Greensboro – Project Horseshoe Farm
Growing Community One Person at a Time
Greensboro is not your typical small Alabama town. There’s a perceptible energy here. That energy is evident on Main Street, which has been transformed in recent years. It’s peppered with quaint, restored storefronts like Pie Lab restaurant and nonprofit Hero Bikes. In 2017, A 1 gym and The Stable coffee shop opened their doors. Two student teams from Auburn University’s Rural Studio are building innovative architectural projects just off the main road.
Perhaps one of the most captivating projects is the old Greensboro Hotel. It has been renovated to house nonprofit Project Horseshoe Farm, which offers programs for young students as well as older adults and many people in between. These programs change lives here in ways that make a lasting, positive difference.
Since 2007, Project Horseshoe Farm has worked to promote independent living and healthcare access for senior citizens and adults in need of more personalized, day-to-day assistance in the Greensboro community. As healthcare costs continue to rise and state budgets experience increased strain, nonprofits like Horseshoe Farm have found creative and cost-effective ways to meet residents’ needs.
The organization offers a wide range of services to the Greensboro community, including a residential program for women, a day program for adults to enjoy fellowship and access to a nurse, an afterschool program and rural training for medical school hopefuls. All of these different pieces form something special.
Thanks to grants from funders like the Alabama Power Foundation, Project Horseshoe Farm has been able to expand its reach. As a rural training site, Project Horseshoe Farm is positioned to grow into an important training hub for health professionals.
At the heart of Project Horseshoe Farm’ s efforts are its fellows. Each year, about 10 college graduates from across the U.S. move to Greensboro for 13 months. Fellows immerse themselves in the community, facilitating the programs and administering the organization. Each fellow works with several community members, accompanying them to doctor appointments or helping them with transportation to and from the agency’s adult outreach programs.
“We think of the fellows as really helpful neighbors,” says Project Horseshoe Farm founder and director Dr. John Dorsey. During their time in Greensboro, fellows gain experience in community health education, nonprofit management, social entrepreneurship and service leadership.
Emily Follo, a past fellow and current medical student at Tufts University, spent one of her medical school rotations in Greensboro. “This experience working with all different kinds of people really prepared me for medical school,” says Follo. “And it was reassuring to see that I can practice medicine in a way that’s not just confined to a hospital.”
Follo hopes to apply what she learned at Project Horseshoe Farm in her future practice. “I want to have a clinic like this, where I can see patients but have my practice connected to a community center.”
The adult day programs are just one service in Horseshoe Farm’s full range of offerings: primary care medicine, pharmacy access, social and mental health services, nutrition counseling, meals and exercise. This holistic approach promotes quality of life, decreases the financial burden on state institutions and could serve as a model for comprehensive care centers throughout rural America.
“People are asking what’s going to happen to rural communities and rural healthcare,” says Dorsey. “And the answer is that you’re going to have to do something different. And I think that there are elements of what we are doing here that can be translated into many different communities.”
The agency offers valuable experience to elementary, middle and high school students through its after-school program, which focuses on employability as a motivator. “We rate students at the end of the day on how employable they were during the day, and why,” says Dorsey. “They’re learning the real world value in working hard, being honest and other traits that employers will look for.”
Students engage in projects that develop communication skills, financial budgeting and time- management abilities, all while allowing them to give back to the community. “We believe this program is preparing students for future success,” says Dorsey. “Our employability program could become a model for in-school and after-school employment-preparedness programs for middle and high school students.
“There’s so much more we can do,” he adds. “We’re really very much at our early stages. Even though we’ve done a lot in 10 years, I think there’s really a lot more potential here in Greensboro. I’m very grateful for our relationship with Greensboro and the support that we’ve gotten from the town. And I want to really develop the program further.”