Stark County’s new Military Family Center will host a free open House for military veterans, first responders, Gold Star and Blue Star families from 1 to 4 p.m. July 29 at 5495 Meese Rd., Nimishillen Township. The Military Family Center benefits veterans, active duty military members, safety force personnel and their families. It is a collaboration between Walsh University, Pegasus Farm and Rotary International.

Open House attendees will enjoy the Military Family Center’s country farmlike setting and family friendly activities including horse care, grooming and safety demonstrations, food truck, ice cream, face painting, HORSE basketball tournament, children’s crafts, roping demonstration, bean bag toss, blacksmith and more. Tours of the Military Family Center and an overview of its services will also be available, along with information booths from local organizations providing services for families of veterans, active duty military personnel and first-responders.

In the case of rain, the event will be moved indoors to the Center’s indoor riding arena.

Launched this spring, the Military Family Center is a comprehensive, community-based activities center for veterans, active duty military and safety force personnel and their families offering equine therapy. Located on a farm in Nimishillen Township, the center was designed with the goal to create a family friendly community venue for military families and first responders to interact with each other in a safe and peaceful environment. Therapy services are optional and provided upon request.

Rotary International Districts 6650, 3131, 3132 and The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International first initiated the development of a Stark County program designed to meet the critical needs of veterans, active duty military and first responders and their families. Rotary partnered with accredited therapeutic equestrian center Pegasus Farm to provide equine activities as a proven, effective treatment for post-traumatic stress syndrome, brain injury, and other physical and emotional conditions. Equine activity helps veterans and first-responders reduce anxiety and frustration, enabling them to let go of problems and increase social connectedness. Walsh University will offer clinical services including occupational therapy, physical therapy and mental health counseling. To ensure that the Military Family Center can respond to the needs of veterans and their families, clinical services will be provided by Walsh University professionals and students as well as volunteer community professionals.

Pegasus Farm will serve as the center’s fiscal agent, manager of the on-site therapeutic equine center and property manager of the newly purchased property on Meese Road. Grant support has been provided from local foundations and the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International for equipment and training for the OT, PT and exercise activities.