Humans And Animals Heal Together

Linda Ozier

Linda Ozier holds Tippy, Isaiah 11’s lead therapy dog. Ozier stated Tippy is the perfect therapy dog and likes to lick away tears and help people through their troubled times. (Photo by Sarah Wright)

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Tasha Clark brushes off Hosanna the donkey, who is one of her favorites. Clark’s time at Isaiah 11 has helped her break out of her shell, and she enjoys working with the animals in addition to helping Executive Director Linda Ozier. (Photo by Sarah Wright)

Isaiah 11’s ministry began in 2010 and has continued to grow, providing comfort, healing and counseling to the people of Kosciusko County, in addition to providing a refuge for abused and neglected animals.

Isaiah 11 Executive Director Linda Ozier originally worked from a rented shed in a wildlife rescue center. A licensed therapist and former teacher, Ozier provided counseling first with rescued cats and animals at the wildlife rescue, even receiving additional training in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy from EAGALA.

As the ministry continued to grow and the goals of it and the wildlife rescue diverged, Ozier moved to a temporary office before the ministry took root in July 2011 at 6256 W. CR 100 N., Warsaw. Isaiah 11 continues to offer counseling in addition to life coaching, mentoring, tutoring, nutrition classes, bible study and animal care lessons — all in a safe place.

While Isaiah 11 is a Christian ministry, Ozier stated, people can choose to include Christ as little as they want or not at all, though she noted most people choose to have him involved.

“Animals don’t have to be involved,” said Ozier, noting there is individual therapy and theraplay. “You can choose the level of involvement of animals. Most choose it.”

People who want to incorporate animals into their counseling will find a wide assortment of critters to choose from including horses, goats, pigs, a donkey, ducks, chickens, dogs, cats and fish. Altogether, Ozier suspects there are currently 130 animals.

“All the animals have their own individual story,” said Ozier, adding all the animals are rescues, minus those they are watching for owners who might be at Beaman Home, dealing with homelessness, or completing alcohol or drug rehabilitation.

“As people hear their stories, it gives them hope for themselves.” Ozier described a mare that came to farm as little more than skin and bones but healed and was given purpose.

“Coming down means a lot,” said Tasha Clark. “If I have a problem, I can talk to her (Ozier).” She added, “At school I was always made fun of; I was always in a shell.” Since coming to Isaiah 11, Clark stated she has come out of her shell and has become involved in barn group and girls club.
“It’s changed my life,” Clark said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends; everyone is always nice.”

During barn group, Clark states they work with the animals before coming in for a meal and to play games. Ozier added the group meet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. “I always try to have a theme or lesson,” said Ozier.

K Isaiah 11 3 3-20-13 SWGirls have the opportunity make friends during girls club on Wednesdays. Clark said, “We have snacks, do activities; last week we did raincoats.” Ozier stated the girls also get to feed and water the animals before crafts, in addition to talking about issues they face.

Isaiah 11 also works hand in hand with other agencies like the Beaman Home. Grace College and Ivy Tech nursing students also volunteer at Isaiah 11 to observe the form of out-patient therapy offered by the ministry.

Currently, Isaiah 11 is undergoing a few exciting changes including a new logo and board, website changes, branding and revamped procedures, among other things. “We want to raise community awareness,” Isaiah 11 Board President Keith Sampson said. “We want to make sure they are aware it exists. “It’s a process,” he added, saying the board and ministry are focusing on the here and now, which includes procuring donations and grants to help operation expenses.

Isaiah 11 has launched a donation website, accessible at www.donate.isaiah11.org. The site will be fully operational in the near future.

For information, visit www.isaiah11.org or call 574-858-6036.

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