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Past Events

Monday, December 19 - Riley’s Place visits Haven Family House
Tuesday, December 6 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place
Girl holding bunny
Tuesday, December 13 - Riley’s Place visits Ronald McDonald House

Saturday, December 3 - Riley's Place Volunteer Holiday Party

Chase Hovden - Youth Volunteer of the Year

Riley's Place Volunteer of the Year
Linda Steenkamp - Volunteer of the Year
Children with animals
Tuesday, November 29 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place
Children with animals
Tuesday, November 22 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place.  Volunteers from Stanford Equestrian Team volunteer at Riley's Place
Monday, November 21 - Riley’s Place visits Haven Family House
Tuesday, November 15 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place
Children with animals
Saturday, November 12 - Vista Center for the Blind visits Riley’s Place
Girl with bunnies
Thursday, November 10 - Riley's Place visits Ronald McDonald House
Tuesday, November 8 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place
Friday, November 4 - Girl Scout Troop visits Riley's Place

Monday, October 31 - Riley's Place visits Ronald McDonald House for Halloween Event


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Kids in costume with horse
Tuesday, October 25 - Special Needs School visits Riley's Place
Tuesday, October 18 - Special Needs School visits Riley's Place
Tuesday, October 11 - Special Needs School visits Riley's Place Andrea with child and guinea pig
Saturday, October 8 - special Dinner Event at Riley's Place Guests at special dinner
Tuesday, October 4 - Special Needs School visits Riley's Place

Saturday, October 1 - Riley's Place particpates in parade for Woodside Recreation Department

More Photos

Woman with horse
Tuesday, September 27 - Riley's Place visits Redwood City Family House
Girl with Robin

Two boys with guinea pigs

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Tuesday, September 27 - Special Needs School visits Riley's Place


Little Boy with Henry Kapono

Wednesday, September 21 - First Step for Families visits Riley's Place

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Children washing horse
Boy shares water bottle with horse Wendy with 2 kids
Tuesday, September 20 - CPR/First Aid Class in Woodside
11 Riley's Place volunteers participated
in a Red Cross First Aid/CPR Class
CPR Class
Tuesday, September 13 - Riley's Place visits Ronald McDonald House

Wednesday, August 31 - First Step for Families visits Riley’s Place

Children petting horse

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Boy riding in horse cart
Monday, August 29 - Riley’s Place visits Haven Family House Child with bunny
Tuesday, August 16 - Canyon  Oaks Youth Center visits Riley’s Place & NCEFT Saturday, August 13 - Private Party/Dinner Under the Stars

Tuesday, August 9 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place

Children with horse

Monday, August 8 - Photo shoot at Riley’s Place for M Magazine

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Group Photo
Tuesday, August 2 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place Child in Horse cart
Farewell to Millie
It is with deep sorrow and broken hearts that we share the sad news of Millie's passing.
Millie joined our Riley's Place family from the Peninsula Humane Society in April 2011. In the short time she spent with us, Millie touched our hearts, and the hearts of the many children she visited.
Her sweet, gentle, serene and loving nature are missed!
Millie the rabbit
Sunday, July 17- Redwood Family House visits Riley’s Place Tuesday, July 26 - Special Needs School visits Riley’s Place
Boy and girl brushing horse
More Photos
Wednesday, July 20- Leo and Laverne turn two years old! Saturday, July 30 - Henry Kapono’s First Birthday
Luau celebration!
Wendy with 2 Goats Three horses eating "cake"
June 29, 2011 - First Step for Families Visits Riley's Place
Little boy with bunny Girl with dog
More photos
June 20, 2011 - Riley's Place Visits Haven Family House
Boys with dog
June 15, 2011 - Ronald McDonald House Visits Riley's Place
Boy on stick horse Wendy talks to group
More photos
June 11, 2011 - Riley's Place 2011 Benefit Dinner and Concert was a great success!
Table at the Fundraiser Group at the Fundraiser

