grew up on a farm in Minnesota.

Chores include something for every age and stage of life: grooming, feeding/watering, assembling/disassembling pens, building fences, throwing hay, painting signs, gardening and landscaping, etc.

“You get extra points if you pick up my bailing twine,” she joked.

Fun activities include riding horses, playing with the animals and even taking up the challenge of navigating the Hope Trail obstacle course on foot or aboard Butterscotch, a 31-year-old gelding.

Participants can try roping, weaving around jumbo wooden cable spools, walking over bridges and through tight spaces and more.

During a tour of the course with its clear sight line of snow-capped twin peaks and cover from old shade trees, Guy Scoma pointed out the basketball hoop.

“Here, you even can try to play horse from a horse,” he said.

A wholesome homebase

Though ground zero in their outreach to families, the farm also offers the Scomas a wholesome homebase, a place that gives another rhythm to their lives year round as they and their four children — Katelyn, Tucker, Kira and Jessika, ages 22 to 11 — raise hogs, poultry and beef cattle.

“Everything but fish. We just need a sea bass pond here, and we’d be set,” Guy Scoma, 55, said.

As a mechanical engineer, he could create that.

Tucker Scoma, 16, feeds horses at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday,

Tucker Scoma, 16, feeds horses at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday, (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

Instead, he stays busy keeping all the other critters — many of them newborn last week — housed and fed with pens he built and feeders he designed.

To kick off their new season, the Scomas picked up chicks shipped from Iowa to the Berthoud post office and welcomed fraternal twin kid goats, Vern and Vera, in a barn out back of their house.

The sights and sounds of life are all around as horses, steers, goats, alpacas, llamas and bunnies go about their business along with the usual dogs and cats.

“But this place is not a drop-off center. Parents need to come here with their children,” Kaarin Scoma, Guided Hope’s executive director, said. “And it is not a petting zoo. You can’t care for animals unless you learn a little about them. So we teach animal education and horsemanship.

“And the horses are one of our biggest draws. They provide a source of confidence and encouragement for someone having a not-so-great day. The horses give our guests an opportunity to give love and get love. We’ve even seen horses wrap their head and neck around somebody to give hugs as needed.”

A community asset

Looking back on their successful nonprofit work five year into it, the Scomas credit their kickoff success to Ken Schuetz, an organizational development consultant at Aligned Influence in Longmont.

“A lot of nonprofits fail because they want to do it, but the community doesn’t need it,” Schuetz said. “Today, it looks like (Guided Hope) has brought out people who might otherwise have suffered in silence. And it seems as though this community wants that kind of help given the way so many have stepped up in support.”

In 2017, Guided Hope recorded 550 guests visits.

The community has donated everything from 1,200 volunteer hours in the last year alone to professional services to animals to a hundred pairs of heeled cowboy and cowgirl boots for toddlers and those who need a size 14.

A local Girl Scouts of America troop donated cookie money, and a Boy Scout built and donated wooden picnic tables that convert easily to benches for his Eagle Scout project.

Meanwhile, local foundations and businesses, such as Berthoud’s Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, have donated much-needed materials or awarded grants. For instance, in 2017, Group Publishing in Loveland gave Guided Hope its Youth Care Award and a $1,000 grant to create accessible paths to the barns for people who need canes, wheelchairs or strollers.

“We are a Christian-based organization. So all our hope comes from the Lord,” Kaarin Scoma said. “But everyone is welcome here.”

Sutton, the tentative visitor turned board member and Berthoud resident, found what she needed at the farm and called the place a part of what her town needs now.

“Berthoud has suffered so much loss with teens committing suicide, with the murder of (posthumously crowned Boulder County Fair Queen) Ashley Doolittle, and the recent helicopter crash,” she said. “There’s just so much loss here, and we’re only 8,000 people. But I like hearing us say ‘Berthoud Strong.’

“In the news, there’s a lot about the bad things. It’s nice to share about something good happening here for people at this farm.”

Pam Mellskog can be reached at 303-746-0942 or p.mellskog@gmail.com.

A shed full of donated cowboy boots is seen at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday.

A shed full of donated cowboy boots is seen at Guided Hope farm in Berthoud on Thursday. (Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer)

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