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Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation
Serenity, Nature & Healing in Northern Arizona

By Dave Cooper

Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation

More than a decade ago, a woman had a vision in which she experienced a moment of extreme clarity. Diane Reid, founder of the Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation, realized the need for a haven for some unique two legged and four legged creatures. In Reid's words, "there needed to be a place of beauty and serenity where special needs animals and humans with special needs could mutually experience kindness and compassion." And Reid understood that it should be called Whispering Hope Ranch.

Since 1997 when Reid founded Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation, it has been a magnificent respite. This remarkable and inspiring point of interest in Northern Arizona is tucked away at the base of the Mogollon Rim, amid the soaring Pine and Aspen trees of the Tonto National Forest. Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation, a sprawling, quaint 47-acre sanctuary for its many unique residents, is an extraordinary habitat. It embodies the intrinsic elements of nature and the therapeutic, innate spirit of companionship between man and animal.

How does it do this? Whispering Hope Ranch Since (WHRF) is a non-profit organization that provides a healing environment for individuals with physical or developmental challenges. In conjunction, it serves as a home for animals born with physical differences, or those rescued from circumstances like abandonment, injury, or abuse. The interaction between these special-needs guests is nurturing and calming, stimulating positive energy for every person or animal involved.

Innate qualities of empathy and acceptance exist between humans and animals. This bond is uniquely mutual between participants, who may be highly challenged or suffer with life-threatening illnesses or diseases. Since WHRF was first established, thousands of special-needs children, elderly groups, adults and families have visited the WHRF for day programs, retreats and organized camps. These primarily focus on nature programs and animal assisted activities.

After first encountering WHRF in the summer of 2000 during a visit to the Christopher Creek area just a few miles down the road, I urge everyone to experience this truly amazing environment of tranquility, balance, and harmony. Whispering Hope Ranch FoundationMy stay in a cabin adjacent to the ranch turned into the opportunity to experience the WHRF. During a hike I serendipitously wandered onto the property. A very nice gentleman promptly greeted me and gave me a personal tour and introduced me to the animals.

Over the years, WHRF has become a menagerie of Dr. Doolittle proportion. It hosts all sorts of critters: horses, cattle, llamas, goats, sheep, pigs, peacocks, emu, geese, ducks, chickens, geese, dogs, cats, rabbits -- too many to name. It’s a fascinating place where hope, dreams and unconditional love are openly shared in a magnificent natural setting. I’ve returned several times and every visit has been truly memorable.

In addition to their specially scheduled group programs, individuals and families are encouraged to explore Whispering Hope Ranch’s wonderful facility. Due to the many diverse ongoing activities at WHRF, they recommend that you review their schedule of events and programs before making the trip. Visiting WHR can be as simple as a day trip. You can also plan a stay at one of several nearby cabins or lodges.

Be sure to take advantage of the surroundings while you’re in the Payson and Christopher Creek area. Drive up to the Mogollon Rim where you will discover a phenomenal view of the Valley below. Camping, picnic and hiking areas are close by. You can even drop a fishing line in Wood’s Canyon or Willow Springs Lakes.

Northern Arizona is an awesome summertime destination. Whispering Hope Ranch Foundation is about 30 minutes East of Payson, approximately two hours from the Valley, and it’s easy to find. Learn more about their visitation guidelines, how to donate, volunteer, and much more at www.whisperinghoperanch.org.