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June 1 - Article on Riley's Place appears in Almanac!!!
See attached PDF
Tuesday, May 24 - Special Needs school visits Riley's Place
Saturday, May 21 - a busy day!
1) Riley’s Place holds special event at Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.
2) Riley’s Place parade for Peninsula Volunteers gala - Henry Kapono’s first parade! see photos
3) Hometown Days in San Carlos Girl Scouts hold a booth to raise awareness for Riley’s Place - see story below.
San Carlos Girl Scouts Troop #32969 searched for a project to help them earn their Bronze Award, the highest recognition for the 5th grade junior level in Girl Scouts. The goal of this project was to make a positive difference to the community. After much thought it was decided that the girls would raise awareness and donations for Riley's Place. To get a better feel for what Riley's Place does the Troop attended a field trip to our facility, took a tour and met our animals. After their trip they organized a booth at the 2011 San Carlos Hometown Days where the girls offered face painting and games. Brochures and animal trading cards were passed out to promote Riley's Place. All sales proceeds went towards an item on our wish list - a much-needed Power Point Presentation Projector!
Girl Scouts Troop #32969 help Riley's Place at Hometown Days
Through their efforts Troop #32969 has drawn greater awareness to Riley's Place! The girls, very deservingly, earned their Bronze Award!!!!
Friday, May 20 - First Step for Families visits Riley's Place
Wednesday, May 18 - Charles Armstrong School visits Riley's Place
Tuesday, May 17 - Special Needs school visit Riley's Place
Saturday, May 14 - Girl Scout Troup visits Riley's Place
Friday, May 13 - Birthday Party at Riley's Place
Thursday, May 12 - Riley's Place visits Saratoga Sub-Acute Facility
New facility for us...wonderful joint venture with BAWS!
Tuesday, May 10 - Special Needs school visits Riley's Place
Riley's Place visits Ronald McDonald House at Stanford
Monday, May 9 - Sacred Heart School has a work day at Riley's Place - see photos
Sunday, May 8 - Riley’s Place attends Heifer International Awareness Day at Los Altos United Methodist Church
Tuesday, May 3 - Special Needs school visit Riley's Place
Sunday, May 1 - Webb Ranch in Portola Valley is hosting a "Spring Fling - Dance with your Horse" fundraiser for Riley's Place.
Cathy Minshall - New Chief Financial Officer for Riley's Place

Riley’s Place is pleased to announce that Cathy Minshall has joined us as our new Chief Financial Officer.  Cathy is the Chief Financial Officer of Emergence Capital Partners and is a 15 year veteran of the venture capital industry.
In addition to managing all financial functions at Emergence, Cathy works closely with the partners to support Emergence’s portfolio companies.

Prior to joining Emergence, Cathy spent over 5 years as the CFO of De Novo Ventures, an early stage healthcare focused fund. Previously, she was the Controller for Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and the Mayfield Fund. She also has prior financial management experience with Ancora Capital, MGM and Westwood One. She began her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Los Angeles.
Cathy holds a BS in Accounting from the University of the Pacific, is a Certified Public Accountant, serves of the Board of the West Coast Chapter of the Private Eqity CFO Association (PECFOA) and is an active member of the National Venture Capital Association’s CFO Task Force.
Outside of work Cathy is married and active in animal rescue. She currently has 5 dogs and even more cats. She is an avid runner and has run a marathon in each of the 50 states.

Hannah Helps Riley's Place

Riley's Place would like to gratefully recognize and thank Hannah Leibovich, a 4th grader at White Oaks Schools in San Carlos. Hannah took part in a community service project called ROPES, which stands for Rite of Passage Experiences, and is a program supported by many organizations and individuals in San Carlos. After reading an article about Riley's Place in the newspaper, Hannah chose raising awareness and donations for Riley's Place as her project. Hannah interviewed Wendy and had a first hand look at the operations of Riley's Place, did research and created a wonderful storyboard. She held a bake and book sale with homemade treats and donated books. On a beautiful Saturday morning, Hannah and her mom and dad came to Riley's Place to present a check for nearly $430!

We at Riley's Place are very proud of Hannah for her efforts.
Hannah with horse
Hannah and Andrea Hannah's Board

Sunday, April 3 - Kachina was a star at the Fashion for Compassion fundraiser for our partner, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA.

Friday, April 1 - Our new bunny, Millie, arrives! See Photos
Tuesday, March 29 - Special Needs School visits Riley's Place. See Photos
Monday, March 28 - Riley's Place visits Haven Family House. See Photos
Wednesday, March 15 - Kachina participates in Merrie Morgan driving clinic
Tuesday, March 8 - Riley's Place visits Ronald McDonald House
Saturday, March 5 - Volunteer Orientation Meeting
Tuesday, March 1 - Special Needs School Visits Riley's Place. See Photos
Sunday February 13 - Ronald McDonald House Valentine's Day Event

