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Left to right: Beverly Cornutt, volunteer ; Leota Joyner Johnson, founder of ICS-Sunnyside; Kelly Spear-Jackson and Sherrie Marquez, employees of Mt. Wheeler Power Co.

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Also on Friday, December 9, Leota and Beverly delivered animals to the White Pine County Sheriff’s office for the officers to use when they are dealing with children who are in need of being comforted, such as following an auto accident, or domestic violence situation.Pictured: Leota Joyner Johnson, founder of ICS-Sunnyside and Sargent Penny Jo Robison of the White Pine County Sheriff’s Department.

By Beverly Cornutt

According to PetSmart store manager Melissa Luszczyk of the PetSmart store on South Decatur Blvd. in Las Vegas, an annual donation program is held at each of the 1400 stores in the United States and Canada.  Each store chooses a charity they would like  to support.  Customers purchase a stuffed animal for $5 and they can either keep the animal or donate it to the particular store’s chosen charity.  10% of the $5 goes toward pet care needs, and the donated animals go to the lucky charity.

Melissa’s store chose ICS-Sunnyside to be the lucky recipient of the stuffed animals.  We received 480 animals.

After some discussion, Leota Johnson, founder of ICS-Sunnyside, Michael McMeel, founder of the ICS program nationwide, and Beverly Cornutt, volunteer for ICS-Sunnyside decided to share the wealth of all these animals with other needy programs in White Pine County.

On Friday, December 9, Leota and Beverly delivered animals to the Mt. Wheeler Santa’s Elves program.  Mt. Wheeler will make sure each of the children receiving gifts through this program will also receive an animal.

ICS Sunnyside Christmas

By Beverly Cornutt

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All participants posed for a group picture at the North Pole.

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Stockings donated by Teen Challenge.

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Glenn Terry entertained with Cowboy Poetry.

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Participants sing songs with Bill Wilson, volunteer on the train.

On December 10, Leota Johnson and many of her devoted volunteers, gathered at the Ely United Methodist Church for a Christmas Party for 50 of the Slickers. Donations were gathered from many new and old supporters and the kids enjoyed lunch and entertainment.  Glenn Terry provided some Cowboy Poetry, while Ian and Sarah Bullis read a Christmas story and provided Christmas music.

After the lunch and entertainment, each child received many wonderful gifts from Teen Challenge, a company who is bringing one of their facilities to Leota’s ranch at Sunnyside.  The kids were overjoyed to receive clothing, toys, and shoes, along with a stocking filled with lots of goodies.

There are over 200 Teen Challenge USA programs throughout the United States. These Christian recovery centers offer a variety of programs that include drug addiction help, alcohol recovery, and services for youth, adults and families.

The children attending the Christmas party also were given a stuffed cat or dog, donated by the West Las Vegas branch of PetSmart.  Following all this, the kids were treated to a ride on the Polar Express at the Nevada Northern Railway.

What an amazing day!  Thank you to everyone who participated and helped in any way.

About Inner-City Slickers

 By Beverly Cornutt

Inner City Slickers is an on-going “Old West Program” that was inspired by the film, City Slickers.  The “Old West” symbolizes Strength, Perseverance and Hard Work and this program builds self-esteem, self-confidence, character and breaks down the social prejudices that are so prevalent in our culture today.

Slickers learn what it’s like to be a cowboy/cowgirl and they learn to live by the “Cowboy Code of Ethics“ which includes  kindness, dependability, keeping your word, being responsible and they learn what it’s like to trust and respect the horses, themselves and each other…ethical and moral codes that will stay with them throughout their lives.

In addition, the Slickers learn to rope, groom, feed, sit on a horse and work together as a team.    The Inner City Slickers program is one of the only means we have seen that can virtually erase the color barrier between teens. With the magic of horses and our expert volunteers, our kids are transformed. They change right in front of your eyes. They forget about color, peer pressures and their own challenges and they learn to concentrate on what’s in front of them — a magnificent animal!  Our kids face the challenges we ask of them with courage and optimism and by the end of the day, they have learned to trust…and have hope.

There is something that happens, a magical thing, when a child and a horse meet for the very first time. Maybe some suspicion and distrust at first, usually on both sides, but as the child and this magnificent animal start to relax and see what is in front of them –that is when the true magic begins. As they develop a relationship and sense of trust, you find that both of their lives are being touched in a unique and profound way. There is a sense of peace, balance, and oneness, that only could happen between the meeting of these two beings –-helping each other learn the lessons of life.

Of huge importance after our Slickers have completed the program is ICS’ continued contact with them.  We believe experiences at the Slicker event, combined with our follow-up and contact, provides a much better opportunity for them to become responsible, caring citizens.  And that’s what Inner City Slickers is all about…Making a Difference in the lives of Children, One Child at a Time.

In 2013, Leota Joyner Johnson from Sunnyside began working with Inner City Slickers founder Michael McMeel from New Tazewell, Tennessee, to bring the Inner City Slickers (ICS) program to Nevada, and more specifically to Eastern Nevada.  What started out as a one day event on her beautiful ranch at Sunnyside in 2013, 2014, and 2015, ICS Sunnyside held the same event for two days in 2016, and is planning three days in July, 2017.  Along with the events at the ranch, ICS Sunnyside also has Easter programs and a Christmas party for all the kids who attend during the year.

Information about ICS Sunnyside, and what they can do for your child and your family, can be provided by contacting Leota Johnson at 775-289-9401.  More information can be found at ICS – Sunnyside, NV on Facebook.