JEFFERSON COUNTY, NE — Commissioners in a southeast Nebraska county are committing funds to help a non-profit.

The Jefferson County Commissioners approved donating $65,000 to Whispering Acres.

The small farm located just north of the HWY 136 and HWY 103 in Jefferson County offers services to help people who are struggling with essentially anything.

Founder Jill Kuzelka spoke with the commissioners about Whispering Acres's programs. She says the goal is to add new programs without having to turn anyone away.

"We're also trying to sustain the ones we have," Kuzelka said. "[Programs] like Take The Reins. That's where we any kind of individual with any kind of challenge they may have. Those are the kids with autism, we have a young man that has schizophrenia that still comes to see us. I'm working with a young lady who is an alcoholic and because of the work she's put in out there she has decided to go to rehab."

Kuzelka says they also have activities, such as Reins of Resiliency, geared toward kids in the adoption and foster care systems.

The money, which will come from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and the recent national opioid settlement, will help ensure Kuzelka has the staff to run the activities and low-income families have access to the programs.

According to Kuzelka, Whispering Acres has about 12 kids/families on a wait list to come out for services, but she would need more staff to accommodate everyone. 

Kuzelka said one possible solution would be to bring on someone solely for riding instructing, but she is hesitant because the kids may miss out on help her and some of her staff are certified to provide.

"Just about every kid, even though some come out, say, just for riding lessons, they have some baggage we can help with," Kuzelka said. "Every single one of them, whether its just anxiety, self-confidence or self-worth."

Whispering Acres has a stable with horses for its Equine Assisted Learning programs like those described above. It also offers certain camps in the Summer and has a petting zoo with about 80 animals for other activities.