Boy petting horse

More photos

boy looking at bunny

Friday February 11 - a special visit from a boy, his family, friends and teacher  

Tuesday February 8 - special needs school visits Riley's Place

Tuesday February 1 - special Needs School visits Riley's Place and our first visit to Redwood Family House

January 17, 2011 - Video of Henry Kapono
January 6, 2011 - Daily News Article about Riley's Place
January 4, 2011 - San Jose Mercury News Article about Riley's Place
January 4 2011 - Visit to Ronald McDonald House

December 21, 2010 - Haven Family House Visits Riley's Place

December 7, 2010 - Visit to Ronald McDonald House
Boy with Bunny'
December 4, 2010 - Volunteer Appreciation Event

Renette Rambeau was presented with the "2010 Outstanding Volunteer of the Year" award

Volunteer Appreciation Event

More photos

November 22, 2010 - New guinea pig, Harry Wiggums, adopted from the Peninsula Humane Society.

Photo of guinea pig

More Photos

November 15, 2010 - Riley's Place visits Haven House

November 19, 2010 -Haven Family House field trip to Riley's Place

girl brushing horse

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November 11, 2010 - Haven Family House Visits Riley's Place

Boy with goat

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November 2, 2010 - Riley's Place visits Ronald McDonald House

Girl hugging dog

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Special Needs School visits to Riley's Place
October, 26, 2010
November 2, 2010
November 9, 2010
November 16, 2010

Boy petting goat

More Photos

October 27, 2010 - Ability Awareness Day

Practicing vaulting exercises on the barrel at Ability Awareness Day at Ocean Shore School.

Ability Awareness Day

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October 19, 2010 - Ronald McDonald House and the 49ers Dream-Believe-Achieve!

What great fun we had at Ronald McDonald House with the 49ers and Dream-Believe-Achieve! The children and their families were full of smiles and laughter, and the animals certainly enjoyed all the love and attention!

More Photos

Link to this event on the 49ers website

49ers Event Photo

October 9, 2010 - Riley's Place at Woodside Day of the Horse

Riley's Place had fun at Woodside's Day of the Horse festival. Visitors were entertained by Shaun and Sheryl, the lovely sheep; and Annie and Sara, the lovely dogs!

More photos

Animals at Woodside Day of the Horse
October 8, 2010 - Thank you to Salesforce

Thanks to Salesforce and the incredible group of hardworking volunteers, we now have a Goatie Jungle Gym!! We also have a Serenity Garden!! And our pasture fence has been secured to keep coyotes out, our hay storage area has a roof, our drainage swale has been filled with drainage rock, the pile of dirt has been moved, and the hillside below our barn has been raked! Phew!! We are SO grateful to this wonderful company and the diligent volunteers who gave us their time, energy and expertise. Thank you!!!!

See more photos

Photo of Salesforce volunteers at Riley's Place
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September 17, 2010 - Thank you to Allen Drywall

A big THANK YOU to Allen Drywall --- our Bunny Cottage is now insulated and sheet-rocked thanks to this super company. And this is not the first time these great people have given us their time, expertise and materials. We are grateful!

September 17, 2010 - Thank you to Davey Tree

Another big THANK YOU to Davey Tree Company for removing all the dangerous Oleander plants and replacing them with animal-friendly Pittosporum.  Special thanks to Richard Hill of Davey Tree for organizing this huge endeavor.  It took most of the day but the finished product is SAFE for our animals and lovely, too!  We are also grateful to Boething Tree Farm for providing our replacement shrubs.

Davey Tree Truck Davey Tree removing plants

September 13, 2010 - Henry and Lezlee Kapono visited Riley's Place

On Monday, September 13, Riley's Place was honored to host Henry Kapono, his lovely wife Lezlee, and their two beautiful four-year-old twins! A strong advocate for organizations promoting the well-being of children, Henry brought his family to meet his namesake, our one-month-old mini horse, Henry Kapono, and to learn more about our wonderful organization. The family was happy to meet baby Henry Kapono and his mom, Ayana. There was lots of cuddling! The children helped to groom our other mini, Kachina; and played with Leo and Laverne, our two Nigerian Dwarf goats. Twins themselves, the children were delighted to learn that Leo and Laverne are twins! After more cuddling with the foal, we all took a hike up to the tree fort, where the children climbed the tree, played on the swings and ropes. Henry and Lezlee are an incredible couple -- very caring and so down-to-earth.

