Animals Transforming Lives
The therapeutic power of animals helps transform lives every day at CooperRiis, a residential healing community in the mountains of Western North Carolina for adults living with mental health challenges.
Residents come to our 94-acre farm campus to recover in a peaceful setting. The healing process includes engaging in tasks that are meaningful, purposeful and contribute to daily life at CooperRiis. Our Community Work & Service Program matches teams of residents, or crews, with interesting and empowering opportunities. These opportunities can range from farm and garden, to kitchen and woodworking.
A Daily Rhythm
There are more than 160 farm animals to care for at CooperRiis. Because of this, the animal crew is doing very important work every day.
Mornings start at the barn with a quick check-in. Crew members begin by sharing their joys, concerns and goals for the day. The chores start as dozens of chickens, ducks and turkeys, goats, sheep, horses, ponies, pigs, cats and dogs are fed and watered. When the daily chores are done, crewmates engage in a variety of tasks and projects. These tasks are vital to maintaining the farm operation. Work includes animal grooming and hoof care, goat milking, fencing and shelter repair, sheep shearing and fleece cleaning, carding and spinning yarn, and cutting and putting up hay.
This is all under the guidance of Animal Crew Leader Emily Moyer. “Our residents receive so much love from these animals. Many are craving that love and connection,” according to Emily. “The physicality of the hard manual labor required by working with animals is also very therapeutic.”
The daily rhythm and healing properties of animal work and care give residents a sense of purpose and responsibility. Additionally it provides much needed love and connection. The Mayo Clinic agrees that when working with animals therapeutically, one can gain benefits such as better coping skills for those experiencing mental health illness.
Learn more about our Healing Community and Residential Treatment Facility