Christine Cronin laughed and said that, in her hands, the Internet – specifically Pinterest – can be a dangerous thing.She’s the founder and director of Wings of Eagles Ranch, a therapeutic horseback riding center in Concord. She had saved enough money to give a facelift to the old farmhouse on the 88-acre property. She knew she wanted to add a big front porch to use as a gathering place for her summer camp kids. Then she started looking at those Pinterest photos and got her heart set on a big porch of stone. “I went from needing just a little work done to a great big project,” she said.Cronin calls herself a penny pincher. Money is tight at the ranch, which relies heavily on volunteers and donations to fulfill its mission: “To instill confidence and improve the physical and mental condition of adults and children with special needs and the youth at risk, through organized therapeutic horseback riding, high and low rope adventures and other outdoor activities, set in a peaceful, invigorating, Christian atmosphere.”So with a bigger vision than wallet, Cronin looked for a solution and found it at Mount Pleasant High School. Having heard about the outstanding masonry program there, she contacted teacher Ryan Shaver to see whether he could help. With the full support of principal Edie Sayewich, Shaver and his senior masonry students were able to travel the 6 miles to Wings of Eagles Ranch every day for a couple of weeks and build Cronin’s dream porch.Shaver said it was a great opportunity for his students. “They got a real-world work experience, with a real-world boss: me,” he said, laughing. The boys got to see a different side of him on the work site, he said. They had to work hard to get the project done in a limited amount of time. “They were like ants,” Cronin said of the dozen or so students who worked on the project. “People will be blown away” when they see the new porch, she said. “It’s gorgeous!”Cronin was so thankful to the students for all their hard work that she rewarded them all with a trip down the zipline on the ranch property. For the aspiring masons, that was the icing on the cake. “We really had a good time,” Shaver said of the entire experience.For Ryan Shaver and many of his students, this was their first exposure to Wings of Eagles Ranch. Now that they have a better understanding of the work that goes on there, Shaver said, they are all impressed and glad they were able to help.Cronin said most people who aren’t connected to the special-needs community are unaware of the ranch and the work it does. Last year, almost 300 high-risk and special-needs kids attended summer camp at Wings of Eagles. This year they’ll have a great new gathering place for summer camp, thanks to some hardworking young men.
Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
Mount Pleasant High masonry students build charity’s ‘dream porch’
For information about Wings of Eagles Ranch, go to www.wingsofeaglesranch.org.
Marcia Morris is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marcia? Email her at EasternCabarrusWriter@gmail.com.
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