Photo courtesy of Frank Forpahl, Willow Ranch Manager
The Willow Ranch is an example of Hope providing opportunities for people experiencing disabilities to actualize their dreams. Over a decade ago, several individuals expressed an interest in moving away from urban living and wanting to experience a rural lifestyle. We listened and found an opportunity to purchase land near Willow.
The Willow Ranch is currently home to four men who love living a rural lifestyle, complete with opportunities to interact with and care for a variety of animals, experience the great outdoors, and learn skills specific to living “off the land." Livestock being raised and cared for include yaks, chickens, geese, turkeys, lambs and horses.
Situated on 70 acres with an infrastructure that supports hunting, fishing, trapping, animal husbandry, gardening, wood-working, mechanics, raising and selling livestock, and many other aspects associated with living off the land in a rural environment, the program promotes self-sufficiency, independence and full lives. Benefits of the program are endless. We have seen a marked decrease in challenging behaviors and significant increases in social interactions, communications and feelings of self-worth. The program is uniquely Alaskan and is a great resource for all Alaskans who experience a disability.
Originally the Ranch consisted of one house with a couple of small outbuildings and utilized power from a generator operating on fuel oil. A grant was secured to bring in solar and wind power that dramatically reduced our dependency on fuel. Over the years, as we’ve expanded the program, we’ve built a large barn, a work building, a small saw mill, a duplex and a single-family home.
We are working with Matanuska Electric Association and neighbors around the Ranch to determine the installation route that would benefit the entire community, not just the Ranch. Bringing electricity to the Ranch is estimated at $150,000, which would fall on Hope to fund at this time. Neighbors in the area would also benefit and will individually contribute as they bring the electricity to their particular site.
We continually seek financial support to maintain and enhance this project. If you'd like to support the continued accomplishments of the Ranch, make a donation by clicking here and designating your gift to the Willow Ranch.