PHOTOS BY CARRIE ALLEN
Visit Hinds’ Feet Farm in Huntersville, NC, and you’re sure to hear the name Puddin Foil mentioned almost immediately – and always with great love and respect!
Carolyn “Puddin” Johnson Van Every Foil’s vision for Hinds’ Feet Farm began in 1984, when her youngest son, Phil, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle crash. She founded this non-profit to serve her son and others like him, after the Foil family found services and support for young adults with brain injuries were very limited. Puddin then made it her life’s work to establish a loving, caring environment where survivors could still reach their potential, even after a serious injury.
Drawing on her deep, personal faith, Puddin found inspiration for the name Hinds’ Feet Farm from a favorite bible scripture found in Habakkuk 3:19: “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
“Our mission is to carry on her dream” says Beth Callahan, Director of Member Services. “We offer opportunities that maximize the post-injury potential of persons living with brain injury, through integrated, unique, and holistic programs; our members pursue meaningful activities, while developing a sense of belonging at home and in their communities.”
To know Puddin was to feel her spirit for quietly charming and influencing others to do and be their very best. She has left her mark on a place that now allows members to pursue a quality of life that keeps them out of harm’s way. Puddin imagined this opportunity for others to be an influence politically and socially on broad scales, but also on a local, individual scale for the people who live here and who visit the farm.
“She ‘put her stamp’ on everything here at the Farm, a stamp that’s still visible today and will hopefully remain for many years to come,” says Beth.
Individuals with brain injuries — and their families — are often vulnerable to medical and rehabilitation providers, as well as public health systems that have not fully grasped what is necessary to serve the best interest of this group.
Hinds’ Feet Farm exists to serve adults, 18 years and older, with the median age being mid-40s. Their programs are designed to meet as many people across the brain injury disability spectrum as possible. Puddin’s Place – a six-bed family care home – is best suited for folks who need full-time care and assistance with the normal tasks of everyday living (bathing, eating, dressing, toilet use). A three-bed supported living home, Hart Cottage, is for members with fewer needs – mainly frequent reminders to stay on task and regular support for overall safety and wellness. The Day Programs serve them, along with folks who live more independently in the surrounding area. Families and volunteers are always welcome!
“Individuals with brain injuries recover at different rates and they may continue to make gains for years after their injury given the proper environment. Offering functional rehabilitative support during all activities is something we strive to do,” explains Beth. “Rehab works, and we all know that once you stop doing something you may lose what gains you’ve made.”
Both residential and day programs at Hinds’ Feet Farm offer opportunities for members to improve everyday functions, from eating or dressing, to communicating and interacting with socially with others. Brain injuries can leave individuals feeling isolated and lonely, and their physical, mental, and emotional health needs are important. Hinds’ Feet Farm offers opportunities for members through its direct care staff, recreational therapy, and a functional rehabilitation environment that brings out and supports these areas of life. Happily, authentic farm life naturally lends itself to a “real life” experience, with constant upkeep, and members gathered to share a meal on the porch, play pool, listen to music, or master a workout. When members choose to participate in the therapeutic horse-riding experience, Hinds’ Feet Farm has a certified PATH instructor, Alison Spasoff. She, along with a small group of local trained volunteers will assist members interested in riding.
“One of the things we are most proud of is the Unmasking Brain Injury Project (unmaskingbraininjury.org),” explains Beth. “This has become the largest international grass roots program to raise awareness for people with brain injuries across the globe.”
Donations to help further the work at Hinds’ Feet Farm are always appreciated – visit the website hindsfeetfarm.org. Volunteers are always welcome, and may provide the daily care needed for horses, help with frequent landscaping and maintenance projects, and other special events throughout the year. Groups can donate community service hours, and the staff is always open to training and educating new volunteers. Hinds’ Feet Farm is located at 14625 Black Farms Road in Huntersville. For more information on their programs call 704-992-1424 or visit hindsfeetfarm.org.