While 2020 will always be remembered as the year that separated us, it also introduced new ways for us to come together. Technology like Zoom has made it easy to connect with friends across the globe, and recently, Happy Hill Farm used it to join together friends and supporters with alumni and students—for a celebration of the exciting ways God has used Happy Hill Farm to transform the lives of countless children over the last 45 years.
If you missed the live event, take a few moments to meet Happy Hill Farm students and alumni who shared their stories and what they love about Happy Hill Farm.
Alumni Serving Our Country
Captain Heather R. Shepard shared about her time at Happy Hill Farm from 2007 to 2009 as a Junior and Senior in High School. Before coming to Happy Hill Farm, Heather did not know what her future might bring.
“Before I came to Happy Hill Farm, I didn’t have hope. I didn’t know what life beyond my childhood would look like. Kids who come to Happy Hill Farm are missing hope. They are missing opportunities to change their lives. And when you donate and support Happy Hill Farm, that is what you are offering to them. You are showing them that you understand where they are coming from, but that it doesn’t have to be that way. The ability to be able to paint a picture — a vision of the future for me — and to know that I can achieve this because someone gave me an opportunity is priceless.”
Heather is now a Captain in the United States Air Force where she has spent the last year as an Aircraft Software Program Manager, working on the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Heather also shared how much her time at Happy Hill Farm taught her to be a servant to others. “I love serving my country, and I work to give back to my community every chance I can. I strive to live a life of service because of what was given me at Happy Hill Farm.”
Inspiring Kids Through Design
Panashé Siachitema came to Happy Hill Farm from Zimbabwe in 2009 and spent eight years at the Farm before graduating in 2018. He is currently studying Architecture Design at Texas Tech University and plans to graduate with his master’s degree in Architecture while completing an internship with HKS, Inc., a leading international architecture design firm.
As President of the National Organization for Minority Architects at Texas Tech, Panashé works to connect with the local community — spearheading outreach programs to work with local children to educate and inspire them through architecture. Panashé is paying forward what he received at Happy Hill Farm.
“Everything I experienced at Happy Hill Farm from school to sports has made me who I am today — the leader I am today. Each year, I always reflect on my time at the Farm. I feel so blessed by the care I felt from everyone at Happy Hill Farm and the donors who want students like me to have a place where they can get an education, grow spiritually, and realize the opportunities I was given. Thank you.”
Meet Students — Paul and Simeon
Paul is thirteen years old and has been at the Farm for three years. He loves horsemanship, and he is a very talented rider. When asked about the equestrian program, he shared, “When I first came here, I didn’t know what to do for after-school activities. Then I saw there was horsemanship, and I had never done that before, so I decided to enroll. When I went for the first time, I was a little scared because the horses were very big, but after a couple of weeks, I warmed up to them. It made me more responsible — keeping track of things, taking care of things. I’ve learned to respect horses and to congratulate them when they do something good. I pat them on the neck. That’s a way of saying. ‘good job.’”
Paul’s favorite subjects include Reading, Science, and English. When asked what he is most grateful for, Paul shared, “Having brothers. At home, I have three sisters, but they’re not like having brothers, and there is a special bond between brothers that I can have here. Sometimes we argue, but most of the time we are having fun with each other and being competitive outside playing four square, basketball, and other games.”
The children at Happy Hill Farm come from so many different backgrounds —like Simeon — who has a very unique story. Simeon was born in Senegal. His parents are missionaries currently living and working with the people in Senegal. When asked what it was like moving from Africa to the United States, he shared, “I used to visit here, so I knew a little bit about what it is like living here, but the culture is very different. We eat from the same bowl in Senegal. I grew up living in villages. It was very different.”
Simeon is now a senior in high school. He focuses his time on academics and plans to attend Trinity University pursuing a degree in civil engineering.
“One of the best things about Happy Hill Farm is the support I have received as a believer in Jesus. I have also been encouraged to go to college, and I feel I am prepared to do that now. I was home-schooled in Senegal, and my mom wanted me to finish my education here so that I would be prepared for college. I also enjoy having different housemates from different countries around the world. It’s nice to compare cultures and to learn what it is like for them — to understand our differences in how we think and live.”
We hope you are inspired as you see how God is using your generous gifts to shape the hearts and minds of young people. These are but a few stories of life change we shared during the telethon. To see and hear from these and other students and alumni, visit HappyHillFarm.org/Telethon.