ECCF’s Webster Family Fund helps Ironstone Farm

Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm was awarded a $5,000 grant during the fall of 2015, from the Webster Family Fund, a fund of the Essex County Community Foundation. Ironstone Farm expected to use the money to help install a new heating system in its original therapy building, replacing the system installed by the nonprofit in 1997. Family members watching their children enjoy their horseback-riding therapy in the farm building also will benefit from improved heating system.

Ironstone Farm is in the middle of a multi-million-dollar capital campaign to renovate its facilities and expand its nonprofit programs. It has both heated indoor and scenic outdoor facilities and is open six days a week, 12 months a year.

The Webster Family Fund was formed in 2005 when the D.K. Webster Family Foundation transferred its assets into a field of interest fund at the Essex County Community Foundation. The fund supports capital projects at nonprofit organizations serving the Greater Lawrence community.


Essex County Community Foundation is a convener, teacher, grantor and investment manager for Essex County’s donors and nonprofits. Together, the foundation and its community of philanthropists raise charitable funds and nonprofit assets, give effective grants and strategic counsel, and teach nonprofit leaders management skills, best practices and economies of scale. Learn more at


Ironstone Farm is home to the nonprofit organizations Challenge Unlimited and Ironstone Therapy. Its programs combine several powerful therapies into one effective program for children and adults with special needs. Clients are referred to Ironstone Therapy by top doctors and institutions. Ironstone uses the dynamic motion of a horse, which mimics the walking motion of a person and works multiple muscle groups at once. The inviting atmosphere of a farm improves social interactions and makes therapy a “want to” event rather than a “have to” session.

Additional programs at Ironstone Farm benefit people living with cancer, veterans who have experienced trauma, elders with memory issues, teens at risk and others. A new Arts and Education Center for youth and young adults with special needs opened in 2015.

Clients come to Ironstone Farm from more than 90 communities in the Merrimack Valley, Greater Boston and Southern New Hampshire areas. More than 200 people each week volunteer their time because they know their donated work changes lives.

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