Henry Kapono Ka’aihue is an award winning and Grammy nominated singer/songwriter. He has taken home numerous Na Hoku Hano Hano Awards (Hawaii’s equivalent of the Grammy’s) including Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and Album of the Year. He is also the author of the award winning children’s book, "A Beautiful Hawaiian Day", has appeared in the films Damien and Waterworld and has made many television appearances.
He is currently in the middle of a multi-city concert tour, and after visiting Riley's Place, the family left for their next performance in San Diego.

More photos

Henry Kapono with horse
Henry Kapono visits

September 12, 2010 - Riley's Place attends Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Picnic

What a great time Riley's Place had at the 10th Annual Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Picnic at Shoup Park in Los Altos! Leo and Laverne were joined by our special PHS/SPCA dog, Sara, and they all brought such joy to the many children and their families.

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Photo of Riley's Place at Neuro-Oncology Picnic
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August 29, 2010 - Author, singer/songwriter, Willy Vlautin, appeared at Riley’s Place with his guitar and his best-selling new book, Lean On Pete

Book Cover -

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Photo of Willy Vlautin

Riley's Place receives donation from San Carlos Wee Woods Camp

This last summer, the Wee Woods Adventure Camp in San Carlos promoted Riley's Place as their philanthropic lesson to the children.   We are honored by the thoughtfulness and generosity of spirit.  A big thanks to Roxanne Stern for suggesting Riley's Place. Here is a card Riley's Place received from the Wee Woods Camp Staff.

Dear Riley's Place,
"This summer the theme for San Carlos Adventure Camp was "Children of the World".  Wee Woods chose Riley's Place as our charity.  The campers of Wee Woods are 4 and 5 year olds who are also pre-K students.  The goal for this summer was to teach about giving.  The money we raised came from tooth fairy money, allowance, money found on the playground, and campers' personal change collections.  Most of the money was given in small change and is a true expression of campers trying to make a difference."

The Wee Woods Staff

Photo of Roxanne Stern
August, 2010 - Riley's Place Visits Ronald McDonald House

Photo of kids with animals

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August 8, 2010 - Meet Henry Kapono!

Riley's Place is pleased to introduce you to our newest addition, "Henry Kapono". A naming contest for Ayana's lovely colt yielded almost 50 entries, and the judging panel took extra time to pick the perfect name for this friendly little boy. "Henry" was the only name suggested by two different contestants: Naomi Torres, age 5, liked the name "Henry" after seeing a picture of the foal  and proclaiming very simply, "Well, you should name him Henry"; and Nick Mattes felt the little horse should have a first and a last name, suggesting"Henry Kapono". In honor of our Hawaiian friend, King Lamadora, who passed away in April, we liked the Hawaiian last name, "Kapono." (which means "righteous" ) And since our little Henry Kapono's sire was named "Ike", for musician Ike Turner, we thought it appropriate to continue the musical connection! Henry Kapono is an award winning and Grammy nominated singer/songwriter. He has taken home numerous Na Hoku Hano Hano Awards (Hawaii's equivalent of the Grammy's) including Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and Album of the Year. He is also the author of the award winning children's book, A Beautiful Hawaiian Day. His most recent CD is entitled "The Wild Hawaiian." When you come to see our little "Henry Kapono", with his already wild mane, you will agree that it's the perfect name for our special boy.
A special thank you to all those who participated in the contest. We had some excellent suggestions for names, and will think of them as new animals join the Riley's Place family.

Click to view video of Henry Kapono

Click to view a video of Henry Kapono and Ayana

Naming Contest Winners Nick and Naomi
Photo of Nick with Henry Kapono
Nick with Henry Kapono
Naomi with Henry Kapono
Naomi with Henry Kapono
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July 30, 2010 - IT'S A BOY!

Riley's Place is thrilled to announce the birth of Ayana's (Yaya's) foal, an adorable little colt, as yet to be named! He arrived in the early morning quiet on Friday, July 30th. Yaya's a great Mom, protective and gentle. After being examined by the vet, our little guy was pronounced healthy! Please stay tuned for lots more pictures.

