Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm, 450 Lowell St., Andover, Massachusetts 01810


Therapy with more horsepower

Therapy with more horsepower

Therapy with more horsepowerTherapy with more horsepower

Ironstone update on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Message from our executive director, March 27, 2020

To our friends,  

I hope you are well and safe as we all settle into the “new reality” of Covid-19.The impact at Ironstone Farm has been profound – here is what has happened in only two weeks:

  • 30 staff members have had to be let go, now joining the unemployment ranks.
  • The remaining 12 staff members are on drastically reduced hours to ensure the horses are fed and cared for, and fundraising can continue.
  • All construction on our long-awaited Veterans Retreat Farmhouse has stopped.
  • Volunteers continued to help for a while but we have now stopped all volunteer participation (our most unpopular decision!).
  • Vendors have been approached to seek extensions for paying operating bills.
  • The Ironstone Derby, Run for the Troops and our first annual golf tournament – our three spring support events – have all been postponed to fall or next      year.

Our normal reality is an operating budget of about $130,000 each month, with support being 55% earned and 45% contributed through special events and donations. We have cut those expenses through lay-offs and vendor extensions to about $50,000 per month – bare bones for survival. The new reality is that we have no revenues from fees for service or special event fundraising, extended payments that will need to be paid, and so far no government intervention beyond a small small-business loan application that hasn’t yet yielded funds. 

WE NEED HELP!  Many of you have sent support – for which we can’t thank you enough. We appeal again today to all our friends to reach into whatever resources you may have and to help us keep Ironstone Farm going through this difficult time by clicking here – so we can be there for the people we serve – who will need us more than ever when this is over! 

Deedee O’Brien
Executive Director

Message from our executive director, March 19, 2020

Dear friends,
By now, your life and the lives of everyone at Ironstone Farm have been impacted by the coronavirus. Together, we can and will face a new reality in the months and years ahead.
At Ironstone Farm, we have joined most other nonprofit service organizations in suspending all programs – for the safety of our people and to support the global effort to curtail the Covid-19 spread. We are optimistically assessing every two weeks, but there isn’t a definitive re-open date in the foreseeable future. This means tightening our financial belts on all fronts. Our board has been working all week to determine what expenses are necessary and what we can do without – creating a whole new “Covid-19 Budget.”
With this I ask you to consider helping our nonprofit get through this difficult time. Besides typical overhead, we have 34 horses to feed and care for – our four-legged staff – that we can’t just turn off in a crisis! A financial gift of any amount will go a long way to help us keep them fed and cared for during this time, while also keeping the lights on. You can make an important donation online to our nonprofit, Challenge Unlimited at Ironstone Farm, by clicking here.
We know that losing the intervention of our horses and farm is already a hardship on the people we serve: the child with spasticity not getting the movement of the horse to help with mobility, the senior with memory impairment stuck back in the nursing home without the joy of animal connection, the teens with behavior disorder who are now at home without the calming influence of our horses, the veteran with PTSD who so looks forward to involvement at Ironstone Farm to relieve the anxieties and depressions that plague them. We want to be there for all of them - ASAP! Our ability to provide therapy and educational programs is now jeopardized by the prospect of weeks with no revenues. Our staff and volunteers are already making personal sacrifices to help. We ask you to join them with a gift of any amount.
On behalf of all of us – we hope you and your extended families are and remain safe and healthy. Thank you for being such an important part of the Ironstone spirit!
Best regards always,
Deedee O’Brien
Executive Director

Updated March 12, 2020


Ironstone Farm is cancelling all therapies, lessons and programs at our nonprofit through at least Sunday, March 22, given the rapidly evolving nature of the novel coronavirus global-health situation.

The safety and health of our clients, volunteers, staff and friends is always our top priority at Ironstone Farm. Given what is known about the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and the hands-on nature of our programs, our organization wants to make every possible contribution to containing the spread of this virus and ensuring the health of our community.

We will reassess the evolving situation each Thursday and then update our website and email all clients and volunteers who registered to be part of our springtime programs. While we will take this week-by-week, as of now the earliest that Ironstone’s programs would recommence is Monday, March 23. 

Those who miss sessions or lessons as a result of this health emergency can receive a credit toward use in the next block (Block 3). We will not be able to make-up or refund these sessions given the impact on our nonprofit. We hope we can all pitch in together to find solutions during this time.

We will continue to be in contact with the Andover Health Division and review information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and top state and local health officials to ensure our polices align with or surpass the latest recommended preventative measures. 

Our decision was made after much consultation with professionals dealing with this fast-moving crisis. We ask that everyone join with us in supporting the effort to stop the spread by understanding our decision and working with us as we move forward in this uncharted territory. Again, we will post an official update on week-to-week cancellation decisions every Thursday evening both on our website and via Constant Contact email messaging. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Andover Health Division are providing frequent updates and recommendations, and can help people stay informed about the novel coronavirus. 

We hope you are all safe and look forward to sharing happy times with you in the near future.