MILTON, Ga. — Less than 24 hours after a post on Nextdoor.com about Special Equestrians of Georgia, hundreds of volunteers had stepped up to support its programs and thousands of dollars flooded to the nonprofit. However, it was not a call for help that spurred the influx of support. It was a post criticizing the appearance of the organization’s farm.
Stacey Edwards, founder and president of Special Equestrians, said her neighbor was right in saying the farm looked “horrible.” However, she said it was not out of malicious intent or apathy that led to the overgrowth, it was an issue of funds.
Edwards said the tractor used to landscape the farm had been rolled over, rendering it essentially useless. Repairs would cost over $5,000, and that is money that the small nonprofit simply did not have. Edwards said she chose to use what funds were available to feed her horses and keep the Special Equestrians program going.
Not long after that decision, Edwards said she checked her phone and saw several people volunteering to help landscape her farm, and she was taken aback.
“We get a lot of volunteers, but it is usually for people wanting to help with the horses or kids,” she said. “I couldn’t figure out why all these messages were about landscaping.”
At that point, a person Edwards had never met before reached out to her and informed her of the post and volunteered his services. Edwards then saw the original post to Nextdoor and said her “stomach dropped” when she read the complaint.
“I felt bad that the place looked horrible, but I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “I apologized to the community on Nextdoor and said we are a small nonprofit that just didn’t have the money for a new tractor, and I had to make my decision based on the horses. I said that’s not an excuse, it’s just what happened.”
The community’s response went far beyond social media.
“In 24 hours, $3,000 had been donated to the program, and we had 250 responses of people wanting to volunteer,” Edwards said. “Half of those people wanted to volunteer with in-kind donations from landscapers and builders. The whole community rallied around us.”
While Special Equestrians’ work involves helping others, Edwards said she was rendered speechless by the generosity of the Milton community and to be on the receiving end of assistance.
“I felt and still feel incredibly blessed,” she said. “The neighborhood could have just said ‘clean this up.’ Instead, they said don’t you worry, we are going to help and support you because what you do is important. They all understood and were willing to not only cut me some slack, but also to help me take care of it. It’s hard to put into words. It just amazed me.”
Following the outpouring of support and the cleanup of the farm, Edwards said she now wants to thank everyone who helped. She said there are plans to hold a community appreciation day at the farm to invite back all the volunteers who stepped forward.
And she does have any animosity to her neighbor who made the Nextdoor post.
“I don’t hold her in any ill will,” she said.