Watch the Baby Horse Grow - click this link for more photos

Baby Horse Eating Horses

July 29, 2010 - Haven House of Menlo Park Visits

Photo of kids with animals
More Photos

Photo of kids with animals

July 28, 2010 - Redwood Family House of Redwood City Visits

Photo of boy with bunny

Photo of kids with animals
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July 20, 2010 - Ronald McDonald House Visit's Riley's Place (our first on-site visit)

Photo of kids and animals
More photos

Photo of goats with child
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June 6, 2010 - Barn Dedication - Photo Gallery
Riley's Place Article in "Reining by the Bay" - click to read
New Bunny Cottage/Office
Photo of Bunny Cottage
Donated by the Galen family
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Riley's Place Partners with Webb Ranch

Riley's Place is excited to announce the launch of our newest program! Working together with our wonderful new Partner organization, Webb Ranch Riding, we proudly offer:
"Fun on Horseback".
With the experienced guidance of Riley's Place staff, children facing health or family challenges can enjoy grooming, saddling, bridling, and of course, riding a horse! Located in Portola Valley, Webb Ranch provides a warm, friendly, safe and fun family environment, as well as many gentle and kind horses.

Photo of 2 girls on horseback at Webb Ranc
Webb Ranch has been owned and operated by the Webb Family since 1922, with our 5th generation
currently living on and taking part in daily operations of the ranch. It is the Webb Family’s wish to
continue with the family tradition of providing a warm, friendly, safe and fun family environment to our
equestrian and equine friends and to continue to produce and provide the highest and freshest quality
produce to our community and customers.
Riley's Place is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children on the San Francisco
Peninsula experiencing chronic or life threatening health problems and/or challenging family situations such
as homelessness. The programs offered through Riley's Place encourage and facilitate children's interaction
with animals, allowing them to experience the joy and healing that spending time with animals and enjoying
and appreciating nature can bring.
Riley's Place Article in the San Mateo County Horsemans Association Spring 2010 Newsletter - click to read
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March 14, 2010 - Visit to Los Altos United Methodist Church

We took the sheep and Harvey, the giant bunny, to Los Altos United Methodist Church. The focus was on Heifer International, and we were invited to share animals to bring awareness to Heifer Inernational.

Photo of family by tree
Baby BorderBaby Border
Baby News

We have some very exciting news to share with you. Our little mini horse, Ayana, is pregnant!! We are expecting a baby miniature horse in August!

You may remember that we adopted Ayana ("YaYa") last September. She was part of a herd which was surrendered to the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA -- a stallion was part of that herd. An ultrasound in September did not detect a pregnancy, but over time, we noticed that Ayana was getting "rounder". Thinking we were being overly generous with her hay, grain, and grazing time in the lush green grass, we restricted her diet. She continued to gain weight, and so she had a blood test which confirmed the news this week.

Surprise!!! While we were not expecting to add another horse to our Riley's Place family, we can certainly offer this baby a wonderful home ... with room to play and grow, good food to eat, exemplary care, and an abundance of love and attention. What a blessing!

Ayana won the Peninsula Humane Society's 2009 Animals are Kind to People Award, and we are sure her baby will follow in her sweet hoofprints.

Photo of Ayana

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February 14, 2010 - Visit to Ronald McDonald House

On our special Valentine's Day visit we served lunch to 60 people and shared our animals with about 25 children.  On this visit we took Kachina the mini horse; Atley the dog; Stella the cat; Robin and Casper, the two bunnies.

Little boy with Casper
Riley's Place featured in Stanford University Publication -
Riley's Place Baby Goats are hilarious - click to watch them on YouTube.

Hannah with her personalized Riley's Place bag

Hannah with her personalized Riley's Place Bag

Partnership with Peninsula Humane Society's Pet Assisted Therapy Program

Riley’s Place is proud to partner with the Peninsula Humane Society’s Pet Assisted Therapy Program. Our combined programs will encourage and facilitate children’s interaction with animals, allowing them to experience the joy and healing from spending time with animals. 

Riley's Place Volunteer of the Year

Leyla Nielsen received Riley's Place Volunteer of the Year award! She volunteered at our Program visits to Ronald McDonald House, and at all our Open House events, AND she gave up every Sunday to take care of our mini horses.

Photo of Riley's Place Volunteer of the Year
New Baby Goats

Riley's Place is delighted to announce the addition of two baby goats to our family. Laverne and Leo are 6-month old twin Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Photo of baby goat Photo of second baby goat
January 30, 2010 - Junior Committee meets animals
The members of the Riley's Place Junior committee gathered at our facility in Woodside to mee all our animals, including our new additions, Leo and laverne, the baby Nigerian Dwarf goats. Ladybug Shuttle

January 5, 2010 - Visit to Ronald McDonald House

Our new bunny, Casper, made his debut visit.... along with seasoned travelers Robin and Kachina.

