By Meagan Ellsworth,

Henry’s Home is starting out the new year with a new tractor thanks to the generosity of others.

The horse and human sanctuary’s herd of helpers has been manually hauling hay since its old blue tractor has been on the fritz. Founder Donna Stedman and volunteers were able to keep 11 full size horses, one mini horse, one mini donkey, one mini mule, six barn cats, and one pig safe from Hurricane Harvey in late August. But the downgraded tropical storm’s flood waters submerged the old tractor, along with the breakroom, bathrooms, tack room, supplements, 100 bales of hay and $2,000 in feed.

Stedman said Lewis Walker of the Houston-based Hot Headz Marine donated parts and labor to get the old tractor running a few times until it cranked its last time in December. That’s when John Haynes of Investment Advisory Services of The Woodlands stepped in.

“He asked me what I needed,” Stedman said. “What we needed more than anything right now is a tractor.”

Little did Stedman know Haynes’ business was planning to make a year-end donation. He returned about a week later with a check for $12,000, which paid for half of the cost of a new tractor “Big Red” that was delivered about a week ago. The remaining portion is being financed by Henry’s Home.

“Well I’m absolutely positive it brought tears to my eyes,” Stedman said. “It just blew me away. I was just so grateful and so emotional. You can try to imagine us with just muck buckets wheel barrels, and donated golf cart go twice as hard and slow.”

This year instead of fruit baskets, the company surprised its clients with Christmas cards telling the story about how their business helped by Henry’s Home a new tractor, which has a front-end loader, mower and trailer and is being used to support the volunteers in their efforts to care for the horses and maintain the property. Haynes shared he and his company, which also gave $7,500 to Henry’s Home as well as $7,500 to the Montgomery County Women’s Center after being selected for the “Be Greater Award” by Fidelity Investments last year was happy to help.

“When the flood happened we just wanted to do something that would help in the recovery of someone here locally and providing Henry’s Home with a new tractor provided a good opportunity for us,” Haynes said. “… It was a fun time. I had not been to Henry’s Home since the flood and it was just great to see them getting back to normal.

But it’s more than a tractor. It’s a means to continue building Stedman’s vision from God that began in 1994 to provide rehabilitation for both horses and humans with a free invitation for veterans. Henry’s Home now offers a free invitation to first responders and their families as well.

“We were able to provide a little financial support, but it’s the volunteers going out every day to take care of the horses and all the other animals, “Haynes said. … It’s really their efforts that make the difference out there. It is just great to help give them something that will multiply their efforts and that will help them with work they are doing.”

That’s not the only good news. Henry’s Home also received a $10,000 check from a retired personal friend, Bob Graves, which went towards the purchase of a truck for Henry’s Home. The owner of the Mercedes dealership in The Woodlands pitched in $16,000 to cover the remaining cost of the much-needed truck.

“Oh my God, it is such a blessing,” Stedman said.

The support continues to grow including a with a $10,000 grant awarded by the Petco Foundation to help take care of new hay, grain, and vet bills. The sanctuary is now the home to two more horses and a dog, who also had to have two surgeries.

“We had a lot of vet bills because of the flood,” she said. “Chandler (a horse) suffered a stone bruise from walking out on gravel that turned into an abscess in both front feet (hooves) and took about two months to heal. We had to have a vet out to help. Every new horse we get have to get vaccinations, teeth, do full check-ups and that helped pay for the cost.”

But the main need now is spreading the word to more veterans and first responders.

“We do open houses out here,” Stedman said. “If any veterans or first responders want to bring their family out just to try it and see if it’s something they might like. We are happy to do that. … One veteran family has a son who is Autistic that comes out every week and does a session. The mom tells us after every single session he doesn’t get in trouble at school. We can’t open up to all kids with Autism but any kids who are having trouble with a first responder or veteran (parent) can get involved as long as their parents join them.