EASI’s board of directors announced last week that Melissa Searcy, who joined the program in 2008 and has served as executive assistant since 2011, has been promoted to the position.
Hall will continue to serve as equine program coordinator.
Hall said that in the early days of EASI, she was able to manage the activities at the barn and also maintain her regular job. However, a full-time director is now needed because the program has grown rapidly in recent years.
Hall expressed full confidence in Searcy’s abilities.
“I feel like a parent watching my child leave the nest,” Hall said.
“I believe God has put people in place who He knows can fulfill His mission, and I’m just so glad that someone is there who loves it as much as I do.”
Under Searcy’s leadership as executive assistant, EASI has added more clients and volunteers for its therapeutic riding services.
Volunteers currently log approximately 500 hours a month at the EASI facility in Boldo, which is now open Monday through Thursday and one Friday a month for field trips.
More than 110 students were served during the program’s last four-week session.
Searcy said EASI has taken on several groups from other counties in the past year.
“A couple of other centers have opened in the Birmingham area, and they’re all full. So we still think about our community, but we’ve started addressing some of the needs in the areas around us as well,” Searcy said.
Searcy, who serves as state chairperson for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International, has also been resposible for adding equine assisted learning opportunities to the EASI program.
EASI’s clients now include at-risk youth and special needs students seeking to gain skills before entering the workforce.
Other recent changes at EASI include bringing new horses into the program, expanding the tack room and constructing a sensory room so that clients can receive therapy
“We’re trying to be more of a full-service center so we can appeal to the needs of each of our individual riders,” Searcy said.