By: Jodi Hale
Christopher and Amanda Moore are all about second chances. Friends since the age of 12, they traveled the country as competitive dance partners, loving city life and always aiming for bigger and better. “We were working extremely hard to climb the corporate ladder, to get pushed down and climb it again and again,” said Amanda. “We realized that in all of this time that we spent trying to get to the top, we were not really leaving an impact or leaving a mark on the world for better.”
That realization had the Moore’s re-evaluating their goals and, in 2009, they found themselves pursuing a cause so completely different from anything they had done before: redeeming neglected, abused and slaughtered-bound horses. Their purpose? To pair the animals with foster kids and at-risk youth and families in an effort to mend broken hearts and instill hope. With this philosophy at the heart of their mission, Chris and Amanda founded the non-profit organization, Reigning Grace Youth Ranch.
What started out as a small, husband and wife operation, Reigning Grace Youth Ranch is now an organization that has taken on a life of its own, with close to 70 volunteers who mentor around 50 kids during each eight-week program. “The average age group at the ranch would be about 12-years-old,” said Amanda. “Each child receives 18 hours of mentorship by a volunteer mentor and horse counselor.”
The Ranch uses a unique approach to working with the rehabilitated horses, keeping them in a heard environment and “allowing them to be the expert communicators they were designed to be” Chris explains. The mentoring program takes on a distinctive approach as well, with one horse, one mentor and one child, designed to increase self-confidence and awareness of both one’s self and others.
While Amanda spends her time on the development of the children’s curriculum, working alongside the volunteers and seeing to the facilities upkeep, Chris focuses his attention on donor relations, ranch communications and working as a session leader for the children. Together, they feel incredibly blessed. “When children complete their eight week session, we find they are happier, more confident and better communicators who are aware of how their actions impact not only themselves, but the people around them.”
Amanda considers one of their greatest accomplishments “the reputation that the ranch is a place where the world is not allowed in and giving hope and second chances to those who didn’t think they would get another shot.” Adds Chris, “Our team is truly a family that is growing every week, along with the number of children and families we get the honor of serving. We are strong believers in what hope can do when a horse, child or family realizes they are worth it.”
Chris and Amanda have two adopted daughters, Amber, 15 and Alicia, 29. Together they have over 20 years of experience working with children, teenagers and horses. To learn more about Reigning Grace Youth Ranch, visit azrgr.org.
Jodi Hale is an editorial/advertising assistant for North Phoenix Family Magazine as well as a freelance writer. The mother of three amazing boys ages 7, 12 and 14, she has served on the PTA board of their school for more than 7 years, collaborating with teachers, staff and community members to enrich the learning environment for all students through positive and engaging educational experiences. Jodi also volunteers as a public relations specialist for Musical Theatre of Anthem, promoting the theater’s year-round training opportunities and award-winning productions. She loves reading, free-hand drawing, creating props, and raising her boys to embrace life with purpose.