Little girl holding rabbit

January 2010

The Bottini family donated a golf cart which will be our "Ladybug Shuttle," ferrying the children from the parking lot to our barn. They will paint ladybugs on it, and the journey to the barn will be part of the fun!

Jan Steenkamp volunteered his time to assemble Kachina's cart.
Photo of the Ladybug Cart Photo of Jan Steenkamp assembling the Ladybug Cart

December 14, 2009 - Visit to Haven Family House

We took Pumpkin the hen, Robin the rabbit, and Atley the dog tovisit Haven Family House.

Boy with dog

December 1, 2009 - Visit to Ronald McDonald House

We took Robin the rabbit and Shaun and Sheryl the sheep to Ronald McDonald House for a visit.

Photo of girl holding rabbit

Riley's Place and Ayana win Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Award

We are so proud to announce that Riley's Place, and our mini horse, Ayana have won the "Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA's 2009 Animals Are Kind to People' award!    Here's the note we received:   
At this year’s Volunteer and Community Appreciation Celebration . . . Paws for Applause, we are honoring Ayana and Riley’s Place with the “Animals Are Kind to People Award” for  your work with Ayana, a  10 month old miniature horse filly recently rescued by PHS/SPCA, then adopted to Riley’s Place.  Ayana enriches the lives of children experiencing chronic or life threatening health problems and challenging family situation through interaction and contact allowing them to experience the joy and healing that spending time with animals can bring.  The purpose of this uplifting evening is to pay tribute to a unique group of heroes, individuals and organizations whose efforts have helped improve the quality of life for animals. 

Paws to Applause Celebration - December 1, 2009

Riley's Place and our miniature horse, Ayana, won the 2009 Animals Helping People Award. Riley's Place Volunteers and the two miniature horses - Ayana and Kachina attended the event. Click to watch a YouTube video of the event.

Photo of Award Event

Photo of Volunteer with miniature horse

Photo of Wendy with trophy
Welcome to Robin

We are very happy to welcome a new member of the Riley's Place animal family.  "Robin" is a lovely, sweet, friendly and cuddly bunny which we adopted from the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA.  (See her picture, attached).  Robin will be part of our "Four Legged Friends on Wheels" team, visiting children and their families at Ronald McDonald House and Shelter Network-Haven Family House.  How great to have a variety of animal sizes, shapes and textures for the children!  This loving bunny loves to sit on laps, and she closes her eyes in bliss when she is patted and stroked.

Photo of Robin the rabbit
November 23, 2009- Visit to Haven Family House

Riley's Place volunteers took two sheep, Shaun and Sheryl, Robin the rabbit, Atley the dog and Pumpkin the red hen to visit the children at families at Haven Family House.

Photo of girl with Robin the rabbit

November 14, 2009- Junior Committee Meeting

Our first Junior Committee meeting was held on November 14th and was attended by 9 juniors, who are all excited about being a part of Riley's Place.  They will help us with animal care and socialization, and community outreach projects.

Photo of kids with sheep

New Junior Committee Launched

We are launching our "Junior Committee."  First meeting is Saturday, November 14 at 3:00 pm.  This is a great way for children aged 8 - 15 to get involved.  They can help with animal care and socialization, facilities maintenance, fundraising and community outreach events, as well as being a great source of ideas and enthusiasm! Please R.S.V.P. to Wendy by phone 650-703-5199 or email

November 3, 2009 - Visit to Ronald McDonald House

On our November 3rd visit to Ronald McDonald House, this little girl enjoyed interacting with Kachina, the miniature horse.

Photo of girl petting horse

Riley's Place participates in Woodside Day of the Horse Festival

Riley's Place has been involved in some Community Outreach projects, including a booth at Woodside's Day of the Horse Festival; an evening presentation to students at Stanford's Branner Hall/Haas Center for Public Service; and we will be giving a presentation on November 3rd to the Redwood City Rotary Club.

October 6, 2009-- Riley's Place Visits Ronald McDonald House

Riley's Place Volunteers took Kachina, one of our mini horses, to visit the children and their families at Ronald McDonald House.  This lovely little girl, aged 1 1/2, beamed with joy when she ran her fingers through Kachina's warm, fuzzy coat.  Her mother explained to us later that she had lost her eyesight as a result of her chemotherapy treatments.

