Working together for our community and vets.

The partnership between the Freedom Farm and Kids Rank was featured recently by NBC 5 Chicago.  Individually, our organizations provide service to our communities in many ways, but together we’re able to offer services we can’t achieve alone.  Thanks to all our volunteers!  Good job!

 

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July Update

These last couple of months have been busy, busy, busy. Kids rank stepped up with a large group to help us get the gardens in and now they are producing like mad. Great job!

We haven’t had the produce to deliver to our local food pantries, as we have in past seasons, due to the demand from our veterans and their families that are in need. We wish we had enough for everyone, but as long as it doesn’t go to waste, we’re glad that someone is benefitting.

‘Lil Girl and Beau have had many visitors throughout the summer; they’ve helped some of our PTSD veterans start the healing process. Horses have a special way of connecting with those who need a friend. As one veteran puts it, they “make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.” I’ve never had it described that way before, but that’s exactly the kind of reaction we’re looking for. It’s a good start for those who feel alone and in need of a friend.

August plans to be just another busy month, with NBC coming out next week to film a special “Kids Rank Down on The farm”. This should be exciting for the kids and their families. Then the Vista Seniors will be having a picnic at the farm on the 23rd. They expect their turnout at around 100, and we’re hoping for good weather for them.

Home Depot will be donating four new picnic tables, a permanent structure for veterans supplies, and will be bringing out the new Kids Rank Clubhouse. Thanks to Mitch Moore and all the Home Depot staff for helping build the farm.

A special thanks goes out to First Bank of Highland Park for featuring us on the Ruth Fell Wander Community Art Wall. Marty Cornett, Don Guzan, and the staff from the bank did a super job!

Have a safe August, and stop by the farm for a cup of coffee. The gate is always open!

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A Memorial Day message

To all the veterans who have served our country, both domestic and abroad, we would like to thank you for your sacrifice and service.  May you and your families enjoy a wonderful Memorial Day.

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April Update

Spring has finally sprung! We didn’t post a March update because the farm was either frozen solid or it was all running water and mud; therefore not much happened.  (Unless you’re interested in hearing about muddy boots, paws, and hoofs – I didn’t think so.)  We did planning for our gardens and started collecting the seeds, so when everything dries out after all this rain we’ll be ready.

We added two new members to our team this year – Kirk Morris, a Gold Star father and a veteran Marine, and Don Guzan a Vietnam veteran and Marine, as well. I will add their bios to the post next month.  These two veterans will add some expertise that is needed to move forward completing our mission.

We started doing our spring clean up around the farm, and the warm days have been a nice change.  With the large amounts of snow and the deep frost it will be a little while before the soil warms enough to plant, but we’ll be ready.

The Kids Rank group plans to be out on the 10th of May to help us
plant.  This will be their first outing of the year.  They plan to make
frequent visits this summer, and we always have new surprises for
them; should be a fun summer.

We moved the rose garden inside the farm to better soil, and with the
help from Don Guzan the roses should be excellent this year.

We’ve hit a few bumpy roads on our journey so far, but they won’t stop us from our mission to help our heroes with whatever is needed.  We’re working daily, along with many other organizations throughout the country, in an effort to help provide all our veterans the opportunities to return to a healthy happy life.  It seems only fitting, after their dedicated service to keep us free and safe.

Stop by for a visit and see our little piece of heaven on earth, whether you’re a veteran yourself, family, or just someone who’d like to help, or say, “Thank you for your service.”

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February Update

The month of February was a book end to January; snow, ice and really cold – in other words normal winter.

The amount of snow and ice caused some hazardous conditions on the farm, mostly on the drive. The horses had no problems but the chickens and ducks didn’t venture too far from their homes (they don’t like cold feet). The hard winds kept moving snow from open pastures to our paths and drive, which made blowing and shoveling snow almost a daily task.

We took our first tour this year at the Warbird Heritage Foundation with a veteran Marine pilot. Craig, a retired corporate and former Top Gun pilot, enjoyed his tour and meeting with the chief pilot from the foundation. Listening to these two gentlemen exchange stories about flying was, to say the least, very interesting. Craig was all smiles at the condition of these classic aircraft, especially the T-2B Buckeye. He told stories about his time flying this aircraft in the Marines and how much he enjoyed it. When asked what he missed most about flying he stated without hesitation, “Flying combat jets!”.

This is another ongoing program we have on the farm, so if you have a group who would be interested in seeing this fine collection of aircraft give us a call and we’ll set up a tour. (view aircraft @ WarbirdHeritageFoundation.org)

All indications of a cold spring are on the horizon, which means planting will be late, but the good thing is there will be no shortage of moisture in the soil.  Getting the garden in will depend on how much drying we get after the snow is gone, but don’t hold your breath it might be a while.

It looks to be a busy season this year, so stop by for a visit, have a cup of coffee, and see what’s going on.

Think Spring!

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January Update

This year looks to be a very busy time around the farm. We have finalized the plans and material lists for the Kids Rank Clubhouse and the multi-purpose room in the barn, as well as the Gold Star flag pole. We hope to begin construction as soon as the snow starts to recede. By the look of things it may be a while.

CPO-365 at Naval Station Great Lakes has 60 to 90 volunteers for us as soon as we can use them – they were with us last summer and did a great job!

Rob, one of our disabled veterans who cut Christmas ornaments for the V.A., has relocated to San Diego Cal. He and his wife have bought a farm and wish to start the Freedom Farm and Kids Rank of San Diego. This will be a good fit, since one of the founders of Kids Rank is stationed in San Diego. Rob experienced the farm first hand most of the summer, and he believed that this environment helped him cope with his PTSD. He felt so relaxed that he wanted to have his own farm and pass the same benefits to his fellow PTSD suffers.

We also, with heavy heart, must tell you of the passing of Steve Shaufel. He was our first board member and eventually became our first employee. Steve helped me design every aspect of the farm. As the son of a WWll veteran he had a passion for the farm. He just retired from his career as an operating engineer and wanted to continue working; our farm was the perfect fit for him. This is a hard subject for me to talk about, as we were friends for 30 years and worked together daily for the last 3 years. We are all still in a state of shock! R.I.P. Steve!

Respectfully,
John Ress

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December on the Farm

The farm has had quiet months in November and December, with all the cold and snow setting in. John has been busy cutting Christmas ornaments in the barn and getting things ready for the annual delivery to the 4th floor hospital unit at James A Lovell Medical Center at Great Lakes.
 
This year, Kids Rank, a special group of military kids and their families, helped us out with the decorating and delivery. On December 18th, four of the kids and their advisor and founder, Kelsey Liverpool,  accompanied Marty to deliver the ornaments that had they decorated, and Christmas cards that they made at a club meeting. The patients were very happy to have an ornament for their rooms and enjoyed seeing the children deliver them and wish them Merry Christmas. The staff also appreciated the ornaments left to decorate the  nurses stations for the holiday season.
 
We would like to thank Kelsey and Kids Rank for helping out and we would also like to thank the Country Bumpkins 4-H Club members for making Thanksgiving and Christmas cards for delivery to the patients. Marty delivered them with the ornaments, and the patients were very pleased to have them.
 
Christmas2013-1 Christmas2013-2

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