We have 4 core volunteers who are job coaches, board members, office support staff, animal and participant transporters, and grant writers.
Volunteers also assist us when we are away from the farm at a parade, donkey show or at the Newport Farmers Market. They assist us with gardening advice; planting and watering assistance, baking donations, vegetable donations and supply donations.
Margaret Coulter – Job Coach/President
Newport resident and lifelong equestrian Margaret Coulter brings a wide range of life’s experience to Road to Independence.
With a BA from Colby Sawyer College, Margaret has worked in numerous fields in the area. Margaret worked as a direct service provider for Turning Points Network; managed the Lake Sunapee Area Lodging Bureau; worked in guest services, as a lift attendant and snowmaker at Mount Sunapee Resort. She was the founder and co-owner of a retail children’s shop in New London. Margaret also worked as a photo lab technician and photographer at Sierra Photo and at Mt. Sunapee Resort. She is currently on the Board of Directors at the Newport Montessori School. In her spare time she competes her Cleveland Bay mare is starting at a D level in the Pony Club HorseMasters Program.
She is an advocate for her 52 year-old developmentally disabled brother, for as long as she can remember. She has been his job coach, medical care advocate, and community advocate as well. She knows first-hand the happiness and heartache of the developmentally disabled community.
Jim Sawyer – Job Coach/Vice President
Newport resident Jim Sawyer brings to Road to Independence a wide spectrum of experiences. A chef by trade, Jim has been a home provider for individuals with developmental disabilities since 2003.
In 2006, Independent Services Network, a local agency providing services for the developmentally disabled, hired Jim part-time for one-on-one work with a consumer with Down syndrome. Jim provided community and job support to this individual. This position grew into a full time position in which Jim provided community and job support for this consumer, and an additional 14 consumers in a range of settings. Jim has extensive training in the field. This training includes medicine certification for home care, Strategies for Limiting Violent Episodes training, CPR and Blood-borne Pathogen Training. He also has training in working with Grand Mal seizures. His home is state certified for emergency respite for up to two clients and he has worked with NH Housing Authority assisting clients and families in obtaining safe housing. Jim has also provided individual job coaching in the Upper Valley area.
In addition, Jim has been a coach for NH Special Olympics Connecticut Valley Team and support coach for the New England Handicapped Ski Association at Mt. Sunapee.
Dawn Bozogan Secretary /Traveling Job Coach/Horticulture Advisor
Newport resident Dawn Bozogan brings a lifelong interest and knowledge of and about gardening and horticulture to Road To Independence. She and her husband have donated their expertise, greenhouse space, supplies, plants and produce to our program.
Dawn brings to us a wide range of office experience in the community. She has been a bookkeeper for a local business, office manager for a local photography studio and marina. In addition she was a secretary and medical biller for Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. She recently retired from her position at Sullivan County UNH Coorperative Extension as an administrative assistant providing support to all Extension Educators. She has been a 4-H volunteer for four years . She had helped teach the photography, clothing and textiles, and gardening projects for the ten member group. She has also been instrumental in organizing their community service projects.
Dawn’s organizational skills make her an instrumental part of our traveling team when we are out and about in the community. She is an enthusiastic member of our “costume development team” and loves spending time with Kemo.
Chakola’s Place Donkeys – Support Staff
Donkeys/Burros/Asses are all names for the same animal. “Donkey” is the English name, the Spanish name is “burro” and the Latin is “Assinus”, commonly called ass. In the US the most frequently seen donkeys are the standard donkeys.
A mix of many breeds, colors and types, the standard donkey is divided into three sizes:
- Small standard – 37″ to 40″
- Standard – 41″ to 48″
- Large standard – 49′ to 54″
In addition to the Standard size donkeys, there are the Miniature donkeys, those under 36″ tall and large donkeys which are called American Mammoth Jackstock. These donkeys start at 54″ for females (called jennets or jennys) and 56″ for the males (called jacks; castrated males are referred to as geldings.).
Donkeys of all sizes can be used in many ways. When well treated, they are willing to do most things that they are asked to do. All sizes may be ridden, obviously the miniature are only suitable for smaller children.
They can be driven to a cart, used to pack and the larger ones are courageous guard animals.
They are often great alarm systems, alerting everyone to visitors. They are very often kept as babysitters for other equines, and as general pets.
The donkeys at Chakola’s Place come in a variety of sizes and perform a variety of activities, all in the name of fun.
In the summer and fall we participate in a variety of donkey shows in NH, CT and MA. At these shows, we compete in in-hand classes, showmanship classes, driving classes, obstacle classes, costume and game classes as well as coon jumping classes. At one time donkeys were used to hunt raccoon as they could jump obstacles, such as stone walls, from a stand still. A coon jumping competition involves jumping a single rail from a stand still. The donkey that clears the highest rail wins. We have walked with the Sullivan County Democrats in two local Old Home Day Parades.
Additionally, we take walks through the woods down to the nearby “Goshen Ocean” on hot summer days. Penny’s donkeys have introduced many children and adults to the joys of working with animals.
A total of 7 donkeys live at Chakola’s Place. Five are mini donkeys, one is a standard and one is a mammoth donkey. Each donkey has a definte personality. While each donkey can be counted on to respond calmly and reliably in any given situation , each donkey will have their own opinion on the matter.
Circle C Mattie – “Mattie”was born in Alberta Canada in 1991 and imported by Penny de Peyer. She is what is called a frosted sorrel color at 25 she is the elder stateswoman of the farm. As the oldest and the most reserved, she is our go to donkey for individuals who might be a little bit timid or walking through an obstacle course for the first time. Mattie pulls a cart and is always a good sport about however we outfit her.
Chakola’s Nutmeg was born in 1998 and is a dark brown jenny. She has had several foals. She has been ridden and regularly competes at the shows in the miniature classes. She is also in the early stages of learning how to drive or pull a cart. She is owned and bred by Penny de Peyer.
Chakola’s Pepper is an 9 year old, miniature black jenny. She is Nutmegs’ daughter. Peppper is a veteran of the show ring. She is a favorite with the Sunapee Students She is in the early stages of driving. Pepper is our visiting therapy donkey and has never hesitated to go any of the places we have asked her to visit! She has even made a home visit.
Chakola’s Sprite born in NH in 2003 is a miniature grey jenny. She competes regularly at shows and when she feels like it is a great jumper! Sprite is turning out to be another great therapy donkey and has started joining Pepper on visits to Woodlawn. She has also been inside to visit in their living room.
Chakola’s Pimpernel is a miniature sorrel jenny born in 2000. While she can be opinionated when led with confidence she will do what is asked of her. She was bred and is owned by Penny de Peyer.
The largest donkey on the farm is Chakola’s Okemo. She is a jenny born in 2002 in NH and is owned and bred by Penny de Peyer. Kemo looks like a pure bred Poitou but is in fact only a part bred. She exhibits the long hair and all other characteristics of the pure bred. The Poitou Donkey is the hairiest and most endangered donkey in the world. Kemo competes in the Mammoth classes and is a favorite among participants who like to groom the donkeys.
Durango is a 15 yo old gelding. He is Pepper’s father. (He was gelded in October). We have started working with him in the hopes that he can join our Road To Independence herd.