Girl with Kachina

For Immediate Release
PHS/SPCA Contact:
Scott Delucchi, 650/685-8510 or 650/255-2113

Riley’s Place Contact: Wendy Mattes, 650/703-5199

PHS/SPCA Rescues, Then Finds Homes For 10 Miniature Horses

 Society partners with Riley’s Place in Woodside

Photo of miniature horses
(San Mateo, CA) – October 2, 2009 — One week ago, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SPCA) was faced with taking 15 miniature horses into its Airport Blvd. facility and finding space among the 1,000+ animals crowding the shelter.  Today, all the horses have new homes, and PHS/SPCA has a new partner.

One of the rescued horse’s new homes is at Riley’s Place, a Woodside non-profit whose mission is to enrich the lives of Peninsula children experiencing chronic or life-threatening illnesses and/or challenging family situations such as homelessness.  Mobile and onsite program offered by Riley’s Place encourage and facilitate children’s interactions with animals, allowing them to experience the joy and healing that animals can bring.

PHS/SPCA’s urgent need for partners like Riley’s Place, adopters and foster homes began September 22 when a San Gregorio couple overwhelmed by their growing herd of horses surrendered all but two to PHS/SPCA. Three of the horses were pregnant, most were undersocialized and all required hoof trimming, veterinary checks, and de-worming medicine.

The situation could have turned into an animal cruelty situation, as it’s illegal for people who own animals to withhold necessary veterinary treatment.  This couple realized their predicament, cooperated fully and surrendered the animals to PHS/SPCA.

Soon after spreading word of the need for donated hay, foster homes and adopters, PHS/SPCA heard from a handful of interested parties.  One was Riley’s Place.  Another was Animal Assisted Happiness, a non-profit in Los Altos, which also provides animal therapy.  Three of the horses were transferred by PHS/SPCA to a farm in Lodi, CA, three to a farm in Galt, CA, and two others were adopted by local residents.

“I’d love to live on these farms,” beamed PHS/SPCA Lead Humane Investigator Christina Hanley.  “The horses have amazing homes with very knowledgeable people.”

Riley’s Place may adopt more farm animals or domestic animals from PHS/SPCA in the future.  “Helping this miniature horse find a new, great home where she will work with children and families with special needs has truly touched all of our employees,” said PHS/SPCA Sr. Vice President Scott Delucchi. “We hope to facilitate many more adoptions with Riley’s Place.”

Miniature horses weigh between 100-200 pounds, are 30-40 inches tall at the shoulder and can live between 25-35 years. They can be social and interact well with people. They can be kept as family pets, though they retain natural horse behavior and must be treated like an equine, even if they primarily serve as a companion animal.

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Photo of minature horses
9-28-09 News
Riley’s Place received word from the Peninsula Humane Society that 15 miniature horses were in need of immediate intervention. We at Riley’s Place are so happy to be able to adopt a rescued mini, providing her with a nurturing home, good care, and all the love and attention she could ever want! To be able to help children, and at the same time, to help animals, is truly a blessing.

But now we need your help more than ever! Please consider sponsoring our new mini for a month ($300), or a year ($3,600).
September 21, 2009 - Riley’s Place visits Haven Family House

On September 21, 2009 , our mini horse, Kachina, made her debut visit to bring our “Four Legged Friends on Wheels” to visit the children and families at Haven Family House in Menlo Park.  Kachina was a star, and absolutely loved the attention she received from 39 children!  Two babies had their pictures taken, sitting on her back, and the children took turns brushing her, petting her, and feeding her grass.  Welcome to the team, Kachina!  And thank you so much, Leandra Steenkamp, for generously donating this lovely little mare to our program.  She has already brought joy to many children.

photo of kids with horses

September 15, 2009 - George Hall School visits us

Starting on September 15, and running every Tuesday for four weeks, Riley’s Place, in conjunction with NCEFT, is operating our “Playdate with a Four Legged Friend” program, hosting students from George Hall School.  During their visits with us, the children rotate between driving in the mini horse cart and riding on the ATV.  And before returning to their school, they take great joy in running up the hill, climbing the tree, and swinging from the ropes.  Children spending time with animals, and enjoying nature – such joy!

When thanked for her generous spirit in volunteering every week, Nancy Elliot, DVM, commented that “I am really enjoying the time with the kids and people and critters at Riley's Place.  Thank you for the kind comments but especially for the drive to get this going and give me a chance to participate in something that gives so much to anyone involved.”

Photo of visit by George Hall School


September 1, 2009 - Riley’s Place visits Ronald McDonald House

On September 1, 2009 , Riley’s Place took our mobile “Four Legged Friends on Wheels” program to visit the children and families at Ronald McDonald House – our regular monthly visit.

We brought two mini donkeys, Willie and Wonka, and a lovely red hen named Pumpkin..  We visited about 15 children and their families.  The children took delight in brushing the donkeys, feeding them grass, and holding lovely, feathery Pumpkin!

Per Honey Meir-Levi, the Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House, “When a family stays at the House they have but one focus – the health of their child.  You contribution of the monthly animal therapy program is so important because it helps make Ronald McDonald House the place where hope has a home.”

Photo of kids with hen


New Organization Finds Home on NCEFT Campus; Brings Animals Together With Children in Need.

WOODSIDE, CA (August 1, 2009) -- The National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy (NCEFT) today welcomed to its campus Riley’s Place, a new non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children on the San Francisco Peninsula experiencing health and family challenges by facilitating their interaction with animals, allowing children to experience the joy and healing which come from spending time with animals and nature.

With a permanent site for visitors nestled within the grounds of the well-known National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy (NCEFT) in Woodside, Riley’s Place will offer free programs for children in need. There will be both a site-based visiting program with animals and an out-bound program, Four Legged Friends on Wheels, that will take animals off-site to visit children and families in need throughout the community. Funds are now being raised to run the programs and to build a new barn for the Riley’s Place animals at NCEFT.

“All of us at NCEFT are excited to be able to expand our reach into the community with the additions of the programs offered by Riley’s Place,” said Gari Merendino, Executive Director at NCEFT. “Wendy Mattes is a unique individual with the energy and heart to change the lives of these children and we are pleased to provide the environment for that to happen. We anticipate sharing our volunteer resources as well as our facility with Riley’s Place so that the children coming to Riley’s Place and the adults, children and Military Veterans who come to NCEFT experience the unique support and caring that our community has to offer.”

“We are so fortunate to have found a home for Riley’s Place on the NCEFT campus,” says Wendy Mattes, Executive Director of Riley’s P lace. “It was critical for the mission and heart of Riley’s Place to locate our site-based programs in a nurturing and supportive environment for children and their families to find peace, joy and relaxation, as well as to honor the memory of Riley Church. We expect to welcome our first on-site visitors this year, and our out-bound visiting program is already in full swing. You will see Riley’s Place volunteers and animals spreading joy and healing to the children throughout our community with visits to places of healing and comfort like Ronald McDonald House, Shelter Network shelters for homeless families, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, and also in private homes.”

About Riley’s Place
Riley’s Place was founded in 2008 by a group of caring people from the local community in honor of a young lady named Riley Church who, at the age of 14 died of brain cancer in 2006 after a two-year battle. Riley’s love of nature and all animals – especially cats, dogs, horses, lambs and goats – shaped her joyful and compassionate spirit. When Riley was no longer able to ride horses and spend time with other animals, a group of friends brought a miniature horse to visit her at home. The visit brought healing, joy and fun to Riley, her family and friends and became the inspiration for Riley’s Place and the programs that would bring the same benefits to other children in need. The site-based program and the outreach program are free. Our mission is to serve children with chronic or life threatening illness, children who are homeless, or children who have never had an opportunity to experience or appreciate the healthful benefits of interacting with animals and nature. To schedule a visit from Riley’s Place animals and volunteers, or to find out more about the programs, plans and how to donate to Riley’s Place please visit , or call/email Wendy Mattes, Executive Director (650) 703-5199.

NCEFT is a non-profit, California 501(c)(3) corporation that improves the lives of children and adults with disabilities by providing equine-assisted therapy and equine assisted activities and promoting research and education in the field of hippo therapy.


Contacts: Gari Merendino, Executive Director Wendy Mattes, Executive Director
NCEFT Riley’s Place
(650)-851-2271 (650) 703-5199

Statement of Values and Code of Ethics

  • Commitment to excellence, accountability and maintaining the public trust
  • Respect for the worth and dignity of all individuals
  • Inclusiveness and social justice
  • Respect for pluralism and diversity
  • Responsible stewardship of resources, transparency, integrity and honesty
  • Respect for and responsible stewardship of the horses that serve NCEFT
Our Facility
The NCEFT facility includes a fully restored 1920 dairy barn with additional paddocks to accommodate over 50 horses.  Two arenas with state-of-the-art footing and an Outpatient Physical and Occupational Therapy Clinic supports year-round programs.
“Every square foot of the NCEFT property is utilized for healing and hope
for individuals, families and horses. “
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